Study Notes

Nehemiah 9:1-10:39


When the people of Israel had gathered for the Feast of Trumpets, they were grieving over their sin as they heard the reading of the Word of God. But Nehemiah had interrupted their sorrow and said,

Neh. 8:9 ..."This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep..."

As God had given this holiday to foretell the rapture, they must celebrate, not mourn.

Then, on the next day, they began preparing for the Feast of Booths, a week-long celebration of the time that God will once again tabernacle with His people on the earth.

At the end of that feast, there was a solemn assembly, as the Law commanded in Numbers 29:35. The Hebrew word for "solemn assembly" comes from a root word that means "restrained." It was a quiet gathering, a time to withhold emotion, to be subdued. This was now the 22nd day of the month.

9:1-2 The 24th Day

Two days after their solemn assembly, the Israelites again gathered together. But this time, it was not to feast and celebrate. They were returning to their original sorrow, having been convicted by the Word of God about their sin. True conviction of sin is evidenced in several ways, as we can see from the results here.

Fasting, Sackcloth, And Dirt

First of all, their flesh was brought into submission by fasting in sackcloth with dirt upon them. They denied their flesh the pleasure and satisfaction of food. They afflicted their flesh with the discomfort of abrasive sackcloth on their skin. And they refused to glorify the vanity of the flesh by putting dirt on themselves. As Christians, we are told,

Rom. 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to {its} lusts.

When someone is truly convicted of their sin, their flesh is brought into submission.

Separated From Foreigners

Secondly, they separated themselves from all foreigners. Foreigners were non-Jews that worshiped other gods. The influence of their morals and standards was present in the Israelite society, and needed to be distanced. The Bible says,

1Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

When someone is truly convicted of their sin, they purify their lives from things that will cause them to stumble.


Thirdly, they confessed their sins to the Lord. Notice that it wasn't just their personal sins, but even the sins of the Jewish forefathers who'd come before them.

I find that many Christians are often convinced that they don't have much to confess. But those who are truly convicted have no trouble at all providing the Lord with a laundry list of ways that they have fallen short. And when they run out, they will confess the sins of their ancestors, their nation, and the entire human race, just to leave no stone unturned, no sin unrepented of.

The righteous man Job was like this. When his children would feast together, he would...

Job 1:5 ...consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings {according to} the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.

A truly convicted heart will confess too much rather than too little.

9:3 Equal Worship And Word

The gathering of the people lasted for half the day. This day was evenly divided between reading from the Word and worshipping the Lord. This is yet another place in Nehemiah from where this ministry's philosophy has come: giving weight in equal measure to worship and the Word.

(9:4-5a) List Of Levites

Verses four and five list those Levites that cried out to the Lord and encouraged the people to do the same.

9:5b-6 God As Creator

They praised the Lord as the Creator of heaven and earth and sea, and as the Giver of all life. A couple of years ago, it was pointed out to me that the Lord as Creator and Life-Giver is a dominant and continual theme throughout the Word of God in regards to witnessing. Since then, I have been fascinated at how often I encounter these statements in the Bible.

For example, Barnabas and Paul cried out,

Acts 14:15 "...turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM."

The men in Athens heard the gospel preached,

Acts 17:24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands"

As a matter of fact, the entire gospel is predicated on God as Creator. You cannot understand sin without knowing about God's perfect creation. You cannot understand Jesus Christ as the last Adam without knowing how God created the first Adam. You cannot understand what brings death until you understand that God created life.

You cannot even worship God in truth until you realize that He is your Creator. The proclamation in heaven shall be,

Rev. 4:11 "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."

Those who believe in evolution, even "theistic evolution" cannot understand sin, death, worship, or the cross.

The Israelites cried out to the Lord, the Creator of heaven, earth, sea, and all life.

9:7-8 God's Faithfulness To Abraham

They also worshiped God for His faithfulness. Firstly, for His faithfulness to their ancestor Abraham. Abraham was promised wonderful things by God, and Israel was looking back at God's faithfulness to fulfill those promises.

There are so many times that, in the midst of today's difficulties, we forget to look back at yesterday's victories. God has always come through every time, and yet when we turn a blind eye to the past, we will doubt him in the present.

Isa. 46:8-9 "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other..."

9:9-15 God's Faithfulness To Those From Egypt

The Lord was faithful not only to Abraham, but to his descendants as well. He heard and responded to the cries of the Israelite slaves in Egypt. He intervened supernaturally - delivering them, rescuing them, leading them, speaking to them, and providing for them.

9:16-25 God's Faithfulness To Sinners

But in response to God's faithfulness, the Israelites were arrogant and stubborn. They wouldn't listen to the Word of God. They wouldn't remember the Lord's miracles.

In spite of that, God was gracious, merciful, and long-suffering. Instead of destroying them, He continued to provide for them and give them victory. He gave them a beautiful land that they did not deserve.

9:26-31 The Vicious Cycle

When the people continued to neglect the Word, God sent prophets to admonish and exhort them. Instead of repenting, they killed the prophets. In response, God let them be defeated by their enemies, which brought them to their knees before the Lord. But as soon as the Lord relieved their difficulties, they would fall back into sin again. It was a vicious cycle, repeating itself over and over again. The entire book of Judges documents this circle of sin, defeat, repentance, delivery, and sin again.

God proved Himself to be amazingly loving, compassionate, and graceful over and over again, bearing with them, never allowing them to be destroyed completely.

9:32-37 The Result Of Sin

They have declared God as Creator, and as the gracious and faithful One. Now they point out the situation they are in, and admit that it is their own fault. Israel's bondage to the Medo-Persian Empire was because of their own sin, not because God had let them down. Any time we cry out to God in our situation, we must never hesitate to admit,

Neh. 9:33 "...Thou art just in all that has come upon us; For Thou hast dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly."

At the same time, they are now repentant. Those who have mastery over them are not. They are evil and idolatrous, refusing to turn away from their wicked deeds.

They are appealing to God's righteous nature to forgive the repentant sinner and judge the unrighteous nations to free them from their slavery.

9:38 An Agreement Is Written

Not knowing what else to do, or how else to communicate to God about how serious they were about obedience, they made a written contract, an agreement in writing. The leadership, the Levites, and the priests all signed this document and sealed it.

(10:1-27) Those Who Signed

The first twenty-seven verses of chapter ten document the names of the leadership who signed the agreement before the Lord. The document read as follows...

10:28-39 Commitment To Obey God's Word

They were making an oath before God to obey the Word of God and to honor the ministry of the House of God. They would practice personal holiness, as well as faithfully give their tithes and sacrifice their offerings. They would provide for the priesthood and contribute as the Law instructed them.

Today, there is a real need for God's people to obey His Word. Too many people are trying to take the benefits of Christianity without the necessity of obedience. They want the blessing of salvation without the difficulty of sacrifice. But again, I would remind us of Jesus' words regarding being hearers but not doers:

Luke 6:46 "And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

It's time that we, the people of God, begin to honestly, completely, and faithfully obey the Word of God.

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