In The Word
Read Nehemiah 9:22-37
“You also gave them kingdoms and peoples,
And allotted them to them as a boundary.
They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon
And the land of Og the king of Bashan.
“You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven,
And You brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.
“So their sons entered and possessed the land.
And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites,
And You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land,
To do with them as they desired.
“They captured fortified cities and a fertile land.
They took possession of houses full of every good thing,
Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,
Fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate, were filled and grew fat,
And reveled in Your great goodness.
“But they became disobedient and rebelled against You,
And cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets who had admonished them
So that they might return to You,
And they committed great blasphemies.
“Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them,
But when they cried to You in the time of their distress,
You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion
You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.
“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 lovingkindness,
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.
“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.
“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.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
As the Levites prayed, they confessed the sins of the nation and admitted that God’s punishment was just. The Levites confessed their own sin as well as the sin of earlier generations by saying “we” and not “they.” Their prayer affirmed Israel’s old pattern of turning away from God. Israel had continually found delight in God’s goodness, but they refused to continually delight themselves in the Lord. Just like the prodigal son, they desired the Father’s wealth but not the Father’s will.
While Israel was repeatedly unfaithful, God was always faithful. When Israel followed God’s commands, He faithfully blessed them. When they disobeyed Him, He faithfully disciplined them. When they confessed their sin, He faithfully forgave them. God gives His people many freedoms, but He will not give them freedom to sin and have their own way without direct consequences. God’s ways are more important than our pleasures, and He will accomplish His plans even if He has to discipline us to do it.
Have you tried to satisfy both God and your flesh? If so, then you have found that it is impossible since they desire very different things. The flesh wants sin, but God expects holiness. The Israelites committed in prayer to obey God’s will and to no longer satisfy their sinful nature. When you sin, God will discipline you for your own good. But the better path is to discipline your flesh by refusing sin and pleasing God by obeying Him.