Tuesday, July 02, 2019

"But You Said..."

Nehemiah 1.8-9 NASU

Remember the
word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying,

‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ ”

Did you ever make a promise to a kid then try to renege? It’s almost impossible. “BUT YOU SAID” he’ll scream. He’s got you. You either fulfill your promise and demonstrate yourself to be a person of honor or… you don’t. The decision is simple but not easy. Becoming known as a liar in the mind of a child is a far worse consequence than simply doing what you said you’d do. 

Children possess an uncanny knack for remembering every detail of each promise you make, especially when it serves to their benefit. Even when you brush the pesty kid away with “We’ll see,” you have obligated yourself to revisit the question and render an eventual “yes” or “no.” A Boy Scout’s pledge, marriage vows, business contracts, or the promise to a child... it’s all the same. Keeping your word is a matter of honor. In fact, a person of honor “keeps an oath even when it hurts” (Psalm 15.4).

Nehemiah depended on God’s honor in much the same way. He knew God to be trustworthy and therefore approached Him with child-like “BUT YOU SAID” confidence: “Remember the word which You commanded…” [1] and then launched into an imprecise rendering of Deuteronomy 30.1-5. It was not an exact quotation but a free-flowing summary of the intent of God’s message contained in the Law. Nehemiah reminded God of what He said through Moses almost a thousand years before.

The Bible is filled with promises. Find one and personalize it. Remind the Lord of what He said. Try to memorize a passage of Scripture, at least the intent of it. Quote it back to Him whenever it comes to mind. This is a valid form of prayer. God is trustworthy. You can depend upon His word. He will perform on your behalf, not just because He is loving and compassionate, but because He is truthful and has honorable.[2] God is no liar. If He said it, He will do it!

”God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. 
Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

Numbers 23.19 NLT

[1] The Hebrew word for “remember” (zakar) is found 9 times in the book of Nehemiah. “When the soul remembers something, it does not mean that it has an objective memory image of some thing or event, but that this image is called forth in the soul and assists in determining its direction, its action.” (Israel ~ Its Life and Culture, Johs. Pedersen, Oxford University Press, 1926, vol. I, p. 106.)

[2] According to Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament on Nehemiah 1.8: “It must, however, be remembered that Nehemiah is not so much invoking the divine compassion as the righteousness and faithfulness of a covenant God, the great and terrible God that keepeth covenant and mercy.”

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