Read Nehemiah 10:30-39. What are four things the Israelites pledged to do as part of the renewed covenant?
The people pledged the following:
1. No mixed marriages (no marriage to an individual who could lead one into idolatry);
2. True Sabbath observance (no distractions through business transactions);
3. Debt cancelation and Sabbatical year observance to care for the poor and give them freedom;
4. Financially supporting the temple, its services, and personnel through bringing the firstfruits, the firstborn, and the tithe, thus ensuring the continuation of true worship.
The first three pledges related to relationships with others (marriage and debt cancellation) and with God (Sabbath), while the last one (Neh. 10:32-39) deals with temple regulations.
The goal of the community was to demonstrate that they were committed to the covenant, and therefore would implement practical ways of building their relationship with God and others. Even if they didn’t always keep the covenant perfectly, they understood that right habits and practices would influence the future. If the Israelite nation was going to get on the right path, they had to establish practices and habits that would be conducive to where they wanted to be. If they wanted to have a close walk with God, then making the Sabbath important and taking care of the temple were important steps in that direction.
Unfortunately, they didn’t keep their pledges very well, as demonstrated in the last chapters of Nehemiah. Yet, even if everyone didn’t keep them, some or many people did. With God’s help and keeping our focus on Him, we can develop the right habits and stick to the right path.
|“Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith” – Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 48. What’s holding you back from experiencing what’s written here?|