“But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.”
After finally rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the book of Nehemiah records that the Jews who had returned from captivity celebrated a meaningful Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Tabernacles. Reading the Law convinced them of sins, so afterward, they set aside another day for fasting and repentance.
The leaders of the Levites praised God and recounted the history of their people and their sins. Nehemiah 9:16-17 summarizes the rebelliousness of the generation that God had brought out of Egypt. They had even refused to enter the Promised Land and had chosen their own leader to return to Egypt.
But in spite of human sin, God remains merciful and ready to pardon. He did not abandon their ancestors, and He would not abandon the people of Nehemiah’s day. And He will not abandon us! But we must learn the lessons of history and seek to please God, not to continue to try His patience.