“Look out the window, mom. The streets are filled with people. Where’s everyone going? They’re all dressed the same way. They’re wearing stuff that looks like canvas – only its rougher and coarser looking. Almost looks like potato sacks. And they’ve got dirt or ashes all over their heads.”

A Jewish mother would explain to her child the significance of what was happening.

“Zack, it’s a special meeting today. Our people have sinned against our great God in so many ways and for so long. We have disobeyed Him, turned our backs on Him, taken our own selfish ways and we’ve disappointed our God repeatedly. Today, our people are getting together to confess all our sins. That’s why everyone is wearing those drab and coarse sacks, and that’s why they put the dirt on their heads. It’s a sign that we have failed and sinned and we are very, very sorry. We are repenting of our wrong ways. Today, we are going to tell God that, from now on, we all want to please and honour Him.”

How much our little fictional Zack would understand, it’s hard to say. But you can read about this significant day in Israel’s history in Nehemiah Chapter 9. The people came together and for three solid hours they listened to the Word of God being read publicly. And then they spent the next three hours confessing their sins and the wickedness of their people. It was a very sobering experience; but, there was something exciting about it too. It was an official turning point for them. During those hours, they were also united in worshipping the Lord their God.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. Nehemiah 9:1-3

Follow the story to the end of the chapter and then you read this:

Because of all this, we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests. Nehemiah 9:38

You read it right. They were so serious about turning a corner in their relationship with the Lord, they committed to writing down all the changes they would make in their lifestyles. They signed it as a contract between themselves and God. The details of the agreement are found in Nehemiah Chapter 10.

Sin in the life of a believer is serious – very serious. Have you been ignoring some certain sin in your life? Are you trying to continue living your Christian life as if everything is normal, when deep down, you know there is a sin you need to abandon and confess? Are you ready to deal with it today? Bring it to the surface in the presence of God; confess it and forsake it. Are you prepared to make a serious commitment to the Lord? Would you record your communication with the Lord in your private journal?

Sin in our life doesn’t just fade away or eventually evaporate. We must deal with it decisively in the presence of God – or we will continue to experience a shortage of power in our life, a stilted joy and a guilty conscience. Read 1 John Chapters 1 and 2.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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