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The Revival of the Israelites - Part Two - Nehemiah 9:22-38

Posted on April 14, 2019

The Revival of the Israelites – Part Two

Nehemiah 9:22 – 38

Scripture Reading

Nehemiah 9:22 – 25

22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

Introduction: A 12-year-old girl in New York City is being hailed for her bravery in a recent argument with a male classmate that almost turned violent. The dispute? The boy asked for one of her McDonald's chicken nuggets-but she refused. The police report says that after being denied once, the boy then followed the girl into a nearby subway station, pulled out a gun, and pointed the weapon at her head. Incredibly, reports say that the girl slapped the boy's hand away, told him to leave her alone, and went about the rest of her day. Police found and appropriately charged the boy for juvenile attempted robbery, and the chicken-nugget-loving girl of New York City quickly become an internet sensation. You go, girl.

  • When faced with temptation, we need to slap it away
  • But what about when we are worn down by temptation, when we are tired of doing good, of denying ourselves.
  • How do we avoid the slow erosion of sin and its tentacles into our lives?
  • How do we sustain a faithful relationship without slowing slipping back to listen to our old nature and the comforts of sin?

Purpose: Every Christ follower must learn from the lives of those in the past to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes made due to disobedience to God’s Word.

Transition: Let’s look at what happened with the Israelites as the history continues and see what we can learn first hand from them.

The Hand of God’s Blessing on the Israelites in the Promised Land – Nehemiah 9:22-25

  • He gavethem kingdoms – 9:22
    • Nehemiah starts with the macro view, the view from 30,000 feet, the summary statement

Nehemiah 9:22

22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan.

  • God gave the Israelites every corner of the Promised Land that was promised to them. They had it all
  • He multiplied their children – 9:23a

Nehemiah 9:23a

23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven

  • God did exactly what He promised to Abraham in his covenant with Him in Genesis 15
  • God blessed them with an inheritance and an ongoing remnant of people that surged from great to small at times in their history but God still sustained His people.
  • He brought them to the Promised Land – 9:23b

Nehemiah 9:23b

You brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.

  • God fulfills another of His Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12

Genesis 12:1 - 3

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

  • He subduedtheir enemies – 9:24
    • While in the Promised Land, God gave them the ability to overcome and drive out the enemy
      • With the exception of the Gibeonites who tricked them into a treaty and some of the clans they refused to go and remove, the land was primarily free of those who were not part of the Jewish people.
      • When they fought with the enemy, as long as they waited on the Lord and sought His will, they are successful in overcoming their enemies
      • He filled them with food and delight – 9:25

Nehemiah 9:25

25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

  •  God prepared the Promised Land so that the Israelites could walk in and enjoy all the spoils of the land.
  • This was God’s way of blessing them.
    • The downfall came is that they became fat on the blessings of the land and they were filled with prosperity and their wants fulfilled and then they got their focus off of God and onto themselves
      • Fat meant – fertile and filled means they were nourished or satisfied
      • In a matter of a few decades, the Jews, are disobeying God by worshipping idols and the practices of those gods that were in defiance of God’s law
      • The book of Joshua is a book of conquering but the book of Judges is a book of the cycles of rebellion and the tremendous price they paid for their sin!!
      • The Jews quickly developed spiritual amnesia
        • They forgot God’s promises
        • They complained on their journey to the Promised Land over and over some wanted to go back to Egypt, some wanted to kill Moses’
        • They became like the other nations with the idol worship of the surrounding Gentiles and wanting a King like the other nations
        • They lived beneath the potential God had for them
        • They failed to accept God’s will for their lives. In a few moments we are going to see the consequences of their actions.

Quote: “Israel delighted themselves in God’s great goodness but they did not delight themselves in the Lord. Like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–24), they wanted the Father’s wealth but not the Father’s will. – Warren Wiersbe

  • We are in the same place with the same dangers today in our Christian world and in our churches as the Israelites were in the Promised Land
    • We live in the wealthiest nation in all of the world and we should thank God for being allowed to be born here
      • When you go out of the country and come back, you realize how privileged we are!!
      • We have at this time the freedom of religion
      • We have Bibles and Christian resources beyond our wildest imagination.
      • We have to guard against becoming complacent and apathetic to it all and allow the slippery slope of sin into our lives.
        • May the prayer of our heart be that as recorded in Proverbs

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord? “or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

  • You and I need that balance in our lives so we don’t forget about God or become bitter with Him. Remember what Paul said while writing from prison

Philippians 4:11-13

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

  •  “For every one hundred men who can stand adversity, there is only one who can stand prosperity,” said Thomas Carlyle. Novelist John Steinbeck wrote, “If you want to destroy a nation, give it too much—make it greedy, miserable and sick.” It’s possible for a local church to get proud of its “riches” and become poor in God’s eyes (Rev. 3:14–22). The church that we may think is poor is probably rich in God’s eyes (2:8–9). -Warren Wiersbe

Application: Be careful not to let God’s hand of blessing lead us to complacency.

Transition: Let’s look at what the cost of compromise and complacency cost the Israelites.

The Cost of Rejecting God’s Hand of Dependency – Nehemiah 9:26 – 31

  • The public display of disobedience – 9:26

Nehemiah 9:26

“Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies”

  • Talk about turning your back on God? This was in your face rebellion
  • God deals very publicly with public sin
    • Public sin taints His name
    • Public sin taints the reputation of the local body of believers in the community. It can take years to rebuild the reputation of the church
  • Before we say we would never be involved in public sin, public disobedience to God and His Word, we should be reminded again afresh about the Triumphal Entry and then a few days later, by Friday of that week, they crucified the one they praised.

Quote: "Palm Sunday is a good reminder of how quick the heart can move from "Crown Him" to "Crucify Him" when we don't get our way. " - Mike Coradetti

  • Their public sin led to be captured and subdued by their enemies
    • The duress of captivity – 9:27a

Nehemiah 9:27a

27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer.

  • Their public humiliation was a sign and evidence of God’s sustaining love
  • He was not willing to give them the privilege of sinning and going their own way
    • God will never force us to come back to Him
    • The prodigal son, came to the end of himself and he decided he needed to go home and repent of his sin.
    • Some of us in this room have experienced God discipline in our lives. We can rebuff it for a while but His discipline of love is constant. You get to the point where you are going nowhere on your own and you come to the end of yourself and all you can do is look up.
    • Some of us in this room are watching adult children who have been walking away from the Lord. My prayer and your prayer should be that they will come to the place where they are so miserable that they turn to the Lord
    • The Jews were just coming out of 70 years of captivity. Most of them away from their homeland.
  • They cried out for years in desperation and then God decided that enough of the punishment was enough. God will never have you endure more suffering than His grace can provide for. He is in charge of the amount of discipline in love.  Remember some key thoughts in the midst of discipline from God
    • God’s purposes are more important to Him than our pleasures in the midst of suffering
    • He will accomplish His purposes even while disciplining His children
  • God was saying to the Jews, you want to live like the unbeliever, I will let you live with the unbeliever in slavery.
    • The deliverance from captivity – 9:27b

Nehemiah 9:27b

And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies.

  • Moses’
  • Assyrian captivity
  • Cyrus as Persia took over the Babylonian captivity
  • The Holocaust
  • The wars in recent times and God’s miraculous protection
    • The directives to follow the law – 9:28-29a

Nehemiah 9:28 – 29a

28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law

  • The cycle of disorder – 9:29b – 30

Nehemiah 9:29b-30

Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned 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.

  • We see a lot of parallels in this section of Nehemiah with the book of Judges

 

 

 

  • The duration of God’s mercy – 9:31

Nehemiah 9:31

31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

  • In the midst of suffering and discipline, God always gives us hope
  • He did not decide to destroy the nation of Israel when they strayed away deep into sin for a long period of time
  • He had the promise of them being a great nation to fulfill
  • So, He showed great patience and mercy toward them. God will never force us to repent, but will show His kindness and love and that they are available in the midst of our difficulties.

Romans 2:4

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

  • God is always drawing us back to Him in love

John 12:32

32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

  • Even in His suffering

John 3:17

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him

Application: God’s faithful care and mercy are always available to us no matter where we are in life.

Transition:

The Hope of God’s Hand of Steadfast Love – Nehemiah 9:32 -37

Nehemiah 9:32 -35

32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works.

  • No little pain – 9:32
  • No unfair judgment – 9:33
  • No keeping of the law by the leaders – 9:34 – 35
  • No freedom – 9:36 – 37

 

Nehemiah 9:36-37

36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.

  • Freedom is only found in the spiritual sense when we yield or surrender all to the Lord!!

I Corinthians 7:22

22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.

  • There are people in our prisons today that have more freedom than those outside of prison
  • Look at Paul. If you are free in Christ, it doesn’t matter your circumstances
  • This is the place the Jews were realizing here in Nehemiah. We are in great duress because of our sin and we are physically and spiritually in bondage.

Application: If you sow to the wind, you will reap the whirlwind – Hosea 8:7

The Commitment to Keep the Book of the Law – Nehemiah 9:38

Nehemiah 9:38

“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.

  • Because of all this – Chapter 9 and its history of Israel
  • We are going to make a commitment to the Lord
  • This is a time of new beginnings
  • We recognize God’s faithfulness in our people’s disobedience
  • We repent of the sins of our forefathers
  • We rededicate ourselves to the Word

Application: The making of commitments are reminders of God’s moving in our lives

  • The wells in the OT
  • The memorials of piled stones – Joshua – Jordan river
  • What are the reminders in our lives of the turning points / commitments in your life?

Illustration: Christian Camp / Chapel / Graduation / Ordination

Key Thought: May we in our lives learn from God’s dealing with Israel to avoid the heartaches and enjoy the blessings of applying the Word to our lives.

Transition: How to live a life of consistency in the Lord.? How to avoid the emotional, spiritual roller coaster?

How to Avoid the Erosion of Sin in our Lives?

  1. By concentrating on the Word of God
  • Reminders of what God has done in the past points to how faithful He will be in the future
  • Taking the way of escape in temptation. Not wanting to go back to Egypt and the slavery of sin
  • Meditating on God’s Word
  1. By spending time in committed prayer
  2. By remembering and understanding where our true citizenship is found
  • Understanding our relationship with the world in light of God’s Word
  • Understanding we are not to isolate but be ambassadors to this world and reach out to impact others. Push back the darkness. Take people out of Satan’s kingdom
  • Understand and walk in our position in Christ – Not talking about name it claim it faith but confidence in the Word that we live as children of the King.
  1. By making choices with God’s eternal perspective in mind
  • Avoiding decisions that have short term gratification that will bring pain in the future
  • Realizing our decisions now having the eternal perspective now will give us rewards that will last for all eternity. Living with eternity in mind.
  • Enjoying an abundant life and God’s blessings on us in the here and now.
  1. By connecting deeply with the Body of Christ
  • Accountability
  • Action – sharing your unique set of spiritual gifts
  • Examples – following the examples of others so that you in turn can be an example.

Is this a time of new beginnings for you at this Easter season?

  • We have one person so far wanting to be baptized. This is a great picture of a new beginning
  • What new and fresh commitment is God speaking to you about in your heart?
    • Salvation
    • Baptism
    • Rededicate your life
    • Join the church
    • Involvement in a ministry where you are not currently serving.
    • Call to ministry