Nehemiah

This devotional is written by Marina Johnson.

Nehemiah 9:38-10:39

The Agreement of the People
38 "In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it."[a]

10 [b]Those who sealed it were:

Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hakaliah.

Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,

3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah,

4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluk,

5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,

6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,

7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,

8 Maaziah, Bilgai and Shemaiah.

These were the priests.

9 The Levites:

Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,

10 and their associates: Shebaniah,

Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,

11 Mika, Rehob, Hashabiah,

12 Zakkur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,

13 Hodiah, Bani and Beninu.

14 The leaders of the people:

Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,

15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,

16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,

17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,

18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,

19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,

20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,

21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,

22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,

23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,

24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,

25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,

26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,

27 Malluk, Harim and Baanah.

28 "The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— 29 all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord.

30 "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.

31 "When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.

32 "We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel[c] each year for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the bread set out on the table; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, at the New Moon feasts and at the appointed festivals; for the holy offerings; for sin offerings[d] to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God.

34 "We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law.

35 "We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.

36 "As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.

37 "Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. 38 A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury. 39 The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept.

"We will not neglect the house of our God."

Reflection

When allocated this dry list of names I was a bit concerned as to what I'd draw out. BUT look carefully and there is some very practical advice for Christian living. In Nehemiah we've been tracing the steps to recovery from spiritual ruin. Here we read a list of people who want to make a commitment to a new covenant aka lifestyle walking with God. It could be compared to the Declaration of Independence in American history that many signed and honoured. Perhaps you have done something like that in your own life. Has a time come when you've realised that you wanted to change your behaviour and honour God more wholeheartedly. Beginning with Verse 30, we find 6 specific commitments or goals that these Israelites made.

1st: they committed themselves to stop intermarrying with the locals who were hardcore pagans

2nd: they promised to observe again the Sabbath – God's reminder of the importance of resting in the midst of activity

3rd : they promised to provide money, grain and animals for the sacrificial offerings of the temple – to never forget the cost of their redemption and the death that would pay for their sin

4th: they promised to bring the first fruits of their crops, herds, flocks, and their sons to God – recognising the ownership and right of God in their lives and over their possessions.

5th: they promised to pay a 10% tithe of all their income and wealth to the temple – recognising that it all ultimately came from God.

6th: they promised to attend faithfully the house of God – meeting with others and attending the worship services at the temple.

Which one of these jumped out at you? Think and pray about how you can put a 21st Century equivalent of these into practice TODAY.

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