Daily Word

Slaves in Promised Land | Nehemiah 9:32-37

32 “And now, our God, the great and mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of unfailing love, do not let all the hardships we have suffered seem insignificant to you. Great trouble has come upon us and upon our kings and leaders and priests and prophets and ancestors—all of your people—from the days when the kings of Assyria first triumphed over us until now. 33 Every time you punished us you were being just. We have sinned greatly, and you gave us only what we deserved. 

34 Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your Law or listen to the warnings in your commands and laws. 35 Even while they had their own kingdom, they did not serve you, though you showered your goodness on them. You gave them a large, fertile land, but they refused to turn from their wickedness.

36 “So now today we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land. 37 The lush produce of this land piles up in the hands of the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They have power over us and our livestock. We serve them at their pleasure, and we are in great misery.”

Nehemiah 9:32-37  (NLT)

End of the tour

We’re at the end of our “tour” of Israel’s prayer of contrition through their past. Now we get to the end, the final plea for mercy. Verse 32 starts with a wonderful declaration of who God is – the great, mighty, awesome God and then they acknowledge that our God is a covenant-keeper, as they’ve recalled in the earlier part of the prayer. They acknowledge that God is completely just in all His actions – even the punishment – that they just listed yesterday.

Slaves in the Promise Land

Now they are slaves in the promised land (v36). How paradoxical! God did so much to get them into the Promised Land but the Israelites sinned and lost it. Now, by His grace (beyond mercy), they are back in the land. But they are slaves – since all their proceeds go to the foreign kings who rule over them. Slaves in the promised land.

Have you been brought from death to life, rescued from the dominion of darkness, given a promise, as an adopted child of the King, of a home in Heaven? Are you in slavery now to your old nature? Do you give into sin? Are you anxious about everything? Have you turned your back on your God?

Plea for Mercy

The Israelites pleaded to God for mercy. “The covenant in itself was not a sufficient ground of hope, because they had so [completely] broken it.” (Wesley’s commentary) All they could do was plead for mercy. The good news: Our God is a merciful God! Call upon Him. Plead for His mercy, and Grace!

National slavery justice. Slave statue.

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