Nehemiah 10

Nehemiah 10
by Pastor Mark Hudson

This chapter is a response of the people to what happened in chapter 8.  Ezra reads the law with others interpreting the verses (8:7-8).  The people respond by lifting up their hands, bowing and prostrating themselves (8:6). But Nehemiah , Ezra, and the Levites remind the people not mourn or weep over their sins.  But they are to “eat the fat and drink sweet wine” because “this day is holy to our Lord . . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength”  (8:10).  Then they keep the feast of booths.

Chapter 9 is filled with one of the best prayers in the Bible.  Confession, remorse, and honoring God with a firm resolve in the form of a written covenant make up the bulk of this chapter.  This spiritual prayer results in what we read in chapter 10.

Nehemiah 10 starts with a long list of names that covers vs. 1-27.  These are the men who sign their names for the entire people of God.  Then in vs. 28-39, they vow to commit themselves to being the people of God.  Notice, they separate themselves from the peoples of the land and move toward the law of God in v. 28.  This is always what God’s people do.  We may not physically move away from the world, but we cannot have the same sexual mores, the same way of thinking about the poor, the same family life, etc. as the world.  Believers in every age and in every place follow God’s word not their own ideas.

Observe that this is not a casual commitment.  Those described in v. 28 are those “who have knowledge and understanding” and join with their brothers, their nobles, “and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes (v.29).”  This is serious.  They put themselves under an oath with the promise of curses if they disobey.

Also read all the synonyms for the Bible: Law of God, God’s Law, commandments, rules, and statutes.  They promise to “enter into a curse and an oath, to walk in God’s Law, to observe and do all the commandments . . . .  There is no wiggle room in their approach to God.  They mean business.  When they called the Bible, ‘the Law of God and God’s Law’, they meant it was from God but given by Moses.  We can and should say with B.B. Warfield that when the Scripture speaks, God speaks.  Can you imagine a group of people in North America making that kind of commitment?

To reestablish Judaism in Jerusalem, Nehemiah knew they needed a pure genealogy.  Verse 30 vows a commitment they often lacked.  They needed to marry within the faith.  This is also important for every believer.  In vs. 31-39, lists various obligations God laid on them in the Scripture.  Recall this follows the extensive reading of the Law.  They knew what they were supposed to do.

I ask you to think about how many Christians worship now.  It seems like many church leaders do what they want.  They organize their church in the way they want.  But in Nehemiah 10, they said, in effect, ‘Our worship will be the way You want our worship to be.  We will follow Your ways and obey Your commands for all of life.’  Worship is obedience.  Worship is giving to God.  I think it is okay to ask, ‘what did I get out of worship?’  But it is more important to ask, ‘What did God receive from my worship today?’

These believers in Nehemiah 10 commit to: “We will not neglect the house of our God.”  I maintain the church, for Christians in China, Africa, South America, Europe, and North America is central to the Christian.  This is not a popular position because we are living in a radical me-first age.  We decide what is true.  We decide what it means to be a Christian.  We decide that if I do not want to go to church that has nothing to do with the fact that I belong to Christ.  Church is negotiable.  I decide I believe.  The church has no say.

Imagine back in Moses’ time, people saying to Moses when he told them to leave Egypt with him, “I am not going with you on the exodus, but I believe in your God.’  Imagine as Joshua leads them into the promised land that people say, ‘I like the Moabite youth group here, but we believe in your God. . . just from a distance.’  Or as Joshua is dividing the land to the tribes and someone says, ‘I like the music of the Ammonites so we will stay in Ammon, with a summer home in Edom, but keep us on your rolls.’  The only way modern professing Christians can think like this (and this is close to their muddled thinking) must be they are not reading the Bible.

Christianity is not ‘up to us.’  We don’t make the rules.  We can’t marry whomever we want.  We can’t have the same values as the world and pretend we believe.  We may profess but many do not possess.   So, do not neglect the house of God.  I have seen so many people be part of a church, even join and then walk away.  They will stand before Jesus Christ with wounds yet visible, scars on his head and side, holes in his hands and feet and He will listen to their lame excuse.  What do you think will happen to them?

Many people will have a rude awakening when He says, “I never knew you.  Depart from Me.”  Every single human being will give account before His holiness that is so pure and so magnificent and so alive and personal that one wonders if they will be able to speak at all. If they are not dressed in Christ’s robes of righteousness their flimsy excuses and lies will be exposed instantly.  Why would people think they would want to be in heaven when they spent their entire lives away from His church?

Our dear heavenly Father that we love so very much, we worship and praise Your holy name.  May Your Word come alive to us.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to see what the Scriptures says and then keep us from twisting it to suit our own pleasures.  We confess we distort, mangle, and contort Your words and make a mockery of Your holiness.  Straighten us out, set us up on our two feet so we fulfill our obligation to You.  And whatever good we do; we will thank You for the power of Your grace. In Christ, Amen.