Nehemiah 9:16-20 But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore, you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves and image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.
Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.
Wow. We need to sit here under this tree for a few days. I just saw the movie, “Noah,” and it left me with many theological questions to ponder. I strongly recommend seeing the film, remembering it is not an accurate account of the story of Noah but does raise some interesting theological questions. I’ll talk more on that later. In the film, Noah realizes that God is telling him he is going to destroy the world because of all the wickedness in humanity. Noah’s family will be saved. Yet, when Noah realizes that he and his family are also sinners, he assumes that God desires to destroy them as well. So he informs his family that they are to die as a part of God’s plan. In the film (not in the real story) Noah presumes God’s judgment upon his family forgetting the grace of God extended to those who follow Him. Noah’s family was to be the remnant, saved by God’s grace, so that sin could be dealt with once and for all through his descendent, Jesus. Here in this passage, we are reminded of the character of God being merciful and full of grace. He is preserving his remnant so that the world could be saved through their descendent, Jesus Christ. Both stories contain powerful images of God’s magnificent grace.