What an incredible act of reverence and humility from the Israelites. Nehemiah 9:3
“ They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.“
Rarely do we see people today standing as a sign of respect, and even rarer is standing for a quarter of a day (except perhaps for those who have moved toward standing work stations, but I don’t think that is a respect thing). I know that as I read my bible at my desk or even in bed I am prone to doze off. Perhaps I will try standing. What the Israelites who were rebuilding the wall realised is that they had dozed off and forgotten that they were in the presence of God almighty. The consequences were devastating as the nation was plundered by enemies.
Perhaps when the Israelites moved to the second quarter of the day they took up a kneeling or prostrate position as a sign of humility in confession. Sometimes I close my eyes when I confess, and sometimes I doze off. Perhaps I will try lying face down on the ground next time. I also found it interesting that confession and worship were occurring together. When I think of exulting God in worship I think of an uplifted soul and hands (metaphorically) raised. Perhaps next time I will consider my confession time as a time of worship as I magnify who God is and what he has done even though (or especially because) I have sinned. Earnestly seeking forgiveness is an important part of worship.
Forgiveness is the greatest gift we have been given by God. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give others. Perhaps this is why Paul is so eager for the Corinthians to forgive before they get to court (1 Corinthians 6). Like the parable of the unmerciful servant who did not appreciate how much he had been forgiven, I too can forget how much I have been forgiven when I hold something against my brother or sister.
May we fully understand how much we have been forgiven, and with the measure used on us, may we measure out to others.