to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice
June 28, 2019 – Friday
Nehemiah 9:15-18 NIV
15 In their hunger You gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst You brought them water from the rock; You told them to go in and take possession of the land You had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.
16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey Your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore You did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.
The above is part of what is believed to be the longest prayer in the Bible – verses 5 through 37 – containing 1,141 words in the NIV. This excerpt begins by noting God’s goodness and the blessings He brought the those whom He had freed from their slavery in Egypt. Then it immediately follows with their disobedience noting how they became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey Your commands. Note that arrogant and stiff-necked are two words for prideful.
They also refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them. Refused! Reading this makes one wonder if arrogant and stiff-necked are too respectful for how they behaved and acted. Their actions were not only disrespectful, but showed a willful blindness to who God was and what He had done for them. They were the opposite of the blind man Jesus had healed for they saw the miracles and failed to remember them. The Pharisees summoned the blind man Jesus had healed a second time and asked him to tell the truth about regaining his sight while stating Jesus was a sinner. He replied (John 9:25) “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Still, this is a prayer acknowledging sin in the past and current with the hope of revival. Guzik says This is a third sure sign of revival – recognition of our own sinfulness. When we humbly seek God, and see His goodness, we can’t help but next to notice our own sinfulness – the blackness of our sin stands out against the brightness of God’s purity and goodness.
Next this prayer notes You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovewhere abounding means overflowing. As a result He was ready to pardon (forgive) them if only they would turn from their sinful rebellious ways.
We are given the opportunity to turn from our prideful rebellious ways as well, by accepting the Grace offered by Jesus paying the price for our sins on the cross. The question is, “Will we accept this free offer of Grace or be too proud to accept it and change our ways?” Something to think about this weekend as we contemplate going to church where we would join in corporate prayer, worship, and study of God’s word as well as fellowship with others who believe.
RileyD, nwJ (to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)