National Sin, National Agreement, Personal Commitment
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
Nehemiah 9:36-38 (NASB) & 10: 1-27
“Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold, we are slaves in it. 37 “Its abundant produce is for the kings whom You have 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.”
10 “Now on the sealed document were the names of: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8 Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah. These were the priests. 9 And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; 10 also their brothers Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14 The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, Baanah.”
As we close out Chapter 9 in the book of Nehemiah, I have mixed emotions. The entire chapter up to this point told the story of the re-built walls and of the grand celebration. Yet today, we see the people were still not free. They rebuilt the broken and burned city, and yet they remained oppressed. After a celebration and re-dedication of the city, God’s chosen people faced the reality of the new type of slavery that they were forced to endure.
The land still belonged to the king, along with the abundant produce the land provided.
Because of national sin, the entire nation suffered, so today, the congregation made an agreement to return to the God of their fathers. They put this agreement in writing which was the first real step toward revival and freedom. The first 27 verses of chapter 10 are a list of names of those who signed the agreement on behalf of the people.
As I write, the world as we know it has been turned upside down due to a virus that has swept across our land. On the heels of the virus, an upheaval of social unrest, followed by one natural disaster after another. I wonder if we, just as the people of Nehemiah’s day are under a time of judgement for the many, many sins of our nation. If we could stop for a moment and look at how the Israelite people responded to their trials, perhaps we would have the revival many have been praying to God for all these years. After years of sin and months of hard labor, the people could finally recognize their own part in the nation’s judgement.
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
· Be the one who stands up and calls out the sins of our nation.
· Be the one who will seek out those in need and help them find freedom from sin through a relationship with Almighty God.
· Make a renewed covenant with God and seek His will.
· Be bold as Nehemiah and be the first to step out in faith.
Nehemiah was the first to sign the document, then the priests, then the temple workers. Our national healing needs to start with those who will cry out to God. He is faithful, and He will hear our cries and He will heal our land.
2 Chronicles 7:13-15
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- Am I held in bondage to a particular sin and what is holding me back from giving it to God?
- What will I do to take the first step in walking the land God has already given me?
- Am I willing to go where He sends me?
- What commitments or steps of faith am I afraid to make?
- What am I doing that will be a good example to others in their walk with God?
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