Summary: The four major decisions you need to make in life - (1) submission to God's Word, (2) separation from the world, (3) Sabbath for God's people, and (4) support for God's work.
Do you sometimes wish that you can wipe the slate clean and start all over again?
• Like after messing up a drawing or a writing, you can crush the paper and start with a clean sheet?
• Or your computer hit by viruses and you were unable to get rid of them, you can format the whole hard disk and reinstall everything new.
• It’s good to be able to do that in life too, right? It feels good, to be able to set your RESTORE POINT back to, say, 1995 when everything was good.
Suppose you are given that chance to start life on a clean slate, what would you do? I mean, what would you want to put them back into this life?
• You are wiser by then, having learnt the mistakes. You know what are important and necessary, and what not to put back in.
The people of Israel was given that chance, in a sense. When Ezra and Nehemiah led them back to the homeland after 70 years of captivity in a foreign land.
• Back in Jerusalem, they have the chance to rebuild their nation and their lives from scratch, literally.
• They have to rebuild the Temple, the city walls and their homes.
It is interesting to note therefore what they pledged to do.
• With all the wisdom and experience that they’ve gained over the generations, let read what they are going to do.
Read Nehemiah 10:28-39. The people MADE AN AGREEMENT with God.
It all started from Chapter 8 when the people gathered to listen to the Book of the Law being read out to them – the Pentateuch.
• [BTW we are launching a Bible Reading plan beginning 1 June and we’ll read through these 5 books.]
• The people knew they had sinned against God. Their forefathers had chosen to disobey God and they had tasted the consequence of it.
• The whole of Chapter 9 was their response to hearing God’s Word – a prayer of confession, of their sin and of God’s goodness and compassion shown to them.
Chapter 10 – they decided to make an agreement with God. This is what they are going to do as they rebuild their lives before God.
• They made FOUR decisions. They are determined to do this 4 things – (1) submit to God’s ways, (2) be separated from the world, (3) observe the Sabbath (honour God) and (4) support God’s work and never to neglect God’s church again.
This is worthy our attention today. The first thing they mentioned in verse 29 is to FOLLOW the Law of God and OBEY carefully all He commands.
1. SUBMISSION to God’s Word
They were the living testimony of the fruit of their nation’s disobedience to God.
If His Word is true, if it is good, right and perfect, then the only rational response must be one of submission.
• If God is all-knowing and all-wise, then it makes good sense to listen and obey Him. The people learnt it the hard way.
• Man has chosen to take detours, rather than the straight and narrow path. They had taken the long route to where God wants them to be.
Submission to God is giving due honour to God, because His Word and ways are true, right, good and perfect.
• To doubt that (and therefore disobeying Him) is a great dishonour to His character. What God delights in is to see this submissive heart in us.
Did you notice that this is what He looks for in a man (throughout the Scriptures)?
• 2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
• Look at all those whom the Lord has called, throughout the Scriptures. There is no record of God choosing the talented, the skilful, the strong or the wise.
• In fact, we have records mostly of the called ones being fearful, unprepared, feeling small and not confident - like Moses, Gideon, Mary…
This is what the Lord is looking for – the right heart. One of SUBMISSION.
• The depth of their submission determines their impact. The more they trust God, the great the miracles they see.
• The depth of our submission to God determines the impact of our lives.
• God is not looking all over the earth for strong people, for perfect people, for smart people, or even for religious people.
God looks for the shepherds rather than the Pharisees. He is looking for submissive people; empty vessels whom He can pour His strength out on. Are you one?
The second thing they commit to is in verse 30: "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.”