Summary: Humility is key to bringing about or being part of spiritual change.
***Open with modern day Noah movie clip***
Listen to that last line again. “The creator, from Adam to Noah to now, is still scouring the earth looking for one man or one woman that can actually see past their own nose, to see a world that is in desperate need and do something about it!”
From the beginning of time this is how God has chosen to do his work and make a difference in the world. He has chosen to work through people and use their lives to change the people around them. He did it with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Mary and Joseph, and even the disciples and Paul. Most of the time, God used the people everyone least expected; the weak, the small, the fishermen, the tax collectors, the murderers, the poor, the young. The one thing though that all of these men and women had in common was the fact that they were humble. They could, as the video clip expressed, see past their own noses and see a world in desperate need and then did something about it.
This humility is so important to bring about spiritual change. Nehemiah and the men and women of Jerusalem became very aware of that after they had completed the walls of the city. Before the city policies were written, before the walls of Jerusalem were dedicated to God, and before the city was established the people needed to be humbled. That is what we find in chapter 9 of Nehemiah. Let’s open our Bibles to Nehemiah 9:1-5.
***Read Nehemiah 9:1-5a***
Notice what two things are here in these five verses. In verse 1, we start off with a sense of awe and respect for God. The people fasted, dressed in burlap or sackcloth which was uncomfortable goat’s skin, and sprinkled dust on their heads. These were all signs of public sorrow and repentance and showed a respect and awe for God. Then in verse 3 we have the reading of Scripture, again for three hours, where the people read it, heard it and had in explained to them, and then put it into practice.
After those two things, starting in verse 5 and going to the end of chapter 9, there is a time of humbling and confession that takes form through the prayer of the Levites. Instead of reopening your Bibles and following along, I would like to ask you all to stand as the Israelites did, and just listen to this prayer.
***Read Nehemiah 9:5b-37***
This prayer is one of the longest recorded prayers in the Old Testament but can be broken into three different parts that specifically help humble the people of Jerusalem. These same three things play a role in our lives and whether or not we too can live humbly.
The first part of the prayer is the smallest part, taking only two verses, but yet very important. It starts at the end of verse 5 and it goes through verse 6. Yet again, the people are reminded of the power, greatness and awe of God. They focus on God as the creator of everything and that all of creation worships Him, even the angels.
I am not going to talk much more on this since we did a whole night on this issue a few weeks ago. Just be reminded again that God is bigger, better, and more amazing than anything else we could ever imagine. He created everything that is around us and he could remove it from existence just as easily! Humility starts by putting our lives in perspective to the eternal, all powerful Creator.
The second part is the longest part of the prayer taking up verses 7-31. The people here are humbled by remembering their history; what they had been through and what God had already done in their lives. The Levites walk through the story and faith of Abraham. They talk about the Exodus out of Egypt and how God split the Red Sea for them to cross and destroyed their enemies. They talk about the Ten Commandments, the wanderings in the wilderness and how God took care of them, the wars and battles that were fought and won, and the land that God provided for them. Reading through all that God had done for their forefathers and the grace and mercy He had on the people would have been a very humbling thing as the people submitted themselves to God.
We too have history that we need to remember as we live our lives. There are two different kinds that I want to focus on tonight. The first is the history of our own lives. Most of us in this room, if we sat and thought for a moment, can think of at least one time where God did something for us. It could be an answer to prayer, providing for a need, helping us in a difficult time, or even just having a relationship with us and saving us from Hell. The fact is, God has done things in our lives whether we realize it or not; everything has happened for a reason. It is important to remember that personal history because it shows God’s faithfulness through thick and thin and that He is in control and not us, even when we think we are!