Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 9:1-37 about the confession of hte people made in response to the hearing of the law

Text: Nehemiah 9:1-37, Title: Return to Contrition, Date/Place: NRBC, 12/2/07, PM

A. Opening illustration: Mackenzie wanting to go the Dinosaur museum, and us not really having time, and hoping that she would forget, but three-year olds have surprisingly one-track minds over long periods…

B. Background to passage: The Israelites are riding the wave of revival. In chapter eight, the Word was read, and the Feast was celebrated. In chapter nine we see confession, and in chapter ten we see a renewal of the covenant. If you recall three weeks ago on the first day of the month they began to weep at the reading of the Word of God. But Nehemiah and the other leaders told them to rejoice and not to weep. But as any truly God-inspired revival would do, it came back. Three weeks later, after the Feast of Tabernacles, the reading of the Word still brought forth a time of contrition, confession, and repentance.

C. Main thought: in the text we see three aspects of their confession to God

A. The faithfulness of God (v. 5-15)

1. Even though they were confessing their sin, their prayer was very God-centered. Notice all the things that God did in these verses. He is the subject of every sentence in this portion. And what is exalted about Him is primarily his faithfulness. All God’s mighty acts on behalf of his people are recounted. And even after verse 16, when the people’s failures are spoken of, God still forgives and keeps His covenant, verse 17-21. Verses 27-28 and 31 sum it up nicely. God’s faithfulness endures to all generations, regardless of the failure of His people, God never forsakes, and always keeps His promises exactly like He said. And these truly brokenhearted people rejoice at the endurance and faithfulness of their God.

2. Ps 119:90, Ex 34:6-7, 2 Tim 2:13, Jer 3:1-15, 2 Cor 2:14,

3. Illustration: Don Leno the boss of the sharks losing his cool with Sykes and telling him he is “out,” “Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.” –Jerry Bridges, words to Farther Than Your Grace Can Reach, tell about the time that I was struggling with a particular sin, and after having committed it again, I found myself praying for forgiveness, acknowledging that God would probably not forgive, or at least not anytime soon, but then He spoke, and said I don’t work that way,

4. Don’t glorify sin in your testimony. Talk about what He did for you. But isn’t it good to know that nothing can make God forsake His covenant with you. You cannot sin bad enough for God to say you and done, out. Now, let me make a warning about presumptuous sin. Explain how scripture does not allow for forgiveness basic on willful rebellion. But that how God is an unending source of mercy and forgiveness to those who stumble and are repentant. God never goes back on His Word, never walks out, never forsakes, never leaves, never sleeps, and always causes us to triumph through Christ. Church, we must never get weary of picking up the brethren who are truly warring against sin but faltering. We must strive for the same know of persistent loving-kindness. Oh how many times God should have forsaken us

B. Farther Than Your Grace Can Reach

C. I lie awake at night and wonder/How You can still put up with me

I know I push You to the limits/Or so it seems

And I start each day with good intentions/Then fail You in a thousand ways

But still You keep forgiving me/Of the same mistakes


No fault, no wrong, no dark of night/Can hide me from Your eyes

And I cannot fall or fly/Farther than Your grace can reach

I know You’ve heard this prayer I’m praying/What I’ve done and where I’ve been

And Lord I don’t deserve Your mercy/But once again You say

God bless us all the weak and weary/Captives of our flesh and blood

Our only freedom is the refuge/Of Your love

The treachery of the people (v. 16-31)

1. There is a very clear transition from touting the works of a merciful God, to explaining the failures of His covenant people. Remember that is the effect of the hearing of the law, to know where we have failed. Walk down through the text explaining all the direct rebellion of the Israelites. The people in their prayer or lament, are acknowledging their sins, and the sins of their fathers. They understood corporate guilt. And they realized their history of rebellion, and were honest about it.

2. Rom 7:15-25, 1 Cor 10:12, James 5:16,

3. Illustration: lyrics to Prone to Wonder, and verse to Come Thou Fount, imagine a family member who is caught in the trap of drugs or alcohol, and after much help from the family falls again, then more money, more borrowed stuff, more debt, he comes again to ask for help, he again takes every break and every resource and abuses it for his addiction, that is what we are like to God. “Confession is good for the soul”

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