February 25, 2003
In this chapter we have an account of a fast kept by the Jews, which was observed, as by outward acts of humiliation, so by confession of sin, reading the law, and worshipping the Lord, #Ne 9:1-3 and of a long prayer that the Levites made, in which they celebrate the divine perfections, take notice of various instances of the goodness of God to the people of Israel, acknowledge their manifold transgressions, observe the Lord's correction of them for them, in which they own he was righteous, #Ne 9:4-38. (Gill)
This chapter is a result of the previous chapter that records the great joy over having rebuilt the walls in such a short time. That joy resulted in the people being honest with God and with themselves about the reason they were in their present fix. Basically, this chapter can be summed up as the ones here recognizing that Israel payed to price of their ancestors' sins, and this generation was trying to rebuild what sin had destroyed. The common thread throughout the chapter is that God's people deserved all that had befallen them, and even more, for thou hast done right, v. 33. They deserved to be totally removed from the earth. Though they had been delivered into the hands of their enemies, and even now were in bondage, the situation was their own fault. In all these things, their merciful and gracious God did not forsake them, and He kept His promises.
Vv. 1-15, recounts the goodness of God to His people, Israel, starting with Abram, v. 7, It recounts His goodness in bringing them out of Egypt through the red sea, leading them in the wilderness, giving them His law and supplying their every need in the wilderness.
V. 16, yet they dealt proudly in refusing to harken to his commandments.
Vv. 17-25, though they sinned a great sin with the molten calf, and provoked God with great provocations, the Lord in His mercy did not forsake them. He continued to feed, cloth, give them health, and to lead them for forty years, gave them multitudes of children to whom He gave the promised land.
Note that large families are a sign of God's blessings. Many children raised in the ways of the Lord result in God's people possessing the land of their enemies.
What God did for them:
1) the cloud departed not
2) the pillar of fire for light and guidance
3) thy good spirit to instruct them
6) lacked nothing
7) clothes waxed not old
8) feet swelled not
9) obtained the kingdoms and nations
10) multiplied their children
Basically, God was faithful though the people were unfaithful.
Vv. 26-31, though God blessed them in marvelous ways, the children who inherited the land turned from the Lord after the Lord gave them rest from their enemies, v. 28.
Because of their sins, the Lord gave their enemies power and victory over His people, causing His people to return and cry to the Lord for deliverance. In His mercy, He sent delivers to testify against them, and bring them back to His law. They would return for a season, but soon turned back to their sin.
After a time, they would not even turn back to the Lord, so He gave them over to the heathens, v. 30.
V. 31, yet for His mercies' sake, He did not allow them to be utterly consumed.
Vv. 32-38, they confess that the problem was within. They did not blame God for their situation, nor did they blame the strength of their enemies who now had rule over them. The land was prosperous, but the prosperity went to the pagan kings to whom they yielded themselves through sin.
V. 38 And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.
Their great distress, v. 37, humbled them to recognize the reason they were in their present distress. They were now bondmen to the Persians in the land that God had given them as a free people. The reason was because of the sins of their forefather. So this generation who had returned from captivity with very limited freedom, now make an agreement with the Lord that they will do what their forefathers failed to do.
They had not only seen what sin does to a nation, but they had to clear away the rubble, so they could rebuild what had been destroyed. They do not want their children to have to go through the same thing, so they make an agreement.
From what I understand, Israel never again worshiped false gods.