Summary: Praising God leads to seeing Him as He is... which leads to seeing ourselves as we are... which leads to confession... which leads to repentance... which leads to change.
I heard about this man who bought a parrot. It was a beautiful parrot but he had a really bad mouth. He could swear for five minutes straight without repeating himself. The man was embarrassed because the bird was driving him crazy in front of people.
He tried to appeal to the bird by asking him to clean up his language. The parrot promised to change but nothing happened. In fact, his swearing increased in both volume and frequency.
It finally got to be too much, so the guy grabbed the bird by the throat and started shaking him and yelled, “Quit it!” But this just made the parrot angry and he swore more than ever.
Then the guy got really mad and locked him in a kitchen cabinet. That really aggravated the bird and he started clawing and scratching and making all kinds of racket. When the guy finally let him out, the parrot let loose with a stream of swear words that made the man blush.
At that point, the guy was so ticked off that he threw him into the freezer. For the first few seconds the bird squawked and screamed and thrashed around. And then there was silence.
At first the guy just waited, but then he started to wonder if the bird was hurt. After a couple minutes of not hearing anything, he was so worried that he opened the freezer door. The bird calmly climbed onto the man’s outstretched arm and said, “I’m really sorry about all the trouble I’ve been giving you. I make a solemn promise and vow to clean up my language from now on.”
The man was astounded. He couldn’t believe the transformation that had come over the parrot as a result of being in the freezer for only a couple minutes. The parrot then turned to the man and said, “I just have one question…what did the chicken say?”
Our scripture story today is truly amazing. It takes place in about 430 A.D. It is the story of revival among God’s people who had become complacent about their religion.
If you look at what these people were like before… which we will do in a future sermon… (we’ll be here a couple more weeks) you will see that they had let their religion/spirituality lose all reality and power.
Then, in chapters 9 & 10 we have a revival breaking out with signs or reality.
What happened in between? Again, wait until next week.
Let’s see some of the signs of the revival 9:1-3
On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
These people are SERIOUS!!!
1. They were fasting…
2. They were wearing clothes made from something like burlap bags… very rough and uncomfortable… and strange
3. And they had taken ashes and smeared them on their faces and piled them on their heads
In that day and time that was the absolute epitome of brokenness, contrition and repentance.
4. They listened to preaching for three hours… attentively
5. They confessed sins for three hours
Brother… THAT is revival
Over the next couple of weeks we’ll learn more lessons from this story, but today I want to look at the whole story, in general, to see one large lesson
In this section we have three of God’s favorite things…
Praise… confession… repentance
The lesson today is how the three GO TOGETHER
I’m going to give you some BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES and show how they are illustrated in this story
The first BIBLICAL PRICIPLE IS:
PRAISING GOD LEADS TO SEEING HIM AS HE REALLY IS:
HOLY, FAITHFUL, PURE, HIGH, LIFTED UP
Notice how chapter 9 begins with PRAISE
5 And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.
And then, from verse 6 to verse 15, they PRAISE God for all of His wonderful acts on their behalf.
God gets bigger and more holy and more lifted up
The next BIBLICAL PRICIPLE IS:
SEEING GOD AS HE REALLY IS NATURALLY LEADS TO SEEING OURSELVES AS WE REALLY ARE:
SINFUL, UNFAITHFUL, UNWORTHY
Notice the change in verses 16 and 17
16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.