Just One Thing: History

The longest recorded prayer in the Old Testament, Nehemiah 9:6-38 is also the fullest summarized retelling of Old Testament history.  It’s all there, point and counterpoint:  the Red Sea crossing, the manna, the subduing of the Canaanites.  Ponder these alongside the disobedience, the mutiny, and the faithless complaining.  A slow reading of this prayer with an eye for the ebb and flow of righteousness reveals six paired instances of Israel’s rebellion and God’s redemptive responses.  Whether Israel’s dance of death speaks to your heart about the mercy of God or about His patience and longsuffering, it is a testimonial to God’s commitment to His chosen ones, and this, I believe, is what led the people to take the words which describe their ancestors’ rebellion and to turn them Godward in the form of prayer.  Like their predecessors, they were in great distress (vv. 36, 37).  They desperately needed reassurance that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was still the kind of God who would meet them with forgiveness and restoration.

The chart below is for your personal study.  We scrawled it large and garish on our Sunday School white board last week, but I recommend printing it and taking notes in the margins, because this prayer of generational confession follows the psalm of praise that bubbles through verses 5 and 6.  It follows a litany of liberation trumpeted through verses 7 through 15.  These are scaffolding under Israel’s faith, emboldening them to come clean with the past and to make solid plans for reformation (see Nehemiah 10).

Without too much thought, I, too, could come up with a chart like Israel’s, and while it is important to avoid morbid introspection, it is good for my soul to recall the work of God on my behalf in the face of my pride, high-handed rebellion, and irrational faithlessness.  The mirror of God’s Word startles and forces me into honest evaluation, but God’s history of faithfulness and redemptive work in the past inspire confidence for bold reform.


Scroll down to find the chart I mentioned earlier in this, the twenty first in a series of posts pondering  “just one thing”  each week from my study of the book of Nehemiah, as I travel slowly and thoughtfully through the chapters with my Sunday School class.  If you’d like to make a comment or leave a link to your own blog post about your wall-building stories, I’d love to read it. If you want to catch up with previous posts, here’s the link:  https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/tag/nehemiah/.

                                             Israel’s Rebellion and God’s Response

Nehemiah 9:16,17 Presumptuous disobedience and mutiny Grace, mercy, and steadfast love
Nehemiah 9:18-25 Idolatry Supernatural guidance and provision
Nehemiah 9:26, 27 Disobedience to the law; murdering God’s messengers Deliverance through the godly leadership
Nehemiah 9:28, 29a Evil (again) Deliverance
Nehemiah 9:29b, 30a Pride and stiff necked rebellion Patience; warning through prophetic messages
Nehemiah 9:30b, 31 They would not listen More grace and more mercy, even in the midst of exile
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Michele Morin

I am a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. I have been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and our four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, two teens still remain at home, and along with an incorrigible St. Bernard, we laugh, make messes, clean them up, and then start all over again. I love hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop me in my tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. I lament biblical illiteracy and advocate for the prudent use of "little minutes." I blog at Living Our Days because "the way I live my days will be, after all, the way I live my life." You can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

13 thoughts on “Just One Thing: History”

  1. I didn’t realize until I started to comment that you were over on my site earlier from Fellowship Fridays! I, too, enjoy digging deeply into the old testament. I like a little law to help show me how much I need to gospel!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Taking time to truly read and understand all God has done for us is important to our faith journeys. I love the background and especially the chart. So glad you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

    Like

  3. I love the book of Nehemiah. I was reading through it when my grandson, Nehemiah, was born 5 weeks early. (He’s perfect and healthy) If he’d have been born on his due date the two wouldn’t have coincided. I love how God does things like that.

    Like

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