Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

The Sins of the Fathers

Meditation for the week of June 21, 2009

Nehemiah 8:8
So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah represent a period of revival in the history of the nation of Israel.  In the book of Ezra, the temple is rebuilt and the worship of Jehovah is reestablished there.  Ezra records the remnant keeping the passover which spoke of the coming Messiah who would die for the sins of the world.  The revivals under Hezekiah, Josiah and Ezra all involved keeping the passover.  It was supposed to be kept once a year to remind the nation that God had redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt and to remind them of the blessings that the Lord wanted to shower upon them.  When the passover became unimportant,  Jehovah also became unimportant and, over and over, the people turned to idolatry.

In Nehemiah, the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt.  The wall allowed them to defend themselves and required them to separate from the people of the land who worshiped other gods.  Separation was probably one of the great marks of the revival under Ezra and Nehemiah.  Another mark was reading from the law of the Lord.  Reading and understanding the the law caused the people to confess their sins.  At first it brought them sorrow; but when they realized that God really did want to bless them, they found joy.

These revivals involved confessing the sins of the fathers.  In Nehemiah 9:2 we read, “Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”  The history of Israel was one long journey where the nation was blessed by God and worshiped Him faithfully.  They then found themselves attracted to the pagan gods of the land and would turn from their faithfulness.  God would judge them, and when they realized that they had been brought into bondage and not into blessing, they would call out to God for mercy.  Then He would forgive and save them.  The current situation in the Mideast is the result of Israel being unfaithful to God and being dispersed into the nations because of it. 

Are there lessons in Ezra and Nehemiah for us today?  I think so.  The passover lasted until the Lord was crucified but spoke prophetically of the crucifixion of Christ.  The Lord’s Supper was instituted by the Lord after the passover on the night that the Lord was betrayed.  The Lord’s Supper will last until the Lord comes again.  The Lord’s Supper had a predominant place in the worship of the early church.  But today the Lord’s Supper often gets in the way of the activities that many churches really consider important.  But the Lord’s Supper keeps our focus on the Lord while the activities that replace the Lord’s Supper often keep the focus on us.  Just as revivals in the old testament seemed to be associated with keeping the passover, I believe any “revived’ church will keep the Lord’s Supper prominent in their meetings.

In addition, the church by and large does not know or really study the Bible today.  We used to carry the Bible to our meetings and we looked up the passages preached on in the Bible.  We read it with our children and we helped them memorize it.  We did not assume that it took a degree from a theological seminary to understand it.  I believe that the personal and corporate reading and study of the Bible is the first step in reviving any church.

We used to believe that meetings for the church were meetings for believers and not for unbelievers.  We didn’t encourage the unsaved and unbaptized to be part of our worship though we had meetings where they were welcome so that they could hear the Gospel preached and could get to know Christians.  Marriage was between believers.  Business partnerships were between believers.  We had had relationships with unbelievers but never the kind of relationship where the decisions we made as believers were affected by the attitudes of unbelievers.  A church will never be revived unless it recognizes that the Lord wants his people to be set apart for Him.

The Fathers are supposed to teach the children the right ways of the Lord.  It is a shame when the children through reading the Bible on their own realize that the Father’s have caused them to depart from the worship of the Lord. That happened during the revival under Ezra and Nehemiah.  I hope that my children never come to that conclusion about what I have taught them. 

Bruce Collins

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