Nehemiah 9 (Amplified)
1NOW ON the twenty-fourth day of this month, the Israelites were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth and with earth upon their heads. 2And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
The leaders of Israel knew their history, they learned of the past, both successes and failures of their people to please God. Together they cam to confess and repent not only of the sins they themselves committed but for much more than that. They came together and confessed the sins of those that came before them. This dear friends is true social confession. As we continue together reading this passage I wonder if something inside you will begin to stir. If Israel can and did should we?
3And they stood in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day, and for another fourth of it they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.
4On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God.
5Then the Levites–Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah–said, Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be Your glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
6[And Ezra said], You are the Lord, You alone; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and You preserve them all, and the hosts of heaven worship You.
7You are the Lord, the God Who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees and gave him the name Abraham.
8You found his heart faithful before You, and You made the covenant with him to give his descendants the land of the Canaanite, Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Jebusite, and Girgashite. And You have fulfilled Your promise, for You are just and righteous.
Notice that their confession contains not just asking for forgiveness but it is also a confession of belief. They are speaking publicly about who their God is and what He has done for them. They are openly and unashamedly declaring to anyone who has ears to hear the exploits of their mighty God. In contrast we on the other hand usually save this kind of exhortation for the walls and confines of a building on Sunday morning.
9You saw our fathers’ affliction in Egypt, and You heard their cry at the Red Sea.
10You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for You knew that they dealt insolently against the Israelites. And You got for Yourself a name, as it is today.
11You divided the sea before them, so that they went through its midst on dry land; their persecutors You threw into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters.
12Moreover, by a pillar of cloud You led them by day, and by a pillar of fire by night to light the way they should go.
13You came down also upon Mount Sinai and spoke with them from Heaven and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments.
This confession is awesome because it includes reminders of how the Lord desires to communicate with them as a people. It acknowledges not just where they fell short but reestablishes the standard the Lord gave Moses. It reaffirms the spiritual direction they as a people must take, and the extraordinary measures the Lord will do to help bring them near Him.
14And You made known to them Your holy Sabbath and gave them commandments, statutes, and a law through Moses Your servant.
15You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst; and You told them to go in and possess the land You had sworn to give them.(
16But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments.
We as a people in 2011 must really allow these next few verses to sink deep into our spirit. It is this confession that will empower us to move forward to repentance and allow the Lord to rebuild us out of the ashes we find ourselves in now. If Israel confessed this – could we?
17They refused to obey, nor were they mindful of Your wonders and miracles which You did among them; but they stiffened their necks and in their rebellion appointed a captain, that they might return to their bondage [in Egypt]. But You are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great steadfast love; and You did not forsake them.
18Even when they had made for themselves a molten calf and said, This is your god, who brought you out of Egypt, and had committed great and contemptible blasphemies,
19You in Your great mercy forsook them not in the wilderness; the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day to lead them in the way, nor the pillar of fire by night to light the way they should go.
20You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and withheld not Your manna from them, and gave water for their thirst.
21Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.
22Also You gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they possessed the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan.
23Their children You also multiplied as the stars of heaven and brought them into the land which You told their fathers they should go in and possess.
What land has the Lord promised you to possess? If we were to have a repentant heart such as these (the Church in that time) would not the Lord so do for us what He did for them.
24So the descendants went in and possessed the land; and You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.
25And they captured fortified cities and a rich land and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns hewn out, vineyards, olive orchards, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in Your great goodness.
26Yet they were disobedient and rebelled against You and cast Your law behind their back and killed Your prophets who accused and warned them to turn to You again; and they committed great and contemptible blasphemies.
27Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who distressed them. In the time of their suffering when they cried to You, You heard them from heaven, and according to Your abundant mercy You gave them deliverers, who saved them from their enemies.
28But after they had rest, they did evil again before You; therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to You, You heard them from heaven, and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,
29And reproved and warned them, that You might bring them again to Your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your ordinances, which by keeping, a man shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder, stiffened their neck, and would not listen.
30Yet You bore with them many years more and reproved and warned them by Your Spirit through Your prophets; still they would not listen. Therefore You gave them into the power of the peoples of the lands.
31Yet in Your great mercies You did not utterly consume them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and merciful God.
32Now therefore, our God, the great, mighty, and terrible God, Who keeps covenant and mercy and loving-kindness, let not all the trouble and hardship seem little to You–the hardship that has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and on all Your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.
33However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly;
When I read this I wonder if this was confessed not just on behalf of Israel past but also for the people of God in the time (for them) yet to come.
34Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Your law or hearkened to Your commandments and Your warnings and reproofs which You gave them.
35They did not serve You in their kingdom, and in Your great goodness that You gave them and in the large and rich land You set before them, nor did they turn from their wicked works.
36Behold, we are slaves this day, and as for the land that You gave to our fathers to eat the fruit and the good of it, behold, we are slaves in it.
37And its rich yield goes to the kings whom You have set over us because of our sins; they have power also over our bodies and over our livestock at their pleasure. And we are in great distress.
What is our part now? As the Church we men and women of God, what is our part now? We must as the Levites did, we must intercede, confess and repent for our wicked ways. We must rise up and seek the Lord to hear His voice again. We must train ourselves to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste Him. We must come into true Holy Communion with the Lord. A new covenant upon which we set our seal.
38Because of all this, we make a firm and sure written covenant, and our princes, Levites, and priests set their seal to it.