June 29, 2020

What Does National Repentance Look Like?

“While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.” Nehemiah 9:3


Many Christians wonder if the pandemic will result in revival. At this point, we don’t see much recognition of God’s character and faithfulness, much less an overwhelming desire for His Word. So, what does national repentance look like? Well, it begins with those who claim the name of Christ exhibiting the same heart and mind we see in Nehemiah 9. We need to rediscover personal revival.


First, God’s people hungered for God’s Word. Their desire for God was so great that they listened for six hours, while standing! Do you have that kind of desire to understand Scripture? A hunger for God’s Word is more than just reading it. We need to become students of the Bible. Otherwise, our minds drift to the world’s way of thinking, which always leads to rebellion against God.


Israel also focused on the Lord. While the majority of Nehemiah 9 is a corporate prayer of confession, it begins with worship. Israel praised God’s character (vv5-8) then recounted His faithfulness (vv9-15). Our nation no longer recognizes accountability to God because so few acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator. Recognizing God’s character, as well as His faithfulness in our lives, is a necessary element of revival.


The result was national repentance. Scripture reminded Israel of God’s just and righteous character, and their sinfulness stood out in contrast. God’s people openly confessed their personal sins and the sins of their forefathers. The path to repentance hasn’t changed. When we open the Bible, seeking God Himself, we cannot help but see ourselves as He does.


So, examine your own prayers. How much time do you spend in praise and thanksgiving compared to making requests? Personal revival can start right here. Underline the names and attributes of God in Israel’s prayer, then pray those things back to Him in a spirit of worship.


Next, highlight phrases that point out the Lord’s faithfulness to Israel: “You saw, You led, You gave…” What events in your own life do these accounts bring to mind? Spend time thanking God for His faithfulness. Then circle the words, “But they”, indicating Israel’s disobedience to the Lord. Ask Him to reveal where you’ve been guilty of similar things, confessing them as sin.


Scripture and prayer are as essential to national repentance today as they were in Nehemiah’s time. Will you determine to develop a habit of personal time with God? Not just quickly reading a verse, but really studying Scripture, praising His character, and recounting His faithfulness.