Read Nehemiah 5:12-13. Why does Nehemiah pronounce a curse against those who do not uphold their part of the agreement?
Even though the leaders agree to restore and give back what they have confiscated, Nehemiah is not satisfied with mere words. He needs solid proof; therefore, he makes them swear an oath before the priests. This action also gave the proceedings legal validity in case he had to reference the agreement later.
But why does he pronounce a curse? Nehemiah performs a symbolic act of gathering up his garments as if to hold something in them and then shaking them out as a sign of losing it. Thus, those who would go against this oath would lose everything. It was customary to utter curses in order to impress upon others the significance of a certain law or rule. The people were also less likely to go against the law when a curse was associated with the breaking of it. Nehemiah apparently felt that this was such an important issue that he needed to do something drastic in order to enhance the probability of its success.
What do the following texts in the Old Testament teach us about the sanctity of oaths for these people? (Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23; Eccl. 5:4-5; Lev. 19:12; Gen. 26:31).
In the end, speech is a powerful gift that God has given to humans; it exists as something radically different from what animals have. And there is power in our words, the power even of life and death. Hence we need to be very careful in what we say, in what we promise to do, and in what verbal commitments we make. It’s also important that our deeds match our words. How many people have been turned off to Christianity by those whose words sound Christian but whose actions are anything but?
|Think about just how much impact your words have on others. How can we learn to be very careful in what we say, when we say it, and how we say it?|