Our Forgiving God

Our Forgiving God

Scripture: Proverbs 28:13, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Daniel 9:4-19
Date: 11/16/2019  Lesson: 7
"Confession of our sins does not save us; only Christ’s sacrifice in our behalf does. Confession, along with repentance, is central to our own acknowledgement that we must be justified by Christ alone."

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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. We'd like to welcome those who are joining us across the country and around the world and a special warm welcome to our online church members that tune in every week to participate in our Sabbath school. We'd also like to welcome our regular church members here, as well as those who might be visiting with us today.

If you've been attending for the couple last weeks or maybe if you're a first-time visitor, we've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the two Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah and today we're going to continue our study in these very important books. Today, we're on lesson number 7 that's entitled, "Our Forgiving God." That's lesson number 7.

Now, for those of you who might be watching, if you don't have a copy of today's lesson, you can download lesson number 7 and study along with us at lesson.aftv.org. Again, just lesson.aftv.org. Download lesson number 7 in our study of Ezra and Nehemiah, and you can study along with us.

We also have a free offer that we'd like to let you know about, a book, one of my favorites, entitled "Three Steps to Heaven," and we'll be happy to send this out to anyone who calls and asks. The number is 866-788-3966, and you want to ask for offer number 102. Again, that's 866-788-3966. Ask for offer number 102. We'll be happy to send it to you, or you can text the code "SH068" to the number 40544, and you'll be able to get a digital download of this book. Again, just text the code, and we'll be happy to send you a link, and you'll be able to download and read the book, "Three Steps to Heaven." Well, before we get to our study this morning we'd like to begin by lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward and now lead us in our song today.

♪ More about Jesus I would know. ♪

♪ More of His grace to others show. ♪

♪ More of His saving fullness see. ♪

♪ More of His love who died for me. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More of His saving fullness see. ♪

♪ More of His love who died for me. ♪

♪ More about Jesus let me learn. ♪

♪ More of His holy will discern. ♪

♪ Spirit of God my teacher be. ♪

♪ Showing the things of Christ to me. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More of His saving fullness see. ♪

♪ More of His love who died for me. ♪

♪ More about Jesus in His Word, ♪

♪ holding communion with my Lord. ♪

♪ Hearing His voice in every line, ♪

♪ making each faithful saying mine. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More of His saving fullness see. ♪

♪ More of His love who died for me. ♪

♪ More about Jesus on His throne. ♪

♪ Riches in glory all His own. ♪

♪ More of His kingdom's sure increase. ♪

♪ More of His coming, Prince of Peace. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More, more about Jesus. ♪

♪ More of His saving fullness see. ♪

♪ More of His love who died for me. ♪♪

Jëan: Dear Father in heaven, we thank You once again for this wonderful day that You have given us, an opportunity to gather together to worship You, to open up Your Word and study. And once again, Lord, we recognize the Bible is Your book and in order for us to correctly understand it we need the leading of the Holy Spirit, so we invite the Holy Spirit in a special way today as we take a look at--a glimpse from Scripture revealing the Father's love. So, thank you, Father for your grace, your goodness, and bless our time together. We ask this in Jesus's name. Amen. Our lesson study today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Doug Batchelor: Thank you, Pastor Ross, and good morning everyone. Thank you to our singers, Michelle and her singing group. How is everybody? Boy, we're having some beautiful days in California. These are nice fall days, unless you're some of the people up in the Hills that have no electricity right now, because California has become a third-world country. It's interesting as I travel. Sometimes I've been in some countries where the power just goes on and off, but I never expected that to be the case in California, so--but we're praising the Lord for another opportunity to be able to study His Word together and that we have power right now, amen? And there's all kinds of power available to God's people.

We're studying--continuing in our study on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Very enriching period in Bible history, and we're on lesson 7 today which is titled "Our Forgiving God," and we have the memory verse which comes to us from Proverbs 28:13. Some of you probably already know this one by heart, but we're going to say it together. Proverbs 28:13. It's here in the New King James Version. Are you ready? "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." Part of his lesson is dealing with the subject of repentance and prayer and fasting and confession, and we're going to be talking about those things.

Now, just so you know our mission today, as I say, our mission, if we choose to accept it, our mission is to study Nehemiah chapter 9. That's it. We got to just study, and I'm going to try to read through the whole thing today. We'll stop as the lesson does, and I think they break it up into about five different segments, and we'll do our best to expound it. First thing I want you to know is to understand chapter 9 you need to go back a little bit in chapter 8. In chapter 9 they're having a revival and there is repentance and confession, but it's springing out of them rediscovering the Feast of Tabernacles. They'd forgotten a lot of the truths that they normally believed. For example, if you look in Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 2 notice the emphasis on the calendar here, "On the first day of the seventh month."

So, what month is this? What's our seventh month? Oh, but that's not the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar and their months were different than our months. This is what they would call their month Tishrei, and it's September to October, so it's different. Don't be thinking of our calendar. The typical calendar of the Western world comes from the Romans, and it is all convoluted. Not only are we not under the Julian calendar anymore, they changed it to what they call the Gregorian calendar. The reason we have a month named July, it's named after, who knows? Julius Caesar. And why do we have a month named August? Augustus Caesar. And why is February short? Because Augustus Caesar wanted as many days as July, so he took days off of February. And what is the eighth month in the--our calendar? August. Then why is October mean eight? How do you say eight in Spanish? Ocho. An octagon has how many sides? And what is our ninth month? But why do we have a month named November? Nueve. That means nine and deca should be the 10th month, December, but it's the 12th month. The Romans messed with the calendar, and we're stuck with it now, and so the Jews had a totally different calendar.

And so, when you are studying in the Bible and it talks about the seventh month, make sure you're looking at--and most of you have--if you have even elementary Bible studies, somewhere in your Bible studies, your additional concordance you'll see they'll have the Hebrew calendar, and it will show you what the names were of the months. And they had one month named Nissan. That's easy to remember, right? Like the pickup truck, and so they have their different months. So, on the first day of the seventh month it tells us in our reading--go to Nehemiah 8, verse 13. "Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' house and all the people, with the priests and the Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the law."

So, they're studying the words of the law and in the process of this study, with the heads and the priests and people, "They found written in the law, which the Lord had commanded to Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month." That's commonly called what feast? Tabernacles. They are tabernacling. What was the Feast of Tabernacles all about? And we've got the 4th of July to remember the independence and our freedoms. Well, they do the Feast of Tabernacle to remember that for 40 years God sustained them miraculously as they stayed in tents in the wilderness, so they would say in either booths where they'd have a cloth roof, or they'd--primarily they'd go get branches of palm trees, and they'd make these little tents, and they'd stay in them. Sometimes they'd do it on their roofs just so they could say, "You know, we're going to camp out during this feast." It was a week, a Feast of Tabernacles, and they'd remember, they'd rejoice, they'd have feasts, and they'd visit each other, and it's kinda like their camp meeting.

And matter of fact, Ellen White says that the modern equivalent that we have for the Feast of Tabernacles is when we get together at camp meetings. I don't know if you ever have been to a Christian camp meeting, but I've been to a lot of them around the country, both visiting and speaking, and so I've seen some beautiful campsites all around the country. One of the best camp meetings in North America that I've seen is the one in Northern California. It's in the Redwoods, and it's really very pretty, but I've also seen some other nice ones. Anyway, so they're celebrating their Feast of Tabernacles. Now go to Nehemiah 8 and verse 18. "Also day by day, from the first day," of the Feast of Tabernacles, "until the last day, he read from the book of law--of the law. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner." It says after the feast, seven days, then the eighth day they'd have another special assembly.

Now we jump into Nehemiah chapter 9, which is our study. Start with verse 1. "Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month--" What month? They're still in the same month, so you're reading Nehemiah chapter 8 and 9. It's all talking about the month of Tissan--or rather Tishrei, and that's September, October, where they're having this revival and assembly and returning to the Lord. And it tells us that "the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, with dust on their heads." The Bible speaks in Isaiah 58 there is a time to fast, verse 5, "A day for a man to afflict his soul." So, you'll notice we studied earlier Nehemiah. That there was a great reform and revival and repentance. They had started to intermarry with the locals that did not worship the Lord, and God had told them, "Don't do that. They'll draw your heart away from you."

Can you think of examples in the Bible where intermarriage drew the hearts of the people away? Solomon. Matter of fact, right after the pinnacle statement in the Hebrew history where it talks about the wealth and the wisdom of Solomon and the way God blessed--and in 1 year 666 talents of gold came to him. Says that. Right after it says that it says, "But Solomon loved many wives," and they drew his heart away when he was old. First lesson, his life was very faithful. Who else? Samson. Yeah, he said to his parents, "I found this Philistine girl." And they said, "Isn't there a Jewish girl you can marry?" That's what my grandparents said to me when I told them I found Karen. They said, "A goyim? Isn't there a Jewish girl?" I said, "Grandma, she's a Sabbath keeper, and she doesn't eat anything that isn't kosher," and they came to love Karen.

But they said to Samson, "Can't you find a Jewish girl?" He said, "Get her for me. She pleaseth me well," and if you know the story of that wedding it really did not end well. And then, he went to see a Philistine harlot, and then he started hanging out with Delilah, and it just did not end well for Samson. And you can see several examples of this in the Bible, where they were drawn away to worship other gods because of these intermarriages. And it wasn't just the men marrying the pagan women. It was the pagan men marrying the Jewish girls, and so the Bible says don't do that. And how does Paul talk about that? Do not be unequally yoked together, believers with unbelievers. For what exchange has Christ with Belial?" That's basically saying the Lord with demons. And those who are following the Lord, why would you want to marry someone where you're going to go in the same direction with someone who is following the world in some way?

So, they were repenting now because of this, so they're having this national day of repentance. Let me read something to you I think you might find interesting. Did you hear about the president's proclamation for fasting and prayer? Listen to this. "By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation. And whereas is the duty of all nations as well as men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope of genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all of history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."

Now, did you hear about Trump's proclamation on fasting and prayer? Governments can't do that anymore, can they? But this is true. This is March 30, 1863. Who was president? Lincoln. "In as much as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subject to punishments and chastisements in this world, we may not justly fear that awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a people. We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown, but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we've vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we've become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace to pray--too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Wow! Almost sounds like at one point we thought that we were a Judeo-Christian country. Now this would be called separation of church and state. You realize that the founding fathers never understood separation of church and state to be what they've made it today. They meant separation of church and state to be you do not have a particular denomination that runs the country. It didn't mean that we became an irreligious country, because the whole constitution is rooted in a truth that we believe we are endowed with rights by a Creator. And look at Lincoln's language, and he was not the most religious president, but he talks about the law of God. He talks about the Bible. He talks about punishments and obedience and sin and repentance. And, man, they can't do that now. That'd be considered insensitive to the atheists among us. Isn't that right?

Yeah, so this is what they were doing back in Israel. They used to have, occasionally, national days of repentance and prayer and that's what's happening here in Ezra and Nehemiah. As they had spent all those days during the Feast of Tabernacle reading the Bible, you notice it says here that they were reading the Bible for a quarter of the day. Well, I haven't gotten to that yet. I'm jumping ahead of myself. So, they spent time confessing. You go to Nehemiah 9:2. "Then those of Israel's lineage separated themselves from all the foreigners; and they stood, and they confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers." Notice they're not just confessing their sins. They're confessing the sins of their fathers.

Now, the Bible says that there is a time for confession. How important is repentance and confession to conversion and forgiveness? First word from John the Baptist when he started preaching: repent. Now, confession is the verbal part of repentance. It's a package deal. If I step on your toe, I am sorry. I repent that I stepped on your toe, assuming it was undeliberate, and then I say, "Please forgive me. Pardon me." That's the verbal part of the repentance, and so for people to say, "Well, I repented but I didn't confess," you haven't repented.

Confession is the verbal side of repentance and a lot of Scriptures tell us that. Let me give you some--a memory verse. "He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes--" So, it's not the kind of confession where you're a mafia boss, and you go to your priest, and you confess, "I shot three people this week, Father." And he says, "Six--say six Hail Marys and two Our Fathers," and you do that you can go shoot another three people. That's how some people view confession. You just, you know, confess it to the priest, but you're not sorry. You're not going to stop. It says whoever confesses and forsakes. That means you repent. It means a change of direction. You want to turn from your sin.

In a moment I'm going to have somebody read 1 John 1:9. Who has that one? All right, just you'll be next up here and--but here I'm going to read Psalm 32:5. "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgression to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." It's a principle that if we repent and confess our sins, He is merciful. Why don't you read your verse for us?

Female: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Doug: That's a beautiful truth. We'll be talking about the Beatitudes later today and one of them says, "He that hungers and thirsts after righteousness--" Here it tells us that if we confess our sins, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and that's a verse I think that if you're ever doing Bible studies one you should remember. If you're leading a person to Christ, you need to explain we got a problem. Problem is sin, and the answer is Jesus, but we must confess and repent of our sins, and when we do that He promises to cleanse us from how much? All unrighteousness.

So, if you are cleansed from all unrighteousness, how much unrighteousness do you have left? None. So, how does God view you? As pure and holy and that means you are forgiven and you are saved, so--but it begins with confession. And you can read here it says, "We confess our sins." It was corporate. They stood and confessed the sins and iniquities of their fathers. Now, how can I be responsible for the sin of my father? I thought it said in the Bible that the father will not be charged with the sins of the son and the son will not be charged with the sins of the father. Well, that's true, but they had an attitude in the Bible that we're in this thing together, and there is even repentance of what's happened in the past.

You know, Americans are very--we're, kind of, independent people. You know, we broke away from the nations of Europe, and we're a hodgepodge of a lot of people that wanted to leave the oppression of kings and popes in Europe, and so the people who, kind of, ended up coming to America and Australia ended up--they're a very independent people. We, kind of, are self-sufficient. It's not that way when you go to other countries where people have been for a millennia on their land. They see themselves as generations of people, especially if you go to--in the Eastern cultures. They actually worship their ancestors. And countries like China, where you've got so many people and big families. They used to be big families. They're a little smaller now, but they see themselves more with a community mind. You can't build a wall 1,500 miles along unless you think that way, and notice in the Bible when they confessed they did it corporately. Daniel 9, verse 21, "Now while I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel--"

Can someone here tell me what Daniel's sin was? If I say, "What was David's sin?" you all know. If I say, "What's Solomon or Samson's sin?" You know. I say, "What is Daniel's sin?" Well, everyone has sinned, including Mary, other than Jesus. It says he is the only one who is without sin, so who knows what the sin was? It doesn't identify it. I think you can read it in the book "Prophets and Kings." It said one of his sins was he had been failing to pray for God's people, and he saw that as a sin, so Daniel says, "I'm praying for my sin and the sin of my people." Listen to Isaiah in his conversion. Isaiah 6, verse 5, "So I said: 'Woe is me. I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King.'" Here he is. Isaiah is repenting and confessing for his sin and the sin of his people, and you'll find this all through the Bible. Moses, he's asking God to forgive his sin and the sin of the people. In the Lord's Prayer--now, you might say, "Well, these are Old Testament examples, Pastor Doug." Lord's Prayer is New Testament.

How many times in the Lord's Prayer do you find the word "I, me, my, mine, or myself"? None. You were going through it in your mind, weren't you? It's, "Our Father, forgive us. Lead us." But a lot of us, when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we're thinking of it as, "My father who is in heaven, lead me. Deliver me." It's not how you're supposed to pray the prayer, because I should be concerned as a believer not only with my deliverance, but with your deliverance. I should not only be concerned with my forgiveness, but I should be concerned with your forgiveness, and until you are concerned with the forgiveness of others you're not really converted.

And so, we should be praying for God to forgive us as a people, as a family, as a church denomination, a country, and so this--it was a corporate confession. That's what you're having here. Nehemiah chapter 9, verse 3. I know you're thinking, "Pastor Doug, you better hurry." "And they stood up in their place to read from the Book of the Law their God for one-fourth of the day; and another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God." So, how many hours in a day? Twenty-four in our day, but in the Jewish day they thought of the daylight, and Jesus said, "Are there not twelve hours in the day," right? And so, what is one-fourth of 12? We got a lot of math majors here. Three hours, right? Four times three is twelve. Isn't that right? I failed math, but I know that, because if you, you know, you work with a ruler and you do construction you know that 12 is a great building number.

Anyway, so for three hours they were reading the Word, and then as a result of reading the Word they said, "You know, we've got a lot to confess." They were convicted, and then they spent three hours worshiping God, confessing their sin. Now, I've been to some charismatic services before where they play the music and everyone stands, and they kinda get into a frenzy, and then they start speaking in tongues, and then they say, "Let's all worship the Lord together." And I'm not trying to be unkind or ridicule. I'm just telling you what they do. I've seen it, been in it, and they lift their hands, and they start to speak in tongues and some start to prophesy and others start to interpret what the prophecy is, and it sounds chaotic, quite frankly.

Or you maybe will be in a more evangelical church, less Pentecostal with the speaking in tongues. They say, "Let's worship the Lord," and they all start to--they're singing. They're raising their arms. And so, when it said for three hours they're worshiping the Lord and confessing their sins, do you think that's what they were doing? No, I don't think so. I think they may have actually had a platform where, when it tells us they did, where different ones came up, and they prayed, and they did testimonies, and they did confession. And then, there were episodes of maybe singing some of the songs that were songs of repentance, like Psalm 32, Psalm 51, and they were worshiping God, repenting of their sins, and they had a revival service where they were worshiping, confessing.

Do you know Ellen White talks about how it would be good if sometimes we didn't even have a sermon but we had a testimony service? And she says it would be good if the Holy Spirit would move on some churches, and people would stand and confess their faults to each other, humble themselves. Now, private things should be privately confessed. Public things should be publicly confessed, and I think everyone feels that would be a little awkward. I'm not suggesting we do this now. I'm just saying that's what I think they were doing and there was nothing wrong with that. Our early founders used to do that. That used to happen in a lot of Puritan churches, where they'd have a testimony service, and they would get up and confess, and they prayed for each other, so this is what was going on here. They stood in their place. They read from the Book of the Law for one-fourth of the day and for another fourth they confessed and they worshiped the Lord their God.

So, if you get two-fourths of the day how long was their worship service? Two times three. Six-hour worship service, so shall we start a new precedent? Got one taker. All right, let's go to Monday's section. The beginning of the prayer. The prayer really starts in Nehemiah 4, verse 38, and I want you to notice that in this prayer he's spending time talking about the Creator. I usually mark my Bible. Nehemiah 4. I'm sorry. Nehemiah 9, verse 4, and it names these individuals twice. "Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs--" So, do they have a platform? "And the Levites cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God. And the Levites," and it lists them again, except there's a couple of names difference, "Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: 'Stand up--'"

Now, why would they say stand? So, during this long confession worship service were they standing for three hours? You don't ask someone to stand if they're already standing, so they had been either seated on the ground. Sometimes they had carpets, or they may have had--I don't think they had chair, regular chairs. "Stand and bless the Lord your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth and everything in it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve. The host of heaven worships You."

All right, now he--this is a section. We're going to stop here. This first section they're establishing why He is a God worthy of worship. And what is the answer? What are we reading here? It says, "You created everything." Now, what's part of the three angels' message that we're to give to the world? "Fear God and give glory to Him. He's created everything, the springs of water." And so, what right does God have to ask us to worship Him? He made us, and He has remade us. He is our Creator, and He's our--so, you'll notice it talks here in the section, for the rest of this chapter--and I'm just going to mention it. It says He is the Creator. The section part, He is the Preserver. Third part, He is the Promise Keeper. I said for these three sections really there. He says, "You along, Lord, have made the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the stars and the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that are in them. And You preserve them. The host of heaven worships You." And there sometimes it talked about the host of heaven, meaning the angels. You can read in Colossians 1, verse 16 and 17. "For by Him all things that were created that are in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." He not only made everything, He sustains everything, and in Him everything consist.

Now, you know, once a week I've been trying to do--I don't get it every week, but I've been trying to do these new short excerpts. People like watching short, quick, pithy Bible answers on YouTube, so I've been doing the Friday evening Bible question of the week and didn't get to one this week because it's just been really busy, but I want to do one next week. And it's a question a lot of people have. "If God is all-powerful, if He made everything, then how can He be a loving God if there is so much suffering? Why do innocent people suffer?" How many of you have heard that question? If God is good, if He's love, if He's all-powerful then why did he make a devil and why do the innocent suffer? And if He's all-powerful why doesn't he stop it? And people don't understand the great controversy and why God will not violate His own law, and there is cause and result, but the Bible is pretty clear that God made everything, and it's even the power of God that gives the wicked the strength to curse Him. If God did not keep their hearts beating, they would not have the breath to curse Him. He's the one gives them a mind to choose to disbelieve in Him. He's a God that gives great freedom, and so He allows these things to play out, and He is a creator of all things.

Okay, next. On Tuesday it's a call of God's people and their deliverance, and so a confession along with repentance is central to our own acknowledgement that we must be justified by Christ alone. And here we can look in--let me see. I'm going to read--I want to read here about the deliverance, so you go to verse 7. I'm in Nehemiah 9, verse 7. "You are the Lord God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham." Started out Abram. Became Abraham, because he said, "I'm making a covenant. You're going to be the father of a nation," and that's what that means. "You found his heart faithful before You, and be--and made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Girgashites--to give it to his descendants. And You have performed Your words, for You are righteous."

And so, it talks about the call of Abraham, and then ultimately they end up down in the land of Egypt. "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt. You heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and against all his servants and against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day." Now, when was it that God made a name for Himself? In the plagues that fell on Egypt. It says there was nothing like it before it or any that came after it, and it talks about the dark day. It talks about the blood. It talks about the locusts. It says there was no plague of locusts that had ever been like that plague and there has never been one since, and it was such a momentous event that the other nations around knew about it.

When the spies are being hidden by Rahab, you know what Rahab says? "We heard about the Lord who led you out of Egypt and the signs He did and how you crossed the seas," and the miracles and things that happened to the Egyptians. This is 40 years later, and it's still monumental among all those nations what had happened. It was a great point in history. In fact, many Egyptologists believe that there was a powerful effort from some of the pharaohs to expunge the history of the plagues from the hieroglyphics and the writings in Egypt. They were so embarrassed by what happened. There is a lot of plaques. There is a lot of walls, a lot of plasters that--on the walls of Egypt they find in these ancient ruins where someone took a chisel and chiseled off all the writing, and they're wondering was this an account of what had happened? Did they try to expunge the whole story of the Israelites? Because they struggle sometimes to find it. They have found it, but they didn't want everyone to know. It was such a--it was a national embarrassment, of how the whole nation had been humiliated by the God of the slaves, what it did to their gods, and so you can understand why they wouldn't want to codify that. But the other nations knew, as mentioned by Rahab and others you find in the Bible.

All right--and so, he's talking about all that he did and let me read a statement to you from the book "Selected Messages," page 3, 191. "When through repentance and faith we accept Christ as our Savior, the Lord pardons our sins and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law. The sinner then stands before God just as a person--just--God as a just person; he is taken into favor with heaven, and through the Spirit has fellowship with the Father and with the Son." And so, it's saying that, you know, God saved Abraham because He had faith in him. He looked upon him as righteous and when the people went down to Egypt because of Joseph, they started forgetting about God and adopting the habits of the Egyptians.

God in His mercy, He stepped in to save them, and it says here, "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt. You heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and his servants and against all the people of the land. For You knew they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. You divided the sea before them, and they went through the midst of the sea and the dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the road which they should travel."

So, this is a wonderful story. It's telling us how God led them out, and it says they went through the sea. What is the sea a type of, according to Paul, 1 Corinthians chapter 10? "You baptized them in the sea," it says, "and You led them by this pillar of fire." They were baptized in the Spirit, the sea. When you go into the sanctuary there are two things. You had fire, and you had water. In the altar you had the laver. Laver had water, altar had fire, then you went into the presence of God. Children of Israel came out of Egypt. They went through the water, and then they were baptized in a pillar of fire that protected them from the Egyptians, remember? Gave them light, but it was darkness for the Egyptians.

And then, it says they had--you go into the holy place you got bread. Did God give them bread from heaven? And there was an altar of incense, and then you had the candlestick. There is three things in there and that represents the three disciplines of the Christian life and how we sustain them. Bread of life, the Word of God, altar of incense, prayer, communion with God, and the light is being a witness for God. You are the light of the world. Let your light shine, so the whole wilderness experience is, sort of, an analogy of salvation.

Then it tells us they cried out to God and someone is going to read for me Judges 6:6. You'll have that in just a moment. I'm going to read Psalm 106, verse 44 and 45. "Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, He heard their cry; and for their sakes He remembered His covenant, and He relented according to the multitude of His mercies." You know, you and I read the history of Israel. I don't know what you think, but there are sometimes I think--"Forget about it. You know, I save them from Egypt. They turn back to foreign gods. They say they want to go back to Egypt, and I save them again. I save them again. I bring them into the Promised Land. They intermarry with the pagans. They forget about Me. They worship pagan gods. I say just forget about it." But in their affliction they turn back to God, and they say, "Okay, I'll forgive you again." Then they forget about God, and they turn back to the devil. They have a hard time. God forgives them, says, "Okay, I'll forgive you again." They backslide. "I'll forgive you again." They backslide. "I'll forgive you again." You know that verse that says He is longsuffering to us-ward. Aren't you glad when you read the history of Israel? Look at the 2,000 years of patience He had with Israel. From the Exodus, or you could say the call of Abraham, to Christ there's 2,000 years of almost continual backsliding and forgiveness, backsliding and forgiveness, but don't use that as an excuse to forever be backsliding. God is merciful, but there is an end to--if there's not an end to His mercy, there's an end to your life eventually, so you can't be presumptuous with His mercy, right? Read for us, please, Judges 6:6.

Male: Judges 6:6, "So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord."

Doug: So, God sometimes allows us to go through impoverishment or affliction so we'll recognize our need of Him and then we cry out for help. Does He help? He sent Gideon and look at all the judges that He sent, and it was usually they got a low point. Moses is out there. God says, "I've heard the cry of my people." Now, did they cry for one or two days or sometimes did they cry for years? A day with the Lord is like a thousand years, so you think, "O Lord, I'm crying out for three hours now. How come I don't have an answer?" You might have to cry out more than a day. I know people that have been praying for their loved ones for years, and then He answers their prayers, and so you need to be persistent.

All right, then you go to Nehemiah chapter 9, and I'm going to read down to verse 13. "You came down on Mount Sinai, and You spoke with them from heaven, and You gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. You made them know Your holy Sabbath."

Stop. Wait. Did they get the Sabbath the first time there on Mount Sinai? No, because He had already been giving them bread from heaven six days a week before they ever got to Mount Sinai, Exodus 16. So, did God first help them know about the Sabbath in Exodus 16, or did Abraham know about the Sabbath? God is saying, "You reminded them. You brought it back to them," because they were a whole generation that had forgotten the statutes of the Lord, but you read about Abraham. "Abraham kept My commandments, My laws, My statutes, My judgements," and that's back in Genesis, and so, yes, God had the Sabbath before they ever got to Mount Sinai.

Some people have read that and said this is when He first gave it to them. No, He's reminding them of it. "And You commanded them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant." For instance, one of those laws says don't commit adultery. Was that the first time they had heard not to commit adultery? Who lived first, Moses or Joseph? Joseph. And did God tell Joseph, "It's wrong for you to have Potiphar's wife. That's adultery"? One of the Ten Commandments God gave them was don't murder. Who lived first, Moses or Cain? Cain. Did God tell Cain murder was a sin? Yeah, so they knew about murder, they knew about adultery, and they knew about the Sabbath all the way back at the beginning, but they'd forgotten it, so he wrote it down for them. "You gave them bread from heaven," I'm in verse 15, "for their hunger. You brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, and told them to go to possess the land which You swore to give them. But they and our fathers acted proudly. They hardened their necks. They did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey. They were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks in their rebellion." It's like a horse that's stiffening his neck so you can't turn him. "They appointed a leader to return to their bondage." That means Egypt. "But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and You did not forsake them."

How many times did God say to Moses, "Out of My way. I'm going to wipe them out. I'll make a nation out of you"? And Moses said, "Oh, no, Lord. Be patient. They're Your people. What will happen to Your name?" God didn't really want to wipe them out. He wanted Moses just to intercede. "Abundant in kindness, and You did not forsake them." I'm in verse 18. "Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, and said, 'This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt,' and they worked great provocations," they provoked the Lord, "yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, that they should know the way they should go. You gave them Your good Spirit to instruct them."

Notice right after the pillar it talks about the Spirit. "And You did not withhold Your manna from their mouth," that bread of life, the Word. "You gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out. Their feet did not swell. Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of Og, the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og of Bashan. You multiplied their children like the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess. So the people went in and possessed the land; and You subdued them before the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they wished. And they took," they conquered, "strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of goods and cisterns already dug, and vineyards and olive groves and fruit trees in abundance.

So they ate and they were full and grew fat, and they delighted themselves in Your great goodness." And what tends to happen when we do that? Is there a danger that we can forget the Lord? Let me read something to you real quick, and someone's going to read for me 2 Peter 3:9. Deuteronomy 6:10, "So it will be, that when the Lord your God brings you into the land which we swore your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells that you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees you did not plant--that when you have eaten and are full--beware, lest you forget the Lord."

That's why it's hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom. They got all their blessings. They stopped thinking about praying and their need for God. Out of sight, out of mind. "Lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," the God who saved you. He is so patient, even though they did forget. Lloyd, you could read for us, please, 2 Peter 3:9.

Lloyd: 2 Peter 3:9. This is the New King James Version. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

Doug: Thank you. Now, what we'll learn as we're reading through--rehearsing this history here in Nehemiah, he's saying, "Look how God has been so patient." Now, keep in mind in Nehemiah they're already coming out of Babylonian captivity. They're on the tailender. This is just before Christ comes back. They never get dispossessed again until Jesus comes back later, by the Romans, so they really have a great revival that lasts.

Matter of fact, their revival goes so far they even develop a sect called Pharisees that make sure they're never worshiping idols again. From the time of Ezra to the time of Jesus, they never turn back to idolatry. Pharisees saw to that and, matter of fact, they had a couple of riots with the Romans when the Romans would march into the city with a eagle on their flag pole, and they'd say, "That's an idol," so they never wanted to go back to idolatry. So, this revival, it did have a lasting effect, but you can read on, and He reviews here--we're out of time to read the whole chapter, but He reviews here how He sent prophets to them and He was so patient with them. "Yet for many years You had patience with them."

I'm in verse 30. "And You testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands," whether it be Assyria or Babylon. "Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them or forsake them; for You are a gracious and a merciful God. Now therefore, our God, the great and the mighty, awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: do not let all the trouble seem small to You that has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and all Your people, from the day of the kings of Assyria," that's when the ten tribes were first carried off, "until this day." They had been carried off by Babylon. "However You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly." And they finish out, and they talk about, "We're getting what we deserve."

Now they end up saying, "Show mercy to us. Make a covenant with us that we will not worship other gods," and they never did go back to other gods again. Like I said, to this day, the Orthodox Jews, they don't worship other gods. They may not be faithful in some aspects, but that you're not going to hear them naming the other gods, and so this was a great revival. They seal it with a covenant with their leaders, and it was the result of a whole month of revival in the Feast of Tabernacles. Hope we learned something edifying today.

We want to remind our friends as we're signing off that we do have a special gift book. We recommend you read this, if you've not. It will encourage you. It's called "Three Steps to Heaven." Talks about how to take those steps and if you want a free copy call 866-788-3966. That's 866-STUDY-MORE. Ask for offer number 102. You can also download it right now if you want to read it. Just text "SH068." Text "SH068"--I think you see it on your screen there--to 40544, and you can download this and pass it on, email, post, and send it to all of your friends and enemies. We're out of time. God bless until we study his Word together again next week.

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Announcer: Amazing facts. Changed lives.

Male: I'd have to say that I had a wonderful childhood growing up. I went to a private school up until the seventh grade, till junior high. I believe it was at that point in junior high that my life began to change. Going from a Christian education to a public school was a big difference. There was a lot of secular influence, peer pressure, and for me it was the music. I started listening to heavy metal music. Every concert that would come to town, I was there. It had a profound effect on me. I started using marijuana probably at the age of 14. I started drinking, using a lot of cocaine, and that led to methamphetamine, and that completely changed my life.

I dropped out of high school my sophomore year and went to work. I would get off of work and we'd go into the bar until 2 o'clock in the morning. I'd get back up at 5, and I'd go back and begin, six, seven days a week. At the age of 20, I lost my dad to a heart attack. I didn't know how to handle the loss, so I tried to mask my pain with alcohol and drugs. I got three DUIs in one year, was arrested. They gave me a year in the county jail and the moment I got out I went back to doing the same thing, hanging with the same people, the same crowd. I was involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, and I was charged with a felony DUI. Even though at the time of the accident I was not under the influence, I still had methamphetamine in my system.

At my sentencing date I left the courtroom, and I didn't come back, and that left me with a felony warrant. And I'd fallen asleep in a park, and I woke up to a park ranger knocking on my window. I knew I was wanted, and I knew that I was not going to just turn myself in. I turned to him, and I made the comment, "Not today," and I took off. I led 5 different agencies on about a 35-minute chase, and I realized at that point that I wasn't going to get away and that this was going to end up either me killing somebody or myself, and so I made a decision to pull over.

At that point everything that I had I lost. I was sentenced to two years in state prison, and it was there that God got ahold of me, and it was through Amazing Facts Ministries. I remember listening on my radio to Pastor Doug Batchelor. I wanted to get to know the Bible, I wanted to know God, and so my aunt Marilyn sent me the Amazing Facts study guides, and it was there that my relationship with Christ began.

I had called home, and I knew my mother wasn't doing well, but I didn't realize that she had cancer. She had about a 30% chance of making it through her surgery. She had told the doctors that she was not going to have chemo, and she was not going to have radiation. That if her God was going to save her, then He would save her. I remember hanging up the phone to what I thought was my last conversation with my mom. I turned around, I got down on my knees, and I prayed to God, and I said, "God, if you're there please save my mother. Wherever You lead me in life, whatever You want me to do, I am Yours," and I had a feeling of such peace that I knew that my mother was going to be okay and that my life was going to change.

There are no words that I can adequately express to Amazing Facts and to Pastor Doug to say thank you. To all those people who support the ministry, I am a product of your support. My life has changed because of this ministry, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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