READING: Nehemiah 8-10
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: These chapters cover so much that it’s hard to summarize them in a single devotion. Ezra read the Law, and the people both worshiped and wept when they heard the Word (Neh. 8:1-12). They prayed a lengthy prayer of remembrance and confession (Neh. 9), followed by a vow of renewed faithfulness to Yahweh (Neh. 10).
Portions of the chapter 9 prayer outline so powerfully reflect the grace of God that all one can do is stand amazed. They are again the story of a people undeservedly called to be God’s people, yet who continually reject His leading. God, though, is a compassionate God who does not abandon them:
Neh. 9:17 They refused to listen and did not remember Your wonders You performed among them. They became stiff-necked and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, and You did not abandon them.
Neh. 9:19a You did not abandon them in the wilderness because of Your great compassion.
Neh. 9:31 However, in Your abundant compassion, You did not destroy them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.
Even when the word “abandon” is used for God’s judgment, that judgment was followed by God’s grace extended again; that abandonment was not truly abandonment at all: "But as soon as they had relief, they again did what was evil in Your sight. So You abandoned them to the power of their enemies, who dominated them. When they cried out to You again, You heard from heaven and rescued them many times in Your compassion” (Neh. 9:28).
When I consider my own repetitive sin, my numerous rebellions, and my recurrent idolatries, I cannot put into words my gratitude that Jesus has never abandoned me. He would be right to do so, except that He is indeed abundantly compassionate (Neh. 9:31).
My only legitimate response is to do what the Hebrews did in chapter 10: commit myself to carefully obey all the commands of Yahweh our Lord (Neh. 10:29). Undiluted obedience is only right.
PRAYER: “God, I thank you for never abandoning me. Help me to show that gratitude through obedience.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Nehemiah 11-13, Psalm 126