B U I L D I N G L I V E S
W E E K T W O
By Dr. Brad Williamson
Last week, we read Nehemiah 8. The people of Israel had gathered to hear the words of Moses read aloud during the celebration called the “Feast of Booths” (also the “Feast of Tabernacles”). It was a festive occasion to the Lord, complete with dancing, rejoicing, and the waving of branches, designed to be celebrated at the end of summer following the grape and olive harvest. The people constructed simple outdoor shelters (as shade from the summer heat) made from the limbs and branches cut off during the harvest—thus the name, “Feast of Booths.” It was a joyous time.
There is a dramatic shift in focus from chapter 8 into chapter 9. Instead of celebrating, God’s people were instructed to fast and mourn.
In a way, fasting is a sequel to the feasting of chapter 8. The purpose of the sequel was to continue their worship of God, but through a different means: the confession of sins.
Celebrating God’s greatness goes hand-in-hand with confessing our sinfulness through prayer. Both are acts of worship, and both are necessary for spiritual growth or renewal. Dressing in sackcloth (similar to burlap) and rubbing ashes on their face was a visual sign of humble repentance as they prepared to come before a Holy God.
As you pray and worship today, take the time to confess your sin to God. Ask for his help to move forward without these sins. Confessing your sin is a necessary step in Christian growth. Without recognizing our sins, how can we expect to move beyond them?
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