nehemiah wall_final

 

If God said it in His Word, you can believe it and rely on it.

 

While Nehemiah spends time in broken confession in vs 6-7, he doesn’t wallow in a prolonged introspective examination of his failures and those of his brothers and sisters. He owns what he did wrong and then he quickly expresses confidence in God’s promises in verses 8-10:

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and mighty hand.” Nehemiah 1:6-7 NASB

 

The Promises

In this part of his prayer, Nehemiah recalls the words of Moses about the danger of Israel’s apostasy and the promise of divine mercy. His words are a skillful mosaic of great Old Testament warnings and promises, with quotes coming from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles and Psalm 130. What was the promise Nehemiah was getting at? It was twofold. First, if Israel disobeyed, they would be sent to a foreign land. That had been fulfilled. The second part was that when the captivity was over God would send them back to Jerusalem. They were still waiting for that to be fulfilled. Nehemiah prayed, “Lord, the first part is true. We’ve disobeyed and we’re in captivity. But Lord, you’ve made a promise to bring us back home and protect us there – and that has not happened yet.”

 

The Confidence

Nehemiah is saying that since God kept His promise to scatter Israel because of he apostasy, he has confidence that Israel will be regathered because God promised to do that when Israel repented. So Nehemiah is expressing utmost confidence not only in God’s promises but also in God’s character. If Nehemiah doubted God’s character he would not have prayed the way he did.

But what about us? How does God’s promises to His people Israel relate to the Church today, who is not Israel?

 

The Principle

The principle here is that God keeps His promises when He makes them regardless of the passage of time. Take a look at one of my favorite promises of God found in Romans 8:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

 

There is great comfort in knowing that the God who makes that promise to me is the One who will keep that promise to me.One day I will be glorified – made perfect – based on what God said through Paul in Romans 8. “How can you be so sure Mr. Bald Theologian?” you may ask.

In Romans 8:28-30, all those things God talks about – HE “called..justified…glorified” are in the aorist tense in Greek. The aorist is the simple past tense. So if I’m not yet glorified (and who among us is!), then why did Paul use a simple past tense here? Well, it is a grammatical thing with Greek. When one wants to guarantee that a future event is going to happen, one uses the simple past tense. This use is called a “proleptic aorist” or “futuristic use of the aorist”.

Since our glorification is yet future and Paul – under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit – uses a past tense to describe it, we can be sure that we will be glorified one day. He who started a work in you will make sure it comes to completion.

 If God said it in His Word, you can believe it and rely on it.

The Conclusion 

Someone has calculated that there are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. The better we know the Word of God, the better we’ll be able to pray with confidence in God’s promises. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Are you as confident of God’s promises as Nehemiah was?

Nehemiah knew God would keep His covenant of love with his people. He also knew that, even though God did not need his help, he was ready to make a commitment to get involved.  So how about us? Do we care about the problems facing the Church today? Are we too fearful to even be aware of these issues? Do we simply ignore these things? Are we aware enough to care? And if we are aware enough to care, do we rely on God’s promises?

You know, when we rely on His promises we honor Him because we are stating quite clearly that our God is of perfect integrity. We honor Him by trusting Him with our fears, our hopes, and our dreams.

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