Repentance, Worship and Revival O My!

nehemiah wall_final

God is alive and well. He is on His throne. I belong to Him. He alone is righteous

When revival starts to spread in the land a number of things begin to happen. Here in Nehemiah 9 we will see two of the more prominent things that happen when revival hits the land.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God. Now on the Levites’ platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Nehemiah 9:1-4 NASB


Repentance is an interesting thing to observe. The reason it is interesting is that it is more than one action but it is only one action. Have I confused you yet? Let’s see if I can clear things up a bit.

The twofold nature of biblical repentance is what sometimes gets confusing. The first aspect of repentance is a turning from action. Now what is this turning from action? It is a turning from sin and a sinful heart. Here we see the beginning of their turning from in v. 1 – sackcloth and ashes is a way to illustrate mourning. Then in v. 2 we see that they separated themselves from foreigners. Now this separation is not based on frivolous things. This separation is based on religious grounds. Do you see what is being said here? The people had recognized that the Lord had made them a special people that was distinct from all others. They turned from their inclusion of other nations. They chose to return to the way the Lord wanted things done.

Now for the turning to part of repentance. We start to see this in v. 3: they stood and read from the book of the Law. They turned to God. So not only did they turn away from their previous sin, they turned to God and the way He wanted them to do things. This turning to God led them to worship here in vv. 3-4. This worship will continue in a different form in the coming verses.


This section constitutes one of the longest prayers in the OT. It was meant not only to serve as a traditional prayer but also to instruct those who were hearing it. This occurs in some of the Psalms (78, 105, 106, 135, and 136). It is quite interesting to see the heart change from grieving to rejoicing.

The first thing I want you to notice is God is praised as the Creator and maker of everything:

Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah, said, “Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever! O may Your glorious name be blessed And exalted above all blessing and praise! “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens…” Nehemiah 9:5-6b NASB

This is always a good way to start a time of intense prayer. How often have you begun your prayers with a simple praising of God for who He is and what He has done? Regardless of what Mr. Darwin thinks or theorizes, we did not arise from a bubbling sea of cosmic ooze to then evolve into man through a number of random mutations (all of which were positive). No, we were specially created by God to reflect His image in His creation.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Think of what is happening in your body right now. You are breathing, your heart is beating. You are reading this blog and comprehending the thoughts I have written. You do all this with very little effort. Just think of what you would need to to if you had to think “breathe in lungs, heart beat again, think brain!” I doubt much else could be accomplished if we had to will ourselves to continue to perform  basic functions.

In the next section we see the Lord as the all-sovereign one. He is the one who chooses man, not the other way around.

“You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, And gave him the name Abraham. “You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give him the land of the Canaanite, Of the Hittite and the Amorite, Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite— To give it to his descendants. And You have fulfilled Your promise,
For You are righteous. Nehemiah 9:7-8 NASB

I love these verses in Nehemiah – they are theologically rich and so challenging to me. I hope they are challenging you to take a look at your life and how you are conducting yourself in this world.

Look how this section begins: You are the Lord God…. The declaration that their God, known by His covenant name YHWH, is THE sovereign one is quite the statement. these folks were not worried to say their way was the only way. Seems like we could learn a thing or two from them. Standing for what we believe is all good. But standing for truth is better. Are you ready to say that our God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – is the ONLY God in the universe worthy of our worship? I hope so.

Continuing through this section we also  see that His sovereignty is affirmed when they state that He chose Abram and called him to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Notice it doesn’t end with the call of Abram. God made a covenant with Abram to give him the land of the various “ites” that lived in the promised land. But God’s covenant didn’t end there. He swore to give the land not only to Abram but also to Abram’s descendants. So who are these descendants? Israel of course. It doesn’t matter what others think – the land known as “Palestine” belongs to Israel. Period. They will inherit it. They will possess it. Why? Because God promised it to them.

The final observation I want to make about this section is the final few words: You are Righteous. Now we may not think much of those words but they are heavy. To be righteous means to be without sin. Who could make such a claim? Only God can. He is the only one who is, by nature, without sin.


I don’t care what society thinks. Whether they recognize this truth or not, God is not dead. God is on His throne. And I don’t care if I am a laughingstock, a backwards man, or anything else. I will continue to say “God is alive and well. He is on His throne. I belong to Him. He alone is righteous.

How is your revival going? Are you reviving your relationship with God every day? If you know about your sin and repent of it – like the Israelite’s did here in Nehemiah – you’re on your way.

But you also need to work on your worship. Recognizing God’s worth, recognizing who He is, is key to revival and worship. One very important way of worshiping God is how we pray. How are you in your prayer life? This one in Nehemiah sets the bar pretty high. But learning from it this week (and in the coming weeks) can only help you and me be better at praising God when we begin our prayer time. It will help us stay focused on this important truth:

God is still God, and I am not.

He is Enough

Is Jesus enough to create the world, save me from my sin, and keep me saved in spite of myself?


Contemplating eternity is quite difficult for us. Actually it is near if not totally impossible for our minds to grasp what it means to be eternal. We have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We live from moment to moment. But God does not. He simply is. And grasping that idea is very difficult. But just because it is difficult to grasp does not mean it is untrue. As we continue in our short exegesis and exposition of Colossians 1, lets turn our attention to the final few verses.

 and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:18b-20 NASB

He is the beginning

We saw earlier in this passage that Jesus is the Creator of the universe. He existed before anything else and was the cause that other things exist. So is Paul repeating himself here? No, not really. Remember that we must interpret in context what is being said. We must never lift a verse or two out of the context in which it was written. If we do that then we run the risk of misunderstanding what God has for us.

So to what “beginning” is Paul referring? Well Paul just referred to Jesus as the head of the church so it seems natural to take the beginning as referring to the beginning of the church. So Jesus not only is God, not only is He the head of the church, He is the very beginning of the church. So how is he the beginning of the church. Well I can think of a couple of ways this works. First He is the source of the power from which the Church sprang. If Christ had not come and died, there would be no church. Second, He is THE source of the spiritual life of the church. Without Christ, the church is simply a social club. There would be no spiritual importance or purpose to the church.


He is Firstborn…again

Here we go again with the idea of being firstborn. Remember from our previous discussion that the term used for firstborn (prototokos) has less to do with the order as much as it has to do with the rank or importance of an individual. When we read that Jesus is firstborn from the dead, we know that this can not refer to Him being the first to be raised from the dead. Why? Well, did not Jesus Himself raise Lazarus from the dead? Yep, He sure did. So this must refer to the fact that Jesus is the most important person to be resurrected from the dead. And I do think He qualifies for that. So we see in this passage in Colossians 1 that Jesus has supremacy in creation and redemption.

So not only is He creator, He is supreme in redemption. How comforting it is to have a Savior who reigns supreme in the two most important events in history!


He is the Reconciler

Not only has Jesus been named God, chief in the universe, creator, the head and initiator of the church and supreme in redemption, now we see Jesus as the agent of reconciliation. Now I want to draw your attention to this phrase; “…to reconcile all things to Himself…” Some take this to mean that all people will be reconciled to Himself. But that would be universalism and universalism is false. So what does this phrase mean. Well, I may be on a limb here, but I think this may be referring to the eternal state rather than now. Why do I think this? The way this section ends – through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven – seems to leave out those who are not reconciled through His blood. Do you notice that those who are reconciled are those on earth or in heaven. But there are those who are in “outer darkness” and are not part of the earth or heaven. Could this be what Paul is referencing here. Well I think it is at least possible.

Another way to look at this is that reconciliation is not just redemption. This view would take the final judgement as a method to reconcile even those who are not redeemed. Scripture does states that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10). Interesting enough, Philippians 2:10 states that this will occur “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.” Hmmm, maybe I’m on to something here.


Is Jesus enough?

Is Jesus enough to create the word, save me from my sin, and keep me saved in spite of myself? When we think of all Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, we must never forget how He accomplished those things. He accomplished these various things as God would – perfectly, for His glory, and for His purpose.

Since both creation and redemption were initiated by Jesus, we can reject any notion that we are here by chance. We can also know that our redemption is secure since it depends wholly on the character of God  rather than our action.

Now how’s that for being secure!

He’s Better than Krazy Glue

We have a Savior who isn’t a part of our creation. He existed before anything else came into being. In fact He is the cause that anything came into being.

Do you remember the commercial with a guy hanging from a beam held there only by the product Krazy Glue? That stuff could hold things together like nobody’s business. Now we have Loctite, Gorilla Glue, Scotch Weld, 2 part epoxy. Each one of these glues claim t be the toughest and the strongest. But you know what? None of these glues could hold the universe together. Now while that may sound silly, you need to know that the universe is held together. Now it isn’t held together by gravity, dark matter, or some unknown force yet to be discovered. But it is nevertheless held together.

As we continue to progress through this passage at the speed of dark, lets not lose heart or grow weary at our slow pace. Far too often we rush through passages and don’t pay attention to what we are being taught. So enjoy our sow, methodical pace. Let’s continue to discover what God has for us here in Colossians 1.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning… Colossians 1:17-18a NASB

In these verses we see more about Jesus that should humble us. We should be humbled because this person Jesus described here is the same one who died and rose from the dead for us. This one…died for you and me. Wow.

He is Before the Beginning

In v. 17 we see some interesting things about Jesus. The first thing we see is that He is before all things. This means that Jesus predated the creation of the world. And if you remember a previous article, He is the creator of everything we see and don’t see.

We tend to think in a very linear fashion. What I mean by linear is that we think in terms of beginning – middle – end. Almost all our thoughts follow this pattern, at least when we think of issues of life. And why shouldn’t we think this way when every living thing or being has these three linear elements. But we can’t think this way when we think about Jesus. He is before all things…and this sums up the idea of being firstborn. He is not a created creature. No! He is the creator of the creatures! Wow.

Look again at v. 17. Jesus is before all things. He existed before light. He existed before time. He existed before everything. Now who is the One that has existed before everything else? Yep, you’re right, that One is God. Now are you seeing a pattern here in Colossians 1? Paul is pounding on the facts that Jesus is God in the flesh and that He has been existing for all time, before anything came into existent. In fact Jesus is the cause that anything came into existence. What a truth to try to comprehend! I admit that I struggle with this. How about you? To struggle with these magnificent truths that are outside of our experience are stretching experiences for our faith. We need to embrace these struggles.

He is Better than Krazy Glue

Not only did Jesus exist before everything, not only did He create everything, not only is Jesus before all things, but He holds everything together. Now what does the term everything mean? Well, look around. Do you see the mountain? The valley? The sun, moon and stars? Our galaxy? Our universe? What about the things you don’t see…atoms, sub atomic particles, dark matter? All that and everything else we see and do not see is held together by Jesus Christ Himself. You see gravity doesn’t hold things together, our ingenuity doesn’t hold things together, not even Krazy Glue holds everything together. No, Jesus is the One who holds all things together.

So not only did He exist prior to creation. Not only did He create everything. He also sustains all things. He is the reason the universe has order in it. He is the reason our atmosphere doesn’t fly off into outer space. Isn’t that comforting?

He is Head of the Church

I hope you attend a good church wherever you find yourself. We oftentimes think the Pastor of our church is the head. But as i was reminded many times when I was a Pastor, I am simply an under shepherd – like your Pastor – and Christ is the true Head of the Church. He is the One in charge, He is the One to whom we owe our loyalty. We serve Him, not our earthly Pastor. We live for Him, not our earthly Pastor. Sure we are to respect and obey those placed in authority and responsibility over us. But we must never forget that they are under Christ. They are not a law unto themselves. If you ever run into someone who thinks he’s has absolute authority over you and is correct in all things, run – don’t walk – away from him. Only Christ has all authority over you. Don’t ever let a mere man take the place that Christ rightfully holds.

Putting Everything Together

We have a Savior who isn’t a part of our creation. He existed before anything else came into being. In fact He is the cause that anything came into being. And far from the god of the deist, Jesus is involved in His creation. He did not just her it started and let it go. He continues to hold it all together. And all certainly includes the Church. He is our head, he bought the Church and He owns it. He is and always will be our Chief Shepherd. Regardless of what happens in our respective countries, He is the One to whom we owe loyalty.

We have learned much about Jesus Christ in our short survey of Colossians 1. Our survey, though, has only scratched the surface of what is contained in this passage. I sincerely hope that you are spurred on to look deeper into this passage. and deeper into Scripture as a whole.Lets take some time this next week and practice these things we have learned.

And lets be thankful and joyful that He has not and will not abandon us to chance. To God be all glory, power and honor. Amen.

He is Creator

God created the universe, everything in it (whether we see it or not) for His purpose, through Him, and to His glory. That is the plain truth.


Our tour through Colossians continues this week with a look at Christ in verse 16. Here we find out more about our Savior. Not only is Christ the image of God – that is, He is God – not only is he the firstborn (Chief in rank) of creation, but He is also the creator of everything.


For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 NASB


The Fact of Creation

Let’s soak this verse in for a moment.. He (Christ) created all things. Now when Paul says “all” he means “ALL”. Look around outside when you have a moment. All of it was created by Christ. He did not create some things and leave the rest to chance. Stuff didn’t just happen to come into existence. Jesus Christ – God Himself – spoke it into existence.

We can’t treat this fact too lightly. Darwinian evolution claims that everything we see and don’t see came about through happenstance. We are here through some strange cosmic accident. Their view directly contradicts what Paul writes here. This verse in Colossians regarding creation agrees with what is written in Genesis. Darwinian evolution and the Bible are incompatible regarding the origin of the universe and the origin of life. One must either believe the Bible or the Darwinian evolutionist. There is no way to mix these two. Which do you believe?


The Extent of Creation

Take a look at how Paul qualifies the extent of the creation described here: everything that exists was created by Christ. First Paul states that all things were created “both in the heavens and the earth”. So, how much was created by Christ? Well according to Paul, all that exists in both the heavens and the earth. That looks like everything to me.

But Paul doesn’t stop there, He goes on to say that not only is everything created, but he includes all that can be seen and all that can’t be seen. That cancels out any argument that the Darwinian evolutionist has regarding some evolutionary beginning of this earth being seeded by some other world (known as directed panspermia). There is no wiggle room here. To accept to Darwinian evolution means one must reject this passage.

Paul has stated that Christ has created everything both in the heavens (sun, moon, stars, planets) and earth (the earth itself, all things on earth including life itself). This is a majestic statement for sure. Everything was created by Christ – this would include angels, humans, rulers and the thrones on which those rulers sit.


The Reason for Creation

Paul restates that Jesus created everything. In the last clause of this verse, Paul says “all things have been created through Him and for Him.” There’s a lot packed in this little cause. First Paul states “all things” have been created. There is nothing in this verse – or section – that would limit what is included in the phrase “all things”. Therefore, when Paul states “all things” he means everything. There is no room for compromise.

An interesting Greek syntactical issue is here in this last clause. Whereas earlier in the verse, Paul used the simple past tense (Greek aorist) to describe that Christ had (from Paul’s perspective) already created everything.  In this last clause,  Paul uses the perfect tense. Why did he do this? Well this is a way to show that while creation happened in the past (a completed action in past time) there are continuing results of that completed action. Think of the perfect like this: an action began and was completed in the past but the results of that completed action continue to this day. So what then would the continuing results of Christ’s creative action? Hmmmm.

Well it seems to me that at the very least the continuing result is that the whole of creation stands a a monument to Christ’s work. Furthermore, the creation itself testifies to the glory of God:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6 NASB

The Implications of Creation

As I have stated elsewhere in this article, one must choose either creation of everything by Christ Himself or Darwinian evolution. There is no middles ground and no way to accommodate these two disparate statements regarding the origin of the universe. Which will you choose?

I am a simple six 24-hour day creationist. I see no reason to doubt the Bible or redefine the terms that have been used to describe creation either here in Colossians or back in Genesis. The biblical accounts are  remarkably consistent, though they were written at least 1400 years apart. But if there is no biblical reason to believe evolution, then does science help evolution? While others have given much more detailed and much more eloquent answers, my answer is an unqualified “No”. Then why the arguments?

The evolution arguments stem not from science, but from rebellion against God. Mankind’s long war against God is not over. The rebellion began against God that began in the Garden of Eden still rages on today. We continue to doubt His word, His goodness and His truth. But our doubt as a people in no way invalidates the truth of His word.

God created the universe, everything in it (whether we see it or not) for His purpose, through Him, and to His glory. Thats the plain truth.