The book of Nehemiah takes place after Israel had been in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. Ezra had returned years earlier with a small group of people to rebuild the Temple, but did nothing to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah had asked about the rebuild situation and found out that the walls were in shambles. That’s when he wept over it and got the burden to rebuild the walls. It only took them a matter of a couple months to gather the stones and rebuild the walls. When they had finished, the people all gathered together in Jerusalem to hear to Law of Moses being read aloud. They began to weep over their sin, but Nehemiah stopped them. He reminded them that it was a day of celebration, not mourning.
A few weeks later they all returned to Jerusalem to for another gathering. This service was six hours long. They read the Law for three hours and then spent three hours confessing their sins and weeping before the Lord. When they had finished, they wrote out a pact to the Lord to say they would obey His Word. Toward the end of that pact, in Nehemiah 9:36 they wrote, “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” (NLT). As I read that, I couldn’t help but think of how many Christians are in the same boat they were in. We are slaves to sin in a land of plenty that Jesus paid for.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (NKJV). All Christians have temptations and at one time or another can get entangled or enslaved to sin. The writer here calls us to freedom like Galatians 5:1 does. The way we get free is the same way the Israelites did in Nehemiah. We need to get into God’s Word and we must confess our sins. Don’t go another day living as a slave to your sin when God has set you free. It was for freedom that He set you free. Lay aside that sin and run your race in freedom.
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