WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 11, 2013
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COMMUNITY OF CONFESSION
(Confess your unfaithfulness to a faithful GOD)
Nehemiah chapter 9 details a “revival” which followed the Festival of Booths celebrations and observances in chapter 8. This revival took place fifteen days later, and it is marked by six key elements which perhaps any Christian revival today should contain:
· They humbled themselves (v.1)
· They separated themselves from the foreigners who were not a part of theirs and their ancestors sins against GOD (v.2)
· They confessed their sins, and the sins of their ancestors (Vs.2-3)
· The Word of GOD was read to them for three hours (v.3)
· They continued to praise GOD and acknowledge HIS goodness, and HIS grace in prayer (Vs. 4-37)
· They made a solemn promise in writing to obey the LORD their GOD (v.38)
“The Word of GOD” has to have a great impact on the lives of a community, if it is to undergo “true change”, or be “revived”. Only the Word of GOD can truly change a person for the better, permanently. The Israelites, in this passage, began their revival with the Word of GOD because the Word is what shows a person his or her sin, and convicts them. We become aware of what is “wrong” only by being shown what is “right” in the eyes of GOD, not, in the eyes of man.
In this passage the Israelites confess a total of 20 “repetitive sins” against GOD, from the time of Abraham to their present day. During this prayer they also acknowledge over 70 facts about GOD and HIS faithfulness. In it they review the history of Israel, and it reveals, both, the majesty and splendor of GOD, and, the depravity of man, at one and the same time.
We see in this chapter how “feasting” evolved into “fasting”, fasting into “confession”, confession into “prayer”, and prayer into, “a promise of obedience”, however, it was the Word of GOD that “convicted” the people, and got the ball rolling toward forgiveness. “True worship” involves hearing the Word of GOD, praising GOD, praying to GOD, confessing sin to GOD, and then removing ourselves from situations that displease GOD. The better we know GOD, the more we respond to HIM through “imitation” of HIS ways, that were demonstrated to us by CHRIST JESUS, during HIS earthbound mission.
Perhaps, it is the events of the Book of Judges, which are alluded to here in verses 28-31 that demonstrate to us most clearly, the Israelites repeated pattern of “sin”, “servitude”, “supplication”, “salvation”, and “silence”. The tragedy that that cycle presents in Israel’s history is that they never relinquished their rebellious ways against GOD, and in fact, with each downswing, GOD would have to increase the severity of their “self-imposed” consequences.
GOD speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures, and we must respond by speaking to HIM, through “prayer” and “praise”. In this “National Prayer” of the Jews, they acknowledge their persistent sin, and GOD’s persistent judgment and mercy, and, this prayer also shows us GOD is just in exercising “compassion”.
It is right for GOD to punish, and it is equally correct for HIM to forgive. HE is perfectly free to do what HE pleases, and it pleases HIM to offer man forgiveness of sin through CHRIST JESUS. GOD does not have to change for us, for HE is perfectly righteous in everything that HE has done, and will do. It is us who must change, because it is us who are in error, and, are in need of HIS “forgiveness”.
A Sunday school lesson by
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website