Reality and Repentance (Nehemiah 8-9)

Sermon Recap

In Nehemiah 8-9, Israel hears the Law of God and walks away weeping. To us, this may seem a strange reaction to reading the Bible. But in truth, Israel is confronting the reality of who God is and who they are in his Word. And in the face of reality, repentance is our only option.

After the sermon, we took time to meditate on God’s law and corporately confess our sin. We have posted a summary of the Ten Commandments to assist in your confession and repentance. 

1. God is fearsome.

When God speaks to his people in the Old Testament, they often come away afraid (Exodus 20:18-21). God is holy and awesome. It is right for creatures like us to fear him.

2. We are broken.

The Bible teaches that we are sinners by nature (Psalm 51:5; Romans 7:15, 18-19). Israel is confronted with this truth and walks away weeping (Neh. 8:9).

3. We are guilty.

In light of God’s law, we see not only that we can’t obey God’s law, but that we haven’t and stand guilty before him. (Romans 7:24). We are sinners by nature and by choice.

4. We bear shame.

Our disobedience to God is a shameful thing, especially in light of the abundant blessings that God has given us by his grace. We should be ashamed before his goodness and holiness.

5. God’s grace meets us in reality.

God didn’t leave Israel wallowing in their sin; he gave them a party to celebrate his grace instead (Neh. 8:14-17). When we humble ourselves in light of reality before God, he meets us with his grace (James 4:6).

6. Knowledge of God and ourselves leads us to repent.

Seeing themselves for who they are and God for who he is in his amazing grace, Israel confessed their sin (Neh. 9:5-38). In the face of reality, repentance is our only option.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Where in the Bible does it teach about God’s holiness?

  2. Why is it natural for us to fear God? Why is it so difficult for us to fear him?

  3. The Bible teaches we are sinners by nature AND choice. How does your experience show you this truth?

  4. Can you think of any places in the Bible where people were ashamed of their sin in God’s presence?

  5. Do you believe the reality that you are broken, guilty, and that you bear shame before God? How should that lead you to respond to him?

  6. Why does God meet us with grace in the midst of that reality?

  7. Why does knowing our sinfulness and God’s graciousness lead us naturally into repentance? How do you need to repent today?