The Good and Gracious God
If you’ve been with us over the past few months, we’ve been working our way through the book of Nehemiah.
And this is a story of God on the move. Nehemiah has heard of the devastation of the walls of Jerusalem, so with the kings blessing and the leading of God, he leads a third wave of people to return from exile and rebuild the wall.
And there’s all this opposition and challenge to the task, but Nehemiah is faithful to God, and God is faithful to the people so the wall get’s built.
As we looked at a couple of weeks ago, the story doesn’t end there, however. God is far more interested in rebuilding and renewing the people than the bricks and mortar of the wall.
So as we came to chapter 8 we saw the reading of the book of the law that began a renewing and transformative work in the people, and they begin to move towards obedience to God once again.
As we come to chapter 9 this week, what we have is a moment of clarity for the leaders of Israel, and the people as a whole.
The people come together fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads, which is this symbol of repentance, and they together spent time confessing their sins, and the sins of the generations before them.
And then, the majority of the chapter is this prayer. And what this prayer does is bring clarity to the people. And it’s a clarity, which leads to renewal.
So the prayer starts with worship…
[Nehemiah 9:5b-6] “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
So right up front the people are once again acknowledging the cosmic creative power of God. This is the beginning of acknowledging who God is. The creator and sustainer of all things.
And after acknowledging who God is in worship, the prayer turns almost to story telling. There’s a long reflection on who God is and how he’s acted for his people over generations.