Read Nehemiah 9:9-22. How does this part of the prayer differ from the first part?
The prayer transitions from praising God for His faithfulness to recounting the contrasting unfaithfulness of the Israelites in their Egypt and wilderness experiences. It outlines all the different things God gave the Israelites; but unfortunately, the response of the “fathers” to those gifts was pride, stubbornness, and disregard of God’s gracious acts among them.
The acknowledgement of human failure and lack of true devotion to God is an important step in confession and repentance. And even though these texts are talking about people long removed from us, no one can deny that every single one of us has a problem with those same issues.
Of course, here is where the gospel comes in for us as well as for them. Confession of our sins does not save us; only Christ’s sacrifice in our behalf does. Confession, along with repentance, is central to our own acknowledgement that we must be justified by Christ alone. “When through repentance and faith we accept Christ as our Saviour, the Lord pardons our sins, and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law. The sinner then stands before God as a just person; he is taken into favor with Heaven, and through the Spirit has fellowship with the Father and the Son” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 3, p. 191.
At the same time, because His goodness causes us to confess our sins and repent of them, we must be determined by God’s power to forsake them as well.
The bottom line is that Israel had been stubborn, and God had been loving. Looking back at what God did for the Israelite nation reminded the people that because God had done so much for them in the past, He would continue to take care of them at the present moment and in the future. That was why it was so important for the people always to remember how God had acted in their history. When they forgot, that was when they got into trouble.
|Think back to times when you were certain that God had been working in your life. How can you draw comfort from that for yourself the next time you face struggles? How can you better learn to trust in the goodness of God amid times when you feel completely discouraged, let down, and fearful for the future?|