About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 9
Israelites Confess Their Sin (ch. 9:1 – 37)
chapter is about Israel
confessing their sins. I'm
not a hundred percent sure, but I don't believe this is the same
national revival that Ezra speaks about because I believe this is some
fifteen to eighteen years or so later.
whole point to the following prayer is a confession of Israel's constant wandering away from their God and God remaining faithful to
them in their wanderings. Israel
forsakes God, turns back to Him in repentance, and then God blesses
them, and then they wander away again.
Israel's sin is compared to God's love and faithfulness.
verse 1 we noticed that the Jews gathered themselves together.
They were dressed in sackcloth and having dust on their heads.
This is the typical apparel of those who are humbling themselves
before the Lord in repentance. Along
with the clothes they were wearing, they also fasted.
Fasting for the most part in the Bible is associated with
humbling one's self before the Lord in a spirit of repentance.
2 tells us that the Jews separated themselves from those who were not
real Jews, similar to the revival of Ezra when the Jews went as far as
to send their Gentile spouses into
the land they once came from. The
idea of separation is important in repentance.
Both the Jews of old and Christians today are to separate
themselves from the rest of the world.
We are not to be like the world, that is, in the area of
the years certain parts of the church have felt that separation from the
world had everything to do with the clothes you wore, the food you eat,
all the exterior things. But
that's not so. We are to be
different in the way we live, the way we behave, the way we think, the
way we act, and in the way we treat others.
It's a matter of personal character and integrity, not clothes.
thing to note concerning this separation is the life of Jesus.
He was separated from the world.
That is, He did not live like those in the world lives, but He
did associate with the world, even the worst of the world.
There is nothing wrong with having close relationships with those
in the world. Excluding
yourself, or withdrawing from the world is not the separation we're
talking about here. Being in
the world but not of it, is what we are talking about.
in verse 2 we see the usual way in which the Jews confessed their sins.
They confessed their own sins first, and then the sins of their
fathers. Even the most
righteous among the people would come before God as a sinner to confess
his sin. Paul says that
there are none righteous, therefore all need to confess their sin.
in the last chapter, here in verse 3 we see the Jews standing as the Law
is read. They actually read
and stood for four whole hours. That's a long time to stand.
Then once the Law had been read, they then confessed their sin
and worshipped for another four hours.
That's eight hours in total.
I believe only the Spirit of God can cause such dedication.
verses 4 and 5 we see the same Levites that were mentioned in the
previous chapter. They were
standing on some steps crying out to God.
The then encouraged everyone to praise God who lives "from
everlasting to everlasting." This speaks to the eternal nature of God.
picture that the two words "everlasting" paints in my minds is
that of God living from one period of time to the next period of time,
to the next, and to the next, on into infinity.
you have ever wondered what praising God with your words looks like, we
now have an example. Of
course, our whole lives should be one of praise. That means that
everything we do should make our Lord look good.
Everything we do should be proper and righteous.
Yet there is a place to speak forth the praises of God, and here
is one example, beginning in verse 5.
words of praise begin with these words. "blessed be your glorious
name, and may it be exalted above all blessings and praises."
The Hebrew word that we derive our English word "bless"
from, in its simplest form means to kneel.
Kneeling implies reverencing.
So when we say, "blessed by your name", we are saying,
"may your name be reverenced", and in this case, "may
your name, the name of God, be
reverenced above all other names." This
reminds me of New Testament thinking that states that there is only one
name given among men under heaven whereby man can be saved, and that
name is Jesus.
6 says, "you alone are the Lord ..."
There is only one Lord God of the universe, and He is the God of
Israel. When you see the word "Lord" in the Old Testament, it
refers to the Supreme One who is above and over all things. Most
religions in this day and age were polytheistic, meaning, the belief in
more than one God. Israel
was monotheistic, meaning, the belief in just one God.
6 carries on by saying that God made the heavens, even the highest
heavens, the starry host. We
see that God made the heavens, even the highest heavens.
Some might suggest two types of heavens here.
Paul spoke of being transported to the third heaven, that
heavenly place where God is. I
don't think this is what is meant here.
The addition of the words "starry host" suggests to me
that the heavens mean they sky above us, and the distant sky beyond
that. The Levites who said
these words had no sense of creation by evolution in their words of
in verse 6 is the acknowledgement that God created the earth and the
seas and all that are on the earth and in the seas.
This is the Biblical mandate concerning creation.
This is how God's people are to believe concerning creation.
God is behind all that is around us, that which we see and that
which we don't see.
last thought in verse 6 is that God gives life to everything.
He and He alone has breathed life into all living creation, that
is, humans, animals, and plants. God
created the angels as well, the heavenly host that worship God, as
stated in this verse. The
Jews believed in angels and so should we, although by the time Jesus was
on earth some parts of Judaism did not believe in such things.
will notice that this praise is actually a remembrance of Israel's past. It even goes beyond
Israel's past, right to the creation of mankind.
verse 7 we see Abram mentioned. The
name Abram means "father is exalted."
We also see that God changed Abram's name to Abraham, meaning,
"father of a multitude."
Abraham was a direct descendent of Noah's son Shem.
see that Abram came from Ur. Most scholars say that
corresponds with the area that is now about 220 miles southeast of
verse 8 we see because of Abraham's faithfulness, God promised him a
large portion of land east of the Mediterranean Sea, from
move on in history in verse 9 to Moses and Israel
in Egypt. The Levites remind God in
the time of praise that He saw the suffering of His people.
We note here that God's people do suffer for various reasons.
Some of the suffering is self inflicted, as it often was with Israel. Some suffering is
persecution by the enemies of God. The important thing is that God sees
our sufferings. We are not
alone in our suffering.
verse 10 we see how God judged
in verse 10 we note that God made a name for Himself by judging
verse 11 we see that God divided the sea so Israel
could escape from the Egyptian army.
reached the other side the waters of the sea returned and the Egyptian
army was drowned. Again,
at the end of this age, there is a great earthquake that divides
verse 13 basically says that God came down from heaven at
is differing opinions on just where
see Moses mentioned in verse 14. It
was through Moses that God spoke to Israel. God gave the commands to
Moses who in turn passed them on to Israel. This is often how God
works. He chooses a man, or
even certain men, and then these men lead God's people in God's ways.
won't go into it here, but the Law spoken of here, that is, the Law of
Moses, is often misunderstood by New Testament Christians.
Because of this misunderstanding, we pick and choose what laws to
obey and what laws not to obey. It
is clear to me that the Law of Moses, in its entirety does not apply to
15 expresses the miraculous way that God looked after
15 also states the reason why God freed
light of the miracles spoken of in the last verse, verse 16 tells us
that the forefathers of these Jews "became arrogant".
The result of this arrogance was the fact that they did not obey
the commands of their God. That
is what arrogance leads to. It
leads to independence from God. That
is still true today.
17 repeats the fact that
17 also says that while the Jews were wandering in the wilderness for
all those years after they had been set free by God, they appointed a
new leader because they wanted him to help them return to Egypt, return
to slavery. How true that
in verse 17 we see that God is a gracious God, full of compassion and
slow to anger. Note here
that God is slow to anger. It
does not say that He does not get angry, because He does.
The thought here is that God would rather express love than
anger, and He goes out of His way to do so, but at some point He will
express anger. Expression of
God's anger in judgment is what much of the end of this age is all
18 shows us the extent of God's love. Israel
made for themselves an idol of gold after leaving
19 continues on the thought that God did not abandon Israel
in their wanderings in the wilderness.
This is interesting in light of modern day
did God show His love to
21 tells us how many years
verse 22 to 25 the praise to God continues.
It states that
problem about this position is that it seems to neglect all the things
God spoke to and about Israel
prophetically after she inherited the land and numbers were as the stars
in the sky. All the prophets
speak of a time that will come when
thinking is called Replacement Theology.
God promised Abraham certain things.
The promise was fulfilled in the glory days of Israel
and don't have to be fulfilled again.
lost what God promised Abraham for good.
I don't believe that.
last phrase of verse 25 says that
of Israel's rebellion against her God verse 27 states that God handed them over
to their enemies. This is
one way that God judges nations, something I still believe He does
today. Nations rise and
fall. Both their rise and
their fall are from the hand of God.
This is exactly what Paul speaks about in the first two
chapters of his letter to Rome. This is a principle of
Scripture. It's not only for
the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.
It's for everyone. If
we seek God, and in these days, seek Him through Jesus, He will be our
God. Yet if we continue to
rebel and walk in our own ways, He will give us over to the sins we like
committing. He will hand us
over and wash His hands of us. This
does not mean that we can't return, because we can.
return is spoken of in the last part of verse 27. The
judgment of God on Israel, that is, God handing them over to their enemies had the desired
effect. They knew they were
in trouble and they saw their error of their ways and repented. Because
of this, God returned to them in love and compassion.
The same can be said of us today.
If we stray from Jesus, and if we repent from our sin, He will
take us back into the fold.
now beginning to see the seesaw effect of Israel
in verse 28. God promises
are fulfilled in them. They
are blessed. They then get
lazy and way too relaxed. They
get self confident which leads to out and out rebellion.
this rebellion comes judgment again.
finds herself in the hands of her enemies again which leads them to
understand that they've messed things up again.
Then they understand the error of their ways and repent again.
With this repentance comes love and compassion again by their
God. As it says here in
verse 28, time and time again the cycle went on.
God's compassion always won out in the end, and it will win out
again for Israel
at the end of this age. God's compassion for
verse 29 you see once again the inherent sinful nature of Israel. They were arrogant, as
they were in times past and they disobeyed God's law that led them into
all sorts of troubles. You
see a progression here, or so I think.
First comes arrogance, and then comes out and out disobedience.
They became stubborn in this disobedience and turned their backs
on God. This suggests to me
more than simply a drifting away from God.
It was an outright, and thought out decision to forsake their
God. Again, once arrogance
and pride sets in, denying of God soon follows.
This is what is happening in the modern church.
This is what has happened in western culture, from education,
science, politics, and all that makes up our culture.
cycle continues in verse 30. From
Israel's rebellion to God's judgment. God
hands them over once again to the enemies of Israel, but not be4fore sending prophets to them to admonish them to return to
Him. Once again the Holy Spirit is mentioned here connection to the Holy
Spirit's activity in the life of these prophets.
I don't believe the ministry of prophets have ceased.
I believe when the time is right, God sends prophets to His
people today, that is, to the Jew and to the Christian.
31 makes it clear again. Even
though God hands Israel
over to judgment, He still loves them and is still gracious to them.
I don't believe this graciousness and love has ever stopped.
As Paul says in Romans 9 through 11, God will have a remnant of
Jews who will serve Him, and in the end, all the remaining Jews on earth
will be saved.
is a shift in this prayer of praise in verse 32.
The prayer turns to a plea for the present time in which it is
spoken. The one praying
directs this prayer to "God, the great, mighty, and awesome God,
who keeps His covenant…" The
prayer is a petition, directed to the great and mighty God who keeps His
covenant, The one praying is
reminding God of who He is. Even
should always be our type of prayer.
A prayer of humility, expressing our sin and God's greatness, and
reminding Him of His covenant. God
does not mind us reminding Him of His covenant.
verse 33 Israel
admits that she has done wrong. She
admits that God has acted both justly and faithfully.
They deserved every bit of judgment they got from God.
They deserved all the hardships.
thing we note here about God's faithfulness and that is He is faithful
to both love and to judge. We often think of God's faithfulness in terms
of Him being faithful to love us. That's
kind of self-centered on our part. But
the reverse is true as well, though we may not want to think much about
it. God is faithful to judge
us. He is faithful to bring
us to a place of repentance, and if we don't repent, He is faithful in
His wrath and judgment.
34 is yet another confession of past sins.
35 is sad. Even when Israel
was being blessed of God. They had entered the land God promised.
They were at rest and peace.
Even in such a state of blessing, they turned their backs on God.
How many Christians have you seen over the years do the same.
And how many Christian movements have been blessed by our Lord
and have gone astray into liberalism. Christians are no different than
verse 36 the prayer states that Israel
is a slave. All the people
of the land are slaves. Who
are they enslaved to? They
are in their land, or at least a portion of it.
They are in bondage to
verse 37 we see that Israel
realizes that the abundance of the land doesn't really go to them.
Much of it goes to the king of Persia. Their slaves in one sense
of the word in their own land.
prayer goes on to say that the king rules over their bodies and their
cattle. The Jews have little
freedom. Of course, they do
have some freedom. They were
given freedom to build the temple and the walls, yet, they aren't really
free. They are in
"great distress" according to verse 31.
You might remember that they are in the midst of a famine.
This might account for some of the distress.