Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (Nehemiah 9:1-2)
Confession - When the Israelites found out how far they had departed from God’s standards, a spirit of repentance fell upon them and they confessed their sins before God. Our own renewal can only come about when we confess and repent of our sins. Only then can Christ’s blood cleanse us (1 John 1:7) and make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” (Nehemiah 9:38)
Commitment - After that, the Israelites renewed their commitment to follow God and His ways through a written covenant. As for us, the new covenant - that we are redeemed disciples of Christ - is written in our hearts and our minds (Hebrews 10:16) so we must ensure that we not only carry it with us but also display it for all to see through our words and actions.
On that day men were appointed over the storerooms... And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. (Nehemiah 12:44a, 45)
Calling - Everyone in Jerusalem had a specific role. From storekeeper to gatekeeper, all of them knew that what they were doing was sacred and in service of God. Together with the priests and musicians, they were also sanctified for their jobs. We all have a calling from God too, regardless of whether we are serving in full-time ministry or not. Therefore, we must set ourselves apart in order to fulfil our individual calling wherever He has placed us.
Questions for reflection / discussion:
- God’s Spirit works hand in hand with His Word to convict us of our sin and the need for forgiveness. Are there any areas of unconfessed sin in you that needs to be exposed to His light? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you and know that God is ever-ready to forgive once we repent.
- True repentance should bring about a u-turn such that we forsake sin and take on God’s holiness instead. As you commit to keep to God’s standards, is there someone whom you could be accountable to, someone who not only keeps you in check but also encourages and spurs you on in your faith?
- Do you know what God’s calling is for you - in your home, in church, and at your workplace? How will you respond to this call?