The People Who Sealed the Covenant
10 “On the seals are the names of Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah; these are the priests. And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; and their brothers, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. The chiefs of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, Baanah.
The Obligations of the Covenant
“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, 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. We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.
“We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. We, the priests, the Levites, and the people, have likewise cast lots for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the Law. We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Nehemiah 10 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Repair. Rebuild. Reinforce.
Physically things had come together and were complete with the walls of Jerusalem. God was not simply content with this though. He was looking to see the same take place within His people. The result of the week-long reinstituted festival and worship service was a climax as to what they would do with things personally.
A covenant was drawn up, signed and sealed from the top down by the people. You read past the names and get the gist there were many aspects mentioned specifically the people agreed to do that had been missing in their obligations and responsibilities to God. Covenants always cost something and this was no different. Some of the costs to follow God would be personal. They always are.
He was repairing the broken relationship the people had with Him. He was rebuilding their relationship. This covenant was reinforcing His desire for them to be the people He intended them to be.
The same is true with us. God expects actions to follow our words and follow in all ways. His grace and love is unending there is no doubt. But His expectations of us to change is also present.
Nehemiah 10 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
To me, this is what the covenant was all about. The people vowed to obey God’s law and swore a penalty on themselves if they broke it. We don’t do this today, but it’s not that much different than praying, “God, do whatever it takes to change my heart!” Both cry out to God with humility and an open heart.
The people vowed to change specific unhealthy habits. Intermarrying foreigners was something that always drew them to the worship of false gods. Buying and selling on Sabbath was a sneaky way to make some extra money, but they knew it was not what God wanted. Paying the temple tax, bringing their firstfruits, and paying their tithes were all of the utmost importance now that they had opened their hearts to God’s Word. The habits may be slightly foreign to us but the principles remain the same.
What are the ways we make small compromises today? There are many. Whether we like to admit it or not, we “rate” sin, and most (if not all) of us have justified our behavior as a smaller or lesser sin.
In the covenant, the people were bluntly honest about their shortcomings. They owned it and pledged to change it. In his book, “Respectable Sins,” Jerry Bridges writes this…
“The assurance of His total forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ means we don’t have to play defensive games anymore. We don’t have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can call sin exactly what it is, regardless of how ugly and shameful it may be, because we know that Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross.”Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins
This is a truth that the people of Israel did not have. Jesus mediates for us and calls our bluff. There is no reason to cover or justify sin. No matter how big or how small we think it is, we can come to Him in repentance and find total freedom and forgiveness!