Nehemiah 1:4 Repentance before Restoration

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

No matter how hard we try to plan things out, life always has a way of surprising us. That unexpected crisis that through shock, dramatically changes all of our plans.

the shocking surprises of life will definitely come, there is no way to actually prepare for them. We can though prepare our hearts in order to respond properly to them

Nehemiah was a servant of King Artaxerxes in Assyria, which gave him a lot of power, as well as comfort. When asking his friends about the condition of Jerusalem, he was absolutely shocked to hear the city itself was open to the attack of neighboring kingdoms since the wall was broken down.

The response of Nehemiah shows us a lot about his heart. Instead of putting together a building plan right away, he feel on his face before God in repentance.

The words of this repentance come later (1:1-7), but the act of Nehemiah 1:4 is one of complete submission before God. There can be many reasons why Nehemiah responded with repentance, but the answer is probably he had overlooked the needs of Jerusalem while living in the luxury of the Kings palace.

There are two very important lessons that we can learn about repentance in this verse

Repentance takes Emotion

Sitting down and weeping certain days obviously refers to the fact that Nehemiah was emotionally affected by not only his sin of ignoring the Jews, but the great danger that they were currently in. To put in basic terms, the heart of Nehemiah was broken over this need, because the heart of God was broken over it.

Often when the Lord brings a crisis into our lives, He does it to highlight a sin that we are committing. It can be as simple as a “still small voice” that shows the error of our ways, or as intense as a sledgehammer that shows how our many decisions have led to this point. Either way the important thing is to never run from the conviction of God.

It is tempting to run from Gods conviction because (lets be honest) it doesn’t feel very good. But its important to remember that this punishment is for our well-being. Just like parents discipline a child who disobeys so that they can be mature in the future, God disciplines His spiritual children so we can bear fruit.

Instead of running from God’s conviction, we must like Nehemiah sit down, and allow it to wash over us

  1. Through Bible study and prayer
  2. Through honest evaluation of our lives
  3. Through silence (being unplugged from electronics)
  4. And through dealing with the core sin problem in our life (often the habits are symptoms of a deeper issue).

once we have allowed the conviction of God to do its work, we are ready to take the next step

Conviction Takes Re-Dedication

We see that after the time of mourning ended, Nehemiah fasted, and turned to God in prayer. The remainder of chapter one includes the prayer of Nehemiah which I will look at, but first notice Nehemiah turns back to God.

Confession of sin in emotion is never enough if true life change has not taken place. So the conviction must lead to a fresh commitment toward God and His ways.

This can involve:

  1. A dramatic change of habits that lead to sin
  2. Spending more time in the Word of God, and meditation on His truth
  3. Submission to the things that God wanted us to do, but we were unwilling
  4. And seeking the strength of God instead of walking in our own power

The crisis experiences of life often bring us to our knees. but that is actually a blessing, since it is on our knees that we get our life right with God

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