Obey the Lord
It’s one thing to offer God a passionate prayer of confession, like we see in Nehemiah 9, but quite another to live an obedient life after we say “Amen.” What happens after the “Amen” really matters! Sometimes we pray it and forget it; but God is looking for obedience, maturity, authentic life change.
As Nehemiah 9 comes to an end, the Israelites made a commitment to obey the Lord going forward. 38 “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.” Nehemiah 9:38
How do we know the Israelites weren’t just giving God lip service? Because they were willing to sign their names on the dotted line; they were willing to take an oath, committing fully to obey the Lord. And that was a big deal! (Ref. Num. 30:2).
From the Israelites, we see Three Evidences of Obedience to God… and we can learn a lot from their commitment too!
1) Yielding to the Word of God (Nehemiah 10:1-27, 29)
Nehemiah 10 starts with the names of all the Israelites who sealed the binding agreement to honor God and obey Him going forward. The whole community seemed to be on board! 29 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. Nehemiah 10:29
Our heavenly Father desires all who believe to want to obey Him; and not because we fear Him or His punishment, but because we love Him and want to honor Him in every area of our lives. Whenever I did anything wrong growing up, it was never the punishment I feared from my parents, but the disappointment I feared seeing in their eyes. That mindset can inspire us to obey our Lord too. (Ref. Colossians 3:1-2)
We really don’t need to sign an oath to obey God. Warren Wiersbe writes: “We don’t succeed as Christ-followers because we make promises to God, but because we believe the promises of God and act on them.”
2) Uniting As the People of God (Nehemiah 10:28-29; 30-31)
Israel was surrounded by Gentile nations who pulled and tugged them to follow their gods and embrace their religions. But the law of Moses prohibited the Israelites from living like the Gentiles, and clearly from embracing their religious practices. The Hebrews were to be set apart, which is why they highlighted marrying fellow Israelites and honoring the Sabbath. No doubt that God desires Christ-followers honor the practices of marrying fellow believers and honoring the Sabbath too. (Ref: 2 Cor. 6:16; 7:1; 1 Cor. 7:12-17; Ex. 20:8; Matt. 6:33)
3) Supporting the House of God (Nehemiah 10:32-39)
39 …“We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39
The Israelites were renewing their commitment to support the house of the Lord, which for them was the temple in Jerusalem. Now to be clear, God doesn’t live in the buildings we construct to worship Him. By His Spirit, He dwells in all who by faith profess Christ as Savior; we are His temple, His dwelling place. But there is no doubt that how we care for our church buildings, and even our own bodies, communicates something about what we believe about God.
The Israelites promised to support the temple in four distinct ways… I’ll mention two in particular that can apply to Christ-followers today.
The First Fruits
35 “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree. Nehemiah 10:35
The Jews were taught to give God the first and the best! This is a model we can follow today. God deserves far more than our leftovers or cast aways; He deserves the best we have to offer of our time, talents and treasures. Are you giving God the best you have to offer? (Ref. Prov. 3:9)
37 …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… 39… “We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:37;39
The Israelites were committed not to just one tithe, but three! While Christ-followers live under the new covenant, we know that proportionate giving is commended in the New Testament. (Ref. 1 Cor. 16:2). But what matters most is that we recognize that we are stewards of all God has given us and we must make wise use of it. If people under the law of Moses could give three tithes, then how much more can we, living under the new covenant of God’s amazing grace in Jesus Christ offer Him? (2 Cor. 8:7-9)
For much more, click here to listen to: Resolute - Part 8 - Obey the Lord!