Wednesday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Nehemiah 9:22-38 (NKJV)
22 “Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess. 24 So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they wished. 25 And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness.
26 “Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; And in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; Yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, 29 and testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ And they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear. 30 Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.
32 “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 However You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. 34 Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them. 35 For they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works. 36 Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here we are, servants in it! 37 And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; And we are in great distress.
38 “And because of all this, we make a sure covenant, and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”
Sin. Repentance. Salvation. Sin. Repentance. Salvation. This was the cycle during the time of the Exodus, the Judges, and the Kingdom. This is the cycle which the people of Jerusalem recount in the second half of their confession of sin to the Lord. It is our cycle as well. Daily we sin. Daily we are called upon to repent of our sins. Daily Christ absolves us our sins and applies His merits to us by faith. The Christian life is one of daily imbibing the Law and then the Gospel. And good thing! For our sin is our chief problem in this life. Selfishness, boredom, laziness, sloth, lust, ambition, avarice, hateful thinking, grudge-holding, mammon-worshiping, all-encompassing sin is our daily problem. And it’s not one sin then it’s another. The Law of the Lord, love for God and love for neighbor, always bears down upon us and accuses our consciences, showing us just how wicked even the best of us truly are.
But thanks be to God that He is merciful to His wayward children. The Law always accuses but the Gospel always forgives, restores, and rebuilds those who are broken by the Law. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:8-9). “In the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies.” (Neh. 9:27).