Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Great Exchange

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:5-7

We Have Sinned…We.  And I confess
The story of Nehemiah is one of my favorite accounts in the scriptures.  In it, God calls and uses a cupbearer to save Jerusalem…and rebuild the wall of the city.  Great account, with a ‘here am I, send me’ sense about it.  I’ve always wanted to be a Nehemiah type man.  I fall short on many fronts though.  One of the commands of scripture is that we bear one another’s burdens.  Today, we consider how Nehemiah bore the responsibility for the sins of his people as he prayed to God.

I draw your attention to one element of this first chapter…in verse 6:  “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.”  He was confessing the sins…not only of himself…and his family…but also of the entire people of Israel.  Remarkable!!  Notice that he wasn’t saying, “I’m sorry for the sins of this people.”  Rather, “I confess the sins…of this people.”  Remarkable!!

He wasn’t confessing that THEY had sinned.  He was taking their sin as his own.  WE have sinned.  Verse 7: “We have acted very corruptly against Thee…” We.  We.  Who does this?

When was the last time you confessed the sins of your neighbor?  Your state? Your nation?  I’d wager a pound of cookies that for the most of us, unless we are very enlightened, we have not done it in a long, long time…if ever at all.  It simply isn’t something we are conditioned to do.  As we noted yesterday, we are inclined to deny responsibility when it comes to sin. 

It was, however, what Jesus did on our behalf.  Jesus took responsibility for sin.  For my sin and yours.  Jesus BECAME sin…our sin.  2nd Corinthians 5:21 notes: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

While riding through the countryside this last week, I began to consider the sins of our nation.  I began to confess my sin and OUR sin to the Father, asking him to heal our land.  Indeed, we have acted corruptly and have not walked in his ways.  Like Nehemiah, I sought to “remind” God of his investment in the people of this nation, and to ask his intervention on our behalf.  It is a prayer I seek to continue.

Lord Jesus, We have called ourselves a Christian nation, for so we were founded.  And yet the years have grown long and our hearts have sought our own way.  We have become a nation that has Christians.  Remember the place from which we have fallen and raise us up again.  Call our hearts.  Draw us to repentance and to your heart again.  Help us to rebuild our walls again… In your name I pray, Amen.

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