Bible Survey on Nehemiah – Lesson 9

We got to the part in Nehemiah where the revival started.

The people already had been exercising their faith by going to work every day on the wall.  They had already been fixing sin issues as God had them brought up.  They had been growing and seeing God bless and then growing and fixing some sin and then they would grow some more.  And then we saw the revival start.

The people called for it.  They wanted to hear the Word of God.

Neh 8:8  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 

Neh 8:11  So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. 

Neh 8:12  And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. 

And understanding more of the word of God gave them joy.  Wanting more of God and drawing closer to Him was good for them and they were joyful.

When you taste God’s goodness the natural result should be you want more.  And that is what we see in this revival.

Neh 8:13  And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. 

They gather again to learn more from God’s precious word.

Neh 8:14  And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 

Neh 8:15  And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 

What is this dwelling in booths about?  Why do it?  What is the purpose?

To understand that we can do exactly what they did.  They were reading from Lev chapter 23.

Lev 23:39  Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 

They were to hold a feast in the seventh month and notice this is after harvest.  when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days.

So right away we see this feast has something to do about being thankful.  About honoring the Lord for the harvest and for His goodness to them.  This feast was to be 7 days long.  They would have time because the harvest is done.   It was to start on the 15th.  The 15th can fall on any day of the week.  Some months the 15th falls on a Wednesday or a Tuesday.

And whatever day that is it was to be a Sabbath day.  Let’s say it fell on a Friday.  Then that Friday would be a Sabbath and then the next day would be a weekly Saturday Sabbath and then 8 days later would be Friday again and that would also be a Sabbath and then the next day would be the Saturday Sabbath.

So in 2 weeks there would be not two but 4 Sabbaths.  Those that teach the myth of good Friday miss this truth.  There are more Sabbaths than just the Saturday weekly Sabbath.  And they can fall back to back.  This obviously happened when Jesus died for He was 3 days and nights in the earth.  That year one of these other Sabbaths must have fell on a Thursday.

There were a bunch of Sabbaths.  These on the 7th month feast were not the only ones.

And on this yearly 7th month 7 day feast they were to build booths.

Lev 23:40  And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 

God wanted them to sit in these booths and rejoice before Him for 7 days.  This was not to be a chore.  It was to be done with rejoicing.

Lev 23:41  And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 

Lev 23:42  Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 

God wanted all His people to be involved in this rejoicing, this celebration, this out poring of appreciation and thankfulness to God.  It was to be done out in the open for all to see.

So it was to be done for rejoicing and for being thankful and then another couple of reasons for it is given.

Lev 23:43  That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. 

  • It is a remembrance of what God did for them in the past.

It was a visual display of something that God did in the past for their people.  It is a reminder of how they lived when God took them out of Egypt.  When they were in the wilderness and a remembrance of how God was good to them there.  He gave them water from the rock and fed them with manna from heaven.  And was with them every step of the way.  They had the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

Putting up these booths and rejoicing for a week was to bring up thoughts of all that God has done for them.

  • The second reason that they were to do this was so that their children may know. It says that your generations my know.  This was to be done to teach.  To show to others these truths.

So Ezra and the Levites read the word about this and gave the sense of it.  Now that the people know, what are they going to do?  Many others in history knew this, but they would not do it.  Knowing facts does not make something happen.  Many people know a lot about the Bible but they don’t do what it teaches.

Take two people and give them the same facts and one does it and one doesn’t.  What is the difference?  The heart.  These people had the heart for revival, a heart for God.  So what happens next should not be a surprise.

Neh 8:16  So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 

So they did it.  They did it in mass.  A huge overwhelming majority of them did it.  It was a great outpouring of obedience and rejoicing to God.

This is revival.  Revial will always, I mean always be done in obedience with God’s Word.

A few months ago it made front page news, even some liberal media outlets covered it.  They said a revival had broken out.  It did last for weeks, I think a little over a month even.  And tens of thousands of people came.

There was a lot of praying.  And there even might have been a genuine revival in the hearts of a few.  But it mostly was just a show.  It was at a very liberal “Christian” in quotes college.  A place that believes a bunch of unbiblical things.

They were doing things and teaching things and being led by unbiblical people.  What was happening was not lining up with God’s word.  If it was a real revival, then they would have been getting right with God.  They would have changed their thinking, their teaching, and their actions.

Bringing your actions and beliefs into line with God’s Word.  That is a true revival.  What happened at that collage was an emotional, empty, fake revival.

What happened in Nehemiah was the real deal.

Neh 8:17  And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. 

Great gladness.  Of course there was.  That is what comes to the heart that is in revival.

Neh 8:18  Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner. 

So according to the instructions found in the word of God they were to have a solemn assembly on the 8th day.  So they are being obedient.  After 7 days of rejoicing they are to have a solemn assembly.

We to rejoice, but we are also to pray and admit our sins.  We are to do both.  There are times for doing one and times for doing the other.  Some people only want the rejoicing part, they will take the being made to feel good.  Give me more of that, but confessing sin to God, forget that.

Those who think that way today are not in line with God’s ways.  We are to do both.

Neh 9:1  Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. 

Neh 9:2  And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 

Neh 9:3  And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God. 

Part of truly worshipping God is confessing your sin to Him.

A number of leaders get up and speak.

Neh 9:4  Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God. 

Neh 9:5  Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. 

Neh 9:6  Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. 

Neh 9:7  Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; 

Neh 9:8  And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous: 

They start by stating how great and powerful and right God is.

They then give a summary of many great events that God did on their behalf.

The hearing of their cries in Egypt and the signs and wonders upon Pharoah, and the dividing of the Red Sea.  Vs 9 – 11

The leading of them by the cloudy pillar by day and pillar of fire by night and the giving of the law from Sinai and feeding them with mana.  Vs 12-15

A list of all good and right things that God did out of love.

I thought you said this was about confession.  That does not sound like confession.  Actually confession starts with acknowledgment of who God is and that He is right and perfect and holy and that He is the creator.  He is God and has a right to be confessed to.

We are the ones who are wrong.  In verse 16 they start confessing that.

Neh 9:16  But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 

Neh 9:17  And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. 

Neh 9:18  Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; 

And then again they bring up that this is not God’s fault.  God is good and delights in showing mercy.  Remembering this is good when confessing.  Why?  It means He will forgive.  You will find mercy.

Neh 9:19  Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. 

Neh 9:20  Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. 

Neh 9:21  Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. 

Neh 9:22  Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. 

They did not deserve any of this.  But God gave them mercy and love anyway. 

Neh 9:23  Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it. 

Neh 9:24  So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 

Neh 9:25  And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness. 

Neh 9:26  Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. 

Neh 9:27  Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. 

Neh 9:28  But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; 

Neh 9:29  And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. 

Neh 9:30  Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. 

Neh 9:31  Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God. 

Now after all of that they are going to get to their own issues.

Going thru all of that is good.  It establishes God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  The saying what God has done for others He will do for you comes to mind.

Neh 9:32  Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. 

Neh 9:33  Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: 

That is confession in its most basic form.  God you are right and I am not.  You are holy and perfect and good and I have done wickedly.

Neh 9:34  Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 

Neh 9:35  For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works. 

Neh 9:36  Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it: 

Neh 9:37  And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. 

Neh 9:38  And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it. 

They admit their wrong doing.  They appeal to God’s mercy and forgiveness and this appeal is made with a strong foundation of who God is and how He works.

And then they promise to not sin this way again.  They make a promise to God that they will not forget Him and they will serve Him.

What exactly did they promise?  That is in chapter 10 and we don’t have time to look at that today.

What we see in chapter 9 is a great example of the confession of the heart that is on fire for God.  It acknowledges who God is and His character.  It makes note of His mercy, and love.  It confesses with assurance that God is good and will forgive.

It stands on the foundation of how God has dealt in mercy and forgiveness for others and He will do that for me.  It says God you are right and I have done wickedness.

And real confession includes a heart that does not want to do it again. 

We all love rejoicing.  But confession is also needed.  In fact it is good for the soul.  It is critical for maintaining a heart that is on fire for God.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 


More on confessing sins to God

1Jn 1:5  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 

1Jn 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 

1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 

1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1Jn 1:10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 

The Bible is clear, we all mess up, we all make mistakes, and we all sin.  When we do we do not lose our salvation.  However, God does not walk in darkness.   So when we chose to live with unconfessed sin, then we hurt our closeness and our fellowship with God.

There is a lot of clear plain truth in those six short verses.  Last week we looked at an Bible example of what confession looks like.  Vs 9 says he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

Just how far does that go?  How many times?  Those are fair questions.  We saw in Nehemiah in their confession they laid a foundation that answers those questions.  The Israelites had hardened their necks and rebelled and sinned against God over and over and over again.

And every time they turned to God they were forgiven and delivered.  And they did some really bad things.  That example helps us see how far God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness goes.  Since God forgave them we can be assured that God will forgive us.  And that example shows us that it is not just a once or twice type of thing.

God forgives over and over and over and over.  We can read 1st John 1:9 and then look at a Bible example of it played out and we can absolutely be assured that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

This brings up another question that I have heard.  I have talked to people who had problems with this.  They say so you mean to tell me that I can do any sin and confess it and God will forgive it.  So I guess that I will just go, and they name something awful and then just confess it and I am fine and then I will just go, and they name something else and then just confess it and it all good.

They are talking about playing games with it.  That is not ok.  These verses do not suggest that or condone that.

To understand we need to consider other scriptures.

Rom 6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 

Other scripture makes it clear that we are not to play games with this.  Being under grace is no excuse to sin.  And just because you can confess and find forgiveness is also no excuse to sin.

Verses 6 and 7 talk about walking.  That implies you are continually moving and walking.  Anytime you on purpose sin because you are going to play the forgive me card.  At that moment you are no longer walking in the light you are walking in darkness.

Something tells me that just playing games on purpose with God is not really going to work out very well.  He knows the true intent of the heart.

When we do mess up we do have assurance that He will forgive us.  Absolutely.  We just need to be real about it.  Genuine.  And there should be an attitude that I am genuinely sorry about it and the desire should be that I do not want to do it again.

And this is what we see in the example we have been looking at in Nehemiah.  At the end of their confession in chapter 9 verse 38 says.

Neh 9:38  And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it. 

Part of their confession was them stating that we are not going to do it again.  They were so serious about it that they made a covenant and had leaders seal it.

We will not take the time to read it aloud, but look at the 1st 27 verses of chapter 10.

It is a long list of leaders who agreed to and signed the promise of the confession.

Now we are not to do that today.  We have talked about this many times.  You do not bring a practice out of the Old Testament into the New Testament age with no New Testament authority.  We are not told in the New Testament to write down an oath about your confession and have others sign it.

The New Testament tells us that the Old Testament scriptures are for our learning.  So there are principals and truths that we are to learn from.

What we learn here is that there should be some kind of desire, when we confess our sins privately to God, to not just get up and go out and do the same thing again.

See more Bible Survey on Nehemiah