Nehemiah 10 & 11

Nehemiah 10

The final verse in chapter 9 makes reference to a covenant. In chapter 10 the signers of this solemn agreement are listed.

First there comes the name of Nehemiah, who is described as the Tirshatha, or Governor. After him come the names of the various heads of families—v. 1-27.

Verses 28-29 sum up the balance of the people. Those who had separated themselves unto God and all who were old enough to understand. All these supported their brethren in the signing of the covenant, and promised to keep the agreement and to walk in God’s law.

Let us focus our attention on what they had promised to do:

1. They promised to walk in God’s law, to keep His commandments, ordinances, and statutes. In other words they promised to be subject to the Holy Scriptures.

2. They promised to maintain separation from the people’s of the land, and that there would be no unequal yoke.

3. They promised to observe the Sabbath day and to keep it holy.

4. They promised to let the land lie fallow every seventh year. The reason for the Babylonian captivity was that they had disregarded the Sabbatic year.

5. They also promised to forgive all debts at this time.

I believe that there are some weighty lessons for us in these pledges.

1. They put themselves under the authority of the Scriptures. There never was a day in the Church’s history when it was more necessary to put ourselves under the authority of the Scriptures.

2. Are we as separated from the world as God’s Word exhorts us to be? Some of us have separated ourselves ecclesiastically from the world church. We are hyper-sensitive in this respect. But what of our business relations and our social contacts? What of our homes, the books we read, the clothes we wear, the company we keep, and the language we use? Brethren, if these things are practiced in our lives, what value is there in mere ecclesiastical separation? Many hyper-separationists have made the sad mistake of separating themselves from believers more godly than they. Then there is the unequal yoke. “Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

3. The Israelites promised to observe the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. We in this dispensation are not under law but under grace. The Sabbath rest and holiness is fulfilled in Christ. Resting in Him and realizing His holiness should so control our life that greed of gain and lust for earth’s pleasant things should not spoil our rest or fellowship, or mar our holiness that we cannot enjoy communion in Him.

4. They promised not to cultivate their ground every seventh year as God had directed—Leviticus 25:4-5. After six years of sowing, pruning, and harvesting the land lay fallow for one year. God promised that if they did this He would give them enough for 3 years on the sixth year. When Israel complied with this law it showed two things: (1) That they were a people confiding in God; (2) They were assured of God’s blessing. Their failure to implement this law had brought upon them 70 years of captivity.

These people were called to a life of faith and dependence upon God. We today are called upon to live a life of faith and trust in God. What would this mean?

    1. A seventh of our weekly or monthly earnings.

    2. Plus the tenth of our income.

    3. Plus our freewill offerings.

According to the Word of God, God’s blessing will rest upon any believer so living.

5. They promised to forgive all debts at this time. Life began anew every seven years. See Deuteronomy 15:2-18. Debts were forgiven, slaves were set free and did not go out empty. It was a wonderful time for Israel. It was a new beginning, a time of renewal, a time when the blessings of God were released upon His obedient people.

The lesson here as I see it is that we should forgive them that trespass against us. Each day should be a time of renewal. Hard and bitter feelings should be repented of and put away. Each of us should have a clean sheet, because the Judge is standing at the door. He is about to call us home. How can we have an abundant entrance if these things are not taken care of?

From verse 32 thru 39 the people committed themselves to maintain and provide for the service of the house of God.

1. They promised to pay the temple tax (1/3 part of a sheckle).

2. They promised to supply wood for the temple altar.

3. They promised to give the priests and Levites their due.

4. The promised never to forsake God’s house.

What a happy scene is this. These people were giving their tithes, offerings and first-fruits to the Lord and for support of His work and workers.

I believe that when the Lord’s people get right individually His work will be maintained and will flourish. Lack of spirituality closes up hearts and purses. Godliness opens both.

Nehemiah 11

We could be tempted to hurry over this chapter. If we succumbed to this temptation we would miss a blessing. Broadly speaking the chapter is concerned with the repopulation of Jerusalem.

In 7:4 this statement is made, “Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.”

To offset this weakness Nehemiah numbered all the people, then decided that 10% of those living in the country should come and live in Jerusalem. From this number some were chosen by lot, others volunteered to come willingly. These received the praise of all the rest of the people.

Verses 3-19 contain a list of some of the chief families who lived in Jerusalem at that time. Verses 20-24 mention other inhabitants of the city. The chapter closes with a listing of the towns and villages outside Jerusalem in verses 25-35.

v. 2—“And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell in Jerusalem.”

This is interesting, a free-will offering was made. Not of money, but men who were so devoted to the Lord, who offered themselves willingly to God and His service. In chapter 10 they had tithed their produce and possessions, and now they willingly offered themselves.

This was not conscription. Each one responded with a free heart. They loved Jehovah, they loved the place where God’s honor dwelt.

I see a principle which has evolved here. The purifying experiences of chapters 8-9 are essential to the free-will offering of chapter 11.

These men had had an experience with God which fitted them to consecrate themselves to the Lord.

There are numerous examples in Scripture: Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, Paul, and Jacob.

The reason why the Macedonian believers were able to give out of their poverty sacrificially, willingly, eagerly, and spiritually was because “they first gave themselves unto the Lord.”

The question is asked in Malachi 3:8, “Will a man rob God?” The people replied, “How have we robbed Thee?” In tithes and offerings. This condition brought the displeasure of God upon them.

v. 10—“Bring in all the tithes into the storehouse, and test Me now herewith, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Most of us here have in the past given our souls to God. Most of us give a portion of our possessions. But if we stop here we have fallen short of God’s ideal. God wants you.