But as soon as they were at peace, your people again committed evil in your sight, and once more you let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever your people turned and cried to you again for help, you listened once more from heaven. In your wonderful mercy, you rescued them many times! Nehemiah 9:28 (NLT)
I have been reading through the Bible chronologically, spending all these months in the Old Testament. (I’m almost done and will start the New Testament later this week.) As Nehemiah finished rebuilding of Jerusalem, he gathered everyone together for a great celebration and solemn assembly. In his prayer before the people, he recounts their history and it is not pretty. God was very specific about His rules and the consequences of disobedience but they repeatedly went their own way, often being downright blatant and in your face to God. Many times, God just let the natural consequences run their course watched the people muddle through. Other times, He initiated actions to bring them back, whether it was war, illness, slavery, or death. At times, He got so angry that He was ready to wipe them off the face of the earth but He always relented because He loved them so much.
I noticed a cycle in their story – peace, laziness, temptation, arrogance, disobedience, repercussions, repentance, forgiveness, and back to peace. Sound familiar? Don’t we get ourselves in that same cycle on occasion? Because God loves us, He lets us make our own choices – some good and some bad. He wants us to choose to follow Him and not just be robots. Whatever we decide, He never gives up on us. We may be foolish or disobedient but His mercy is there to rescue us, often from ourselves, and return us to the place of peace with Him. Where you are in the cycle? Pray for guidance and wisdom so that you, too, will live in peace.