Summary: This series focuses on seven steps to experiencing a renewal of faith based upon the life and ministry of Nehemiah. The series uses the acrostic R.E.B.U.I.L.D. to build each week towards the final session.
Session Six: “Leading through Commitment”
Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 10
As you begin this session with your group, consider opening this session with a discussion of things that people in your group have signed up for…and soon wanted out of! The idea here is magazine subscriptions, CD Music Clubs, or gym memberships. Once the group has had an opportunity to share some fun stories that help to break the ice, transition into the session with the introductory remarks below.
Session Transition: Well as we turn our attention to Nehemiah once again, this week we are going to focus on the commitments that are required when we desire to walk by faith in Christ…but these are commitments that we’ll never regret and never want to take back!
As we return to our journey through Nehemiah this week, I want us to consider our diagram that has guided our study. As we begin our session together this week, we are now in our 6th week of walking through the book of Nehemiah with the intent of discovering some key steps for experiencing revival and the renewal of our faith. And there on your diagram on the outline…you can see how far up the steps we have made it.
Recognize – Examine – Believe – United Focus – Identify God’s Word – Lead with Commitment
Review of the Story of Nehemiah
Before we get into our session, let’s do a quick review of what we’ve observed over the past 6 weeks and across 10 chapters of Nehemiah.
• We started out with Nehemiah’s brokenness over the situation in Israel as he was moved to pray, fast, and mourn over their plight.
• We read as Nehemiah walked through the destruction and issued the challenge, “Let us rise and build”.
• Before long everyone was working…each with a special task to complete the wall.
• As they faced ridicule, they declared together “God will fight for us”.
• And as the wall was completed, they returned to the Word of God with Ezra reading the law (that’s what our session last Wednesday evening covered).
• And now we arrive at Chapter 10…where the people renew their commitments to the Lord.
Session Goal: And as we study together this week, what I want us to discover in this session is that our renewal in faith REQUIRES that we take the lead in our own relationship with Christ and that responsibility for taking a lead role in our own growth means that we must make commitments. And so everything in this session is about our “commitments”.
I. Leading with a Commitment to His Word
God offers us a guide for the commitments we make in following after Him.
Read Nehemiah 10:28-29
Group Discussion Opportunity: I want you to think of some rules that your parents had for you when you were growing – maybe rules that you chose not to enforce quite as strictly with your own children. Can any of you think of a rule or chore that you had to do that was pretty tough growing up?
Purpose of Discussion: Just as we all had rules growing up, what God’s people had neglected was the fact that living for God involves obeying His rules too! Sure we live by grace…but that doesn’t mean we can neglect His instructions either! And so here the people agree to COMMIT to His Word!
Who are all these people listed in Nehemiah 10?
As the people agree to commit to God’s Word as their sole guide for life and practice…it isn’t a quiet, private commitment. It’s a very public one. In fact, it was a ceremony complete with signatures and a seal. And the names listed here (for the most part) are the heads of tribes/households. Scholars tell us that most of these are names of individuals that came with the first return from exile, while some must have come much later because they are not mentioned until here. But the point is this – when it came to them making a commitment to God – it was a VERY public event!
And just in case those that signed thought they were excluded…Nehemiah said, “Now the rest of the people…” and so in one sweeping gesture…he helps us to see that this was going to be a church wide, community wide commitment.
Focusing on the Text Question: And what does vs. 29 tell us that they entered into?
Answer: Various versions rendered different ways, but essentially, “a curse and an oath”.
Question for Thought: As we read that…we have to ask… “Why did they include a curse?” Sure, we can understand the “oath” part of it, but not the curse!
The truth is…this was a covenant between the people and God. Covenant agreements (between kings and nations) in the ancient world included blessings for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking it. And in the same way, God’s covenant with Israel was presented in the same terms.