Summary: Sermon #5 in the Nehemiah Series from chapter 10 deals with the four vows made by the people of Israel after listening to the reading of the Law.
#5 in the Nehemiah series: Nehemiah chapters 10-12
CHCC: June 1, 2008
Nehemiah 10 is a chapter about Sacred Vows. If you’ve been keeping up with this series on the book of Nehemiah, you know that for over 100 years Jewish Exiles had been returning from Babylon to Israel. These exiles had resettled the land. They rebuilt the Temple and re-established Temple Worship. When Nehemiah came, they rebuilt the Walls. In Chapters 8 and 9 the People heard the reading of their Books of Law.
Most of them had never heard God’s Word read in their lives. Now that they understand what God expected from them, the people made a set of VOWS to the Lord. Can you remember the last time you made a VOW? If you are married, that may the last time because we don’t do a lot of Vow-making these days; now we just sign on the dotted line.
The Bible gives many examples of people making Vows to God. But it’s not something to be taken lightly. Numbers 30:2 says, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. Ecclesiastes 5:4 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.
So, to make a vow and break it is to be a fool. If we are going to make a Vow to God, we need to give careful thought to what we are promising, and then fulfill it as soon as we can … before we forget or something gets in our way. Even though it’s dangerous to MAKE a vow, I think it’s more dangerous to NEVER make promises to God. It’s like that old saying, “If you plan to go nowhere, you’ll probably get there.”
The Vows found in Nehemiah 10 are the kind of promises every Christian needs to take seriously. The first one is found in Nehemiah 10:29. All the people --- that included the men and women and the youth who were old enough to understand --- all these people bound themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord. Nehemiah 10:29
In other words, they made a Vow to Live the Right Way.
1. Vows for Right Living
What are the chances that all these people would perfectly keep that Vow? None of us can live up to the standard of the LAW. That’s why Jesus came to pay the price of our inevitable failure. These people weren’t proclaiming themselves to be super-saints who would never fall short. But they WERE showing that they were serious about doing what God said. They were willing for God’s curses to fall on them if they turned away from His Word.
I wonder if we are that serious about following God’s Word today? Pledging to OBEY God’s Word is a promise worth making. It means we’re not going to look anywhere else for our definition of what is RIGHT and what is WRONG. We’re not going to follow popular culture and let Oprah or Dr. Phil tell us what’s politically correct or practically expedient for the moment. The problem with the “mood du jour” is that it rarely lasts longer than a nano-second and is then replaced by the next trendy idea. Let’s face it, there is no permanent foundation in the shifting mores of popular culture. How can we possibly pen our lives, our hopes, our future on something so unstable as what we hear on tv or radio these days.
The latest proposal coming out of our Texas state legislature is the creation of a mandatory parenting class for all public school kids starting this fall. Using the same logic that promotes mass condom distribution to all teens, the assumption is that 55 thousand pregnant girls a year in Texas mandates parenting classes to all boys and girls assuming that since they will have babies anyway, they might as well learn how to parent them. And once again, we make decisions based on the lowest common denominator which is the assumption that most kids will do wrong so we must accommodate their foolishness rather than encouraging them to live according to a higher standard of living. My suspicion is that parenting classes aimed at younger and younger kids, will only promote growth in the number of early teen pregnancies. Teach a 12 year old girl how to parent, and you might just inspire her to go out and make a baby.
What makes the word of God and the laws of God so valuable is the fact that they have held up so well to millinea of scrutiny. The problem these days, is not that the Bible has been proven itself to be unreliable, but that society has proven itself to be woefully illiterate to what the Bible actually teaches. So often, those who critique the Bible can’t even quote even a verse of it correctly. When the people of Nehemiah’s day finally heard God’s law for themselves, they willingly bound themselves, by oath, to live by it. And in doing so, they gave a solid underpinning to their whole society.