May 15, 2020

In Nehemiah 8-9 we see the people of Israel gathered together to hear the Law of the Lord read out loud. As the Scripture is read publicly by the scribe Ezra, the people respond with great mourning and sorrow. As they encountered the Word of God and heard his commandments spoken and explained to them, they realized and understood that they had fallen short of obeying Him. 

When we encounter God in his Word, the Holy Spirit brings us to conviction over the sin and rebellion against him which continues to exist in each of our hearts and lives. However, we also see that the people did not stay in that state of mourning; they turned it into concrete action!

Instead of staying in that state of sorrow, the people turn from their ways, confess and acknowledge their sins, and begin to obey God’s Law by observing the Feast of Booths in accordance with it.

Nehemiah 8 & 9

Ezra Reads the Law

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lordhad commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

This Day Is Holy

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lordyour God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Feast of Booths Celebrated

13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. On 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. 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. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

“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 all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.

“And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, 10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 11 And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. 12 By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. 13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. 15 You 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 to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.24 So 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 hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day.33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.

38  “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

We need to be daily facing ourselves and our sin in the perfect Law of the Lord expressed to us in His Word. Facing our sin and owning up to it before God is the pathway to true life and transformation! The conviction we experience when the Spirit moves in our hearts through the Word of God to confront us with our sin is never meant to paralyze us with shame or regret; it is instead designed to move us to action and repentance!

Are you ever tempted to turn the conviction of the Spirit into self-condemnation when you are confronted with your sin? How can you instead turn that conviction into confession and repentance?

In what ways can we make sure we are daily looking into the perfect mirror of God’s Word, being confronted with our own brokenness, and moving forward by the power of the Spirit into a more God-honoring life?

29 thoughts on “Navigating Your New Normal: Day 4

  1. Father, praise your Holy Name and praise the reading of your word. Forgive me, Father, for I am such a sinner. How can you love me? Blot out the record of my sins found in your book. Remember them no more. Instruct me in your ways. Today, send your Holy Spirit to guide, to teach, to fill me to overflowing. I will rejoice and be glad in my work for you today. Grant me spiritual eyes to look back on this day and to see how you worked through me to help lead one more to your precious son, Jesus. To you is all glory and honor. As I rise, enable me to do your will in all I do this day. Amen

    1. Heavenly Father, your compassion and forgiveness have no boundaries; I am humbled before You. Give me the strength to deal with all the snares the devil
      puts before me. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

  2. Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for always having such steadfast love and forgiveness. As I read Your Word, I am so astounded how many times it is written that Your people have disobeyed and sinned against You. Yet, time and time, over and over, when we call out to You asking for forgiveness , You hear our cries and forgive our sins. We are so unworthy.
    You are to be greatly praised and honored and yet so many times we displease You. It breaks my heart so. I dont want to displease You, Lord . Please help me in all walks of my life to be pleasing in Your sight. I will read Your Word daily and keep my eyes on You and my mouth always whispering Your name. Thank You for always being here with me wherever I go.
    You are my Faithful and Loving Savior and I will always love and honor You. In Jesus’ Holy and Precious name. Amen.

  3. It’s very interesting that the one who read the word of God to the people (Ezra) is the one that wrote he following in Ezra 7:10 “And Ezra purposed in his heart to know the word of the Lord, to teach it to his people and to live it.” I believe as we continue to consistently read the word of God we will both teach it to others and live it out or apply it!!

  4. Praise you dear God for your grace, mercy, and forgiving power. May the mirror of your word convict me and empower me to walk a God honoring life. Be glorified today by my work. Be glorified by our church’s work in the community. Let our leaders give you praise. Praise the Lord forever and ever.

  5. Loving and Faithful Father,

    Thank you for your Word that convicts me of my sins, stirs my heart to repentance, and draws me back to you. Your love and patience for me is beyond my understanding.

    I praise you!

    In Jesus’ name.

  6. Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and your Spirit that convicts our hearts to repent and turn to obey you. LORD, help us to be obedient and not stiff necked. Help us to be sensitive to your Spirit and live humbly before you. We all need you so desperately! Thank you for your Son Jesus who makes it all possble. In his precious name I pray. Amen!

  7. Help me to be obedient and confess my sins. Thank you for your forgiveness and faithfulness.

  8. This message is totally fitting for what is happening today. I started many years ago praying and asking God to convict me of the things that I say and do and to humble me. I realized that when I pray for conviction and asked him to show me, me, he does it. and This helps me to repent immediately and to go back an apologize if I was rude in any way to anyone. I pray for humility daily because I found that it is easy to be prideful. Like I have shared with friends, we can purchase something new such as a car, house, furniture, clothes and we can immediately think that we are all that and a piece of chocolate. Conviction and humility are definitely two of the main things that I need in my life to keep my focus completely on Jesus and do my best to show the love of Christ because we are all going to fall but we need to know we have a Heavenly Father that loves us and will never leave us. Thank you Jesus for grace.

  9. Lord, help me to be obedient and not “turn a stubborn shoulder and stiffen my neck and not obey”.
    Thank you for your unending patience and love.

  10. I give thanks to God for never forsaken me and the Holy Spirit for leadings me to repent for my sins.
    All Glory be to God

  11. Father we are no different from the children of Israel in Ezras days. Father I come before you in repentance. Show me my sins and teach me Your truths. Your Word is conviction to my spirit and I’m so thankful that You are a gracious and merciful and forgiving Father. I love You Lord.

  12. “But if a wicked man turns from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live. He will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Ezekiel 18: 21-22”

  13. Dear Lord, thank you for this day. I also want to thank all of these people with with their words of prayer and conviction. They are my thoughts and prayers as well.
    I am constantly amazed and I know I shouldn’t when I get in to the Word of God
    how he teaches, convicts , forgives , and loves us all.In Jesus name. Amen.

  14. Lord, thank you for your forgiveness and the patience to deal with us sinners. I praise you and thank you that you never give up on us. You forgive over and over, like the people in Nehemiah 8 & 9. Thank you that you never forsake us in spite of our inequities. Help me Lord to stay in your word, for that’s where my strength comes from. Help me to be the person you intended for me to be and forgive me where I fail thee. In Jesus’ name, Amen

  15. Despite our consistent unfaithfulness, thank you Lord for your consistent faithfulness. Empower us to fulfill your plans in this lost and broken world as you make all things new again.

  16. Father, thank you for always being there for me. When I fall, Holy Spirit you convict me, you pick my up and brush the dirt and dust off of me and set me on solid ground. Your compassion and mercy has no bounds. You are faithful and trustworthy and I am a sinner saved by Your grace. Thank you Father.
    As a nation we have turned our backs on you. We each have gone our own way and forgotten about you. Forgive us Father. Give us another chance. And as you say in 2 Chron. 7:14, “If my people who are called by my Name shall humble themselves and seek my face and turn from their evil ways then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
    This is exactly what people did in Book of Nehemiah. We have to get to that point and fall on our knees and ask God to heal our land. I pray that we will do that individually and collectively. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

  17. I remember visiting this church in 1988 from Bakersfield when Texaco brought me to Houston for business. I heard Dr. Shook preach so I told God if He moved me here, I would join CFBC. A year later, God moved me here, I immediately joined. I never looked at another church. Verse 8 reminded me of one of his sermons: the Solemn Assembly. He was a great preacher of the Word. This is one of 2 of his sermons that I never forgot.

Comments are closed.