Summary: A covenant will always cost something. Whether it is personal comfort, self-pleasures, or anything in between. Your moment of decision will cost you something.
Trunk or treat
We are at a point where God had used Nehemiah and given him direction on many certain issues. Some of which were in the physical realm and some were in the spiritual realm. God has used Nehemiah to lead the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem for protection and safety. He had to resolve conflict among some of the different men of the city. He led them through conflicts with the opposition and encouraged them to look out for each other as they continued to work towards a common goal. He instructed them not to come down from the wall (their ministry) to entertain the enemy. He led them into worship as they stood as one, under The Word.
But now it was time to go further. Their job and obligation was going to have to change. They were still worshipping God, but now that the ‘physcial work’ was done which would keep them busy and focused, now they were going to have to work in the spirit realm and do ‘spiritual work.’ The Bible says idle hands are the devil’s workshop. The spiritual job is the most difficult task that we have. Nehemiah knew this and he had them sign a covenant against sin.
The importance of covenants is emphasized by the fact that some form of the word covenant is found 555 times in the standard works, almost as often as faith (627 occurrences) or repent (628 occurrences). The Lord has called the fulness of the gospel “the covenant” and the “everlasting covenant.”
The verb karat (make in NASB) means “cut off, cut down,” Karat occurs ninety times in the Hebrew Bible in reference to making covenants. Some of your Bibles might say ‘agreement’ and some might say ‘covenant.’ In a few of these instances, only karat is found in the Hebrew text; the King James translators added “covenant” so the English text would make sense. In Nehemiah’s day, they understood that to make an agreement, or covenant, required some type of cutting of an animal which would ‘bind’ an agreement between people.
An example of ‘cutting’ in a covenant would be…
Genesis 17:9-11 (NASB)-- 9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
Genesis 17:14 (NASB)-- 14 But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Circumcision was the symbol of the covenant with God. Those who were circumcised were able to receive the blessings and privileges and responsibilities of God’s Word. Those who were not, would not receive any of this from God. As a matter of fact, they were to be cut off and separated from the people. There were consequences to being cut off from the people and from God.
A COVENANT WILL ALWAYS COST SOMETHING. WHETHER IT IS PERSONAL COMFORT, SELF-PLEASURES, OR ANYTHING IN BETWEEN. YOUR MOMENT OF DECISION WILL COST YOU SOMETHING. COUNT THE COST TO SEE IF IT'S WORTH IT!
These people in Nehemiah's day knew what covenants were all about, and how important they were to God. They remembered God made a covenant with Abraham, promising that both a nation and the Messiah would descend from him; God made a covenant with Moses and the nation of Israel when He gave them the law at Mount Sinai; God made a covenant with King David, promising the Messiah would come from his family. But the greatest covenant, the New Covenant instituted by the Messiah, was yet to come.
With everyone of these covenants, there was a cost. A sacrifice that had to be made. The priests, the Levites, singers, and all those who had an understanding of who God is made a public proclamation by partaking in the covenant. They agreed that if they should fall away, they are willing to take the punishment that is thrust upon them. Many of us have privately attempted to make a covenant with God, but most people defiantly refuse to make this covenant because they don’t want to give up anything in this world.
Probably the most famous document in American history is the Declaration of Independence. Our forefathers signed it setting forth the reasons why they felt God was leading them to establish a new nation upon this continent.
For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.