God of Compassion and Judgement
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
Nehemiah 9:28-35 (CJB) Complete Jewish Bible
“But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion, And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, By which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. “However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished 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 compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God. “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness, do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. “For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them. “But they, in their own kingdom, with Your great goodness which You gave them, with the broad and rich land which You set before them, did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.”
In this extended section of scripture, Ezra, the high priest continues his sermon to the Israelite people during the dedication of the re-built walls where he reminds the people of their cyclical pattern. One of sin and disobedience, which would lead to some sort of oppression and or bondage, which would cause a national cry to God for help. Finally, there would be repentance and a return to God and His blessings.
Early in my walk as a Christ Follower, I used to read passages like this and wonder how a people who had a close relationship with God and had been given so many blessings could ever wander so far from Him. I bet I am not the only one. Yet today, I see some of the same things happening.
As I studied this passage, a couple of things stood out to me. God is long suffering, and goodness is on full display as He gave his people chance after chance to repent. God demonstrated His love with judgement and hard times as a way to call His people back to Himself. No matter how far we roam, and no matter what we do, verse 31 says “In Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.”
God is the same today as He was all those years ago. He is great and mighty, and He will bring judgement. He is also gracious, compassionate, and willing to bring us back to Himself when we repent.
As I see many of the same patterns happening today, I am in constant prayer for the church, and the American church in particular who has been given so much. I pray we learn from history, and seek God in repentance for the sins of our nation. I also pray for God’s great compassion on us His Church, His Bride.
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
- God admonishes his Children as a loving parent. He sets boundaries for a reason.
- Pray and grieve over national sin as much as I do for my personal sins.
- If I sin and turn from God, He will allow consequences for my actions.
- Have hope in the hard times because God is full of compassion and only allows things to happen that will bring us back to Himself.
- Trust Him in both the good and the bad. Ask if there is a lesion to be learned in the trial.
God is slow to anger and quick to redeem because we are His children. He loves us with the everlasting love of a father. Take heart. Know that even though times may be hard, He is with us through every trial.
Isaiah 43: 1-2 (NASB)
“But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- Where have I become stubborn and try to do things my way?
- In what area of my life am I prone to wander away from God?
- What hard things in life do I know God allowed to call me back to Himself?
- Am I at a place where I need to repent and return to God?
- In what way do I ignore national sins in my prayers?
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