Scripture reading – Nehemiah 10
Nehemiah had served king Artaxerxes as governor of Judah, and completed the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and securing the city. A man of wisdom and spiritual discernment, Nehemiah deferred the spiritual health of the nation to Ezra, who was a priest and a scribe of the law among the people (8:1). When Ezra read the Scriptures to the congregation, they responded with remorse for their sins, repented, and affirmed they would obey the law (8:9-18).
Having observed the Feast of the Tabernacles, the people assembled as a congregation, and determined to separate themselves from “all strangers” (non-Hebrews, 9:2). Gathering to worship the LORD, the Levites read the Scriptures and reminded the people the God of Israel was Creator of heaven and earth (9:6), had chosen Abraham and established a covenant with his lineage (9:7-8).
Reviewing the providences of the LORD, the people were reminded He had called Moses, and led Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and the wilderness (9:9-12). God had met Israel on Mount Sinai, and given the people His “judgment…laws, good statutes and commandments” (9:13). The LORD provided bread and water in the wilderness, and when their hearts were lifted up with pride, He showed mercy and compassion (9:14-21). He fulfilled His covenant to Abraham, and giving Israel the land, He drove the Canaanites out of their homes and cities (9:22-25). When Israel disobeyed and rebelled, the LORD sent prophets who “testified against them” (9:26-29). When people hardened their hearts, He did not forsake them, for He is “a gracious and merciful God” (9:30-31).
The people confessed the LORD had kept His covenant, and showed them mercy (9:32). Looking back on the years of captivity, they affirmed all that came upon them was deserved, for the LORD had “done right, but [they had] done wickedly (9:32-33). So, the leaders of the nation renewed covenant with the LORD, signed their names, and sealed it (9:38).
Nehemiah 10 – Your Service is Important to God
Who signed and sealed the covenant between the LORD and the nation? Nehemiah 10 gives us the names of those who affixed their names to the covenant. Admittedly, Nehemiah 10 would be an easy chapter to pass over. Eighty-four men are named (10:1-27), and though they have little meaning to 21st century believers, they serve as a reminder that the LORD does not forget those who are His.
Nehemiah was first to sign the covenant (10:1), and he was followed by the leaders of the priests (10:2-8), Levites (10:9-13), and 44 other leaders identified as “chief of the people” (10:14-27).
“The rest of the people,” following their leaders, verbally affirmed their agreement with the covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-29). The people promised their sons and daughters would not become unequally yoked with unbelievers (“the people of the land,” 10:30; 2 Corinthians 6:14). It was critical for the people to individually affirm their faith and understanding of what God required, and acknowledged both the reward (blessings) and consequences (curses) that come to a covenant people (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
Closing thoughts and applications – Several ordinances were acknowledged by the people, including the observance of the Sabbath day (10:31), and a Temple tax of one-third shekels (10:32; though Exodus 30:11-16required one-half shekel, but the lesser amount here might have been due to the poverty of the people).
Various offerings were renewed, including the “wood offering,” used for sacrifices and to keep a perpetual fire burning on the altar (10:34; Leviticus 6:12-13). The “firstfruits offering” was re-established, and served as a reminder God requires tithes of our first and best (10:35, 36-37; Proverbs 3:9). Every firstborn son was to be dedicated to the LORD, and redeemed by offering a lamb (10:36; Exodus 34:19-20). Also, the people were taught their tithes and offerings were to support the Levites (10:37-39; Leviticus 27:30-34), and they in turn were to tithe of the tithes given to them and their households (10:37b-38; Leviticus 27:30-34).
Having been instructed in the demands of the Law, and accepting both its blessings and curses, the people affirmed their covenant with the LORD saying, “we will not forsake the house of our God” (10:39b).
I close, reminding every believer of his obligation to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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