Nehemiah 10:1-39


Verse 1-27 - The sealing of the covenant.  Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah, {2} Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, {3} Pashur, Amariah, Malchijah, {4} Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, {5} Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, {6} Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, {7} Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, {8} Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah: these were the priests. {9} And the Levites: both Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; {10} And their brethren, Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, {11} Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah, {12} Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, {13} Hodijah, Bani, Beninu. {14} The chief of the people; Parosh, Pahathmoab, Elam, Zatthu, Bani, {15} Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, {16} Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, {17} Ater, Hizkijah, Azzur, {18} Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, {19} Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, {20} Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, {21} Meshezabeel, Zadok, Jaddua, {22} Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, {23} Hoshea, Hananiah, Hashub, {24} Hallohesh, Pileha, Shobek, {25} Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, {26} And Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, {27} Malluch, Harim, Baanah. {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;


A Concise History

Leading Up To

The Events Of This Day.


I.    II Chron. 36:22,23 - Cyrus, king of Persia, gave commandment that any Jews who wanted to would be allowed to return to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple of God.


II.   The book of Ezra contains the history of Israel when they rebuild the temple.


III. Nehemiah 6:15 - The wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt under the leadership of Nehemiah.


IV. Nehemiah 7 - A registry of Jews was compiled.


V.  Nehemiah 8 - There began an intensive reading of the Word of God.  The information gain lead to joyful worship and a longing to know more about God.


VI. Nehemiah 8:14-18 - The Feast of Booths was celebrated in the 7th month from the 15th day to the 22nd day.

A.  On the 23rd day of the 7th month is a holy day and giving of burnt offerings (Lev. 23:33-44).

1.   When the Jews had observed this commandment, there was great rejoicing (Neh. 8:17) as there always is when we do what God says.

2.   God's commands are meant to bring us pleasure and peace.

3.   Satan offers pleasure for a season, but the final fruits are ruin and destruction.

B.   Chapter 9 opens on the 24th day of the 7th month.

1.   All the days of worship are over, but the Jews desire more worship of God, so they are again assembled for worship when they would normally be working.

2.   For the Christian, obeying God brings the desire for more obedience.

a.   Neh. 9:3-30 - Reading the Bible does two things.

1.   We worship God more and more.

2.   We see the justice, love, and mercy of God in dealing with our sins.

b.   Neh. 9:31 - The mercy of God kept Him from totally destroying them.

c.   Neh. 9:32 - God is a promise keeping God.

d.   Neh. 9:33 - God is a just God.

e.   Neh. 9:38 - A desire to make a covenant.

C.   It's one thing to know what we ought to do, but quite another to do something about it.

1.   The covenant made as a result of a chain of events.  The chain of events in our lives will either cause us to go away from God or toward Him.

2.   The covenant is made for their sake and their children's sake.  What we do with our religion will affect our children.

3.   A sure covenant - One that will never be recanted.

4.   A person with true religious convictions will not be ashamed to put his signature on them.  Let our minds not deceive us into thinking we are faithful when we are not.


The Sealing of the Covenant


I.    Those that were sealed.  (These are not all of the people, but representatives of the people.  Compare 10:14 {Parosh} with 7:8.)

A.  Nehemiah signed first.  The leader should always go before his people setting a good example.

B.   Verse 2-8 - 22 priests.  Spiritual leaders must also set the proper example.

1.   The list of priests of Neh. 8:7 and 10:2-8 are similar.

2.   The priests gave understanding of God's Word because they understood it.

C.   Verse 9-13 - 17 Levites.

D.  Verse 14-27 - 44 of the chief of the people.

1.   Most of the heads of families mentioned here are also found in 7:8-62.

2.   These were the ones concerned enough to leave Babylon with an eye to rebuilding Jerusalem.

3.   They have not left their zeal for God.

E.   Verse 28 - The rest of the people.

1.   I do not think all the people sealed the covenant, but they were certainly in agreement with it.

2.   Verses 28-39 give details of the covenant which all the people agree to.

3.   Separated - The people must separate themselves from the followers of this world.

4.   All those that had knowledge and understanding - These are the only ones that will separate themselves.

5.   Acts 2:41-47 - On the Day of Pentecost, saved baptized people clave together for the cause of Christ.  This is happening in the days of Nehemiah.


II.   Some comments about the covenant.

A.  There is a separation from the people of the land unto the law of God.

1.   Anytime the people of God separate themselves successfully from the people of the world, they will always join with the people of God.

2.   Today, there is a great desire by the people of God to mix with the world, but this mixing is not of God.

3.   See Phil. 4:4-8 - When God instructs us to turn our troubles over to Him, He always gives us something to think about.

4.   He never leaves our minds in a vacuum.

B.   What is the difference between knowledge and understanding (wisdom)?

1.   Knowledge is to know, to perceive, find out and discern, to discriminate, distinguish.

2.   Understand (wisdom) is to discern, consider, to perceive, discern, to have discernment, insight, discreet, prudent.

3.   Knowledge always comes first.

4.   A person must have knowledge of the truth, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will follow that truth.

5.   When knowledge includes understanding (wisdom), there will be a comprehension of the consequences of not following that truth.


III. Is it necessary to enter into a covenant like this?  YES!

A.  Ps. 119:106 - David swore to keep the commandments of the Lord.  He was inspired of God to write it down.

B.   Rom. 6:1-6 - Baptism is a public proclamation of accepting Christ as Savior and a turning from sinful ways of the flesh.

C.   A church covenant is a proclamation of what people joining a church will do.

D.  Many times, making a step by step list of our commitments will cause us to more fully understand them.


The four parts of the covenant.


Some introductory remarks:

1.   They cleave to their brothers.

1.   This doesn't mean they "stuck together".

2.   It means they gained strength from each other by clinging together.

3.   There is great strength in unity.

4.   This is why God organized His kind of church during his personal ministry.

5.   The old, old story is told of a man who had dropped out of church, and was visited by the pastor.  The man invited the pastor to sit by the fire and talk.  The pastor wanted to speak frankly to the man about his missing church and how he would grow colder and colder toward God and His Word, but knowing the man was very sensitive and easily offended, he didn't know how to bring the subject up.  Finally, he took the poker and pulled a red hot coal of fire out of the midst of the fire, placing it on the brick hearth.  Slowly, the red hot coal began cooling off, and soon it was black and warm to the touch.  The man then said, I understand, pastor, I'll be back in church.

2.   The seriousness of the covenant - A curse and an oath.

1.   There is no record of what the curse will be.

2.   In Matt. 27:25 the Jews declare that the blood of Jesus Christ will be upon them and their children.

3.   There is no record of what that curse will be.

4.   Unfortunately, they will pay the consequences of their broken oath.


I.    Verse 29, They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

A.  To keep all the commandments God gave to Moses.

1.   This part of the covenant would have been enough because the other four parts of the covenant are included in this first part.

2.   The other parts of the covenant are included with special emphasis because the Jews realize these are the things that got their ancestors in trouble.

B.   To walk in God's law.

1.   This is the whole of any agreement we might make between ourselves and God.

2.   This is not a collection of what we think is right and wrong, but what God says is right or wrong.

3.   Other particulars were added to the covenant according to the sins that lead them astray from God.

C.   Verse 29 - Observe and do.

1.   They were full of desire and emphasized that saying or knowing God's law did no good.

2.   They must be active participants in fulfilling God's law every day they lived.

D.  What is the difference between commandments, judgments and statutes?

1.   Commandments - the commandment of God, which is a code of wisdom.  This refers to the actual law of God, and infers that the law is good for man to live by.

2.   Judgment - This refers to the wisdom God would use in deciding the case as if God were the judge and Israel were the defendants in a court of law.  Israel declares they will not contest any of God's decrees while He is acting as judge over them.

3.   Statue - an ordinance, limit, or something prescribed, due, portion, limit, or boundary.  An enactment, decree, ordinance, conditions, enactments, or decree.  This refers to the decree God would make concerning Israel when He is acting as judge in a court of law.

4.   A commandment and a statue is different in that the commandment was given first.  Israel would break that commandment (law), then God would judge them.  The action God took at that point would be called a statue, because it is made as a result of breaking a commandment.

D.  Refer to Nehemiah 13 for the breaking of this part of the covenant.


II.   Verse 30, And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons:

A.  There would be no interfaith marriage.

1.   This is a curse upon any Godly society.  It doesn't hurt the heathen for their religion is a mixture of Satanic worship anyway.

2.   Gen. 6 - this was one of the sins that lead to the destruction of the world by water.

3.   Luke 17:26 - Interfaith marriage is a sign of the last days.

a.   Doesn't this sin plague our society and churches today?

b.   Doesn't this sin lead to unhappy married couples and children being confused?  They are taken by one parent to one church and to another church by the other parent.  The children finally decide all religion is false and won't go at all.

c.   There is no foundation of right and wrong; therefore, marriages fail, children rebel, and society crumbles.  Many people are so far removed from the Bible that they don't know why these things are happening.  Worldly "experts" appear (Bill Cosby, Phil Donahue) and the world gets farther and farther away from God, worse and worse off and nobody will listen to the Bible preachers because they view the Bible as an old book and people are seeking new things.  They won't listen to the Bible anyway because the Bible is God's Word and people have largely forsaken and rejected God.

B.   Refer to Nehemiah 13:23 for the breaking of this part of the covenant.


III. Verse 31, And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. - There would be no buying or selling on the Sabbath day and the return of the Jewish economy.

A.  Buying and selling on the Sabbath day. (The day set aside to worship God.)

1.   To many "Christians" this is a very small thing, so small that a preacher is being petty if he mentions it.  Many "Christians" would accuse the preacher of being "legalistic".

2.   The Jews counted this as one of the things that led them into disobedience.

3.   Today, we would like to serve God while continuing to forsake giving one day a week to the Lord, like the world does.

4.   The paradox is:  Nobody wants to work on Sunday, but almost everybody wants to shop and buy on Sunday.

a.   People want to shop and buy on Sunday because it is a means of relaxation (breaking the work week monotony).

b.   They have forgotten the way of truly breaking the working monotony is totally forsaking the things of the world for one day with true spiritual worship (Spiritual rest).

c.   This is the means of true refreshing, renewal, and satisfaction.  Also a means of finding help in dealing with difficult situations during the week.

5.   Since people desire to shop and buy on Sundays, the shopkeepers open their stores (Therefore they can't go to church) to accommodate the people and make a profit.

B.   The return to the Jewish economy.

1.   II Chron. 36:20,21 - The reason Israel went into captivity was because they forsook God's economic plan for the nation.  They wanted to be like all the other nations.

2.   Perhaps the Jews had gained some knowledge from reading the Word of God!

3.   I Cor. 10:11 - The Bible was given for our admonition.  May God help us to use it that way.

C.   Refer to Nehemiah 13:15 for the breaking of this part of the covenant.

D.  Some comments about buying and selling on Sunday.

1.   I realize Sunday is not the Sabbath, for that is Saturday.  I further realize that we are not Jews, but Gentiles.  I also realize that we are not under obligation to obey the law as the Jews were.  Still, we must understand that the law is a good law.  It was given by God for the benefit of His people.

2.   These United States of America was founded upon Christian principles.  I know this fact is being changed in present day history, but it is a fact, nevertheless.  One of the Christian principles this nation had in its beginning was that the first day of the week was comparable to the Jewish Sabbath and was a day of rest.  Not just rest for the body by abstaining from physical labor, but a day of rest for the soul as religious services were attended and the mind dwelling on the things of God.  Shops were closed so the shop owner and his employees could have this day of rest.  Emergency (doctors, nurses, hospitals, and fire departments, etc;) and community services (electricity, water, and sewer, etc;) continued operating on this day of rest, not as a matter of convenience, but a matter of necessity.  This is a well documented fact as anyone can discover who has heard of "blue laws", some still existing in this year, 1992.  It would also be good to talk to any person over 50 years of age, who would also confirm that in their youth, the vast majority of shops were closed on Sunday.

3.   Here is how the change took place.  In the larger cities, people would go to religious services in the morning, then want something to do in the afternoon, since they weren't going to give a whole day to the Lord.  They would encourage businesses to stay open, then insist they stay open.  This trend slowly trickled down to the rural areas, until today almost every business stays open on Sunday.  I remember when Walmart closed on Sunday, and put up a sign stating they were closing on this day so their employees could attend services, and they encouraged the person reading the sign to attend the church of their choice.  Walmart begin to open Sunday afternoons, and now they are open 7 days a week, and in some areas, won't hire a person if they refuse to work on Sunday.  I have talked to shop owners, who tell me they would rather close on Sunday, but there are many shoppers who insist they remain open.  Some of these shop owners tell me they have more shoplifting on Sunday than any other day, because there are so many people in their shops, they can't watch people as well.  If their store is located in a mall, they are required by the mall to be open.  At this present writing, even many banks are open for business.  There are times when it is necessary to purchase something on Sunday, but the vast majority of times, I purchase something on Sunday I forgot to purchase on Saturday.

E.   Leave the seventh year.

1.   Leviticus 25:4-7 - The Jews will leave their fields untilled each seventh year.

2.   The food that grew of itself was not to be gathered by the landowner, but left for the poor of the land.

3.   To not have any income for one year out of seven requires a great deal of faith.  More faith, likely, than any of us have.  To those people who believe the Jews served God by keeping the law, try this "law" on for size.  Many people today, especially those who believe we live in the "dispensation of grace", do not serve God by faith, because they live by sight.  Many people find it too difficult to not work on Sunday, much less not to work for one year!

4.   Seven years is a long time ahead.  It is easy to make decisions if you don't have to follow that decision for awhile.  But there will come a day when every decision will come due.  It is perfectly evident the Jews didn't "leave the seventh year", but their intentions were very honorable, and they did mean it when they said it.  So it is with us.  We make great and honorable statements about what we are going to do in the future, but when that time comes, and the excitement that surrounded the decision is gone, oftentimes we find it isn't "convenient" to keep our vows.

F.   Deut. 15:1,2 - The exaction (forgiving) of every Israelite debt.

1.   Under the Jewish economy, every debt was forgiven on the seventh year.

2.   This is not the year of Jubilee, (leviticus 25:8-17) which occurred every 50 years.


IV. Verse 32-39, There would be a re-establishment of the support of the House of God and the Levites.  These verses show that these Jews had learned a very valuable lesson: that the house of God must not be forsaken.  They had learned that in order for every person to be right with God, the public worship of God must be right.  This needs to be learned today.  Many forsake the public assemblies saying they can worship just as good at home.  The truth is, they won't continue worshipping at home.  God has so designed man that he needs the continuing confirmation of public worship.

A.  Verse 32,33, Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; {33} For the showbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.

1.   Verse 32 - The people decided to charge themselves a yearly rate for the upkeep of the House of God.  (1/3 of a shekel is about the average days wage for 10 days.)

2.   The use of this "tax" is found in verse 33, to supply all the necessities of temple worship.

3.   This is the first time that a yearly assessment was to be charged to the people for the upkeep of the temple.

4.   Exodus 30:13 tells about a half shekel assessment payable at the census, but this wasn't done very often.

5.   How long this "tax" was paid I don't know, but it wasn't being collected in Nehemiah 13.

B.   Verse 34-37, And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law: {35} And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD: {36} Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God: {37} And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

1.   Verse 34 - A new thing - That the wood would be supplied by chosen people.

2.   The custom seems to be that the 14th day of each month is the "wood offering".

C.   Verse 38,39, And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house. {39} For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

D.  Verse 35-39 - A return to the tithe as declared by God.

1.   The proper administration of the temple worship will be able to continue.

2.   That the priest would be able to do the necessary work of the temple without the temptation to neglect the necessity of their families.  Many pastors families suffer because of lack of giving by church members.  So it was with the priests and their families in those days.

E.   The return of the first fruit offerings.  Mal. 3:8,9 - They had been robbing God to the destruction of their own spiritual lives, the lives of their children, and the life of their own nation.

F.   Refer to Nehemiah 13:10 for the breaking of this part of the covenant.