Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
The Israelites were convicted of their sin and rebellion against God as they heard the Word of God read. They spent the next quarter of the day in worship and confession of their sins! The formation of a new man began to take place as the people worshipped in one accord and confessed their sins. Collaborative worship and confession draws God’s people together and bridges the gap between a holy God and sinful man. It is interesting to note that just as Nehemiah had modeled repentance to them by confessing his own sins and the sins of his forefathers (Nehemiah 1:6), the people now confessed their sins and the sins of their forefathers. As God’s people, we are called to identify not only with the sins of our forefathers, but our sins as well, and seek God’s forgiveness. During their time of confession, the Israelites remembered that the Lord had been gracious and forgiving to them throughout the centuries: But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (9:31)
When we acknowledge and turn away from our sins in repentance, we begin to see clearly the goodness of the Lord and His mercy toward us.
He never forsakes us even though we forsake and turn away from Him. I am reminded daily of how easily I turn from the Lord and how gracious and merciful He is to take me back when I return. We are like sheep that easily go astray, but we have a Great Shepherd who leads us back to safety. (Isaiah 53:6)
Sometimes it is so difficult to repent. Pride keeps me from turning away from my sin and back to You. Forgive me, Lord, for my stubbornness and pride. I ask You to give me a teachable heart, willing to surrender daily to Your care.
In Jesus’ name, Amen