Archive for August, 2010

Thoughts on Nehemiah 9

I was reading Nehemiah at work one day last week, trying to gain some encouragement and, not surprisingly, I found some. In Nehemiah 9 the people of Israel confess their sin after they finish rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Throughout their prayer, they describe how God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and performed countless miracles among them, and yet they would still turn away, come back, and turn away yet again. It occurred to me that the children of Israel are not just called The Children of Israel because they are the descendants of Jacob. They are called the Children of Israel because they act like little children. Verses 26-31 stood out to me.

“Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.”

Sound like little kids to you? (and lets admit it, sounds like us too). Well it did to me. Anyone who has spent a day with kids knows that they are like this. You will do good things for them and then they will disobey, and you must spank them and they will cry for forgiveness, and you will be merciful to them. But everyone knows it’s only a matter of time before they act up again. (Giving the Israelites into the hands of their enemies was a pretty big spanking, I’d say).

While all this was interesting to me, the last two verses especially caught my attention. “Many years you bore with them and warned them…Yet they would not give ear…Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Even though He constantly had to “spank” them, God never gave up on His people. We, as parents or those who take care of children, must be like God. We must be consistent in discipline, but more than that, we must show mercy and compassion, even when they sin and disobey. But wait, that’s not all. We can’t just do this for a few years and then stop when they get to their teens because it’s just too hard to keep up with them. We must bear with them many years and warn them of the consequences of sin.

In this way we are daily showing the love of God through our actions.

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