Sermon Notes: But ...... based on Nehemiah 9:16-32

Introduction: My introduction last week focused on various views of God that people in the church and in our culture have.  We looked at who God is based on Nehemiah’s prayer.  God creates, God keeps his promises, God rescues, God provides. 

Opening: How do you view yourself? How do you view humans?


How do you view characters in the Bible?

Abraham-lied, Noah-got drunk, David-committed adultery, killed someone, Peter-denied Jesus, Paul-killed Christians

·         As I mentioned last week, Nehemiah 9 is the longest recorded prayer in the Bible. The emphasis throughout the prayer is on what God has done.[1]

·         Pattern in this prayer but they (Israelites)….but you (God)

They …but God was forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger abounding in love (vs. 16-17)

·         Vs. 16-arrogant & stiff necked & did not obey-

o   “Stiff-necked” is a common biblical expression for stubbornness. The imagery is that of an animal that struggles against having a yoke placed on its neck.[2]

o   Or think about the image of baby fighting sleep?

·         Vs. 17-Refused to listen and failed to remember

o   How often do we refuse to listen to God? We choose our way over God’s way which is always best.

o   Appointed a leader to return back to Egypt  (Numbers 14:1-4)

o   Failed to remember the miracles. We often forget God and what He has DONE for us.

§  Forgetfulness of what God has done can cause disobedience[3] 


·         Vs. 17-God is forgiving

o   In spite of all the people’s failures, God kept on forgiving[4]

·         Vs. 17-Gracious and Compassionate

o   Grace-we get what we don’t deserve

o   Gracious & Compassionate-the quality of showing favor and mercy. The term is usually applied to a person of superior position and power who is kindly disposed toward a person of inferior position and power. In the Bible, it is above all God who is gracious toward human beings[5] cannot be earned by human beings. God’s people experience his mercy after they have engaged in periods of sinful activity, disobedience, or complacency.

·         Vs. 17-Slow to anger and abounding in love

o   Hebrew word, hesed translated as loving kindness, steadfast love

They made idols & blasphemed, but God did not desert or abandon them (vs. 18-25)

·         Vs. 18-They made a calf idol, blasphemed God but He did not desert them

·         Vs. 19-21-Even in their sin,

o   Vs. 19-You did not abandon but guided them because of your compassion

§  This prayer indicates that to view the Old Testament God as a God of anger and the God of the New Testament as a God of love is a false dichotomy. Even when the people acted rebelliously, God graciously guided them with pillars of cloud and fire [6]

o   Vs. 20-Gave the Spirit to instruct them

o   Vs. 20-Provided food, water

o   Vs. 21-You sustained them for 40 years, they lacked nothing

§  Negative view of wilderness causes us to miss God’s love, faithfulness, provision

§  Clothes did not wear out, or feet become swollen

o   Vs. 22, 24, 25-You gave them kingdoms, land, victory over other nations

o   Vs. 23-You made their offspring as numerous as the stars (referring to Genesis 12:2; 15:5; 22:17)

o   Vs. 25-Provided houses with good things, wells that were dug, vineyards, groves & trees in abundance

o   Vs. 25-They reveled in your great goodness

They rebelled & did evil but God heard and delivered them (vs. 26-28)

§  Vs. 26-The people disobeyed, rebelled, ignored law, killed prophets, blasphemed

§  Vs. 27-Cried out, you heard and in compassion

o   Delivered and Rescued them by the Judges (Deborah, Gideon, Samson)

§  Vs. 28-They did evil, you abandon (NIV, NASB, ESV), left (KJV, AMP), let (NLT)

o   Abandon (someone leaving permanently) Vs. Left(letting them go, temporary, Chuck E. Cheese)

o   Cried out, you heard and in compassion delivered them time after time

They disobeyed, but God was merciful and keeps his covenant  (vs. 29-32)

§  Vs. 29-The people were arrogant, disobedient, sinned, stubborn, refused to listen

§  Vs. 30-But God was patient, admonished them (EXILE)-prophets

§  Vs. 31-But in your great mercy, you did not put an end to them or abandon them

o   Mercy-don’t get what we deserve

o   Why? Because they were good people, no because God is gracious and merciful

§  Vs. 32-But God is great, mighty, and awesome who keeps his covenant of love

o   Despite what His people do

 

Closing: Tension presented in the prayer of but they & but God.  How can God forgive people described as rebellious, blasphemers, stiff necked and still be holy?  Can God just ignore or not punish the sins of the people?  At the cross, we see where God’s perfect justice and mercy meet. 

                        Sin--------------Righteousenss

                        Judgment--------------No condemnation, no judgment

                        Wrath-------------------Love, grace, mercy

                        Faithfulness of God vs. faithfulness of people




[1] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 236). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[2] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 239). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[3] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 239). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[4] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 239). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[5] Lemke, W. E. (2011). gracious. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition, p. 346). New York: HarperCollins.
[6] Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 239). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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