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May 30 Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 11-12
“The Joy of Jerusalem”
When the temple was built again at Jerusalem, and the people of God crowded the streets going up to the house of God, as they offered sacrifices, gave thanks, and sang praise to God, “the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” Truly, God’s Jerusalem, the church of the living God, has reason to rejoice in the Lord always and to make her joy known through all the earth.
We are Abraham’s seed. We have every reason to rejoice. When the Levites in Nehemiah’s day offered praise to God as the sons of Abraham and sought his blessings upon them, they gave God praise for five things in particular which he had done for Abraham. Now, remember, if you are a believer, you are one of Abraham’s spiritual children. And what God has done for our father Abraham, he has done for us in Christ. The blessing of Abraham has come upon us through the blood of Christ (Galatians 3:13-14).
1. “Thou art the Lord God who didst choose Abram.” — Abraham was sovereignly chosen by God to be the object of his grace. He passed by many. But the Lord chose Abraham. Had God not chosen him, he would never have chosen God (John 15:16).
2. “And broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees.” — Abraham was effectually called by irresistible grace to a life of faith in and obedience to Christ (Psalm 65:4).
3. “And gavest him the name Abraham.” — God changed his name because he was a converted man, converted by grace (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
4. “And foundest his heart faithful.” — Abraham was made a new creature in Christ. Grace imparted to him made him a faithful man. Because he was preserved by grace, he persevered in faith (Philippians 1:6).
5. “And madest a covenant with him.” — All that God did for Abraham, he did by covenant promise. His blessings were all sure, covenant blessings, sealed to him by God’s immutability (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:9).
God Ready to Pardon
After confessing the sins of the people, the Levites offered prayer to God for Israel and said, “But thou art a God ready to pardon.” Here is good news for sinners who are ready to perish! The God whom we have offended, against whom we have sinned, whose wrath we deserve is “a God ready to pardon.” — “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul; for thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:4-5).
A God ready to pardon is a God prepared to pardon. Everything is prepared by which God can forgive sin. The road used to be blocked up. But Christ has, by the blood of his cross, tunneled every mountain, filled every valley, bridged every gulf and cleared away every obstacle. Now all things are ready. God, for Christ’s sake, is “a God ready to pardon.”
A God ready to pardon is a God who can easily pardon. Though he could never pardon sin without the satisfaction of his justice, now that justice has been satisfied by the death of Christ as the sinner’s Substitute, God can easily pardon us for Christ’s sake. It takes nothing but his word. — “Thy sins are forgiven thee!”
A God ready to pardon is a God who quickly pardons. There is no need for any sinner to wait, even for a moment, for pardon. The pardon of sin is an instantaneous work (1 John 1:9). In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, God gives pardon to the believing sinner.
“The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
Redemption in full through His blood.”
A God ready to pardon is a God who cheerfully pardons. Can you grasp this? — “He delighteth in mercy!” As God loves a cheerful giver, he is a God who cheerfully pardons guilty sinners for Christ’s sake. It is more the nature of God to forgive sin than it is the nature of man to commit sin. His forgiveness is infinite! — “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save; he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Can you imagine that? — The triune God singing because of us whom he has pardoned! What a thought! As God pardons sinners, he bursts into a song! This is “a God ready to pardon!” — And he is our God!