Nehemiah 9 … Consider His Great Compassion

“Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionate God,” (9:31).

If we have never before been arrested with wonder and amazement, never before been absolutely undone and stopped in our tracks with the reality of His Great Compassion, this will surely be the day we come away awe-struck.

The people were unquestionably astonished, as the Levites dressed in sackcloth and covered in dirt (symbolic of both the depth of their remorse and realization of the intensity of their sin), led them in this great prayer of confession and faith.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers, (9:1).

This was indeed a serious and somber occasion. In total abandonment to God alone, as they removed themselves from their attachments to the world, they stood in reverence to repent of their own sins and the propensity to walk in rebellion inherited from their ancestors.

Many of God’s wondrous and miraculous deeds were acknowledged. And as the people were walked back in time throughout their nation’s history, two things become abundantly clear:

God’s children have proven themselves to be unceasingly obstinate, arrogant and stiff-necked in their rebellious ways.
Yet, nevertheless, Almighty God has proven Himself as lavishly gracious and forgiving, abounding in His lovingkindness and His Great Compassion.

Consider His Great Compassion

Much of their prayer recounts and confesses the people’s sin and unfaithfulness, in spite of the countless times God had so graciously provided. And even though He had proven Himself faithful and worthy to be believed, the people chose to persist in their own ways, so contrary to His continual expressions of His faithful love.

While His people constantly rebelled and continued to choose their sin, His faithfulness is repeatedly contrasted against that of the people’s; and six times the Levites would draw their attention to this contrast, so beautifully depicted in His Great Compassion.

  • His Great Compassion graciously abounds in lovingkindness and forgiveness.
    •  “They refused to listen,
      And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them;
      So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.
      But You are a God of forgiveness,
      Gracious and compassionate,
      Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
      And You did not forsake them,”
      (9:17).
  • His Great Compassion continually holds and guides His own.
    • “You, in Your great compassion,
      Did not forsake them in the wilderness;
      The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day,
      To guide them on their way,
      Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go,”
      (9:19).
  • His Great Compassion hears the cries of distress.
    • “Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them,
      But when they cried to You in the time of their distress,
      You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion
      You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors,”
      (9:27).
  • His Great Compassion rescues the rebellious.
    • “But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You;
      Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.
      When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven,
      And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,”
      (9:28).
  • His Great Compassion repeatedly reveals His unending grace.
    •  “Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
      For You are a gracious and compassionate God,”
      (9:31).

What is so astounding about His Great Compassion is the incessant lack of gratitude from His children. And yet He continued, steadfast in His Great Compassion.

But because He is a God Who is Righteous and Just, He must judge sin; and because He is the Perfect and Holy Father, He must discipline His children.

And, because His creation would never be able to live a life capable of fulfilling the Law’s righteous requirements, He Himself would accomplish that on our behalf, through his Perfect and Holy Son.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).

  • Through Jesus, His Great Compassion graciously abounds in lovingkindness and forgiveness.
    • …In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us, (Ephesians 1:4-8).
  • Through Jesus, His Great Compassion continually holds and guides His own.
    • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one,” (John 10:27-30).
  • Through Jesus, His Great Compassion hears the cries of distress.
    • When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” (Acts16:27-31).
  • Through Jesus, His Great Compassion rescues the rebellious.
    • I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all, (1 Timothy 1:12-15).
  • Through Jesus, His Great Compassion repeatedly reveals His unending grace.
    •  For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ, (John 1:16-17).
    • Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, (Hebrews 4:14-16).

How do we respond to His Great Compassion?

Oh, His Great Compassion demonstrated through Jesus! But the sad truth is, we, like the children of Israel, too often grow complacent, taking His Great Compassion for granted.

Let us sincerely beg the Lord to change us, that we not become like the children of Israel who continued in their rebellion, even though He had rescued and forgiven them time after time.

Today, as we consider His Great Compassion, let us cry out to His Holy Spirit, to please cause us to remember and to choose to live in gratitude, each and every day. And with grateful hearts, may we respond by giving Him all our love and obedience and praise.

“and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).

to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory, (Ephesians 1:12).

Because, what if? What if we truly lived our lives choosing to daily consider and ponder His Great Compassion? What if we truly loved Him above all else that we just couldn’t help but keep His commands? And what if we really understood the cost of this glorious love relationship we have through His Great Compassion? Wouldn’t we choose to live each and every day to bring Him praise?

And then, couldn’t we also expect Him to use us to draw others to Himself? Couldn’t we be certain, that if we lift Him up through the message of the gospel, and through our consecrated lives and praise, that others would also be drawn to desire His Great Compassion expressed through His death on the cross?

Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die, (John 12:31-32).

Oh Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your Great Compassion towards us, even when we were still Your enemies.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).

But now that we belong to You, through faith in Your Great Compassion demonstrated through Your shed blood on the cross for our sins, please use us.

Lord Jesus, arrest us with wonder and amazement. Lord Jesus, please absolutely undo us and stop us in our tracks, that Your glorious Name may be blessed and exalted beyond mere words. Oh, Lord Jesus, may we live our lives in awe of Your Great Compassion, that we would live only to bless You and bring You glory each and every day.

“O may Your glorious name be blessed
And exalted above all blessing and praise!”
(9:5).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

Let’s Grow Together!

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