All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8:1).
How do you picture God? Is He angry, vengefully looking to punish your next mistake? Is He absent, unconcerned with your life or with our world?
For the next two weeks, in our study of the book of Nehemiah, we will encounter an even more remarkable building project than the 2½ mile long, 40 foot high and 8-foot thick wall that was completed in 52 days. We will experience both the first recorded revival in the Bible and the longest recorded prayer in the Bible, all used to rebuild the hearts of the people of Jerusalem.
What brought it about? Come the next two Sundays and discover for yourself! But here’s a sneak peek: it was an accurate revelation of God’s character when Ezra read the Scriptures! As the Scriptures were read, people literally wept. They wept in part because they came face to face with a definitive description of God’s character!
They wept because they heard from the Scriptures of a God who rescued the Israelites from slavery by parting the Red Sea and led them to the Promised Land. When the Israelites were hungry, God rained down bread from heaven. When they were thirsty, water flowed from a rock. They heard of God providing for Israel at every turn.
They wept because as God’s word was read, they were convicted of being entitled and arrogant. They realized that they had failed to obey commands and had forgotten the miracles God performed among them.
Finally, they wept because they knew that God had every right to punish Israel, but instead, He showed them grace. Though there were consequences for their sin, God never abandoned them. He relentlessly pursued them with compassion, love, and protection. That’s the kind of father God is. Even when we are sinful, God pursues us. He acts justly and faithfully, even when we do wrong.
Israel’s story is my story; it is our story. Even when we are sinful, God pursues us, acting justly and faithfully, even when we do wrong. PCC, God isn’t scared of our mess! No, He meets us right in the middle of it. Paul wrote it well in 2 Timothy 2:13 “… if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
In Nehemiah 9, Nehemiah thanks God for His mercy despite the Israelites’ sin. And hundreds of years later, God sends through these people the greatest difference maker of all in Jesus. God chose these people with their messy past to introduce the Savior of the world to the world. He truly is a gracious God!
This Sunday we will begin our two-week trek through Nehemiah 8-10. Please read up ahead of time and come humbly and eager to learn together. Here’s why it matters: Like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day, God has chosen us as a people with our messy lives to introduce the Savior of the world to the world.
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