Text: Nehemiah 9:1-37, Romans 8:3-4
Y’all want to do something different today? (I’m just going to assume you’re saying yes here…) Let’s turn to a fresh page of journal paper and write the last part of verse 33 across the top.
“For you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.” (Nehemiah 9:33b, ESV)
Under that, divide your page into two columns. In the column on the left, write the ways in which God dealt faithfully with the Israelites as described in chapter nine. In the right column, list the ways the Israelites acted wickedly in response.
I’ll give you a moment.
Finished? Okay, take a look at your list. What do you see?
I don’t need it to show you how ungrateful the Israelites were. I don’t even need this list to make you see yourself in their unfaithfulness today.
I want you to see God on this page.
“But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” (9:17b, ESV)
Do you see Him there on the page – lavishing good gifts, provisions, laws of protection, even great rescues and wondrous signs on His people, even in their wickedness?
You know who else I see there on that page? I see Christ. Or at least I see His shadow.
You see, the page and the columns weren’t going to get better. The people were always going to fail. And, the Mosaic Covenant was always going to be conditional: it offered life and prosperity for obedience, but disobedience resulted in death and destruction. The People of Israel were unable to save themselves and, even in this tiny sliver of the Old Testament, a clear need for a Substitute is apparent. The Israelites needed Jesus. They needed Righteousness to come down in their place.
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4, ESV)
The Israelites recognize their grave misdeeds and are confessing their need for the Father’s mercy.
“For you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.”
And when it’s all laid out in the open, no matter what the page says – no matter how painfully our unfaithfulness looks compared to His sovereign faithfulness – all that’s left to see is Christ.