THERE IS ONLY ONE WHO IS #1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Nehemiah 9:1-6 1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. 2 Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God…. now verse 5 “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.
Overall Background: In Nehemiah chapter 8, the Jewish people under the leadership of Nehemiah had listened to the Word of God, repented of their sins, and celebrated the Day of Atonement, where they sacrificed a goat for their sins – it was simply a picture of how the Promised Lamb of God would someday be sacrificed for their sins. Not only that, but they also celebrated the Festival of Booths – they lived for one week in booths made of olive branches and palm branches – it was simply a picture of how the Promised Son of God would be their refuge someday. Bottom Line: These people were truly saved.
By the way, praise God you and I don’t have to go through all that to be saved. We who are living on this side of the cross don’t have to offer any sacrifices and celebrate any feasts to be saved. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and receive Him as our Savior and we are saved. Simply – Look and Live.
But now in Nehemiah 9 they went a step farther. Listen to verse 1 “Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth (a goat-hair garment), and with dust on their heads (acknowledging that they were nothing but the dirt of the ground). 2 Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners. What were they doing? They were doing some intense repenting before God. They were not repenting for salvation but for all the wrong beliefs they had learned from their Gentile neighbors. God had called the people of Israel to be a light in the dark world – to influence their Gentile neighbors with the truth. Instead, they had allowed their Gentile neighbors to influence them – to influence them in what they believed about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. Now that they were saved, they were repenting of all their wrong beliefs and affirming all the true beliefs about God from His Word.
Listen to verse 2 – “and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; (3 hours) and for another fourth (3 hours) they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God….(saying – verse 5) “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! Here’s the order – They got saved, recognized all their false beliefs, separated from the Gentiles, read their Bibles, confessed the truth about the living God, and then worshipped Him.
Application: The order is the same for us today – once we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins to expose and correct all the wrong beliefs that we have accumulated about God, His World, His Word, and His Ways with His people. We not only have a change of heart but also a change of mind by His Word. This morning if you are not saved, you cannot have this change of mind; but if you are saved, let the Holy Spirit bring to you the truth.
The first change of mind is in verse 6 You alone are the Lord. Meaning: There is Only One God. 3 questions come to mind:
I. WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS CONFESSION?
Background: This confession was the first commandment that God gave to Moses as part of the Ten Commandments. Listen to Exodus 20, verse 1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. Later it became part of the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6, verse 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Every devout Jewish man or woman would pray this prayer – “God you are the only God and there is no other.”
They might have prayed that prayer but they definitely didn’t practice that prayer. Repeatedly they wandered away and began worshipping false gods. First, they started by worshipping some Palestinian false gods
– Sometimes they worshipped Ashtoreth, the Canaanite goddess of fertility. (Judges 2:13)
– Sometimes they worshipped Chemosh, the Moabite god of war – Solomon even built a sanctuary for Chemosh. (I Kings 11:7)
– Sometimes they worshipped Molech, the Ammonite god to whom child sacrifices were made. (Zephaniah 1:5)
Later, they even worshipped some Mesopotamian false gods.
– Sometimes they worshipped Kaiwan, the Babylonian god of the stars.
– Sometimes they worshipped Tammuz, the Sumerian goddess of vegetation.
Clearly they went against what God had strictly commanded them.
Why did they do that? For many reasons – sometimes they were trying to fit in with their neighbors; sometime they were frustrated because God had not answered their prayers; sometimes they enjoyed the sexual immortality that came with the worship of the false gods. The result – They lost the land and their identity.
Application: Some of us might say – In the year 2013 we Americans know better. We don’t worship any falsegods. To the contrary, anytime anything becomes more important than Jesus Christ, it is a false god. For some their false god is money; for some it is their job/career; for some it is a hobby; for some it is their friends; for some it is entertainment.
II. WHAT ABOUT THE TRINITY?
Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Old Testament, many passages in the OT tell us that God exists in more than one person.Background: When we confess, “There is Only One God,” the question comes up what about the Trinity. What about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Some people think that Trinity is found only in the NT and not in the Old. Some people argue that the early church created the doctrine of the Trinity.
– When God thought about creating human beings, he said In Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
– When Adam and Eve sinned, God said in Genesis 3:22, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”
– When human beings decided to conspire against God, God said in Genesis 11:7, Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language.”
– In Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
– In Psalm 45:6-7, the psalmist says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness….”
– In Psalm 110:1, David says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ’Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Jesus understood this and challenged the Pharisees to explain it but they couldn’t.
The point is that God is more than one person was not a new concept. The New Testament sheds more light on the plurality of the Godhead. It explains that God is three persons. Each person is fully God but they are only one God. Since eternity past, the trinity has always existed. We see it clearly demonstrated at the baptism of Jesus.
Satan has tried to counterfeit the Trinity among the Greeks with the triad of Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, among the Hindus with the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, among the Egyptians with the triad of Isis, Horus, and Sub. But there is no comparison to the love and unity that exists among the three persons of the Godhead. Each of these goes by 1+1+1=3 but the right illustration of the biblical Trinity is 1x1x1=1.
Application: We as Christians believe in the Triune God – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are equal in nature and power and everything but they have different roles.
III. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?
Because of the Trinity –
– We know that even though there is diversity in this world, there is ultimate unity because God is plural and yet one.
– We know that God can relate with us because He has related within Himself since the beginning of time.
– We understand the unity in a marriage where two come together and become one flesh.
– We understand the unity in a church where many come together and yet we are one body.
– We understand the unity between Christ and His church.
– We understand John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” and John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” and John 16: 7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
I wouldn’t be standing here if someone had not received the Trinity – My father was a Muslim but became a Christian through John 3:16. Each is involved in saving us.
Do you know the living and true God? Do you know the Triune God?