DAY 10 STUDY TIME!
Wow! Can you believe we have gone through 9 chapters already? Establishing a nation, a culture, a political system, and a spiritual life at the heart of it has turned out to be the bigger picture task Nehemiah was called to. When we first started, I admit, I was really focused not he significance of the walls being rebuilt and the spiritual analogies around that. But as I've gotten in deeper (this is my 3rd time going through the book in the last 8 weeks) I am pulling my head back farther and seeing that this was way more than the walls. Nehemiah was a leader chosen to administrate the foundation being re-established for the Jewish people; their social, political, and spiritual foundations.
Earlier today as I was meditating on chapter 10, I was thinking about how Nehemiah was a "governor" and how he worked with the laborers of the city, the priests, the singers & musicians, the temple workers (Levites), and the inhabitants of the land. He orchestrated and networked with all the leaders, Levites, and priests. (Neh. 9:38) As we move into chapter ten, the signing of their written agreement with God, Nehemiah seems to have been somewhat of a "chairmen of the board", in fact, he is the first to sign this covenant-document.
READ NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 10
Did you feel the intensity of verse 29? WOW. In their new covenant with God they declared a curse upon themselves if they broke God's law ever again!
That's pretty heavy. Here's is a little snapshot of what they were vowing to observe going forward:
Subjection to the Word of God (Verse 29b)
Separation from mixed marriages (Verse 30)
Sabbath Observance (Verse 31)
Financial Support of the Temple (Priests & Levites) (Verse 32-39)
#1 The people vowed to God that they would follow the Law of Moses as the "law of the land". The Law in the Torah was now sworn to be upheld as their primary way of living, and the fact that they are making this the first thing to vow to, says something. The Kingdom of God supersedes the law of any earthly king or government. By saying that the Word of God was going to be their law, was making God their King, therefore making the Governor, Nehemiah, and all the priests and leaders in the land, the 'nobles' who serve the King of Kings. I mean, can you imagine a city where God is the Mayor?? This is the new city they were establishing... one nation, under God.
#2 The separation of mixed marriages (if you do a little studying) meant that Ezra actually broke up existing marriages... yikes! Yep. Thats what happened. One of my favorite coined phrases is "desperate times call for desperate measures"! And this was a desperate time! Ezra & Nehemiah were going to make sure they cleansed every possible iniquity out of the root system of the people so that the Word of God was 100% followed. They were taking no chances!
#3 You have to remember why they were in this mess in the first place, the Shemitah. Because of the 70 Sabbath (Shemitah) years they failed to observe, the Lord removed them from the land for the land to have it's rest.
Suffice to say the Israelites were never going to forget this one again! They even vowed not to buy "wares or grain from the people of the land" on Sabbath, meaning the gentile, non-observerers (I probably made that word up, oh well!) who may stumble through town. The fact that they are bringing this up says this was something they previously must have struggled with- eparating themselves in their business dealings. I think it is also noteworthy, that this is the commandment which the Lord disciplined the nation for SEVENTY YEARS over. Just sit and stew on that with me...
Incase you were unaware, this year (Hebrew year 5775, which began September 2014 and concludes this September 13, 2016) is a Shemitah, or Sabbath year. (Great Book Suggestion Here) God seems to be pretty serious on this topic, so I do encourage you to read the book and/or check out my previous blog post on Sabbath Rest.
#4 Supporting the temple through giving money, crops, fruit, and the firstborn cattle and even their sons! Talk about going the extra mile! Never again were they going to neglect the spiritual center of their culture. They were going to ensure that the temple stayed the center and life revolved around it. It becomes really personal when you are bring the first fruits of your harvest to the temple, and your sons! The people vowed to take care of the priests and Levites.
1. The people of God had to put their money and their time where their mouth was. It was time to stop just "believing" what they believe, and time to step up and take drastic measures to ACT on what they believe. How much of your life is spent on your purposes vs. God's purposes? Look at your life like a pie chart for a moment. How much of your time & financial resources goes where? How big is the piece of pie that represents what you give to God's Word, Prayer, Your life in God (intimacy), Worship, Giving to the poor, giving to the support of the 'priests' in the temple, and so forth. Many believers "believe" a lot more in their head than they produce with actions. I realize it takes faith to give your money away, but realize this- with obedience to God's Word (law) you will be positioned for blessing! Ask the Lord today to search your heart and see if you are giving Him your "first fruits".
2. The nation of Israel put this covenant in writing for a reason. They wanted to remember it. Today I want to encourage you, if you haven't been journaling or writing the things God is showing you or speaking to you down on paper, write them down! Year after year I am soooooo thankful I wrote down my dreams, the thoughts I share with God, and the things He impresses on my heart. For me to pull out an old journal and read it is so encouraging in so many ways and reminds me that God- and me, have a real relationship! If God has been speaking to you through this bible study, can I just encourage you today to put it in writing?
Let's pray. Father, thank You for never giving up on us and for always being there to give us second, third, and forth chances! You are so good to us! Thank You for demonstrating Your mercy through Your people Israel. Help my heart today to hear what is important to You, and what is on Your heart for me. Search me oh Lord, try me and see! See if there is anything I am keeping hidden from You! Father I want to honor you with the first and best of all I have and hold nothing back! I declare today that You are WORTH IT ALL! Replace and fear in me of giving financially with faith for favor and blessings. Replace and fear in me of losing or not receiving Your best for me in my life, with faith that I will receive all that you have for me when I seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness (Matt. 6:33). May my life be a glorious witness of You, in Jesus name, amen!