Scripture: Nehemiah 9:17
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.
The story in Nehemiah is one of people who had just rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after they had returned from exile in Babylon. Once the wall was rebuilt they began to read book of the Law of Moses and recounted the story of the exodus and especially the attitude of the people as God was leading them out of Egypt. Just as we sometimes do today they had “failed to remember the miracles you had performed among them” and they wanted to return to slavery and lost faith and trust in God. But the character of God that stands our here is described as “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love”. These are certainly accurate descriptions of God throughout history and yet just as the people who were lead by Moses and the people acknowledged after they completed rebuilding the wall in Nehemiah’s day we are reminded that God is abounding in Love. There is no greater witness to his love than the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
The message we learn in this scripture is that God’s love has no limits or conditions. It lasts for millennia and we can trust in it just as the people of the exodus and the exiles returning to Jerusalem. The good news of Jesus’ birth is another example of the abounding love of God. The challenge then becomes what do we do with it and how do we respond?
Heavenly Father, as we recall the witness of the Nehemiah and the Christmas story we thank you for your abounding love. Just as the people in the Old Testament we do not deserve it and in many times don’t appreciate it. We thank you for sending Jesus to be among us so that we have a better understanding of who you are and how you love us.
~ Jeff Matheny