Nehemiah’s Prayer, and Ours
One of the most fundamental teachings of Scripture is that God is not one among many gods; He is the only true God and is to be worshipped as such. Since He alone has made all things, and since He alone sustains all things, worship is due Him and Him alone.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is Himself God. John 1:1 asserts that the Word (Jesus Christ) was in the beginning with (i.e., face to face with) God and indeed was God. In John 20:28 Thomas answers and says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Romans 9:5 exclaims Jesus to be “God over all, blessed forever!” The author of Hebrews likewise proclaims the deity of Christ (Heb. 1:8): “To the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” According to the apostle Paul, believers look for the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).
The sin of the Israelites was that they behaved proudly – that is, they behaved toward God in the same way the people of Egypt had acted toward them. They hardened their necks and failed to heed His commandments (Neh. 9:16). Likewise, we the citizens of United States have turned our backs on the Lord Jesus Christ. No longer do we proclaim “No King But King Jesus!” as did our forebears. Compromise and apathy characterize the tragic estate into which we have fallen.
Despite their wretched behavior, God was still faithful to the Israelites. He could have abandoned them with complete righteousness but instead chose not to. He allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Despite their lethargy and cold-hearted indifference toward God, the Israelites were granted a godly leader in Nehemiah who would motivate them to act on God’s promises.
The Book of Nehemiah teaches us that God restores His people time after time after time. He sends prophets and leaders to teach, guide, and, if necessary, rebuke His people. Not only did Nehemiah motivate the people to rebuild the walls, he exhorted them to adhere to God’s law.
Like Nehemiah of old, I weep and mourn over our nation. Surely, I pray, the God of heaven will not forsake us any more than He would forsake His covenant people of old! Misuse and abuse of our God-given liberties should give us cause enough to be ashamed. The whole nation is breaking under this load of pride and guilt. To us Jesus says, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest. Humble yourselves before Me and find true peace.”
This morning in my devotions, when I read Nehemiah’s prayer of contrition and intercession (1:5-11), I was challenged to repeat his words on behalf of the nation I love so dearly. No meek man will disdain such a lowly, helpless prayer. Perhaps you, too, will join me in offering this petition to our God that He might intervene in our affairs before it is too late. If we pray with the same humility and heart of true penitence that Nehemiah displayed, perhaps God will be pleased to smile upon our nation once again and grant us His mercy.
Let thine ear now be
attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy
servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of
Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which
we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.
August 31, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.