Devotional Reading: I John 1:8-9
Lesson Scripture: Nehemiah 9:6-37
Lesson Aims: To recognize that confession is a part of worship; to understand that nations must be responsible for their sins; and to acknowledge America’s sins in order to strengthen our witness in the world.
Background: As young children, we argued and at times fought each other. Adults would tell us to say “we’re sorry” and to hug each other and go on. There was no admission of guilt on anyone’s part. Needless to say, confession is much more than that! The biblical meaning of the term is to acknowledge or to admit. To accomplish this, one has to evaluate the particular action, thought, and/or word to determine if it alienates us from God. Most of the time, we know immediately. There are some instances when it isn’t so obvious. The devotional reading sets us straight about confession along with other verses in the Bible.
Sin was the reason for most of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. They merely covered sin which is why they were repeated over and over. Because of humanity’s sins, Jesus came to redeem us back to God. There is no need for repetition. Therefore confession has to be a component in our prayers and in our worship! We must be honest before Him. To deny sin is futile because He knows already. All have sinned! Confession is for our benefit, not God’s. How then can our praises be meaningful if they are based on a lie? His wonderful gift of forgiveness is hinged on confession! God will hold nations accountable as well. When He sent the prophets with the message of repentance, it was the leaders of Israel (north) and of Judah (south) who rejected them.
Lesson: After the Temple was restored and parts of the protective wall rebuilt, the people listened to Ezra read daily from God’s Word. It convicted them to the point of weeping and mourning for themselves and their ancestors. In 8:10, Nehemiah tells them to celebrate the joy of the Lord because that is their strength! They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles / Festival of Booths. Instituted by God for Israel (united kingdom), the festival was to remind the people of His goodness during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Once again, God the Faithful brings His people home.
On the twenty fourth day of the seventh month (will become the Day of Atonement/ Yom Kippur) the Israelites come together fasting in mourning attire to confess their sins and those of their fathers. Separated from all foreigners, the Levites encourage them to praise the Lord. They also lead the people in their eight part confession. Those divisions according to Zondervan’s NIV Study Bible are creation (vs. 6), Abrahamic covenant (vs. 7-8), in Egypt and the Exodus (vs.9-11), the desert experience (vs. 12-21), conquest of Canaan (vs. 22-25), the prophets (vs. 29-31), and their present predicament (vs. 32-36). They confess everything before God honestly and sincerely. God is praised for His righteous judgment and faithfulness in the face of their disobedience! Their confession is historical. You know their story but can you see ours along historical lines?
Application: In the privacy of your study area, write an honest confession for America. Even in the face of our sins, He is willing to forgive if we repent and confess. He is just to forgive us. He said it; I read it; and I believe it!! Have a soul searching week.