Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Nov. 16-22 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of Over the-Rhine Church (Cincinnati).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Nehemiah 13:17-18 (ESV)
Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day?  Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
When I was a kid, I played Little League Baseball. I remember one game in which our team was down by a few runs but in the bottom of the sixth (we played only six innings) we were actually making a comeback. Then, with two runners on base and two outs, I came up to bat and promptly struck out.
I don’t really recall how I felt about it as a kid but maybe I thought, “If only I could get a second chance!” My adult self is more realistic. If I had a second chance, I would probably strike out again. Haha.
In the book of Nehemiah, we see God give His people a second chance. They return from exile, God encourages them to rebuild their temple and city, and the people commit to following God faithfully this time around.
At the end of the book, Nehemiah is summoned back to Babylon and upon his return to Jerusalem he finds that the people are indulging in the same sins that led to exile in the first place! Tobiah, who had opposed the rebuilding of the wall, has a vacation room inside the holy temple of God (13:7). The people fail to tithe and support the Levites and singers who then leave their temple duties (13:10). The people profane the Sabbath (13:15-16) and intermarry with idolaters (13:23-24).
When given a second chance, the people of God fall into the same sins as their fathers and presumably deserve even greater punishment than the exile.
The history of Israel tells the same story. Time after time in the days of the judges, the kings, and now the former exiles, the people of God fail to honor God rightly. A second chance is nice but ultimately it leads to generations of failure and disappointment.
Israel needs more than a second chance. Israel needs a savior. No matter how bad we feel or what kinds of promises we make to God, we simply do not have it in us to do better. Our hope is better than a second chance, our hope is the Son of God who did what we could never do – Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly, He bore the wrath of God for our sin, and He reconciled us to the Father.
Take a moment to invite Him to continue to be Your Savior today.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being more than example. You alone are my Savior. I have tried so many ways to do better but my own wisdom, plans, knowledge, and discipline cannot change my heart or save my soul. Lord save me from my sin and make me new. May You get all the glory!
Bible Reading for Today: Phil. 2-3