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“Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.”

Why would you go to the trouble of some type of formal written document to express your rededication to covenant obligations? Writing something down accomplishes several things:

– It proves you are serious about what you are promising – that is why we have written treaties and contracts; you are familiar with the expression: “I want that in writing.” Look at the famous documents of our country – The Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights

– It makes your commitment concrete and specific. Too often we make some type of general promise that is so broad and vague we never follow through.

– It raises the level of accountability. You can measure whether the promises have been kept.

The people of Nehemiah’s day had allowed the Word of God to penetrate their hearts and expose their failures of the past. They now wanted to start fresh and commit themselves to obeying the will of God. This was a major point of consecration for the nation.

You might be at a point in your life where some form of rededication is needed.

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Some churches emphasize the need for Christians at some point in their spiritual walk to come to a crisis point dedication or rededication moment when they fully embrace the Lordship of Jesus Christ and submit to His will. In some circles this is associated with very strong emotional pleas and altar call types of public commitments. While we might want to caution against some of the emotional excess, we don’t want to minimize the need for personal commitment; for consecration; for rededication.

Cf. Bible conference: Resolved (June in Palm Springs) – Background from the life of Jonathan Edwards: Resolved means what it sounds like: it’s a deliberate, committed disposition.

As a 19-year old in the mid-1700s, Jonathan Edwards became serious about the direction of his life. He began to understand the nature of God, and what he discovered was both delightful and disturbing. The more he investigated the infinite tributaries of God’s nature, the more he unearthed his own sinfulness. From then on, the weight of God’s glory became the gravity of his life. He was compelled to respond.

So he sat down with a quill and paper and wrote out a series of commitments. These were simple statements, conclusions, and commitments forged in the immensity of God and the trauma of His holiness. All of them began with the same word—”Resolved”.

The Resolved conference is a call for a new generation to live with the same resolve.

What specific changes in behavior is God calling you to make in your life? It’s great to pledge in general with the people of God that you are committed to obeying all of God’s Word. But the proof of such dedication will be seen in the specific reforms you make – walking by faith, relying on the grace and power of God to transform your life.


A. (:1) Political Representatives – Leaders must lead by example

“Now on the sealed document were the names of: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah,”

The “and” indicates that the first 2 are a distinct group from the list of priests that follow

Nehemiah had no problem putting his “John Hancock” first on the document – clearly stating his intentions.

As every schoolboy knows, the biggest, boldest and most defiant signature on the Declaration of Independence was scrawled by John Hancock of Massachusetts. So completely did it overshadow the autographs of the other founding fathers that the term ‘John Hancock’ has become synonymous with ‘signature’ and each of us at the one time or another has spoken of ‘putting his ‘John Hancock’ at the bottom of a document

Before there was John Hancock there was Nehemiah leading the way with his bold signing of the revived covenant.

B. (:2-8) Priests (21 people)

“Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah. These were the priests.”

Kidner: This accounts, incidentally, for the non-appearance of Ezra’s name among the signatories, since he was a member of the family which heads the list, the house of Seraiah (which also included the high priest)

The Book of Nehemiah has placed a huge emphasis on the importance of worship. This chapter focuses in on the temple and all that is involved in offering the sacrifices and orchestrating the corporate worship in Jerusalem now that the walls have been rebuilt. The Priests are featured as key leaders in the spiritual life of the community.

C. (:9-13) Prominent Levitical Families and Teachers

“And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; also their brothers Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, Beninu.”

6 of these were involved in the reading of the law in 8:7

D. (:14-27) Patriarichal Family Leaders

“The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, Baanah.”

Some these were listed in 7:8-25

Breneman: mostly family representatives. The first twenty-one are nearly parallel to the list of Ezra 2:3-30 (and Neh 7). The remaining twenty-three include some families who helped build the wall (Neh 3) and some new ones; perhaps some returned from Babylonia more recently, and others were branches of older families. It is also possible that some could have been families who had remained in Judah during the captivity and now joined the returned exiles.

This passage places a lot of emphasis on the role of the father to provide the spiritual leadership in the home.

You say: I am not a political figure; I am not a Priest – but you are a priest – we are all part of the royal priesthood – you are significant to God; one that He wants to see be dedicated to Him


A. By Avoiding Conformity to the World

“Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding,”

Gets back to Rom. 12:1-2

How much are we impacted by the peer pressure of the lifestyle of the world around us? Where the Bible clearly speaks regarding the mind and will of God, do we prove ourselves to be friends of the world or friends of God? There is no middle ground.

There must be separation in terms of our intimate friendships. It matters who we hang with. Part of our taking up the cross of Jesus daily and participating in His sufferings means that we truly identify with Him and take on the reproach and the mocking of the world. Noah certainly wasn’t a cool dude when he preached God’s message of impending judgment to a world of carousing drunks who lived from one party to the next. Lot had trouble applying this principle of separation and his family paid dearly for his life of compromise.

We need to evaluate what pulls us closer to God and what pushes us farther from Him. How much do you value intimacy with Jesus Christ as opposed to being accepted by your non Christian friends?

The message of separation from the world needs to be proclaimed with greater clarity and greater urgency. We have allowed even our churches to become comfortable social settings for the unsaved. It is easy to see who is impacting whom.

We still are called to live in the world; not remove ourselves to some monastery where we can hide out. We still are called to be fishers of men; to go out into the highways and byways and compel them to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. We live in this world . . . but our value system is not of this world. We need to be separate because God is a holy God.

Read Psalm 15 – when people think of us do we have this type of reputation for integrity and righteousness? If not … what behavior do we need to change? Where do we need to rededicate ourselves to obeying the Word of God?

B. By Aligning with Consecrated Fellow Believers

“are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of GOD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes;”

The local church is the community of believers where you come to join together to take a stand on together obeying the Word of God; are we joined together on that basis? Do we hunger to see what God has revealed on the next page of this book so that we can put it into practice? Do we understand the accountability involved – spoken of here as a “curse and an oath” – revelation demands a response; greater light brings greater accountability; that doesn’t mean there is any excuse in remaining ignorant; but God will expect great things of us based on our easy access to His truth

Some believers resist joining together with other believers; they don’t want their lives to be transparent to others; they want to try to hide out in the world as undercover Christians .. they are ashamed of Christ; Christ says He will be ashamed of them when he returns in His glory – they are hypocrites – not genuine believers who have been transformed by His grace

Swindoll: Take note of two facts that identified these people as extraordinary; they had separated themselves from the godless people living around them as well as their pagan lifestyles, and they were wise, discerning people who knew what they were doing. By endorsing the document, a person understood that he and his family were part of God’s unique, set-apart people and agreed to live accordingly, rejecting the lifestyles of the pagans living near their community.

They made a decision to put first things first, regardless of the situation.

This action, this document, was a crucial choice in the life of Israel. They drove a literary stake into the ground that day, which became their rallying point. They erected a written monument much like the founding documents that made the United States a nation. They drafted and ratified their declaration of dependence and distinction – their constitution. It established their purpose and values.

Wiersbe: Num. 30:2; Since an oath involved the name and possible judgment of God, it was not to be taken lightly. Jesus warned against using empty oaths (Matt. 5:33-37; 23:16-22), and Solomon gave a similar warning (Eccl. 5:1-7).

Problem with Vows: look at how easily we break our commitments

– Example of the Jews back at the giving of the law in Deut. 28 – failed miserably; failed repeatedly

– Example of Peter – Mark 14:27-29

Still of value:

– make your intentions serious and specific so you can measure whether you are making progress towards your goals

– expression of love – look at marriage vows

Zeisler: A vow to obey is often the best way to tell the Lord we love him.

Are you taking a stand to avoid conformity with the world and align yourself with fellow consecrated believers?


A. (:30) Regulations Regarding Separation / Mixed Marriages

“and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.”

Wiersbe: The Jewish remnant was surrounded by idolatrous Gentiles, who wanted the Jews to become a part of their social, religious, and business society. But the Law of Moses prohibited God’s people from living like the Gentiles, although it didn’t stop the Jews from being good neighbors or even good customers. . . Separation that ignores God and other believers is isolation and will eventually lead to sin. . . The legalist wants to live by rules, but that style of life only keeps you immature and dependant on your spiritual leaders. The only way to grow in a balanced life is to give yourself totally to God and follow Him by faith.

Illustration: close business partnership with unbelievers

1 Cor. 6-7

James 4:4

B. (:31) Regulations Regarding Sabbath Laws

Fundamental Principle: Matt. 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

(Ex 20:8-11; 23:11-12; 31:15-17; Lev. 25:2-7; Deut. 15:1-3)

1. Restraint of Trade Can be a Good Thing

“As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day;”

Do Sabbath Day regulations apply to believers in the Church Age?

What Applications can we make from the principles revealed here?

Illustration: Chick-fil-A – closed on Sundays

Zeisler: The last thing the Sabbath means is that we say no to a life of maximum acquisition. My highest goal is not making the most I possibly can and preserving everything I make. If I’m going to keep the Sabbath, it means I have something I value more than that.

Piper: The beautiful thing about the sabbath is that God instituted it as a weekly reminder of two things. One is that all true blessing comes from his grace, not our labor. The other is that we hallow him and honor him and keep the day holy if we seek the fullness of his blessing by giving our special attention to him on that day.

Important to think of sabbath as a sign – one of the OT shadows where the fulfillment came in Christ:

1) Rest of Creation – Ex. 20:11 — realize that God does all of the work; human body needs a break; God rested because His work of creation was done; time to look back and reflect on it

2) Rest of Redemption and Deliverance – Deut. 5:15 —

Stedman: This is exactly what happened with these Old Testament shadows, including the Sabbath. When the Lord came, and his work was ended, making possible the true fulfillment of God’s intention in the Sabbath, the picture was no longer needed. The weekly sabbath ended at the cross. Paul specifically says this. In the letter to the Colossians he confirms it to us. In Chapter 2, beginning with Verse 13, he says,

And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it [not him; it, the cross]. Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and Drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. {Col 2:13-17 RSV}

The Sabbath has always been Saturday and it always will be. It is the seventh day of the week. Sunday has always been the first day of the week. It has never been a sabbath, and it is pure legalism to call it a sabbath or to treat it as one. It is not a day of rest or restricted activity and it is not designed as such. It is the first day of the week; to Christians, the Lord’s day.

So the secret of true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity, and to rest in dependence upon the activity of Another who dwells within. That is fulfilling the sabbath, the true sabbath.

So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God [it is available to us now]; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his{Heb 4:9-10 RSV}

According to the Word of God the body must have one day in seven to rest. The mind and the emotions require it, too. We are under so much tension today from so many demands upon us that our emotions sometimes get out of joint. We find ourselves growing irascible, testy and short-tempered. We are unable to keep control at times. These are symptoms of approaching burnout. The spirit within, the very center of our being, requires time to meditate, to contemplate and relate to life. We need time to see the big picture and pull back for a bit from things around. God has provided for this in the Sabbath.

Learn to work and live out of rest. Learn that God will pick up what you do and use it far greater than you were able to do. Expect him to do so and rest on that fact. Do not strain or worry, and feel it all depends on you to produce success in a ministry.

2. Rest for the Land Encourages Dependence on the All Sufficient Provider

“and we will forego the crops the seventh year”

3. Release From Financial Debt Encourages Community Unity

“and the exaction of every debt.”

Wiersbe: The observance of the Sabbath was a distinctively Jewish practice (Neh. 9:14; Ex. 20:8-11; 30:12-18); the Gentiles around Jerusalem would treat the seventh day of the week like any other day and want to socialize and do business.

Whitcomb: the year of release (Ex 23:10, 11; Deut 15:1,2)

C. (:32-33) Regulations Regarding Shekels for the Temple Tax

“We also placed ourselves under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.”

One third of a skekel — About one-eighth of an ounce

MacArthur: The Mosaic ordinance required one-half of a shekel (see Ex. 30:11-16), but the severe economic straits of the time led to the reduced amount. By the time of Christ, the people had returned to the Mosaic stipulation of one-half of a shekel.

Yamauchi: Some argue that the later shekel was based on a heavier standard, thus one-third of the later shekel was equal to one-half of the earlier shekel. That is, the later Babylonian-Persian shekel was twenty-one grams, whereas the former Phoenician shekel was fourteen grams, hence one-third the former was equal to one-half the latter. . .

“bread of arrangement” – These were twelve cakes of fine flour arranged in two rows of six set out each Sabbath (Lev 24:6-7). Elsewhere they are also called “bread of the face” – that is, bread set before the presence of God (Exod 25:30; 1 Sam 21:6); 1 Kings 7:48).

A lot involved in maintaining the work of the house of our God

Providing the financial support that maintains the ministry of the local church

Wiersbe: The tax was a reminder to the people that God had redeemed them and paid a price to set them free, and that they should behave like people who belonged to God.

D. (:34-39) Regulations Regarding Sacrifices to God and Support of the Priestly Ministry

1. The Wood Offering

“Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers’ households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law;”

Wiersbe: Since the fire on the brazen altar was to be kept burning constantly (Lev. 6:12-13), it required a steady supply of wood; and wood was a precious commodity.

Might have seemed like such a waste – bringing wood to burn

2. The First Fruits – giving God the first and the best

“and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the LORD annually, and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God,”

Prov. 3:9 “Honor the Lord from the wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

3. The Tithes

“and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns. The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.”

Wiersbe: The Jews were to bring a tenth of their produce to the Lord each year for the support of the Levites (Lev. 27:30-34). The Levites then gave a “tithe of the tithe” to the priests (Num. 18:25-32). The Jews were also to tithe the 90 percent that was left and take it to the temple for the annual feasts (Deut. 26:1-11). To these two tithes was added a third tithe, received every third year for the poor (vv. 12-15; 14:28-29).

Application: all that we have belongs to the Lord and we are stewards, making investments for eternity. How can we fail to be generous and to trust the Lord for the provision of our needs?


Illustration: — William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army was once asked what his secret was to his incredible ministry. This is what he said, “God has had all that there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I…but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with me and them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth that there was.”

Does God have all of you? Have you dedicated yourself to completely obeying the Word of God? The proof is whether you reform your behavior in specific areas as you come to understand what the Word says.