“In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.”
~ Nehemiah 9:33
Hi James and Ellen,
It is October 30, 445 B.C. It is Atonement Day. Nehemiah documented this memorable day in his diary that became the Nehemiah Book. Nehemiah 9 is Nehemiah’s recounting of that unforgettable day. The Israelite people group’s guys and gals – God’s specially chosen guys and gals, have gotten together in the city of Jerusalem. They are wearing coarse, dark robes – called sackcloth, that have been made from goat’s hair. They are fasting. They are mourning. They have put dust on their heads. There are no strangers and foreigners among them. They are standing in front of God’s temple that is in the city of Jerusalem. They are making penance or reparation to their Creator God. They are confessing their sins to their Creator God. They are confessing the wickedness of their dads and granddads to their Creator God. They have been standing for three hours while Levi tribal clan guys read to them from the Book of the Law. God’s specially chosen guys and gals would stand for another three hours confessing their sins and worshipping their Creator God. Eight Levi tribal clan guys – Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah would pray a collective prayer to their Creator God. The shared prayer that these eight guys would pray would remind God’s specially chosen guys and gals – who would remain standing in humility and in thanks in front of God’s temple that is in the city of Jerusalem, of God’s unconditional grace and mercy. This communal prayer would remind the listening Israelite people group’s guys and gals – God specially chosen guys and gals, on this unforgettable day over 2448 years ago (over 2460 years ago as of the date of this editing) of God’s unconditional grace and mercy as witnessed through His creation, through His covenant with Abraham, through how He led their ancestors about 1000 years earlier out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, through how He led, fed and cared for their ancestors during the forty years that He had them meander about a desert because of their obstinacy, through the conquest of a land that He had told their ancestors that they would always have to live as their very own land if . . ., through the 300 years or so that He had judges governing their ancestors, through how He used prophet spokesmen to warn their ancestors to not disobey or forget Him by worshipping inanimate gods that were handmade from wood, stone and metal or . . . and through the prayer that these eight guys would remind God in verse 33, “In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.”
It is April 24, 2004 A.D. It is a Saturday. What can you pray in humility and in thanks to God today because of His unconditional grace and mercy in your lives? What sins do you need to confess right now to your Father God? How do you feel about confessing the sins of your dad, your grandpaa, your grandpaa’s dad, your . . . right now to your Father God? Every baby born – except for an incarnated man – Jesus Christ, has been born with a sin nature. Sin is totally abhorrent, repugnant and disgusting to your Father God. How have you witnessed God’s unconditional grace and mercy in your lives? Your lives are witnesses of your Father God’s unconditional grace and mercy. Your lives are witnesses of God’s unconditional grace and mercy just by the fact that He has you living on planet Earth. Your lives are witnesses of God’s unconditional grace and mercy by the fact that He had you be born to a dad and a ma who He led to confess their sins and who are eternally grateful for having had God – as God the Spirit, lead them to and through the grace/faith door to know that God – as God the Father, has adopted them as His kids.
Your grandmaa and grandpaa know that it is only by God’s unconditional grace and mercy that they were born to a dad and a ma who taught them to know God as their Father God, that they met, that they married, that they have two special kids and that they are being richly blessed while being God’s emissaries. Nehemiah’s occupation was wine tasting. Your grandpaa worked in and managed loan offices. Your grandmaa worked as a bookkeeper. God wants ordinary guys, gals and kids to do extraordinary things for Him for His kingdom’s sake. Nehemiah was the catalyst for recognizing the October 30, 445 B.C. Atonement Day. Your grandmaa and grandpaa have been catalysts for implementing a prototype for enabling rural guys and gals who are living in emerging countries to become Christ-follower leaders in their communities and in their Christ-follower fellowships. To be a catalyst for God’s sake on planet Earth does not just happen overnight; it takes persistence, perseverance, patience and prayer. Even though Nehemiah’s job was to taste the wine that was going to be served to the king to ensure that no one had put poison in the wine to kill the king, Nehemiah’s life passion was to rebuild the walls that surrounded the city of Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army had demolished. Nehemiah’s persistence, perseverance, patience and prayer led to God giving him the opportunity to travel to the city of Jerusalem and to do what his heart was begging him to do. Nehemiah’s prayer life stands out as an example of how God wants you and all of His specially elected guys, gals and kids to talk with Him. God wants to be talked to directly, honestly and with respect – to be reminded of the promises that He has made to the guys, gals and kids who He specially chose and to the guys, gals and kids who He has specially elected before He created planet Earth. Your grandmaa and grandpaa are convinced that there are no limits to what God is able to do through their lives. Your grandmaa and grandpaa also know that they need to make each day of their lives an Atonement Day. Are you learning – just as God’s specially chosen guys and gals learned the hard way to be faithful in obeying God’s will, how God wants to be always in the center of your lives?
Nehemiah 9 (480)