Nehemiah 9 Confession of Sins – We Are Slaves Today

“But after they had rest, They again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, So that they had dominion over them; Yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, And testified against them, That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, And did not heed Your commandments, But sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ And they shrugged their shoulders, Stiffened their necks, And would not hear.   Nehemiah 9:28, 29

Summary of Chapters 8 and 9

A week after the walls around Jerusalem are completed, the people reassemble in Jerusalem. Ezra brings out the Book of the Law and reads it aloud to all the people. He interprets the Hebrew text in Aramaic, then spoken by ordinary people. The next day the people scatter to gether branches so they can build booths and keep the Festival of Tabernacles. Each day of the festival is spent listening to the Scriptures. Many have been convicted by the reading of God’s Law. They keep on gathering, spending part of the day studying the Law and part in confession and worship (9:1-5).

Nehemiah records a typical prayer: It expresses the people’s renewed awe of God, their awareness of Israel’s historic rebelliousness, God’s continuing compassion, and a fervent appeal that God would relieve their distress. The spiritual revival has a practical impact. The community is ready to make a fresh commitment to the Lord (9:38).

Confession of sins: 9:1-37. The revival stimulated by finishing the walls and by reading the law simply will not stop. On the 24th, the reading of Scripture continues, but now the people are moved to a great confession of sins.

The liturgy of confession recorded here involves identification and includes affirmation of God’s righteousness in his dealings with them.

Revival (9:1-3). The revival was marked by: 1. Self-humbling, expressed in fasting, sackcloth, and dust on one’s head: 2. Exclusion of foreigners; 3. Confession of sins; and 4. Eager study of God’s Word. The pattern fits well with both bibical and modern revivals.

1  Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. 2  And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, [1] and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 3  And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the Lord their God.

The prayer (9:6-37). This prayer mentions 20 sins of Israel, but 74 facts about God! God’s marvelous grace is, as the hymn says, “greater than all our sin.”

“In all that has happened… You have been just” (9:16-35). This prayer review of history notes the Jew’s persistent sins, acknowledges God’s judgements, and asserts His mercy. The little community admits aht in “all that has happened” in judgment, and in forgiveness, God has been “just.”

Both testaments affirm God’s justice – His commitment to doing what is right. Both also see two aspects of justice. As ruler of the universe, God is just in punishing the wicked. But it is also the right thing for Him to forgive.

The NT harmonizes these 2 aspects of justice in the Cross. God did not just overlook His dismiss sin as if it were nothing. In Christ, God took the full punishment sin deserves upon Himself. With sin paid for, God offers human beings forgiveness for those who respond to the Gospel’s good news.

6 Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. 7 Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;

13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true [3] laws, good statutes and commandments: 14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: 15 And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them. 16 But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God [4] ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.

21 Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.

25 And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells [5] digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness. 26 Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.

33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: 34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it:



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