Nehemiah 9:4-15 - The Legacy You Leave - Part II

Dr. Steve Viars November 30, 1996 Nehemiah 9:4-15

- This morning we're going to continue studying this great prayer recorded for us in Nehemiah chapter 9.
- Remember the setting...
1) The emphasis of the book has shifted from the "building of the wall" to the "building of the people."
2) In chapter 8, they began the 7th month by requesting that Ezra bring out the book of the law and read it to them.
3) He did, they wept, and the leaders encouraged them to stop weeping, enjoy the feast, and rejoice in the forgiveness they had received.
4) Then the leaders came back the next day, asked for insight into the Scriptures, and learned that God had commanded them to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)
5) They quickly acted to be prepared for the feast, and observed it the way the Scriptures commanded.
6) Then on the twenty-fourth day, the people came together to confess their sins and pray to the Lord.
7) Last week, we looked at the first third of that prayer, where they reviewed God's goodness to them in creation, in choosing their nation, in giving them the law, in delivering them from Egypt, and providing for them in the promised land.

- Now, today, we want to look at the "second third" of this prayer, and see how the men and women of that day responded to God's gracious provision for them.

- READ 9:17-31.

- one of the great things about these verses is that they give us an overview of OT history.
- for those who are relatively new to studying the Bible, (and for all of us), an overview like this ought to be able to help us draw the key ideas from the OT together in our minds.
- so I hope these verses help us because of the overview they provide.

- but far more importantly, these verses reveal critical data to us about the nature of man.
- we ought to read these verses and ask, what can we learn about ourselves (mankind) here, and what can we learn about God here, and what does that say about the way we should live for Him today?

- Aldous Huxley said, "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons that history has to teach."

- George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

- so we need to ask ourselves, what can we learn from this historical account that will help us in the way we seek to live for God today?

- we're calling these verses "The Legacy You Leave - Part II"
- As we said last week, if Jesus Christ does not return, we will leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren.
-and while it shouldn't be our concern to "leave our footprints on the sands of time" to glorify self, the fact is that we will leave some footprints....and those footprints will affect others.
- the question then becomes...what kind of footprints will we leave?....or "In what direction will our footprints point others?"
- These verses leave a legacy that is pretty bleak....what can we learn from that?

- let's begin with this:

I. Man Does Not Always Respond to God's Goodness Properly.

- based on what we saw last week in verses 5-12, we would have expected to find verse 16 saying something like:
1) And God's people loved Him because of His gracious treatment.
2) And God's people delighted in Him because of His bountiful care.
3) And God's people sought to obey Him, and honor Him....

- But unfortunately, those are exactly the kinds of things you don't read.

- And the writer wants us to see that....and the people praying this prayer want to acknowledge that.....that the response of Israel to God's treatment of them was did not match the treatment they was like they were "on different pages."

- (illus -- imagine if you were playing telephone tag with someone, while another guy in the office was also playing telephone tag with someone else----except the receptionist kept getting the messages mixed up...
- it would be comical to sit back and watch how the responses didn't match reality...they just didn't fit what was really going on.

- that’s a similar picture to the way these verses fit together...the response in verses 16-31 does not in any way rationally match the treatment they had received.

- let's detail some of that response:

A. Acted arrogantly

- verse 16

- literally, they "stiffened their neck."

- INPUT - What does it mean to "act arrogantly" in one's relationship to the Lord?

(dictionary - "full of unwarranted pride and self-importance.")

- the passage goes on to say that they:

B. Became stubborn

- both of these words have the idea of being unbending, or unpliable...refusing to respond to the work God was trying to do in them.

- the Bible also says that they:

C. Refused to listen to God's commands.

- all through this book we've seen the emphasis on the Scriptures.
- the supreme evidence of a person who is arrogant and stubborn is a refusal to listen to the Word of God.

- INPUT - What book of the Bible details the way the nation of Israel lived after entering the promised land and who is a prime example of the characteristics that are being described here?
(Judges, Samson)

- its also interesting that you see the same idea emphasized at the beginning of verse 17.
- their legacy was that they refused to listen to the Scriptures.

- INPUT - Ways an "American Christian" could leave that same legacy to his children?

- One other way these people are described is that they:

D. Did not remember God's wondrous deeds.

- verse 17

- even though God had done many wondrous things for them, it didn't help because they refused to focus on them --- "they did not remember them."

- perhaps one of the greatest historical examples is mentioned in verse 18, when after God had performed the miracle of parting the Red Sea, while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the ten commandments----the people fashioned a golden calf and said that’s what delivered them.

INPUT - Looking at these four might these same things be true of a believer today?

- now, having studied what we've just studied, we might expect that the Lord judged them immediately, and severely.
- He certainly would have been justified in doing so.

- But that’s not what happened.
- There are some very interesting uses of the word "but" in this chapter, and one of them is in the middle of verse 17..."but Thou."

- INPUT - What does this verse tell us about the Lord?

II. God Often Meets Rebellion with Patience and Grace

- you could look at the second half of verse 17 as a "topic sentence" which lists several key characteristics of God that are then developed in verses 18-25.

- let's list the key characteristics, and then I'm going to divide you up into groups to have you find examples of those key characteristics.

A. God is forgiving.

B. God is gracious.

C. God is compassionate.

D. God is slow to anger.

E. God abounds in loving-kindness.

F. God does not forsake His people.

- Neighbor Nudge

1. Look through verses 18-25, find examples of each of these characteristics.

2. What are some ways God demonstrates these characteristics today?

3. What kinds of things can God's children do to see, focus on, and remember these characteristics of God?

- INPUT - What would you expect to read in the next verses? (after God had treated them the way we've just studied?)
- that they repented and began loving and living for Him.

- Unfortunately, we read another 'but" in verse 28.
and from these next verses, we learn:

III. Man Does Not Always Respond Properly Even to God's Gracious Treatment of Their Former Sin

- INPUT - What kinds of things do you read in these verses about Israel's response to God's goodness?

- "more of the same"

A. Disobedience

B. Rebellion

C. Ignored the law

D. Killed the prophets

INPUT - What can we learn from these verses about the nature of man, and the nature of God?

- contrast this to the book on Covenant House, and the view of man and the view of God that is exemplified there.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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