Friday, April 26, 2013

Nehemiah 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.
·         Normally this was on day 10 of the month, see Leviticus 16:29, but the purpose and procedure is spelled out in 1-34.

[2] And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
·         It does not seem that there was a national call to divorce any wives, since they were already divorced, but it seems to be that they separated themselves, and were going to be the holy people God wanted.
·         Sin comes from the old English sinne, which likely is related to the German suntan, and the Latin sont. It means, guilty.
·         They confessed the guilt of their fathers as well.

[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.
·         For three hours they listened to a sermon, and for three hours they sang and prayed.
·         Notice that the order is backwards from what a typical worship service is here.

[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.
·         The levites led them in this. The people did not dare approach GOdThis is the longest recorded prayer in the Bible.

[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.
·         What follows is a prayer, and a long one, about God’s summary goodness to Israel. It’s also a confession of their disobedience.

[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.
·         Genesis 1. And the preaching here is rich with a deep understanding of Spiritual truths. God alone is God, God made all matter, energy, and life. God continually upholds all of it by an act of His will. God is transcendent and is worshipped by the heavenly angels.
·         God by dent of His being the creator rightfully demands 100% of our time, attention, and worship.
·         He host of heaven are the angels.
·         The phrase, heaven of heaven is also seen in Deut 10:14, which speaks to the furthest extent of God’s reign.

[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;
·         Genesis 12. God called an idolater out of Ur to inherit His blessings.
·         In giving him a new name God gave him a new identity. Isaiah 62:2 is the promise for a new identity, and this is the new name of the Gentiles in Christ – beloved (Romans 9:25). God did the same thing to Jacob in renaming him Israel.

[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:
·         This refers predominately to Genesis 15 where God covenanted with Abraham, to give him the land forever. The text which is at the very heart of the dispute between coventalists and dispensationalists.
·         God tested Abraham on Mount Moriah, to signify what would happen to His own Son. Abraham serves as a shadow of what was to come because He held nothing back and was willing to give everything to God.

[9] And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;
[10] And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharoah, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day.
·         Now the narrative jumps to the exodus, and the covenant from Sinai
·         The reason for God bringing the Israelites out of the land was to bring glory to His name. See Romans 9:17
·         Moses appeals to God to not destroy the Israelites, lest the nations hear of it and defame His great name see Exodus 32:9-14
·         Our salvation is so that Christ could be great, Ezekiel 26:22

[11] And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.
[12] Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.
·         They passed under the cloud and were baptized into the new land and relationship.
·         God’s presence was before them for good, Exodus 13:21-22
·         He was in their midst, but because they were so sinful it often happened that the plague broke out against the people.
·         See also Psalms 78:14-16

[13] Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:
[14] And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:
·         See Deut. 4:36 where Moses records God speaking from heaven out of a fire.
·         The Sabbath was the sign of the covenant. Circumcision was the previous sign, and this time it was the rest from working.
·         The law had a three fold purpose: it was designed to lead them to Christ, by showing them their sins and the need for the savior. (see sermon on the mount) It was a teacher, growing them up and opening their eyes to what sin is (Romans 7:9)
·         It was the promised source of life for those who could obey it.

[15] And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
·         Exodus 16:15 has the story of the manna from heaven that they ate after their previous stores of food ran out.
·         Exodus 17:1 has the story of the people having no water, Exodus 17:6 has the solution, Moses striking the rock with his staff.
·         The manna was meant to be understood as Christ’s body. And the water is the water of life that flows from those who believe, because Christ has been struck with the rod of God’s justice.
·         This ends the first division of the story, the other three are to come.

[16] But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments,
[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.
·         Numbers 14:4 has the story of the people who wanted to return to Egypt. 10 times they grumbled until God would not show them any more mercy.
·         The story of their unfaithfulness was not mentioned until here, in Stephens telling in Acts, it comes up earlier, in the story of Moses.
·         They refused to obey. Their sin was deliberate and pre-meditated.

[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;
·         Aaron, bending to pressure, made a molded image of God as a calf within 40 days of Moses ascending the mountain. Exodus 32:1-4.
·         This stands at the height of evil in the narrative, yet even so God continued to guide them.

[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.
·         Because God is longsuffering, He did not forsake them even though they forsook Him. The focus is on the attribute of God in His goodness and mercy.
·         Deut 2:7 has the summation of all that God did in being faithful to them.
·         God would have been just in wiping them out entirely, but He chose not to.

[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.
·         Numbers 11:17 has the story of God giving to the people His spirit, for their benefit, which was a shadow of the Spirit that came upon Christ, that afterwards He prophesied and preached the Kingdom.

[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.
·         No disease struck them, nor did they want for food or clothes. Will not God who clothes the field do better than they, for He knows our need and knows how to provide for His own.

[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.
·         The conquest of Canaan was preceded by the destruction of the nations east of the promised land. It did not have to be this way, they chose to attack Israel and brought the destruction upon themselves.
·         Numbers 21:21+ has this event.

[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.
·         God had promised to multiply the people like the stars in the heavens, here Ezra is careful to mention that God had completely fulfilled His promises to them.

[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.
·         The book of Joshua accounts how they went in and attacked the inhabitants of the land, and destroyed their cities.
·         God had left them in the land to test and train them, and so the land would not become too much for them right away. God gave them what they needed, when they needed it.

[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.
·         It did not last long, only one generation, the generation that lived in the desert and remembered the misery of it.
·         They inherited all the things from someone else, who had done all the work ahead of time. This is like Christ who has gone ahead and built a house for us, who has paid the debt for us, and we merely take possession of it.
·         This goodness of God to them ends the second division, there are still two to come.

[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.
·         This happened all during the time of the judges where instead of following the law of God, everyone did as they thought best. See Judges 2:11.
·         This began in earnest on a national level with Solomon who built the high places for Ashteroth, Molech, and the other deities, he should have known better. Jereboam, the king to rule in the North immediately built idols and plunged the northern kingdom into idolatry, particularly so under Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
·         The southern kingdom fell largely into ruin with the 55 year reign of Manasseh the most idolatrous King of all. Josiah reforms show the work Manasseh had done to spite God, particularly at 1 Kings 23:4-14.
·         When Josiah began to reform the nation and repair the temple the books except for perhaps one was destroyed. They had cast the law behind them.
·         See Jesus comment in Matthew 24 or Hebrews 11 about them slaying the prophets. The historical record is also in 2 Chron 24:21 for example.

[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.
·         Referrs chiefly to the time of the judges where God brought against them the surrounding nations, and then raised up judges to deliver them. Judges 2:16.
·         Mesopotamia, Moab, Ammonites, Amalekites, Philistines, Caanan, Midianites, all oppressed them at one time or another.

[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;
·         Every time they cried to God He heard them and delivered them from the oppression. It was only when they completely forsook God altogether that He turned His back on them as well.
·         This is the point of Samuels speech where the people have rejected God as king over them.

[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.
·         Notice that if a man does all the commandments then he will live. It was this that allowed Christ to become the faithful and just high priest, because He had kept all the words of the law. See Leviticus 18:5, Ezekiel 20:11.
·         They refused to submit the commandments. This is reinforced by the number of times it’s stated that they hardened their hearts. The result then was a choosing of death.

[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.
·         This is most notable in the judges, but it continued through the days of the Monarchy. Only during the time of David, and to some extent Hezekiah and Josiah, who followed God with their whole heart was there real rest from their enemies.
·         The prophetic period was pointing them toward the future kingdom, even as they fell apart morally and failed to obtain the promises.

[31] Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
·         This ends the third division in the narrative.
·         It is solely due to God’s gracious mercy that they were not consumed.  Jer 4:27 for example states that God would not make a total end of them, but would preserve the remnant.
·         They cling to the attributes of God in all of this.

[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.
·         Exile and misery has been the theme of the nation since the Assyrians rose so prominently to power, and the Babylonians took over their position as ruler of the world.
·         They had been in bondage for about the last 150 years.
·         The title they ascribe harkens back to Deut 10:17.

[33] Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly:
[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.
·         The prophets were included in the previous list but not here, they alone were faithful.
·         “That you may be proved right when you are judged” Romans 3:4

[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.
·         The people stubbornly refused to do anything but sin, and so God left them as He said He would.

[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:
[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.
·         This ends the fourth division of the prayer in recounting their history.
·         The collapse of the monarchy was final and total. Never again would they get it back.

[38] And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.
·         In response to this plight and their history of failure they will draw near to God, and obey Him, and do what He has instructed them to do.
·         It was not long until they had all broken their covenant entirely. They fell apart and began to do as wickedly as before. Chapter 13 is coming.

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