The key revival under Nehemiah began the day Israel recommitted themselves to God’s Word. One quarter of the day was spent reading God’s Word while everyone stood. The next quarter of the day was spent acknowledging the difference between God’s character and man’s character. That clear difference is described in verse 33. It says, “you, God,  have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.”

This is what is referred to as confession. It might be defined as telling the truth about God and ourselves. We “confess our faith” when we tell the truth about God. We “confess our sins” when we tell the truth about ourselves. This whole chapter goes back and forth between confessing of faith in God’s goodness and the confession of the sins of the people. Notice this development:  God’s greatness in creation, covenant, redemption (6–15), The people’s hardening of their necks (16–17a), God’s grace (17b), The people’s idolatry (18), God’s mercies (19–25), The people’s disobedience (26) God’s discipline and salvation (27), The people’s evil (28a), God’s deliverance (28b), The people’s stiff necks (29), God’s patience, and mercy (30–31).

There is also an often overlooked aspect of confession contained in this chapter. It is the complete acknowledgment that God is righteous in man’s suffering. Nehemiah reviews the suffering that has been experienced by his people and concludes, “You (God) have been righteous in all that has come upon us” (Verse 33).

The reading of God’s Word brought conviction of Sin. This brought true contrition, inner remorse for sin, and resulted in outward confession. Right after I became a Christian, someone gave me a bible and inscribed this phrase on the opening page: “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)