Summary: Exposition of Neh 9:38-10:39 about the covenant signing commitment ceremony that the people made as a culmination of the revival that began in Neh 8.
Text: Nehemiah 9:38-10:39, Title: Sealing the Deal, Date/Place: NRBC, 12/23/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: talk about that conversation that James Boice had with his psychiatrist friend about why people have a lot of counseling but rarely any real change—Boice Comm p. 106
B. Background to passage: If you remember from three weeks ago, the post-exilic Israelites under the command of Nehemiah have miraculously rebuilt the city walls in 52 days. Then they began laying the groundwork for revival in seven, and revival came in eight with the reading of the Law of God, and rededication of the fathers. Then revival carried on with a great corporate confession and repentance. Now is the time for action. Following their confession the people make a fresh commitment to God not only in general terms, but with specific things that they are vowing to uphold. Things which they felt had led to their chastisement in Babylon. The list of names contains government leaders, priests, Levites, family heads, and “all the rest.” They cut and sealed an agreement expressing their desire and determination to change their ways with God’s help and support.
C. Main thought: in the text we will look at the three main commitments made during this revival
A. Honoring the Lord through marriage (v. 30)
1. In Exodus 34:12-16, God forbids marriage with the peoples of the land. However, the people of Israel had been doing it ever since they entered into the land. Samson, David, Solomon, Ahab, just to name a few. But let’s clarify, the purpose of this prohibition is not a racial concern, for some mixed ethnic marriages were blessed of God—Moses, Boaz, etc. The purpose was to keep the faith pure. The family is the main vehicle of passing on the faith to future generations. And to marry outside the faith was to invite compromise, apostasy, and hindrance to the faith into one’s home. So they promised not to do that.
2. Eph 5:22-35, 2 Cor 6:14-16,
3. Illustration: the discussion we had the other night at the Christmas Party for Don/Charles’ class about mixed marriages, tell about Scott and Lanie’s marriage that I would not do, tell about compromises that result in beliefs that are not shared, the statistics about broken marriages are taking their toll on the number of children and grandchildren apostatizing from the faith, story about the church who disciplined a member because of her engagement to an unbeliever,
4. Christians cannot forsake the family as the most basic unit and also expect to pass on the faith to future generations. Marriage is important, and we won’t go on about that too much, for the state of marriage inside the church of Jesus Christ is pathetic. This is one of the reasons that our churches are relatively devoid of young couples, because we have married our daughters and sons to non-believers. The question I usually get is “what do you think about mixed marriages” but there is little concern about faith. First, we have failed in raising children that do not care about whether or not their spouse is a believer, and secondly we have failed in taking a stand ourselves. Listen, young men and ladies, and parents, if you come to me and say, “Pastor, will you marry us.” And… You will get the same marriage policy that everyone else has. But worse is the decision to try to live a life like that. You are signing your kids’ spiritual death certificates barring a miracle from God in a home with half-faith. And don’t bring home someone that is kinda Christian, but one who is sold out for Christ. And parents, even if you have not led by example continue to instill the proper take on things like this. But she will get mad at me, well so be it! Maybe you will save her a divorce or two or three. We must strive to make our own marriages and the marriages of our children reflect Christ for the kingdom’s sake.