Simply the Bible Blog

Daily Devotion and Podcast



“Then I said, ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!’” (Nehemiah 1.5–6)

I don’t know where I got the image, but when I think of confession I think of a man sitting at a table with a single bright light overhead. The interrogator won’t let him go till he makes a confession. It’s a torturous process that ranks up there with eating glass as a thing I most want to do.

The Biblical definition of confession, however, is much different. It means agreement. In the case of confession to God we are agreeing with God that something is true. Confession is what happens to me when my wife has been talking and then says, “You didn’t hear anything I just said, did you?” Busted, I sheepishly say, “No, I didn’t.” In that moment I have agreed with her, and we are saying the same thing. That is confession.

God had dealt His people a devastating blow. Ignoring all the warnings, Israel had plunged deeper and deeper into wickedness until God finally said, “Enough!” The resulting destruction, captivity and persecution had left everyone broken and devoid of any self-righteousness. All Nehemiah could do was to agree with God that they had gotten what they deserved. Though the nation’s rebellion had occurred at least a hundred years before Nehemiah was born, he said, “My own family and I have sinned!”

Those who glory in the pride of man would see Nehemiah’s admission as defeat. But those who glory in the power of God see this as the beginning of victory, for God ever stands ready to revive the heart of the contrite. He gives grace to the humble.

There was no solitary lamp hanging over Nehemiah’s head. No ruthless interrogator was firing pointed questions designed to wring out a confession. Nehemiah simply surrendered to the truth. He declared that God was right and they were wrong. But in that agreement was the promise of real and lasting change.

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