Nehemiah Chapter 9
– A Historical Confession
1-5 – This chapter beings with the people of Israel assembled and fasting, in sackcloth and dirt. Those of Israelite descent separate (this word always disturbs me) themselves from the “foreigners” and stood to confess their sins and those of their ancestors. They stood and read from the book of law. Then made confession and worshiped the Lord.
My Interpreter’s Bible says that this chapter should most likely go with Ezra chapter 9 and 10 where Ezra mourns the sin of those who took foreign wives and then in chapter 10 they sent the wives and children away.
Reading this with my understanding and relationship with God and reading it through the lens of Jesus’ teachings, I just can’t imagine this is what God would have asked of them. Those women and children were also his beloved children and in my mind, he would have wanted them to care for and love them… But back to Nehemiah…
6-30 – Ezra now stands and reminds the people of the very waywardness of their ancestors. He goes through their history from Abram to Egypt and Moses and Mount Sinai and through the 40 years in the wilderness to their present.
My Wesley Study Bible says that in chapter 8 the people were celebrating some national pride and now Ezra, in this chapter, “tempers such national pride by reminding them of their rebellion against God’s love.”
…in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or fasake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
31-37 – Here Ezra reminds them of God’s great mercies, “for you are a gracious and merciful God.” He sings God’s praises and speaks of the many second chances He gives, blessing his people over and over. He reminds them again of their sins and how God always comes back to them. He continues to confess their sins as a nation – a people- and speaks of God’s justice and faithfulness.
In the difficulities of life, it can be hard to keep the faith.
I would think it would be easy to stop believing through all the hard times of slavery and oppression but they see where they went astray and how God came once again, as always, in his faithfulness to find ways of blessing them in the midst of it all.
It does seem to me that often they view what happens to them as God’s punishment for their sins instead of as natural consequences of their behavior and actions.
I think of God as a merciful and gracious God and instead of punishment, I see his steadfastness in spite of their unfaithfulness. But it’s been said that I am quite naïve. When he seemed to be gone or not speaking maybe it’s them who left him and weren’t listening anymore to what he was saying.
And now it’s your turn…
What did you think of this chapter? What are your thoughts and feelings here? Let’s learn together!