November 25, 2019

Nehemiah 9: 1-38

We have condensed today’s reading by summarizing verses 6-38, but encourage you to read the full passage.

On the twenty-fourth day of this month, the people of Israel were assembled. They fasted, wore funeral clothing, and had dirt on their heads. After the Israelites separated themselves from all of the foreigners, they stood to confess their sins and the terrible behavior of their ancestors. They stood in their place and read the Instruction scroll from the Lord their God for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day, they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.

On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Then the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said:

Stand up and bless the Lord your God. From everlasting to everlasting bless your glorious name, which is high above all blessing and praise.


Verse 6: The praising of God as Creator
Verses 7-8: The covenant with Abraham
Verses 9-11: The great and wonderful acts of God in Egypt
Verse 12: The care of God in the desert
Verses 13-21: Mount Sinai and the desert wandering
Verses 22-25: The conquering of the Holy Land
Verses 26-31: The unfaithfulness of Israel and God’s patience in the Promised Land
Verses 32-37 The confession of sin
Verse 38: A commitment to keep God’s laws in the future

(Read verses 6-38 in their entirety.)

Three weeks have passed since the gathering at the Water Gate. After celebrating all that God has done, it is time for the people to repent, both personally and as a nation. They choose to fast, pour dirt on their heads, and wear peasants’ clothes to signify their humble repentance before God.

They initiate reform in tangible and difficult ways. To “separate themselves from all of the foreigners” included divorcing wives who had come from pagan countries, and to “confess their sins and the terrible behavior of their ancestors” meant breaking a long tradition of glorifying their forefathers.

Verses 4-37 detail a long confession and expression of worship in the context of acknowledging God’s mighty acts on Israel’s behalf. These verses compose the longest sustained worship hymn in scripture. God uses this time of worship to move within the hearts of the Jewish people, and they pledge to obey God’s word going forward as a nation.

When we dedicate our lives to God, big, sweeping changes often need to be made. This might mean evaluating your “inner circle” relationships or coming to terms with unflattering realities of your family-of-origin. It also means confessing your sins. This isn’t always a popular idea in modern Christianity but, we see here, and are told in Romans 10:10, that it is by our confession that we are saved.

What changes do you need to make as you dedicate, or re-dedicate daily, your life to God?