8 “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.
Last time in Chapter 9 of Nehemiah, we saw the people confessing their sin to God and confessing their confidence in God. At the end of the chapter we saw them making commitments to God that were personal, practical and public. As we come to chapter ten, we see these promises in greater detail and it’s here than Nehemiah introduces us to the building block of commitment. We need the word commitment in our world today, many people today start out but few finish. Webster’s Dictionary defines commitment as: “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future;” or the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled. The reason so many people are afraid of commitment is that they don’t want to be obligated. They want to be free to do whatever they decide to do at the moment, because we care more about our feelings than we do faithfulness. These promises or commitments are called vows. The law governing oaths and vows is found in Numbers 30:2: “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” There are many examples of people in the Bible making vows and covenants with God, only to break them later on. In Exodus 24, the Israelites promise to do “everything the Lord has said.” But in less than six weeks, these same people construct a golden calf and bow down in worship before it. In Mark 14:29, Peter promises Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Hours later, Peter responds to a servant girl’s questions by swearing in verse 71: “He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’” That leads to a question, are vows of any use today? I think they are for at least two reasons. First, they help us focus. When you make a vow, you are saying that you are going to do something specific. We can say, “Lord, I need to witness more” or we can say, “I’m going to invite my neighbor to the Church. Second, vows allow us to express our love. That’s why couples make vows during a marriage ceremony. They’re the language of love. Love is more than just a feeling, it’s a commitment to faithfulness. Some of you have made promises to God in the past that you haven’t kept, and you are not alone. Jeremiah 31:32 says that God’s people broke the covenant on a regular basis. Verse 33 says that He will one day make a new covenant in which he says, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jesus inaugurated this new covenant. Listen to what He said in Mark 14:24: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” In the Old Covenant, we are expected to live up to our end completely. In the New Covenant, nothing comes from us, and everything comes from Jesus. Because of His grace, we can surrender, submit and obey out of love, not fear. While it can be helpful to make a vow or promise to God, we need to remember this: We don’t succeed as Christians because we make promises to God, we succeed because we believe the promises of God and act upon them. As a result of hearing God’s Word, they made 4 commitments which are critical to the success of every Christian.
- Submission to Gods Word – Vs 29
The passage starts by listing those who committed to the covenant, there were 84 people who signed their names and notice that Nehemiah’s name led the list. Leaders lead by example; parents you can’t just preach to your kids you have to practice what you preach. There were also many others who also committed to these principles without signing their names. What did they commit to? They committed themselves to follow God’s Word. They were serious in their desire to devote themselves to walking out the Word of God. Let me ask this question, “Who does God use to make an impact? Super saints? Heroes? No. Listen to the words of 1 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” The key is devotion, the depth of your devotion determines your impact. God is not looking for strong people, or great people, or even perfect people, He is looking for devoted disciples, people that are fully committed to Him. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army was once asked what his secret was to his incredible ministry. This is what he said, “God has had all that there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I…but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with me and them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth that there was.” Are you dangerously devoted, Does God have all of you? What these people were saying is that they were so seriously submitted to God’s Word that they are willing for the curses of God to fall on them if they do not carefully obey what He says. I wonder if we have that same submission and dangerous devotion today?