Have you ever confessed your sins out loud to another human? Our sins certainly become a lot more “real” when we do that. It’s also a great way to give away the power our sins have over us, simply by speaking them out loud. And we have an accountability partner to keep us from falling into that sin’s trap!
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Nehemiah’s contemporaries are ready to make their confession public. I bet you haven’t ever sprinkled dust on your head or worn a burlap garment because of lament over your sin.
This is a text for difficult times. Coming off the warning of the locusts and the feared day of the LORD, people were needing to know where to turn. Where do we turn in our own times of struggle? Here’s a word from the LORD for your weary soul. “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”
God doesn’t expect us to “get our act together” before we approach him. That doesn’t matter to him. He wants us to come to him before it’s too late. The enemy is circling, trying to distract us and interfere with our divine allegiance daily. We can be sure these prophetic words are for us, too.
The Preacher does it again. We are whisked back into the Old Testament to deepen the meaning of the message he is delivering. Understanding the old covenant would have been a lot easier for the Jews in his first audience. This description of the old covenant is quite something! The Preacher calls it a “dim preview of the good things to come.” Since we’ve been living in the new covenant our whole lives, it does us good to know and appreciate the “upgrade” done for our benefit. Keep in mind your response to God for his forgiveness and grace, the gifts included in this new covenant.
One such Old Testament reference is a quote from Psalm 40:6-8 which speaks for Jesus. Do you suppose the psalmist, David knew the depth of meaning his words had as they pointed to Jesus? Perhaps David had one of those “Holy Spirit moments” when he wrote something but wasn’t sure where it came from. I know there are times when things come out of my mouth that sound “so good”—I’m sure they came from the Holy Spirit!
This text is familiar to me. I grew up Lutheran. These words were used in our weekly confession/forgiveness portion of the worship service. I took some time today to really let those words sink in. We are sinners. Period. There can be no debate.
What we do tend to do is look around and compare. We think our sins aren’t as bad as that person’s, right? I know I’m not the only one who has done this. But truth be told, a sin is a sin. To God, any sin separates us from him. Every sin, big or small, needs the same antidote, God’s forgiveness. Why do we try to fool ourselves into thinking we’re not sinners? Maybe it’s because we have done something a certain way our whole life but didn’t realize it was a sin. Perhaps we are just in denial saying something like, “well, at least I didn’t kill someone.” We try our best to be “good” people, doesn’t that count?