Nehemiah 9:1-38


Verse 1, Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.

I.    This chapter takes place after approximately 24 days of worship!

A.  On the first day of the seventh month, the people met together to hear the Word of God read, Neh. 8:1-12.

B.   On the second day, some met together to continue in the reading of the Word, Neh. 8:13-18.

1.   They heard about the feast of Tabernacles.

2.   They observed this feast until the appointed time was over.

C.   Now they are back, wanting more.

1.   According to the demands of the law, they do not have to assemble like this.

2.   But they have really enjoyed the past month, and don't want to go back to the former way of life.

3.   This is what happens when a church truly has a "revival".

4.   They enjoy it so much, they don't want to go back to the way they were before the series of meetings.


II.   They meet together with mourning!!

A.  They are fasting and are dressed in sackcloth with earth upon them.

1.   These are all signs of confessing of sin, being greatly grieved because of their sinfulness.

2.   Jonah 3:5-9 - The people of Ninevah fasted and dressed in sackcloth with earth upon them, because they desired God to be merciful toward them, and not destroy them like Jonah preached.

B.   They had just had a wonderful 24 days of worshipping God, why would they assemble in this manner?

1.   Most people believe that they can go out and do whatever they want after they have "worshipped" God.

2.   Real true worship does allow us to feel good about ourselves and God.

3.   Real true worship also shows us how bad we really are.

4.   We will want to continue in the blessings of God, not in the feelings of the moment.

5.   These Israelites are meeting like this, not because they haven't enjoyed the past few days, and not because God hasn't blessed them.

6.   They meet like this because they now realize how important it is to obey the commandments of God in order to receive the future blessings of God.


Verse 2, And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

I.    They separate themselves from all strangers.

A.  The word "all" seems to indicate that there no strangers in this meeting at all.

1.   There would be some strangers who wouldn't want to be here because they didn't believe in God.

2.   There would be other strangers who were  sympathetic to the Jewish religion.

3.   There would be other strangers who would be closely united with the Jewish religion, perhaps had even joined them.

B.   It may have been that any Gentile converts were allowed to be in this service.

1.   The word "seed of Israel" indicates that only those that could count their genealogy were allowed in this service.

2.   But there were many Jews that couldn't trace their genealogy.

3.   They were probably allowed to attend.

C.   The word "strangers" would mean those that didn't believe in the religion of the Scriptures as practiced by the Jews.


II.   Could these people really worship God and still have unconfessed sins?

A.  There are many people who believe that only those who have confessed all their sins can worship God.

1.   This can't be so, because we don't even know what all our sins are!

2.   God accepts worship from imperfect creatures.

3.   We pray that God will cleanse us from our "secret sins" (those sins we hide from others and try to hide from ourselves and God).

B.   A part of our worship is to confess sin.

1.   Sometimes a person will worship God and not understand that He is a God full of mercies and is willing to forgive the most flagrant sin, if that sin will be confessed and forsaken.

2.   During the course of worship, they become more familiar with God, and understand they can approach Him with their wickedness.

3.   Even lost people can worship God.

4.   All they have to do is realize His greatness and His power.


Verse 3, And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.

I.    The next order of business after confessing of sins is the reading of the law.

A.  Then they confessed some more, then they worshipped God.

B.   The events of the day indicate the order of real worship and revival.

1.   Neh. 1-6 - Obeying what they know to obey - the wall must be built.

2.   Neh. 7 - Worship God when the building is finished.

3.   Neh. 8:1 - Gather together to hear the Words of God.

4.   Neh. 8:9-12 - Mourning because of sin, yet worship God.

5.   Neh. 8:13-18 - More reading of the Word, and obeying what is read.

6.   Neh. 9:1 - More confessing of sin.

7.   Neh. 9:2 - Separation from strangers, and confession of sins.

8.   Neh. 9:3 - More reading the Word of God.

9.   Neh. 9:3 - More confessing of sin.

10.  Neh. 9:3 - More worshipping God.


Verse 4, Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God.

I.    It is very difficult to ascertain exactly who these Levites are.

A.  See comments on Nehemiah 8:7.

1.   Jeshua - See Nehemiah 8:7.

2.   Bani - See Nehemiah 8:7.  There are several "Bani's".  Which one this is, cannot be readily determined.

3.   Kadmiel.

a.   Neh. 10:9 - Sealed in the covenant of God.

b.   Neh. 12:8 - Placed over the giving of thanksgiving.

c.   Neh. 12:24 - A chief of the Levites, who led in praise and giving of thanks.

4.   Shebaniah -

a.   Neh. 10:10 - One of the Levites who were sealed in the covenant of God.

5.   Bunni.

a.   Neh. 10:15 - Sealed in the covenant of God.

b.   Neh. 11:15 - Grandfather of Azrikam, who had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.

6.   Sherebiah - See Nehemiah 8:7.

7.   Bani - See Nehemiah 8:7.  There are several "Bani's".  Which one this is, cannot be readily determined.

8.   Chenani - This is the only time his name appears.


II.   These Levites stood upon the stairs.

A.  They were above the people, but did not take the position of Ezra in the reading of the law of God.

1.   I believe they were directing the people in the worship of God.

2.   Before they could ever direct anybody to worship God, they had to do it themselves.

B.   I don't believe they all spoke at once.

1.   I Cor. 14:40, Let everything be done decently and in order.

2.   I Cor. 14:29, Let only two or at the most three speak.  This scripture specifically limits the number of speakers in a services to two, or at the most three.

3.   This should be followed in our services.

4.   It was followed by the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost.

5.   I believe it was also followed in this place.

6.   The Levites that didn't speak would add their approval by their presence.


III. Notice the "standing up".

A.  Neh. 9:2 - The people stood and confessed their sins.

B.   Neh. 9:3 - the people stood while the Word of God was read.

C.   Neh. 9:4 - The Levites stood upon the stairs, crying unto the LORD.

D.  Neh. 9:5 - The Levites told the people to stand up and bless the LORD.

E.   We don't do this anymore.

1.   Everybody sits down when they come into service (except those leading the congregation).

2.   A person's mind is more apt to wander when they are sitting down.

3.   If we would all stand up during church services, we wouldn't have to buy any pews!  (I speak in jest.)


Verse 5, Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

I.    The list of the names.

A.  Jeshua - See comments on Nehemiah 8:7.

B.   Kadmiel - See comments on Nehemiah 9:4.

C.   Bani - See comments on Nehemiah 8:7.

D.  Hashabniah.

1.   Neh. 3:10, Hashabniah's son, Hattush, worked on the wall.  "And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah."

2.   This verse relates the only other time this name appears.

E.   Sherebiah - See comments on Nehemiah 8:7.

F.   Hodijah.

1.   Neh. 8:7 - One of the Levites who taught the law, "Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people [stood] in their place.

2.   Neh. 10:10 - One who sealed himself in the covenant of God.

G.   Shebaniah - See comments on Nehemiah 9:4

H.  Pethahiah.

1.   Lev. 10:23 - One of the Levites who had married a strange wife, yet put her away in order to remain in the priesthood.  This act, plus the scripture before us, shows us that he had evidently learned to be in earnest about his religion.  "Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same [is] Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

2.   Neh. 11:24 - This man is of the tribe of Judah, not of the tribe of Levi.  "And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, [was] at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people."


II.   I don't believe they all spoke at once.  See my comments on verse 4.


The Message of the Day

Verse 6-38




There are many things the Israelites had learned from a careful, consistent, continuous study of God's Word.  These things are listed below and contain a concise history of the Jews.


      The reader might be tempted to skip reading the remainder of this chapter, for it is "only history" that we "already know".  If we skip this section, we won't clearly understand the depth of knowledge these Jews have.  There are many very interesting details about the history of Israel that will be confirmed and enlarged by a detailed study of this section.  This is also a very in depth, yet brief history of Israel.


      It is very interesting to note what the Jews had learned.

1.   God is the eternal creator of the entire universe.

2.   God is very merciful toward all is His creatures, but has been especially merciful toward Israel.

3.   The expect God to forgive them of their past, and bless them in the future.

4.   I think it would be fair to say that the Israelites were "doctrinally sound"!


Verse 6

God is the creator


Verse 6, Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

I.    This is a very good place to begin, for unless a person realizes God is the creator, he can never realize Him as Saviour and LORD.


II.   They give God glory for creating all the heaven, the heaven of heavens (the dwelling place of God), all their host, the earth, and all things in the earth (as making a difference between the land the water).

A.  He made the seas and everything in the seas.

B.   God is the one who preserves all life, for there is none other that is able.

1.   All the host of heaven worship God.

2.   They didn't say that all God's creatures worship Him, for they don't.

3.   Some men force themselves, declaring they are fools, when they say there is no God.

4.   One of these days, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ to the glory of God the Father.


Verse 7,8

The Origin of Israel


Verse 7,8, Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; {8} And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:

I.    It should be noted that these Jews believe in election and predestination.

A.  Abram, not Abraham, was chosen by God.

1.   He was chosen from Ur of the Chaldees, which was a place of pagan worship.

2.   They are freely declaring that Abram was an idol worshipper, and would have continued in that worship if God hadn't quickened him and brought him from that land.

B.   They declare that God brought Abram out, not that Abraham came out, then God called him because He saw some good in him.

1.   God called Abram while he was still in idolatry.

2.   God also called us to eternal salvation while we were still in our wicked sinfulness.

3.   God is the one that has made a difference in our lives, and in our eternal destiny.

4.   We have only followed the direction He moved us in.

5.   We would not have moved in a heavenly direction if God hadn't pushed us that way.


II.   Note that Abraham's heart was found faithful before God.

A.  Abraham's life was not faithful, for his life (like ours) is full of rebellion.

1.   The desire of Abraham's heart was to please His God, who saved him and brought him out of idolatry.

2.   Our desire ought to be to glorify God.

B.   Note is taken of the change in Abram's name to Abraham.

1.   They realize this is because of faithfulness of the heart, not according to good works of the flesh.

2.   They note that it was after God saw the faithfulness of Abraham that He gave him the promise of the land of Canaan.


III. I love this balance between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

A.  These Israelites realize that God is totally, completely sovereign, and that sovereignty doesn't do away with the responsibility of men.

B.   We must preach both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of men.

1.   If we only preach sovereignty of God, men will become lax, because they will come to believe God does everything, and they have no responsibility.

2.   If we only preach the responsibility of man, men will become anxious (and have no favorable result) because they will come to believe everything hinges on them and their reaction to truth.  They will never come to see the grace of God toward sinful mankind, nor his great love He loved sinners with.


IV. The Israelites are going back to the covenant between God and Abraham as guaranteeing their title deed to the land of Canaan.

A.  They are recognizing that the land is inhabited before they get there, but they are also recognizing that God has given that land to them.

B.   It is not stated here, but the wickedness of the Canaanites was what caused God to destroy that people.


V.  Some might object that God was unjust to take the land of the Canaanites and give it to Abraham.

A.  It must be remembered that the earth and the fulness thereof belongs to the Lord, and He can do with it as He so pleases!

B.   He is accountable to no one.


VI. They recognize that God didn't give the land to Abraham, but to his seed.

A.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were strangers that dwell in the promised land, not inheriting the land because the time wasn't right.

B.   God did what He said He would do, not because Abraham was more righteous than the Canaanites, but because He is righteous.


Verse 9-11

The Wonders About Egypt


Verse 9-11, And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea; {10} And showedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day. {11} And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.

I.    They recognize God as the faithful protector and deliverer of Israel.

A.  God saw their affliction in Egypt and heard their cry by the Red Sea.

B.   The signs and wonders upon Egypt continued until God allowed Israel to cross the Red Sea on dry land and drowned the Egyptians in the same water.


II.   Note that God didn't show signs and wonders to Egypt, but upon them.  Egypt never really saw, nor understood that God was against them and for Israel, even though many other nations did see.

A.  Egypt dealt proudly with Israel.

1.   This showed they didn't humble themselves before God.

2.   If they had respect unto God, they would have respect unto His people.

B.   The final sign.

1.   The Red Sea was divided before them.

2.   The word "before" means "face".

3.   In other words, the Egyptians actually saw the miracle of the parting of the waters, yet it didn't cause them to believe God was working in favor of Israel.

4.   Egypt saw Israel cross on dry ground, and they thought they could too.

C.   God drew them after Israel, and they were thrown into the sea like a stone and drowned.

1.   The stone is a common building stone.

2.   This stone has no mind, or thought of itself, but is placed according to the desires of another.

3.   People can talk about the will of man all they want to, but God has total, complete control of every part of His creation.

4.   His creation doesn't tell Him what they will, or won't, do!


III. The signs were on three different classes of people:

A.  Pharaoh, the supreme ruler of Egypt, whom God used him to show His glory to all the world,

B.   All his servants, the Egyptians,

C.   All the people of his land, other nationalities that were living in Egypt.

1.   Many of those people had fled into Egypt from the famine, taking refuge in the power of Egypt.

2.   God showed those people that there is no refuge from the fierce destruction of God.

3.   They should have learned to trust God rather than trust the fleeing power of earthly princes.


Verse 12-21

The Wonders About The Wilderness


Verse 12-21, Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. {13} Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: {14} And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: {15} And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them. {16} But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, {17} And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. {18} Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; {19} Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go. {20} Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. {21} Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.

I.    Verse 12, The leadership of God while in the wilderness.  Continues under all circumstances, in rebellion and in submission, day and night.


II.   Verse 13,14 - The giving of the law.

A.  God came down upon Mt. Sinai.

1.   It is very remarkable that the God of heaven and earth actually came down to a mountain He had made to speak to the people He had made, giving them a perfect law He had made.

B.   There is no mention that all Israel asked Moses to speak to God for them, for they couldn't stand to listen to His voice.

1.   They know this, for they declare that Moses made them understand what God said.

2.   The emphasis here is upon what God had done for Israel, not on Israel's rebellious ways.

C.   They recognize the law is good.

1.   They call them right judgments, true laws, good statutes and commandments.

a.   It should be noted that this is one point the Jews continue to believe.

b.   As a matter of fact, they believe the law is so good, they begin to follow the law instead of God.

c.   When Jesus is born, the Jews have developed a system of laws, with such exact "in's and out's" that nobody can figure them out, much less obey them.

D.  God has allowed them to understand how to worship Him.

1.   He has shown them His sabbaths and given them proper commands as to the observance of those holy days.

2.   They knew exactly what God expected of them.


IV. Verse 15 - God fed them.

A.  He gave them bread to eat.

1.   The Jews understand about manna, which God gave every morning for six days, for 40 years!

2.   They would also understand about gathering enough on the sixth day to last through the sabbath.

B.   He gave them water to drink.

1.   No only did God give them daily water, in a "non miraculous" way, He provided them special water during special times.

2.   The water coming from the rock would indicate they knew this happened twice.

3.   Once, when Moses struck the rock, bringing forth water, and once when Moses should have spoken to the rock, but struck it instead, receiving the condemnation of God for his actions.

C.   God's promise to inherit the land of Canaan.

1.   God gave this promise first of all to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob, who believed, and acted upon that promise.

2.   The Jews who came out of Egypt also received this promise of God.

3.   God showed them many miracles and signs as proof of his promise.

a.   The signs in Egypt.

b.   The deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea.

c.   The fiery pillar and cloud to lead them.

d.   His presence on Mt. Sinai and the giving of the law by His own voice.

e.   Giving them bread to eat and water to drink.


V.  Verse 16-18, The rebellion of Israel.  Verse 16 - The method of rebellion.

A.  Dealt proudly.

1.   This means to boil or seethe (as in anger), act presumptuously or in rebellion, be presumptuous, arrogant, or rebellious.

2.   Some might not think is so bad, but note Nehemiah 9:10, where Egypt "dealt proudly" against Israel.

3.   Israel acted toward God the exact same way Egypt acted toward Israel.

4.   In other words, Israel acted like unbelievers.

B.   Other times people "dealt proudly" against God.

1.   Exodus 18:11, Jethro, Moses father in law, declared that Egypt had "dealt proudly" against God, and God had the mastery over them.

2.   Neh. 9:16 - the verse before us.

3.   Neh. 9:29 - After the 450 year period of bondages and judges, Israel again "dealt proudly" against God.

C.   Hardened their necks.

1.   This means to be hard, severe, fierce, harsh, difficult, or burdensome, showing stubbornness.

2.   The neck refers to the position of the neck and head when a person is acting in a rebellious way.

D.  Hearkened not to thy commandments.

1.   This means they just wouldn't pay attention to what God was telling them.

2.   Their minds were so closed they wouldn't even listen.

E.   Why did Israel act this way toward God?

1.   They didn't understand why calamities came upon them in the past.

2.   They didn't understand the greatness of the many blessings God had in store for them.

3.   They didn't understand because they wouldn't listen to God's prophets, nor read His Word.


VI. Verse 17-21 - The actions of Israel and God.

A.  Refused to obey.  They were intend on following their own wicked minds, instead of obeying the great commands of God.

B.   Forgot the past blessings of God.

1.   There were at least five different classes of blessings God gave Israel.  (See my comments on verse 15.)

2.   It is very difficult for us, as we read this lines, to understand why Israel rebelled against God.

3.   We must remember they saw these blessings over a long period of time, and their memory of them has grown extremely dull.

4.   God also deals with us slowly, over the course of our lives.

5.   Sometimes the memory of God's great blessings upon us grows extremely dull, so dull that there are times we can't remember even one blessings of God!

6.   Don't be too hard on Israel for they are people, just like we are!

7.   It was still wrong for them to rebel against God, just like it is wrong for us to rebel against God.

C.   They appointed a captain - in rebellion against Moses as their God appointed leader.

1.   This is recorded in Numbers 14:4.

2.   This gives us an idea how much was read by the Jews in Nehemiah's day.

D.  They made a golden calf - in rebellion against God as their Saviour, and leader.

E.   The great mercies of God during the time of Israel's rebellion.

1.   God was ready to pardon them, but they didn't ask forgiveness.

2.   God continued leading them with the pillar of fire and cloud during the entire 40 years in the wilderness.

3.   God continued giving them His spirit for good instruction, not railing on them, or being mean to them.

4.   God continued giving them manna and water during their rebellion.

5.   Their clothes didn't wear out for 40 years.

6.   Even their feet didn't swell during all the time of walking.


Verse 22-29

The Wonders of Canaan and the Judges


Verse 22-29, Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. {23} Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it. {24} So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would. {25} And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness. {26} Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. {27} Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. {28} But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; {29} And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.

I.    Verse 22,23 - God gave Israel a taste of future blessings even before they got into the promised land.

A.  Verse 22, Conquests of pagan lands.  (This refers to Numbers 21:21-35.)

1.   Sihon is the king of Amorites who had defeated the Moabites and taken the city of Heshbon, where he had established his kingdom.  Israel conquered this land and began to dwell in their houses, eating the food they had provided, and enjoying the material possessions provided by them.

2.   Og, king of Bashan, decided to fight Israel, but Israel completely destroyed them, killed every person, and possessing their land.

B.   Verse 23 - A remarkable increase in population.

1.   Israel enjoyed a population increase in Egypt, but this continued even during the wilderness wanderings.

2.   They increased as the stars of heaven, referring to the promise God gave to Abraham, another example of God fulfilling His promises to Israel.


II.   Verse 24,25 - Possessing the promised land.

A.  This reading came from the book of Joshua.

1.   We find that the Jews didn't quit reading after just a little while.

2.   They continued reading all the history of Israel.

3.   Please notice they weren't prejudice about what they read.

4.   When Israel was right, they acknowledged that, but when they were wrong, they also acknowledged that.

5.   They took God's side in everything.

6.   This is what we should do.

B.   The children of Israel had to go in.

1.   This is their responsibility, not God's.

2.   It is our responsibility to obey God.

3.   When we obey God, He will give more blessings.

4.   We must look at the many past blessings He has given, then look to future blessings by obeying His promises, and step out in faith, believing HIM.

C.   God subduedst the inhabitants of the land.

1.   He did this in His strength.

2.   God will do exactly the same thing for us, if we will only step out, believing His promises.

D.  What Israel received.

1.   Exactly what God promised.

2.   They took STRONG cities.

3.   They received a FAT land, a very prosperous land.

4.   Everything was provided for them.

a.   Wells already dug, and flowing with water.

b.   Plenty of food, some already prepared, and fruit trees to provide future food.

c.   Houses already built and furnished.


III. Verse 26 - Israel's reaction to the goodness of God.  This reading includes the latter part of Joshua and the beginning of Judges.

A.  They immediately rejected God and His law.

1.   They served God all the days of Joshua and as long as a generation was alive that knew Joshua, but when that generation died, Israel stopped serving God.

2.   This ought to teach a new generation they should carry on the worship of God like their parents.

3.   Many times today, a new generation feels they must seek God on their own, forgetting the lessons their parents learned.

4.   Israel enjoyed the blessings of God, but rebelled against worshipping Him through those good things.

5.   An increase of material possessions is a trial that many people fail, for when they are rich, they forget to serve God.

6.   Many people have too much "business" to serve God, they forget God gave them their "business".

B.   They cast the law of God behind their backs.

1.   They didn't forget the law of God, but threw the law away.

2.   The word "cast indicates they held the law of God in front of them as they examined it, then rejected it, casting (deliberately throwing) behind them so they wouldn't have to look at any more.

C.   They slew the prophets of God.

1.   If Israel had simply forgotten the commands of God, they would have listened to the prophets God sent.

2.   They didn't forget, they rejected; therefore, they didn't want to hear any more about God, or His law.

3.   This caused them to kill the prophets God sent to them, for the prophets would preach from a "fire in the soul" even when the people didn't want to hear.

4.   Prophets of God (this includes preachers and Godly people) will receive in their bodies the reaction of the people they preach to have to God.

D.  They wrought great provocations.

1.   They did even worse things than just killing the prophets of God.

2.   If I was a prophet of God, I would have a little trouble believing somebody could do something worse than killing me.

3.   A worse thing is not feeling remorse for killing another human, not counting the fact that this human is a prophet of God.

4.   An even worse thing is turning the back on God, and turning toward the worship of the heathen gods.

5.   We must remember that God destroyed the heathen because of their rebellion against His laws and precepts.

6.   He will surely destroy Israel because they do the same thing.

7.   Note: Compare verse 10 and verse 26.

a.   In verse 10, Israel rebels like Egypt.

b.   In verse 26, Israel rebels like the heathen.

c.   The judgment of God is upon all rebels, regardless of who they are.

d.   The judgment of God will be upon Israel because they have rebelled like the heathen.

e.   The judgment of God will be upon all the saved when they rebel like the heathen.


IV. Verse 27,28 - These verses relate to the time of the judges.

A.  These verses declare that God only turned Israel over to their enemies because of their sinfulness.

1.   God would not have turned them over to bondage if they had been faithful to Him.

2.   The word "vexed" is also found in Num. 20:15, Judges 2:18, Judges 10:8.  The exact Hebrew words used in these four passages are not identical, but the meaning pretty well is the same.

a.   The word "vexed" means to be bad, or evil toward, to oppress, or shatter.

b.   The destruction of the judges upon Israel is often deprecated from its original ruin, but these words speak of the complete devastation of the nation.

c.   It might be good to mention here that the word "vexed" in II Peter 2:7,8 doesn't mean completely destroyed.  It means to tire down, or wear down with oppression, to try or test by applying force or torture.

3.   This shows us once again that Israel had carefully read these Old Testament passages.

B.   There is no mention of how many times Israel sinned, and God turned them over to their enemies, then Israel repented.

1.   My notes on "Old Testament Survey" shows Israel went into bondage six times, with a total of 14 judges.

2.   A generation would stop serving God, go into wickedness, and then God would deliver them into bondage.

3.   They would then call on the Lord for help, and when the Lord delivered them, they would serve God as long as that generation lived.

4.   The next generation would stop serving, and the cycle would begin all over again.

5.   Every generation had to learn for themselves that God would not tolerate wickedness.

6.   It is a real shame we can't learn from history.

C.   Verse 27 and 28 are a real testimony to the mercies of God.


V.  Verse 29, Testifiedst against them.

A.  The word "testify" means "to return, repeat, to bear witness. 

1.   The methods God used during the time of the Judges, (Israel repeatedly went away from serving God and went into captivity) was to repeatedly use "local" nationalities to "vex" Israel.

2.   God also caused various prophets to declare the Word of God to them.

B.   The reason is that they might understand why such calamities come upon them.

1.   It is more important that Israel return to the laws of God, which is a symbol of returning to God, not that Israel simply obey a series of laws they don't understand.

2.   The law of God is not only good, it is good for Israel to follow.


II.   Dealt proudly.

A.  See my comments on verse 16.

B.   This is especially important to notice at this point.

1.   God has dealt with Israel over a number of years, yet they still don't  understand.

2.   They have forsaken the laws of God, yet don't understand they are a chosen people and can't be like the rest of the world.

3.   Each generation hasn't learned this basic principal, and because of this, each generation must pay the price of disobedience.

4.   May God help us to understand that we are also a chosen people and can't be like the rest of the world.


III. There are five things listed that show Israel's rebellion against God.

A.  Hearkened not unto thy commandments.

1.   The first thing is that they wouldn't even listen to the commandments of God.  Since they wouldn't listen, they certainly obey them, because they wouldn't know what the commandments were.

2.   May God help us to listen to His commandments.

B.   Sinned against thy judgments.

1.   The word "judgment" refers to the judicial proclamations of God concerning the actions of men an their relationship with one another and God.

2.   They forsook God's laws, therefore, didn't know how to act toward God or one another.

3.   When they did what they wanted to do, they would naturally disobey God.

4.   Judges 21:25 - "...every man did that which was right in his own eyes".

C.   Withdrew the shoulder.

1.   This Hebrew word for shoulder refers to:

a.   Anything connected with the religious activities of Israel.

b.   Anything connected with the future condition of Israel.

2.   The Hebrew word which means "shoulder" as being a part of a body is an entirely different word.

3.   Therefore, we conclude that Israel completely refused to be the spiritual people God intended them to be.

4.   The problem was in their spirits, not in their bodies.

5.   Their bodies only reflected what was going on in their spirits.

D.  Hardened their neck.

1.   This refers not only to the position of the body when stubbornness is in the heart, but to the condition of the heart.

2.   Notice it wasn't God who hardened their neck, but themselves.

3.   They refused to even listen to God's admonitions.

E.   Would not hear.

1.   It is not that they could not hear, but they would not hear.

2.   There seems to be no reason for this, except that they were following their own sinful nature.


Verse 30-31

The Wonders of Foreign Captivity


Verse 30-31, Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. {31} Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.

I.    Verse 30 - Many years God dealt with Israel.

A.  From the days of King Saul (the first king of Israel) until 722 B. C., when Israel (the ten northern tribes) went into Assyrian captivity was a period of 390 years.

1.   During this time a total of 22 kings, in eight dynasties, ruled over the ten northern tribes.

2.   The prophets mentioned in the Bible who prophesied to them were: Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

3.   These prophets make up the majority of what is now called the major and minor prophets.

4.   Besides this, there were many other prophets whose names are not given, and, we feel sure, others who prophesied that we are not told anything about.

B.   From the days of King Saul (the first king of Israel) until 606 B. C., when Judah (the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah) went into Babylonian captivity was a period of 524 years.

1.   During this time a total of 23 kings, in one dynasty ruled Judah.

2.   The prophets mentioned in the Bible who prophesied to them were: Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

3.   These prophets make up what is now called the major and minor prophets.

4.   Besides this, there were many other prophets whose names are not given, and, we feel sure, others who prophesied that we are not told anything about.


II.   Testifiedst against them.

A.  God did not speak to them directly, but spoke to them like He speaks to us.

1.   His written Word was available for them to read.

2.   God sent men to preach to them.

3.   These men didn't preach what they wanted to preach, but God's Holy Spirit was in them and they spoke as God instructed them.

4.   There is no doubt in my mind that there were false prophets also declaring what the people wanted to hear.

5.   So it boils down to this: the people listened to who they wanted to.

6.   So it is today.

7.   May God help each person to listen to His Word.

8.   May God put in our hearts to hear and obey His commandments.

B.   The means God uses.

1.   Many people desire and expect some extra-sensational "voice or miracle" to "grab them by the seat of the pants" and force their attention on God.

2.   The rich man in hell desired Lazarus to return to earth to preach to his five brothers.

3.   Abraham didn't do that because God gave them prophets to listen to.

4.   God gives preachers in this day.

5.   There are false preachers, but God sees and knows who is seeking His will and will direct circumstances so they the truth will be available to them.


III. Israel would not listen.

A.  This refers to the will of the people.

1.   Israel made the choice not to listen to God Word, delivered by God's men.

2.   They chose instead to follow the people of the lands.

3.   This is their choice, not God's!

B.   They are not "predestinated" not to hear!

1.   Some "Calvinists" and "Hyper-Calvinists" might believe God predestines everything, but they are wrong.

2.   God desires "willing" worshippers, not a bunch of puppets on a string.

3.   God has already created beings which worship Him continually, but He has created in man a will which man directs.

4.   I understand that man's will is totally depraved, and completely in sin and wickedness, and that God gives man a will to come to Him.

a.   This doctrine is speaking about Total Depravity and Salvation, not "living for God".

b.   This truth of total depravity and salvation doesn't change the fact that man is responsible to serve Him.

C.   Notice the word "therefore".

1.   The word "therefore" is "there for" a reason.

2.   God didn't act toward man until man acted toward God!

3.   God's action toward man was the result of man's actions toward God.

4.   Again, I say, this passage is not talking about total depravity and salvation, but about service.

D.  God gave them over into the hands of the people of the lands.

1.   I believe this is different from verse 28, "...therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies...", which is saying that Israel was under bondage, but didn't leave the promised land.

a.   The word "people" means nations, or territory.

b.   The word "lands" refers to the entire world, not just the nations confined to the land surrounding the promised land.

2.   In this bondage Israel leaves the promised land.

a.   Israel, the northern 10 tribes, went into Assyrian bondage in 722 B. C.

b.   Judah and Benjamin, the southern 2 tribes, went into Babylonian captivity in 606 B. C.


IV. Verse 31, God didn't totally forsake Israel.

A.  God remained faithful to Israel because of his mercy, not because He "foreknew" some good in Israel.

1.   It is always the mercy of God that causes Him to be lenient toward our wickedness.

2.   May God be merciful toward us.

B.   Here is knowledge of a great promise toward the 10 northern tribes referred to as Israel.

1.   These ten tribes were absorbed into Assyria, and as far as we can tell, lost their identity as a nation, and as individual tribes of Israel.

2.   These ten tribes are referred to as the ten lost tribes, for history has lost the account of them.

3.   This doesn't mean that God doesn't know where and who they are.

4.   God knows everything about everything, therefore He knows where His people are.

5.   Revelation 7:1-8 - During the Great Tribulation (The time of Jacob's trouble) God will seal 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

6.   God knows where these people are and will reveal their genealogy when it pleases Him.

7.   These people understood that even though they didn't know where these ten nations were, God knew and that was enough for them!

8.   Praise God for faith!

C.   There is another reason God caused the ten tribes to be absorbed into the Assyrian nations.

1.   The promise of a world redeemer was not to come from those tribes, but from the tribe of Judah.

2.   When these ten tribes faded from view, it would cause the Jews to look to the tribe of Judah for the promised Messiah.

3.   There would be a "narrowing" of choices so there would be less confusion about who the Messiah was.


Verse 32-38

The Wonders of a New Covenant


These verses comprise two main thoughts:

1.   Verse 32-35, A time of confession.

2.   Verse 36-38, An introduction to chapter 10, the making of a new covenant.


Verse 32-35

A time of confession


Verse 32-35, Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. {33} Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: {34} Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. {35} For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.

I.    What Israel has learned from studying their history.

A.  They believe God.

1.   They have had this opportunity to study the history of their nation over a short period of time.

2.   This has allowed them to clearly see the result of sin, and the result of obedience.

3.   They chose obedience, so they can have the blessings of God.

B.   The history of Israel should make a difference in their future.

1.   It is good that they learned these lessons from the past.

2.   Our history should make a difference to us.

3.   We should learn from the mistakes of the past.

4.   1 Cor. 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."


II.   Verse 32, an awareness of who God is.

A.  This is a very necessary first step.

1.   Every person must come to the place of knowing that God is God, not even considering that He has any weakness.

2.   Until they come to that place, they will continue trusting themselves because they don't have a God strong enough to rely on.

B.   What they know about God.

1.   Our God.

a.   He is a very personal God, not just the God of Israel.

b.   God must become a personal God before we trust Him.

2.   A great God.  This means He is the largest, most intense, louder, older, most important, and greatest of all gods.

3.   A mighty God.  This means God has more strength than anybody, and will prevail over all, and is also able to confirm and give strength toward Israel who intends to make a covenant to serve Him.

4.   A terrible God.  See my notes on Nehemiah 1:5.

C.   God has kept the covenant.

1.   Their history has revealed that Israel has broken the covenant with God on every hand, but God has been faithful to keep every part of the covenant.

D.  It is remarkable that covenant and mercy are together.

1.   The covenant of God caused Him to be merciful toward Israel.

2.   There is no doubt in my mind that Israel read in the Bible about the times God spared Israel because of his covenant.

3.   They know God has been faithful in the past, therefore, they ask that He be merciful in the future.


III. Let not our troubles seem small to You.

A.  Who did this trouble come upon?

1.   Us - They are speaking of the people then present before God.

2.   People in the past - referring to past kings, princes, priests, prophets, fathers, and all the people.

B.   Since the time of the Assyrian captivity.

1.   They are not discounting the trouble during the times of the judges.

2.   The Assyrian captivity started a time when Israel was removed from the promised land.

3.   This is a most terrible punishment, and these Jews recognize this fact.


IV. They justify God.

A.  God is just in all He does.

1.   It is one thing to recognize this, and another to recognize that God is just in His dealings with US!

2.   We often want to see God's justice in how He deals with the sin of others, but not when He deals with sin in our lives.

B.   They recognize the sins of the past, asking God to forgive them and bless them in the future.

1.   This is always a good place to begin.

2.   If a person never realizes they have sinned before God, they will never ask God to forgive them.

C.   They are not asking God to forgive dead people.

1.   They realize they are sinners just like their fathers were sinners.

2.   They are asking God to forgive them for their sinfulness, not for the exact sins of the past.

D.  What is the difference between law, commandments, and testimonies?

1.   Law - direction, instruction, body of prophetic teaching, instruction in Messianic age, body of priestly direction/instruction, body of legal directives.

2.   Commandments - the commandment of God, which is a code of wisdom.

3.   Testimonies - witness, testimony, evidence of things, witness of people.

E.   The difference between precepts, statue, and law.

1.   Precepts - the same as commandment above - the commandment of God, which is a code of wisdom.

2.   Statue - an ordinance, limit, or something prescribed, due, a prescribed task, portion, limit, or boundary.  An enactment, decree, ordinance, conditions, enactments, or decree.

3.   Law -  direction, instruction, the body of prophetic teaching, instruction in Messianic age, body of priestly direction/instruction, body of legal directives.

F.   See my comments on Neh. 10:29 for the difference between commandments, judgment and statute.


Verse 36-38

An introduction to chapter 10,

the making of a new covenant.


Verse 36-38, Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it: {37} And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. {38} And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.

I.    Verse 36, 37 - The present condition.

A.  The servants are servants.

1.   These people are the servants of God, and are also servants in their own land to kings God placed over them.

2.   They would not regret being servants of God, but they don't want to be servants of men.

B.   They are partaking of some of the fruits of the land.

1.   God gave them the land as a blessing.

2.   The kings over them are partaking of the majority of the fruits of the land.

3.   This isn't the way God intended it to be, but it is that way because of Israel's rebellion against God.

C.   Kings of the world have dominion over their bodies.

1.   These kings don't have dominion over their spirits, which are free to worship God.

2.   No earthly king can really have dominion over our spirits, even though they can control our bodies.


II.   The reason for the covenant.

A.  A study of the history of Israel caused these Jews to discover that they are now in captivity because of rebellion.

B.   They want to get out of captivity, therefore they make a covenant with God.

1.   It must be noted here that Israel doesn't get out of captivity because they make this covenant.

2.   Reasons:

a.   For a covenant to be in force, it must originate with God.

b.   Israel don't keep this covenant, therefore God does not free them from captivity.

C.   It is not necessary for all Israel to seal their names to the covenant.

1.   It is not wrong for all the people to sign the covenant, but that would make the agreement very long.

2.   It would probably encourage all the people more than just having somebody sign it for them.

3.   At the same time, the Levites do not sign just for themselves, but they are representatives of the people.

D.  We do the same thing in church today, when the pastor baptizes a convert.

1.   The pastor baptizes, but he doesn't have any authority, but baptizes in the authority Christ gave to that local church.

2.   Church authority lies in the local church, which is made up all the saved, baptized members of that local assembly who have joined together to worship God.