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Book of Nehemiah: Rebuilding Our Faith

The Bible Teacher's Commentary

Paul J. Bucknell

Commitment to God’s Will
Nehemiah 9:32-38

Guidance Neh 9:1-38 | Intersections Neh 9:1-8 | Cry Out 9:9-15 |
God Guides Neh 9:19-25 | Warnings Neh 9:26-31 | Preparations 9:32-38 | Video

Nehemiah Theme | Nehemiah Outline and Index| Nehemiah Historical Background

Purpose: Commitment to God’s Will, an exposition of Nehemiah 9:32-38, highlights how we can arise out of a history of failures and step closer to the Lord. This is the last of a series on Strength and Direction for Our Lives from Nehemiah 9:1-38.

Commitment to God’s Will (Nehemiah 9:32-38)

We need history to see how God graciously treats man and how man hardens his heart to God’s gracious hand in our lives. God's intervention in our livesBut we also need to take an honest look at our own time in which we have been granted time to live accomplishing God’s great purposes.

As we read this prayer, note how they recognized their key opportunity in life to turn from their wicked ways and fulfill God’s great purposes. What a tremendous passage!

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who dost keep covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before Thee, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and on all Thy people, From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.

33 “However, Thou art just in all that has come upon us; For Thou hast dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. 34 “For our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Thy law Or paid attention to Thy commandments and Thine admonitions with which Thou hast admonished them. 35 “But they, in their own kingdom, With Thy great goodness which Thou didst give them, With the broad and rich land which Thou didst set before them, Did not serve Thee or turn from their evil deeds.

36 “Behold, we are slaves today, And as to the land which Thou didst give to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, Behold, we are slaves on it. 37 “And its abundant produce is for the kings Whom Thou hast set over us because of our sins; They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress. 38 “Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests” (Nehemiah 9:32-38).

The Point of this event

This was a prayer, but it was much more than that. The leaders here, including the spiritual leaders, Levites and priests, were covenanting together before the Lord. They wanted to be a people before the Lord. They have seen sufficient judgment. They are slaves. They as a people have been ruined due to the way they left God.

The Israelites are now forming a public statement showing that they are returning to the Lord.

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Private Matter

This is a private matter. Each leader had to sign. Each leader needed to be able to state that he was going to live in a way conforming to the Lord. Each leader would need to confess where he has gone astray, seek God’s forgiveness and turn aside. When individuals come to that decision, and our own decisions undoubtedly influence the lives of those around us, then we as a group can move forward.

Group Concerns

This prayer is a perfect example of how a person, group, church or community meet with the Lord beforehand to clarify what kind of people they will be. When you make this commitment, you will be much more ready for the tests that you as an individual or you as a community will face in the future.

You might be confused, feel pushed or rushed, but you will latch onto the commitment you need to make. I would suggest that our daily quiet times with the Lord in His Word and prayer are times that we remember the ways that we have committed ourselves to Him and others. It is also the time He might drive us closer to Him.

We do not merely read the scriptures but affirm our decision to be that godly man or woman, to be humble or to help the poor.

More than Rebuilding the wall

Nehemiah led the priests here before God in rebuilding the great wall around the formerly destructed city of Jerusalem. He did so much for the people. But other things needed to happen before real reform would take place.

They first needed to see that each of us live in a setting that has somehow been polluted from the past. We cannot blame the past or even the errors of those around us for our bad choices.

They went beyond their history by honestly stating all the despicable things they had to endure because of sin among them. “Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before Thee.” They also chose not to blame God for their situation but that God’s treatment as just.

To be honest, no longer should the world esteem our country or our dollar. We have defiled it. We should not expect to be protected from attacks of the enemy, shielded from vicious weather patterns, and so forth. Nor should we blame these things on climate change.

We have to connect our troubles with our past choices. This is true nationally as well as personally. We should join these leaders, whether as church leaders or national leaders, confess, “For out kings, our leaders, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Thy law or paid attention to Thy commandments...” (9:34).

If our country does not soon repent, we will be able to join this people saying, “They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress” (9:37).

Our willingness to repent and commit ourselves to living for God is greatly dependent on taking hold of a right perspective of God, man and our sin. Most of us seem willing to ignore our situations. We don’t cry out. We don’t pray in desperation. We still have means to avoid the calamity facing us.

Lastly, they chose to go beyond where they were by deliberately choosing God’s grace in a time of pain and suffering. By faith they were signing their names believing that God could and would further step into their lives and community.

It is easy for us to admit the sins of our forefathers, but to make real changes in our own lives, this is a different story. Are we willing to obey God’s Word?

Our sins are many. We justify changing what He says. We make various interpretations justifying our wayward thinking. Meanwhile, we go on with our merry lives, quite ignoring the larger perspective of what God is doing around the world.

I would love to think this is the time that God is not only rebuilding a wall, but also the people of God that will live in God’s kingdom. Do we have to face desolation before we cry out? Do we need a generation to utterly forsake the Lord before we wake up, if we ever will?

My prayer has always been that I would proactively seek the Lord rather than suffer pain and so have to induce me to certain actions. By God’s gracious hand, each of us will regain the right perspective of our lives.

Final summary

Our prayers reveal our genuine feelings about God and the world. This long prayer, one of the longest in the scriptures, reveals the faith of God’s people at that key time.

When God is working in our lives, we will see certain changes. We will see confidence in God’s Word that shapes their faith. They have been brought through horrible times, even trying to rebuild the wall about Jerusalem. From this prayer we can see that God had created in them a new faith that differed from those around them.

They believed that God could renew them and so humbly brought their lives to the Lord in this prayer and indeed a covenant where they signed it as a token of their sincere request for God’s restoring power.

This provides for us a gauge for us to see what kind of perspective that we have might have.

Final application

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