(The first post might be and may be read here)
(V. 1-5) The people confess their sins to God. They come, after rejoicing and partying and eating the fat and drinking the wine, they come and lay in sackcloth and ashes with dirt on their heads. Separating themselves from those of other nationalities for one purpose, namely to confess their sins. They read the Law for a quarter of the day, looking at their iniquities in specific, confessing their sins as faithfully and wholly as they were possible of doing.
Often when the brokenness is brought about by conviction knocking on our doors we lock it out. We strive in every corner of our hearts to keep at bay the conviction that comes to us from the Father. Trying to hide behind the facade of faux happiness. For though we’ve locked conviction out at the door he has come in through the window and we are broken on the inside.
But here in this fragmented state we wallow and drench ourselves with our own tears. We do not confess our sins to each other; rather we bottle them up inside ourselves.
But this is what Community is for! To confess sin! To sit with trusted friends and weep over the sin that has for so long enveloped you! To be supported in your confession by the loving arms of dear friends. For we see in the passage that this confession turns to worship, saying, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” (Neh. 9:5b)
(V. 6-8a) In confession the Christian life begins. For only in the God-given realization of your sinfulness is there hope of understanding the Gospel. It is impossible to understand this good-news unless one understand the gravity of the situation. If you do not see your sinfulness then you will not see a need for a Savior; if you do not think you need mercy than you surely do not think you need grace.
Indeed this is the beginning of faith, the root of the Christian life. Faith is, “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) It is the sense of the Christian life. As you see and hear and touch and smell and taste and by these senses understand the world around you so it is with faith. Faith is our sense of spiritual things it is, as described by Henry Scougal our, “Feeling persuasion of spiritual things; it extends itself unto all Divine truths.”
The feeling persuasion of spiritual things, the heart and the head both uniting and agreeing on the issue of the Gospel, seeing and feeling and reasoning that it is proper and right to believe and be completely about this one thing. It is often said that the world has no idea what man with a call is capable of doing, but I would change the statement to say, “the world has no idea what a true believer in the Gospel is capable of doing.“
All hell might stand before the believer but that will not keep him from his Jesus. All torments of fire and torturous death might be physically before her, but that will not keep her from her God. This Gospel, this Jesus, he is the strength to the weak, the hope to the despairing, the life to the dead.
Because of this feeling persuasion, this faith, the believer knows the world about him. He sees creation in a proper manner for he has heeded Jesus’ call (Heb 11:2). It is by faith that Abram became Abraham for, God found his heart faithful before him (Neh. 9:8)
Salvation, this faith of believing the Gospel is not a simple choice, nor is it a mere prayer, it is a life. Often we speak about the continually nature of salvation. That we are to be being saved, not simple existing as Christian but to be growing as Christian, for a “Christian” who does not grow is no Christian at all.
(V. 9-15) God has condescended to us to make a covenant promise with us. As he did with Abraham so he does with us, we are promised that our sins will be removed from us, as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). Calling us his son’s and daughters, loving us in such a mighty fashion we have never known nor felt before, further adding to the feeling persuasion of our faith.
God who keeps his promises toward us despite us, though we fail to uphold our end of the covenant, though we attempt to push an omnipresent God away; thought we fight against him with sophisticated doubt and skepticism, all our ranting and raving does nothing to turn him away from his promise toward us his children, those whom he has called to be his. We remain his for he has redeemed us to himself with himself.