A true God-sent revival
brings about a solemn covenant that results in long
lasting changes in people's lives.
The Jewish leaders put
into writing a formal declaration for spiritual
reform. "Now because of all this we are making an
agreement in writing; and on the sealed document are
the names of our leaders, our Levites and our
priests" (Nehemiah 9:38).
As a result of their
confession of sin and praise to God they declared,
"We are making an agreement in writing." It was a
covenant with God.
There follows in chapter
ten the names of the signers of the new covenant.
The name of "Nehemiah the governor" tops the "sealed
document." Then follows the names of groups of
priests, Levites, leaders and the common people.
"Now the rest of the
people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers,
the singers, the temple servants and all those who
had separated themselves from the peoples of the
lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and
their daughters, all those who had knowledge and
understanding, are joining with their kinsmen, their
nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an
oath to walk in God's law, which was given through
Moses, God's servant, and to keep and to observe all
the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances
and His statutes" (Nehemiah 10:28-29, NASB 1995).
Their binding signatures
to the covenant were to preserve and continue to
perpetuate the revival. It covers six important
areas of Jewish life, and there are practical
applications for Christian living today.
A COVENANT TO AVOID
UNEQUALED YOKE IN MARRIAGE (10:30)
These people were
responding to the Word of God. They based everything
on the authority of Scripture.
It is far too easy to
follow the "herd instinct" or peer pressure and the
latest religious fads.
neighbors were degenerate, immoral, idolatrous
pagans who sacrificed their children by throwing
them alive into the fiery furnace to Molech. Pagan
worship practices led to the fall of Israel and
Babylonian captivity. It came about because of
infidelity to God. The people committed spiritual
adultery by worshipping false gods of their
The people affirmed "that
we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the
land or take their daughters for our sons" (v. 30).
The word "peoples" is referring to the non-Jewish
people or Gentiles.
The LORD God demands that
His chosen people worship Him alone. Judges 3:5-8 is
an excellent example when they compromised. "The
sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the
Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites,
and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for
themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to
their sons, and served their gods. The sons of
Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,
and forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals
and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the Lord was
kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into
the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia;
and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim
eight years." It is not a beautiful picture,
is it? The same truth holds for our day, too.
Tolerance for everything
that is not Christian is the "in thing" today. You
can tolerate anything and everything but
Christianity. It is time for Christian to "come out
of the closet" and take a stand for the
righteousness of God and Christian values.
Do you follow the latest
fads and humanistic anti-Christian philosophies? A
crisis exists in most evangelical churches because
you can't tell the difference between a true born
again Christian and the unsaved. We live like the
world. With "a kind of selective vision" we worship
God on Sunday and live like the pagan world on
Monday, but we never realize it. Our spiritual
senses are dull. We are blind to our own actions.
Political correctness has
destroyed the convictions of Christ-centered
Christian living for far too many individuals.
How many Christians fail
to take seriously the clear New Testament teachings
in Second Corinthians 6:14-17? "Do not be bound
together with unbelievers; for what partnership have
righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship
has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ
with Belial, or what has a believer in common with
an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of
God with idols? For we are the temple of the living
God; just as God said, 'I will dwell in them and
walk among them; and I will be their God, and they
shall be My people.'"
There is no guarantee
that if you marry another believer that you will be
happy. However, you will stand a lot better chance
than a marriage covenant with someone who does not
hold the same family and spiritual values as you do.
The home is a
priority in God's eyes.
The critical issue is
will I commit myself to obedience to what God has
taught me in the Bible. God has spoken in His Word;
will I submit to it?
A COVENANT TO KEEP THE
The Mosaic Law declared:
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy"
In six days God created
the heaven and the earth and on the seventh day He
rested, and He no longer created. God also created
us so that we need rest from our hectic activities.
"As for the peoples of
the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath
day to sell, we will not buy from them on the
sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops
the seventh year and the exaction of every debt" (v.
Spiritually it is a
picture of the believer learning to rest upon God.
"For the one who has entered His rest has himself
also rested from his works, as God did from His"
God takes our
efforts and uses them to accomplish His eternal
Sunday is not the Sabbath
Day. Christians have been given a new day. It is the
Lord's Day. It celebrates the resurrected and
ascended Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day of
rejoicing, worship, witnessing and celebration of
God's activity in our lives.
The seventh year teaches
us to rest in God's supply (Lev. 25:18-22). In
providential care our sovereign God supplies all our
needs (Phil. 4:13, 19; Matt. 6:24-34).
Hudson Taylor lived and
ministered by the principle: "God's work done in
God's way will never lack God's supply."
Ray Stedman observed:
"God supplies our needs if we are careful to see the
work is done in His way."
Often we ask ourselves
how will we be able to meet expenses in ministry.
How will God provide for our mission projects in
Latin America? The God who knows who we are knows
where we are and is the God who can touch anybody,
anywhere, and cause him or her to know where we are
and provide through them. He says to us, "I am your
provider!" And He goes on to demonstrate it over and
over again. And with joyful response we declare I
saw God do it!
The Lord knows whom He
has chosen to provide and He always has a backup.
The LORD, Jehovah, the
Becoming One, is all I need. Have you seen that to
be true in your life?
The important question is
what do you sense God is doing? Where is He at work?
Is He inviting you to come and join Him in what He
is doing? If He is doing it, He will always provide.
We are not left to our
feeble efforts. The LORD God supplies for His work.
We need to make ourselves available to Him.
Enter into your rest in
IT WAS A COVENANT TO
PROVIDE FOR THE TEMPLE OFFERINGS (10:32-34)
The temple tax provided
for the needs of the temple worship.
"We also placed ourselves
under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a
shekel for the service of the house of our God: for
the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for
the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new
moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things
and for the sin offerings to make atonement for
Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.
Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among
the priests, the Levites and the people so that they
might bring it to the house of our God, according to
our fathers' households, at fixed times annually, to
burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is
written in the law" (vv. 32-34).
The daily sacrifices were
a constant reminder that the people of Israel were a
redeemed people. They were a chosen people of God
and now they belonged to Him.
The bloody sacrifices in
the Old Testament prepared the people of God for the
Lamb of God who would permanently take away the sins
of His people. We need to keep before our eyes
the great sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Never
forget that we are a redeemed people, purchased
through the blood of Jesus Christ.
"Knowing that you were
not redeemed with perishable things like silver or
gold from your futile way of life inherited from
your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a
lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ"
(1 Peter 1:18-19).
THE COVENANT PROMISED
TO BRING FIRST-FRUITS TO GOD (10:35-37)
The Law stated that God
was to receive the first of everything dedicated to
Him (Exodus 13:11-16).
The Law of the first
fruits taught the chosen people to recognize
Yahweh's ownership and right to claim their lives.
It asked the question, am I any different from the
rest of the world?
The first born of every
household, the land and the flocks belonged to God.
All life is a gift from God who owns everything.
The apostle Paul applied
this great truth in First Corinthians 1:19-20. Every
believer needs to remind himself daily: "You are not
your own; you are bought with a price." God owns
you. He has the right over your life. We do not own
What a contrast
Christianity is to the humanistic secular world
system. The worldview is "you are your own. You own
your body. If you get pregnant and you do not want
the baby, you can kill it because you have the right
to do as you please with your body." Christianity
says, "No, you do not. You are not your own. You do
not have a right to do anything you like with the
body God gave you and redeemed."
This principle is true in
all areas of our lives. We are not our own; we have
been bought with a great price. Recognize God's
rights over your life, and live within those rights.
You belong to God. He has the right to direct and
guide you in the choices in life.
Settle the question that
God does know what is best in your life. He is not
going to cheat you out of the very best that life
has to offer.
Jesus said, "The thief
comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came
that they may have life, and have it abundantly"
The life Christ gives is
love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, etc. He
gives you Himself. Jesus keeps on giving you Himself
in order that you might keep on having His kind of
life abundantly. The life Christ gives His people
overflows, and is always in a surplus of
THEY COVENANTED TO
GIVE A TITHE (10:37-39)
"We will also bring the
first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of
every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests
at the chambers of the house of our God, and the
tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites
are they who receive the tithes in all the rural
towns. The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with
the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the
Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to
the house of our God, to the chambers of the
storehouse. For the sons of Israel and the sons of
Levi shall bring the contribution of the grain, the
new wine and the oil to the chambers; there are the
utensils of the sanctuary, the priests who are
ministering, the gatekeepers and the singers. Thus
we will not neglect the house of our God" (vv.
The prophet Malachi wrote
about the same time saying, "'Bring the whole tithe
into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My
house, and test Me now in this,' says the Lord of
hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of
heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it
overflows'" (Malachi 3:10).
God ordained the tithes
would supply the needs of the temple and its
ministry. It was ten percent of everything. That was
the minimum. It was owed to God.
The principle in the New
Testament is a much higher standard than the Old
Testament. God owns it all, not just ten percent.
All that we are and have belongs to Him.
The New Testament has an
entirely new standard for believers. The tithe is
not a requirement, but the believers are to give a
portion of their income to the Lord recognizing that
it all comes from Him. We are to give accordingly as
God prospers us. It may be a tenth or it may be
The apostle Paul wrote,
"On the first day of every week each one of you is
to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no
collections be made when I come" (1 Corinthians
The New Testament way of
supporting God's work is given in detail in Second
Corinthians chapters eight and nine. The believers
in the Roman province of Macedonia were exceedingly
poor. However, they gave in spite of "a great ordeal
of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep
poverty overflowed in the wealth of their
liberality" (8:2). "For I testify that
according to their ability, and beyond their
ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us
with much urging for the favor of participation in
the support of the saints" (vv. 3-4).
The believers understood
what God had done in their lives, and they gave out
of a joyful heart. "For you know the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sake He became poor, so that you through
His poverty might become rich" (v. 9).
Paul's principle of
giving is clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11.
"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also
reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will
also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he
has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under
compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God
is able to make all grace abound to you, so that
always having all sufficiency in everything, you may
have an abundance for every good deed; as it is
written, "He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever." Now He who
supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will
supply and multiply your seed for sowing and
increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will
be enriched in everything for all liberality, which
through us is producing thanksgiving to God."
What is the result of
such cheerful giving? It is an abundant supply,
fully supported ministry.
Remember that God's work
done God's way will always result in His supply. If
you are doing ministry God's way there is no need to
be constantly harping on money.
What is your motive of
service? What is your motive of giving? To God be
the glory alone.
Jesus reminded His
disciples who is the great provider in Matthew
6:19-24. He concluded saying. "But seek first His
kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things
will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
IT WAS A COVENANT TO
NOT NEGLECT THE HOUSE OF GOD (10:39)
These people made a
commitment to faithfully attend worship services in
the temple. The tabernacle and later the temple were
called "the house of God." They symbolically
represented the place where God dwells.
"For the sons of Israel
and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of
the grain, the new wine and the oil to the chambers;
there are the utensils of the sanctuary, the priests
who are ministering, the gatekeepers and the
singers. Thus we will not neglect the house of our
God" (Nehemiah 10:39).
In the New Testament the
emphasis is on the people who are the place where
God dwells. Your body is the house of God. It is
God's dwelling place.
The apostle Paul says,
"We are the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians
6:16). The word for "temple" is the naos, the holy
of holies. In other places Paul writes: "Do you not
know that you are a temple of God and that the
Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the
temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple
of God is holy, and that is what you are" (1
Corinthians 3:16-17). "Or do you not know that your
body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your
own? For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body" (6:19-20).
Where the people of God
meet together, there is the house of God. Recently I
took a medical dental evangelism team to San Judas,
Honduras. The day before our team arrived in the
mountainous village a storm tore the roof of the
church building completely off. We held 25 church
services in open-air, both day and night. There was
no physical building; we did not need one. The
people were the house of God. Jesus said where two
or three are gathered together there He was in their
"Christ in you is the
hope of glory." Have you put your trust in Him? Does
He dwell in you? He does if you have trusted Him as
your Savior. If you are a believer, are you allowing
Jesus to settle down and make Himself at home in
your inner life? The apostle Paul prayed for the
Ehesians that God "grant you, according to the
riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power
through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that
you, being rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians
The original word for
"dwell" means "to settle down in a dwelling, to
dwell fixedly in a place, to live in a home." Jesus
wants you to invite Him in, to settle down and feel
completely at home as a permanent residence.
Verse nineteen tells us
God's purpose in this indwelling of the Holy Spirit
in the believer. "That you may be filled up to
all the fullness of God." The parallel in
Colossians 2:10 reads: "and in Him you have been
made complete, and He is the head over all rule and
authority . . ."
We are so complete in
Christ that in God's sight we lack nothing. In God's
sight we are absolutely perfect. Is it because of
something we have done? No. We are clothed with the
righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are complete "in
Him." "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our
behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of
God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We have perfect
acceptance with God because of the precious blood of
"Not forsaking our own
assembling together, as is the habit of some, but
encouraging one another; and all the more as you see
the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. Choose a
marriage partner who knows and loves the Lord Jesus
Christ. The family is the foundation for any society
or nation. It is the basic unit of society. If the
family is destroyed, so goes the nation. Destroy the
family and you destroy the nation. Is this why there
is such an attack on the family, family values, and
traditional marriage these days?
2. Rest in the
Lord, Abide in Christ, are not just slogans, they
are vital principles for living the Christian life.
Serve Him with all of your heart and rely upon Him
to bless it and use it for His glory. Learn to trust
Him; rest in Him. That is not a lazy life-style. "I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
(Phil. 4:13). Make a commitment to let Sunday be a
day of focus on Christ, and serve Him with all your
3. Remember that
you are a redeemed person. You are not your own
boss. You belong to the Lord Jesus Christ because He
purchased you by His blood.
4. Because we are a
redeemed people, we are to be obedient to Him. It is
our responsibility to seek His will in all things.
The apostle Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with
Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
5. Give to the
ministry out of a cheerful heart. There is no
greater joy than being involved in something that
will still be worthwhile a million years form now.
Give out of the abundance of God's giving to you.
6. Do not forsake
assembling with other believers for worship,
fellowship and service.
Will you make a lifetime
commitment to serve Christ and be faithful to Him?
If you need help in
becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You.
this Series on the Nehemiah
10:1-39 A Solemn Covenant with God
Series: Nehemiah: A
Leader with a Focused Faith