Summary: #12 in the Nehemiah Series. True Revival also means that God’s people must fall down before Him in true repentance for sin.
Book of Nehemiah Series #12
Nehemiah Chapters 9 - 10
The Cost of A True Revival
By Pastor Jim May
Nehemiah 9:1-3, "Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God."
If you were with us in our lesson on Chapter 8, you will remember that the Jews were celebrating the greatest Feast of Tabernacles since the days of Joshua. They had built their booths and worshipped God as a great revival began to sweep the land after the reading of the Word of God and the Law of Moses at the Water Gate. The Israelites were finally coming home again after their long captivity in Babylon and they wanted to feel the presence of God in the nation once again. They were determined to do whatever it took to make things right with God.
Tonight we will continue with that same thought by asking two questions: What did Israel have to do to see God in their midst once more? Would they be willing to go the distance, or would they give up when the price became too high?
In this chapter we have an account of a solemn assembly and a national fast kept by the Jews, which was marked by outward acts of humiliation before God; by confession of sin; by reading the law, and worshipping the Lord; and by taking part in a powerful prayer meeting, conducted by the Levites. In that prayer the Levites celebrated the perfection of God, noted the goodness of God to Israel, acknowledged all of their sins and then committed to observe the Lord’s correction because they knew that God’s judgments are always pure and righteous.
Psalms 19:9, "The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether."
Two days after the Feast of Tabernacles had ended, the Word of the Lord and the celebration of the feast were still having a major impact upon the Jews. The revival wasn’t over yet; in fact it was just beginning.
The first step that we all must take before a revival of the presence of God in our hearts can take place is that we have to learn to humble ourselves, and confess our sins in true repentance. This is more than just a confession of guilt and sorrow at being caught; it is a heartfelt sorrow for having failed in the first place, coupled with a decision and a determination to never fail again by God’s help and grace.
Before we will ever experience the revival, we must call the solemn assembly, with sackcloth of humiliation before God, humbling ourselves in His sight. Then we must “heap ashes” upon our heads, ashes of the fires of repentance; ashes of the sin that has been burned away; and ashes of our self-centered and rebellious attitudes.
The next thing that happened in the land was that everyone who was truly born of the Jews, being a genuine Israelite of the seed of Abraham began to separate themselves wholly unto the Lord.
That’s the kind of revival we need right now; one that will cut us asunder from the world of sin and the things of this life that have us so entangled that we serve them instead of God.
This was no shallow repentance. The process of separation was very costly to many of them. Some of the Jews had married wives of the Gentiles, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, in direct disobedience to God’s Law. Every one of them was convicted in their heart for their failures when they heard the Law they began to separate themselves from these ungodly marriages. They considered this act of separation as the greatest proof of the truth of their repentance.
Separation from the sin of the old life in the world is one of the primary signs of true repentance. There hasn’t been a true salvation experience, or a true revival of the presence of God in a man’s heart, until you can see an outward change in his lifestyle.
If you come to God at an altar of prayer, wherever that altar may be, seeking God’s forgiveness and repentance for sin, and then get up and go back to doing what you were before without experiencing a change in your heart and life – then there hasn’t been a true repentance at all. Repentance means changing what you think, how you think, what you do and where you will go, so that your life will be an example of obedience to the Word of God and the Law of God. Your whole life will reflect the change.