February 26, 2003
In this chapter we have the names of the persons that signed and sealed the covenant mentioned in the last chapter, #Ne 10:1-27, and the things they agreed unto and promised to perform; in general to observe the law of God, in particular not to marry with the people of the land, to keep the sabbaths weekly and yearly, to pay annually the third part of the shekel for the service of the temple, to bring into it the wood offerings, first fruits, firstborn, and tithes, #Ne 10:28-39. (Gill)
V. 1, Nehemiah, the governor, is listed first. Leadership, both civil and religious, should lead the way in serving the Lord.
The nobles and the religious leaders "signed on", and the people followed them in their commitment.
28 And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;
V. 28, identifies those who entered into he covenant with the Lord: and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God. In the New Testament, this is called "sanctification".
Not only must we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well.
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well;
We learn, more often than not, through the school of hard knocks.
Moreover, those who joined in the covenant were those having knowledge, and having understanding.
They entered into a curse as well as an agreement to walk in all of God's law as given to Moses.
29-37. to observe and do all the commandments, etc.This national covenant, besides containing a solemn pledge of obedience to the divine law generally, specified their engagement to some particular duties, which the character and exigency of the times stamped with great urgency and importance, and which may be summed up under the following heads: that they abstain from contracting matrimonial alliances with the heathen; that they would rigidly observe the sabbath; that they would let the land enjoy rest and remit debts every seventh year; that they would contribute to the maintenance of the temple service, the necessary expenses of which had formerly been defrayed out of the treasury of the temple (#1Ch 26:20), and when it was drained, given out from the king's privy purse (#2Ch 31:3); and that they would make an orderly payment of the priests' dues. A minute and particular enumeration of the first-fruits was made, that all might be made fully aware of their obligations, and that none might excuse themselves on pretext of ignorance from withholding taxes which the poverty of many, and the irreligion of others, had made them exceedingly prone to evade. (JFB)
Matthew Henry makes a good point:
III. The general purport of this covenant. They laid upon themselves no other burden than this necessary thing, which they were already obliged to by all other engagements of duty, interest, and gratitudeto walk in God's law, and to do all his commandments, #Ne 10:29. Thus David swore that he would keep God's righteous judgments, #Ps 119:106. Our own covenant binds us to this, if not more strongly, yet more sensibly, than we were before bound, and therefore we must not think it needless thus to bind ourselves. Observe, When we bind ourselves to do the commandments of God we bind ourselves to do all his commandments, and therein to have an eye to him as the Lord and our Lord.
First, they laid upon themselves no other burden than what was necessary under God's clearly defined law.
Second, our covenant through Christ binds us to do God's clearly defined law even more than what these people were bound, Hebrews 12:18-25.
Third, when we bind ourselves to the law of the Lord, we bind ourselves to do all of His commandments. We are not in a Buffett where we can pick and chose what we want to follow.
V. 30, part of the agreement was that they would not intermarry with the surrounding heathens. Even though this law is clearly restated in the New Testament, it is probably one of the most violated of God's laws. (2 cor. 6:14.) I suppose that emotions make one feel that he or she can change the person after they are married. The "love bug" (lust bug) causes people to ignore reality, or makes them thin they will be the exception.
Israel was guilty of intermarriage already, Ezra 9:1.Though they made this agreement in v. 30, they fell back into this sin, Nehemiah 13:23.
V. 31, the sabbath.
They agreed not to do any business on the sabbath. The reason the pagans sell on the "sabbath", is because God's people purchase on the sabbath. They even agreed not to purchase food on the sabbath.
The agreement also included dealing with debt according to God's law.
Keep the sabbath year, release of debt and let the land rest. The Lord carried them off for 70 years to make up for the sabbaths the people had avoided. They learned their lesson, and now covenant to keep the sabbath.
It is a "sorry" people who will not learn from the past, but few do.
They agree to liberally maintain and support God's house. If God's people would do that today, the kingdom of God would expand tremendously, and the world would soon be converted. Of course, the dispensational system says such a thing is impossible, so no need to give that support.
The people agreed to tax themselves for the support of the temple. This tax was over and above the tithe, and was not required by law. They wanted to see the Kingdom of God prosper.
V. 37, the tithes on the increase are due to the Lord