Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah - Session 12 (audio not available)

Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah - Session 12 (audio not available)

Scripture: Nehemiah 10:28-29
Sermon: Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah - Week 12 (audio not available)

Scripture: Nehemiah 10:28-29
Sermon: Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah - Week 12 (audio not available)

"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-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.

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

"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. 

"We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God: 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 to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God. 

"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.

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

"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. 

"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. 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. 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."

-Nehemiah 10:28-39

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To Keep and Observe
LogosWalk Word Journal

It began with "all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands". This was a rejection of all those who sought to join with and influence God's people at the most personal level. Instead of embracing these peoples' beliefs and ways, this casting off of earthly influences was combined with seeking to replace it with "the law of God". In today's political environment, this would be labeled as "intolerance", "closed mindedness", and even "hate speech". The Bible here describes it as "all those who had knowledge and understanding".

The chief characteristic of God's wisdom is that it sees the obvious, end result of any particular behavior or belief. It looks beyond the immediate, present circumstances to recognize whether it's leading to heaven or to hell. The things leading to hell often produce immediate, short-term rewards which blind one to the disastrous, long-term results. God's things often have a delayed reward requiring short-term endurance in order to realize permanent gain. So those who possess the biblical definition of "knowledge and understanding" make unconventional choices where relationships are measured by the world's standards because they so clearly see their impact on keeping or destroying obedience to God's Word.

The caveat is that such wisdom can cut two ways; it's both "a curse and an oath to walk in God's law". With biblical "knowledge and understanding" as we have here defined it, there is a personal burden to consistently walk according to God's Word, clearly knowing the outcome whenever we choose to follow our own ways and desire instead. It's telling how Nehemiah describes a kind of overlapping responsibility of what we are required "to keep and to observe":

"Commandments". These are those things God has spoken which detail the responsibilities of human beings to live in a covenant relationship with Him. Especially in the Old Testament, commandments defined how Israel was to live in a covenant relationship with God, this being expanded upon in the New Testament.

"Ordinances". In Hebrew this word is a derivative of "judgment". We might today call this "case law". It's the verdicts or outcomes or formal decrees established based on resolving the situation brought before the court. It describes the practical application of God's Law in situations not specifically detailed word for word so that we may understand how God's Word is applicable in every situation and that it provides no loopholes.

"Statutes". These are specifically prescribed tasks or boundaries. They are things required (e.g., sacrifices, etc.) or establishing limiting guidelines (e.g., who to marry/associate with, etc.)

Some people treat very casually the phrase, "obedience to God's Word" without understanding it means more than acknowledging God's Word or carrying around a Bible. It's applying it to deep levels to such a degree that it shapes our very behavior and every personal relationship choice.

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