What a difference a few days make! From the joyful celebration in chapter 8, chapter 9 opens up with "Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them."
The next verse talks about the Israelites separating themselves from all the foreigners that were with them. They then stood and confessed their sin and "the iniquities of their fathers." I find that interesting - that they would confess not only their own sins but the sins of their fathers.
This is something I have seen in Scripture over and over again. A person or a group of people seek God's face. They confess not only individually but corporately as well. On the flip side of this we see that worship is also corporate and not just an individual thing.
The rest of the chapter is basically a song that recited teh goodness of God, the sin of their fathers and God's graciousness and faithfulness despite this. From this song, it is fairly obvious that the Israelites clearly see that God treated their people with a lot more grace than they deserved. Several times throughout this chapter God is described as gracious and compassionate. Again and again, they say that their recent troubles in captivity were a result of sin.
The chapter ends with the people getting ready to make an agreement with God, with the leaders, Levites and priests actually signing this agreement that the people would follow God's commands.
I guess this chapter drives home to me the importance of the body of Christ, the fact that we are not just individual believers floating around in some kind of spiritual vacuum. These Israelites truly worshipped God. They saw Yahweh for who He really was and that gave them an accurate picture of themselves and their circumstances.
So many times, I think the current church (as a whole, not one actual church in particular) moans and complains about the state of the world and what is going on around us, but we fail to look at ourselves. We are called to be holy, to be OF the world but not IN it. We are called into dynamic relationship with God on an individual basis but when was the last time you heard God speaking to you? We (speaking to myself here) want to point our fingers at all the issues and problems facing us, but without the sackcloth and ashes of true repentence on our own part.
May God never let me forget His awesome glory and majesty so I can have a clear picture of who I am and the path He has called me to walk!
~ Blessings, Bronte