And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God. Nehemiah 9:2-3
The people who had returned to Jerusalem, first with Ezra, and with Nehemiah a few years later had finished the task which they had came to do. Ezra’s task was to rebuild the Temple; Nehemiah’s task was to rebuild the wall.
Both of the jobs were completed. The wall had been rebuilt in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15) and they were celebrating by reading the Law of God. People wept because of their sins. When was the last time we wept over our sins against God; and believe me they are quite numerous. These people spent a whole week in reading Scripture, hearing the word of God, and confessing and repenting of their sins.
What happened first? They separated themselves from “all strangers” that means their foreign wives and children, all alliances that had been made with foreigners, especially buying their goods on the Sabbath.
Then, they confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers who had caused them to stray away from God and led to their captivity of seventy years in Babylon.
When their sins had been dealt with then, they worshiped the Most High and Holy, Holy, Holy God.
None of this took place without the reading of God’s word and hearing it; doing it.
Confession of sin and repentance is needed by God’s people today. John the apostle wrote, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).