Wednesday, April 3, 2019

We Have Sinned…We. And I confess

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, 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. 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

The story of Nehemiah is one of my favorite stories in the scriptures.  In it, God calls and uses a cupbearer to save Jerusalem…and rebuild the wall of the city.  A cup bearer was a special person to the king.  He guarded the king’s cup to make sure no one poisoned the king. He was a very trusted and loyal servant to the king.  God knew that Nehemiah was faithful and loyal to do His work. He had a ‘here am I, send me’ attitude.  Nehemiah asked the king for a leave of absence so he could go and rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. He was chosen, and he obeyed, but it didn’t stop there.  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.
The Great Exchange
In chapter 1, verse 6, Nehemiah prays, “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. 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 says: “We have acted very corruptly against Thee…” We.  We.  Do you know anyone who does this?
When was the last time you confessed the sins of your neighbor?  Your state? Your nation?  I’d bet 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.  In fact, it probably has never even entered most of our minds. 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 5:21says: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus took our sin off us and on Himself so we could be completely forgiven and have eternal life with Him.  Who would you do that for?  He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  He didn’t just confess our sin as His, He paid the tab.  He was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He was the exchange for us, to save our lives. 
Thinking about this story, 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.  In the past few years, we definitely 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 will continue.

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