Repenting To And Celebrating Our God

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad:

The last time we were in Nehemiah, the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem were repaired and the gates hung. Israel listened to the Word of God as it was read by Ezra the Priest. We stopped here, in Nehemiah 8, where we will continue:

Nehemiah 8:14-15 And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.

In Our Smallness We Celebrate The Greatness Of Our Lord!

The “Feast of Booths” (also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Sukkot) was a time for Israel to be joyful, as God commanded

Be JOYFUL at your Feast” (Deuteronomy 16:14)

Booths always occurs four days after Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Ezra was reading from

Leviticus 23:34, 39-43 The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. … 39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

God blessed Israel richly in bringing them out of Egyptian slavery. God also blessed His people in bringing them out of Babylonian and Medo-Persian captivity. God had Israel dwell in “Booths” or “Tabernacles” made from the boughs of palm and willow trees. Every Israelite was to dwell in “Booths” for seven days. The Booths were temporary but a reminder how God had reached out and saved His people. It was a time to practice the Presence of God – to unplug from the Temple and Jerusalem itself, and to just rest in the arms of God.

A Tent Revival: As a Church we will be having a revival the last week of this month, a tent revival, with a homecoming that Sunday following it. I do not know how well attended it will be. I am praying that many souls will be saved, and people will unplug from the insanity that has recently become America.

I am praying that we as a Church will embrace this time,
and draw near to our God in worship.

I have talked, over the years, with older members who had “brush arbor meetings”. In those meetings they gathered brush and branches and made areas where believers could gather and worship.

I pray that this is what our tent revival will be like. We have been so richly blessed as a Church – not just through the pandemic – but even now. As I sat and talked with our Director of Missions just yesterday,

I had no idea so many local Churches have suffered instability
and decreases in membership.

Yet we chug along. Perhaps we ourselves will drop in membership as we go forward. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I know Who holds tomorrow!

We must celebrate our Lord!

Just as Booths focused on God and not the people, our Tent Revival will focus on Jesus Christ and not Riverview Baptist. It will be a time of celebration, a time of joy, a time to recognize all the good that God has done for us. Churches in our area have closed their doors, but Christ kept us open. Why? Because we celebrate Him. We love His Word, and want to hear from it. There has been some concern that it might rain during the revival., If it does, that is God’s will. We will celebrate Him. The ground where the tent is will be – as ground is – somewhat uneven. If it is, that is God’s will. He gave us the land not just to mow, but to worship Him on. I don’t know about you, but I want to worship my Lord! Notice how the Israelis made their “Booths”:

Nehemiah 8:16-17 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

Some made booths on their housetops. Others made booths in their “courts” or back yards. Some went to the Temple, and made booths in the courts around the Temple. Some made booths in the streets that were closed off, like the Water Gate and Ephraim. If you’ll notice, NO ONE made booths in the Temple itself. The point of making temporary booths is to remind the people that God is with us no matter where we are. In the popular Psalm, David wrote:

Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

God is with His people. When we go through the darkest valley, God is with us. He promises:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When Israel dwelt in booths, they had NO land, promised or otherwise. Israel had NO standing army. Israel was a nation of released slaves, led by Moses. Israel had NO Temple nor Church building. They worshiped God in a tent called the “Tabernacle” that they had to set up each time they stopped traveling. Israel had NO written Scripture to guide them, as God wrote the beginning of the Scripture through Moses their leader. Israel had NO blessedness in the Incarnate Jesus Christ, but had to sacrifice animals to cover their sins. Israel had NO doctors, NO fast food restaurants, NO radio or television, NO internet, and NO refrigeration or way to store food. And yet, God took care of them.

Israel had one thing in their favor. They were small. As long as they stayed small, trusting in and looking up to God, they would be blessed. It was only when Israel got BIG and thought they were GREATER THAN GOD did they actually become small. God told Israel:

Isaiah 43:1-2 (ESV) But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

God says in His Word that when we:

James 4:10 (ESV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

1 Peter 5:6 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

When God’s people make themselves small and rest in the arms of Jesus, there is very great gladness.

Now we come to Nehemiah Chapter 9. This is two days after the Feast of Booths/ Tabernacles/ Sukkot (Nehemiah 8:13-18). The people confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers, and magnified God and His faithfulness.

God Is Worshiped When We Confess Our Sins
And Magnify His Faithfulness

Nehemiah 9:2-3 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 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 worshiped the Lord their God.

Sin hinders our walk with God. God said in:

Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Sin is an offense to God, and that which should be unnatural to those whom He has saved. Sin keeps us from receiving God’s best for our lives. Solomon said, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). God spoke to Israel through the Prophet Jeremiah, saying:

Jeremiah 5:22-25 (ESV) Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. 23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ 25 Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you.

Sin robs us of what good our Lord would give to us. Yet the Bible promises that If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Confession is when we agree with God that HE is right, and WE are not. Following confession of sin the Levites told the people:

Nehemiah 9:5 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.

As the priests led Israel in blessing God, they recounted all the ways that God had been faithful to Israel – though Israel had been at times unfaithful to God. So often when we do the wrong thing, and suffer because of it, we want to blame God for what occurs. This is unfair to God, and foolish of us. God is good. The Scripture says:

1 John 1:5 … God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

When we “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5), God blesses us. The priests now relate the goodness of God. Let’s read of His goodness:

Nehemiah 9:6, 7-15 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.

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; 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: 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 Pharaoh, 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. 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. 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: 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.

In this short section we see the faithfulness of God to Israel, from the call of Abram to their journey to Mount Sinai, around 645 years. God made a promise to Abram – who would become Abraham – and swore upon Himself that He would keep it (see Hebrews 6:13). God keeps His Word regardless as to the amount of time that passes. We who are saved have a KNOW SO salvation:

1 John 5:11-15 (ESV) And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

When God promises, you can take that to the bank!

God Stays With His People, Even When We Mess Up!

Nehemiah 9:16-24 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. 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; 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Though Israel continued to fail God, our Lord was faithful to His people. The Israelis entered the Promised Land to conquer it around 1400 BC. It is now around 444 BC, some 956 years after the second generation of Israel entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. Though much time has passed, God has continued to look after Israel. God never breaks His promises, though we often fail. The Levites lead the people of Israel in not blaming God, but THEMSELVES for the mess they are in. We will finish reading here:

Nehemiah 9:32-37 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. 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. 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. 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.

God has always been, and always will be good! Let us celebrate our God’s faithfulness to those who have trusted in Him! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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