Establishing a Vision (Part 2 of 2)Nehemiah 1:1-2:10
Men and women of the Bible didn’t possess superhuman qualities; they were ordinary people, just like us. So where did Nehemiah, a cupbearer, find the courage to face an extreme challenge? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
Mourning for Sin
Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.2 Corinthians 7:10
Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too rare a flower to grow in nature’s garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows up in sinners except when divine grace produces it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it to you, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”1
True repentance is tied directly to the Savior. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and the other upon the cross; or it will be even better if we fix both our eyes on Christ and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.
True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man can say he hates sin if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin not merely as a theory but experimentally [experientially]—as a burn victim dreads fire. We will be as afraid of it as a man who has recently been robbed is afraid of the thief on the highway; and we will shun it—shun it in everything—not only in large matters, but in small things, as men avoid little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very careful with our tongue in case it should say a wrong word; we will be very watchful over our daily actions in case in anything we offend, and each night we will end the day with painful confessions of shortcomings, and each morning awaken with earnest prayers that God would today hold us up so that we may not sin against Him.
Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This is not something we do only once at the beginning of our Christian lives. Nor is it an intermittent exercise. Every other sorrow passes with time, but this dear sorrow grows as we grow, and it is such sweet bitterness that we thank God He permits us to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.
1) John 3:6
1And the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2“Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, 3behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 4Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”
5Now the rest of the acts of Baasha and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 6And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried at Tirzah, and Elah his son reigned in his place. 7Moreover, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.
Elah Reigns in Israel
8In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years. 9But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, 10Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.
11When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he struck down all the house of Baasha. He did not leave him a single male of his relatives or his friends. 12Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, 13for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols. 14Now the rest of the acts of Elah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
Zimri Reigns in Israel
15In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, 16and the troops who were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king.” Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. 18And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house and burned the king's house over him with fire and died, 19because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin. 20Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy that he made, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
Omri Reigns in Israel
21Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts. Half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. 22But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died, and Omri became king. 23In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah. 24He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents1 of silver, and he fortified the hill and called the name of the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.
25Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him. 26For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. 27Now the rest of the acts of Omri that he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 28And Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria, and Ahab his son reigned in his place.
Ahab Reigns in Israel
29In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. 31And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.
Put On the New Self
1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your1 life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:2 sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming.3 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self4 with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,5 free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Rules for Christian Households
18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22Bondservants,6 obey in everything those who are your earthly masters,7 not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
The Prince and the Feasts
1“Thus says the Lord God: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. 2The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. 3The people of the land shall bow down at the entrance of that gate before the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the new moons. 4The burnt offering that the prince offers to the Lord on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish. 5And the grain offering with the ram shall be an ephah,1 and the grain offering with the lambs shall be as much as he is able, together with a hin2 of oil to each ephah. 6On the day of the new moon he shall offer a bull from the herd without blemish, and six lambs and a ram, which shall be without blemish. 7As a grain offering he shall provide an ephah with the bull and an ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he is able, together with a hin of oil to each ephah. 8When the prince enters, he shall enter by the vestibule of the gate, and he shall go out by the same way.
9“When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead. 10When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.
11“At the feasts and the appointed festivals, the grain offering with a young bull shall be an ephah, and with a ram an ephah, and with the lambs as much as one is able to give, together with a hin of oil to an ephah. 12When the prince provides a freewill offering, either a burnt offering or peace offerings as a freewill offering to the Lord, the gate facing east shall be opened for him. And he shall offer his burnt offering or his peace offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out the gate shall be shut.
13“You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord daily; morning by morning you shall provide it. 14And you shall provide a grain offering with it morning by morning, one sixth of an ephah, and one third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour, as a grain offering to the Lord. This is a perpetual statute. 15Thus the lamb and the meal offering and the oil shall be provided, morning by morning, for a regular burnt offering.
16“Thus says the Lord God: If the prince makes a gift to any of his sons as his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons. It is their property by inheritance. 17But if he makes a gift out of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty. Then it shall revert to the prince; surely it is his inheritance—it shall belong to his sons. 18The prince shall not take any of the inheritance of the people, thrusting them out of their property. He shall give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people shall be scattered from his property.”
Boiling Places for Offerings
19Then he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, to the north row of the holy chambers for the priests, and behold, a place was there at the extreme western end of them. 20And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the guilt offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, in order not to bring them out into the outer court and so transmit holiness to the people.”
21Then he brought me out to the outer court and led me around to the four corners of the court. And behold, in each corner of the court there was another court—22in the four corners of the court were small3 courts, forty cubits4 long and thirty broad; the four were of the same size. 23On the inside, around each of the four courts was a row of masonry, with hearths made at the bottom of the rows all around. 24Then he said to me, “These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.”
Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
1Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
2Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!
3For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
5Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
6I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl1 of the waste places;
7I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
10because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
13You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
14For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
15Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16For the Lord builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
17he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.
18Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
23He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24“O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”
25Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.
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