Summary: A by-product of revival is peace in your heart!
January 12, 2003
1Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. 2The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God. 4Now on the Levites¡¦ platform 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, ¡§Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever!
36 ¡§Behold, we are slaves today,
And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty,
Behold, we are slaves in it.
37 ¡§Its abundant produce is for the kings
Whom You have set over us because of our sins;
They also rule over our bodies
And over our cattle as they please,
So we are in great distress.
38 ¡§Now because of all this
We are making an agreement in writing;
And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.¡¨
Nehemiah 9.1-5a, 36-38 (NASB)
captivity was over. Rebuilding the city and its walls had taken a great effort, and yet the successful project had drawn the people together. Jerusalem would stand high and proud once again. There was just one ¡§catch¡¨ ¡V God was not done. There was an unrest that had to be settled.
Last week we saw how the joy of the Lord was presented to the people through the pathway of repentance. It began a process which led to the revival of God¡¦s people.
The process involved three readings of the Word of God over a period of twenty-four days:
„g READING #1 (day one) Nehemiah 8.4-8 led to conviction, weeping and repentance. Nehemiah and Ezra saw the people¡¦s deep sorrow over their sins and told them to stop and go rejoice. Once repentance comes there is need to celebrate the forgiveness God promises!
„g READING #2 (day two) Nehemiah 4.14-15 led to a further conviction to re-institute the celebration of Feast of Booths, reminding God¡¦s people of His provision and protection all during the wilderness wanderings. The people lived simply for 10 days in makeshift shelters remembering their total dependence on God.
„g READING #3 (day twenty-four) Nehemiah 8.18 ¡V 9.3. During the entire 31/2 weeks there was continual worship and reading of God¡¦s Word. At the end, this public reading was the culmination of a revival begun. The people had been fasting and concentrating on the goodness of God.
Notice how Nehemiah describes the final day of a national revival for the people of God:
„g 9.4-5 Praise of God begins with the priests; the congregation joins in as they are instructed to ¡§arise and praise the Lord.¡¨
„g 9.6-15 Exalting God for His great faithfulness to Israel in creation, calling Abraham to fatherhood of the race, deliverance from Egyptian bondage, leading and providence in the wilderness and giving of the Law.
„g 9.16-37 Confessing to God Israel¡¦s past sinful disobedience and the Lord¡¦s continual mercy in forgiving and delivering them; also confessing that God was right and just in punishing them.
„g 9.38 Covenanting with God to live obediently as His people in the future.
For Israel the events we read marked the beginning of a national revival ¡V a high point of connection with God. In this they did ¡§arise and bless the Lord God! This is available to us as well. Here are some application points based on how this event should affect us today.
A. DON¡¦T RUSH
If you are going to arise and bless God, that is, get serious concerning your relationship to Him, don¡¦t take it lightly; do your homework! After all, you are not approaching a hot dog vendor on the corner of the street downtown ¡V you are approaching Holy God, Author and Sustainer of the entire universe.
A teenager was caught doing ninety-five in a thirty. The traffic cop was caressing his citation book as he walked up to the youth¡¦s car. ¡§I¡¦ve been just waiting for you all day,¡¨ said the officer sarcastically. ¡§Yeah,¡¨ said the teen, ¡§I got here as quickly as I could.¡¨
Rushing into ¡§revival¡¨ can be hazardous to your health. Rushing into revival can be a sign of false repentance, or a shallow understanding of what repentance really means.
To repent means turning your back completely on the old life, knowing that God expects you to reject sin and live for Him. The scripture warns us how stubborn and unrepentant we are by nature: