- This morning we will work on chapter 10 of Nehemiah.
- I notice that each SS class is in a slightly different place in their studies of Nehemiah...
- for some, you have finished chapter nine and are ready to start chapter 10
- for others, let's do chapter 10 today and then come back and pick up some things we're skipping today.
- It should definitely work because Chapter 10 is, in many ways, a standalone unit... so it's good that the day we combine SS, we're working on a chapter like this.
- Do you remember the context now? This was a very unusual month for God's people.
- Of course, the wall is built and all the work is done, but now the focus has been on building people.
- and these men and women responded wonderfully.
- they took some steps that are very admirable and even similar to what we are doing today as a New Testament church.
- Chapter 8 tells us that the people asked Ezra to bring the Book of the Law, which he did.
- They built a platform for them to be prepared for their service.
- stood while the Scriptures were read, showing their respect for God's law.
- then the Levites walked in smaller groups with the people and according to Nehemiah 8:8 --- reproduced the meaning of what they had read.
- People were condemned by law and began to cry and confess their sins.
- the leaders stopped them - encouraging them that they had repented enough and that they needed to rejoice in the forgiveness they had received.
-The next day another wonderful thing happened... when the leaders of the families returned and asked Ezra to teach them more about the law so they could understand the Scriptures.
- He was more than willing to do it... and men learned that the Bible said they should do something they hadn't done... what was what?
(Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles)
- How did you react to? - They obeyed quickly and completely.
- Then chapter 9 tells us that on the 24th day of the month... after the people had studied the Scriptures daily... they came together in a time of confession and repentance.
- This chapter gives us a detailed account of their prayers, how they turned and looked back, how they and their ancestors displeased God and turned away from Him.
- In verses 32-33 --- they stated that although it was difficult for them and their ancestors to live in captivity, and although it was difficult for them to destroy Jerusalem...
- they realized that it was their fault... and that God was more than his way of dealing with them.
- Well, you and I read these two chapters and we say that these men and women are doing a great job.
- are taking wonderful growth steps... and it's true.
- but there is still one important ingredient left.
- before I continue... let me ask a question and let them guess - a question that should help us see the importance of what we are about to study.
- ENTRY - Why don't people change? Why don't we change as fast as we should? What are some reasons for this?
- James Montgomery Boice wrote about this in his commentary on Nehemiah.
- is recounting a conversation he had with a psychologist in which he simply asked - with all the money invested in therapy and all the time invested - why don't more people change?
- The answer was --- "Because most people don't really want to change. Ultimately, they are not willing to do the things necessary to really change."
- (Well, we could certainly add a lot to this psychologist's answer, assuming he was a secular theorist... but let's stick with that for a moment...
- It is certainly true that although the study of Scripture is immensely important, and although it is very important to go to God with prayers of confession and penance...
- No change will happen unless some kind of commitment is made...
- a commitment to act in accordance with Scripture
- a commitment to do NOTHING wrong
- and a commitment to DEFINITELY AND AGGRESSIVELY DO the right thing.
- The history of counseling shows that people have had difficulty maintaining a balance between the importance of knowledge and action.
1) For example, Sigmeund Freud and other depth psychologists placed great emphasis on the "knowing" part of the equation.
- Discovering the hidden part of the iceberg
- get in touch with the person's subconscious
- Dream analysis, word association.
- They had no problem looking a person square in the face and saying: It might take 3-5 years of psychoanalysis before we can tell you what to do differently.
2) Then we had Skinner reacting violently to this...
- Who said that Freud was a ghost?
-As Skinner was a scientist, he only wanted to talk about what could be measured, which was behavior.
- so what was going on inside the person mattered very little to Skinner - as long as he could change his behavior by changing the external stimuli (or contingencies) around him.
- Now it is interesting that evangelical Christianity took a similar path, only in reverse.
- There was a day when it seemed that the emphasis was on the outside...
- length of hair, dress, etc.
- not that those things weren't important, but for some they felt that those were the only things that mattered.
- now it seems that we have made a change in many cases where so much attention and emphasis is placed on understanding the interior...
- that it is considered banal or superficial to talk about behavior....
- talk about making commitments, behaving differently, and then following through on those commitments.
- A careful study of the Scriptures would lead us to find a balance between these two.
- According to James 1:25, we are truly blessed
- John 13:17 - If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
- James 4:17 - Anyone who knows how to do good and does not do it is a sinner.
- That's what Nehemiah 10 is about.
- now we are not saying that NT believers do exactly what these people did in this text
- but we also have to say... this chapter is in the bible for a reason...
- and according to II Tim. 3:16 --- worth studying for us
- so let's talk about --- "Making appropriate commitments to God.
- Let's read some of our verses:
- Read 9:38 - (all this --- all said in the chapter)
- Read 10:1 (via Zedekiah)
- Many students of the Scriptures believe that Zedekiah was Nehemiah's personal secretary.
- That's because in many similar legal documents from that period, they are signed by the person in charge and then notarized by the person's main assistant.
- Well, the next few verses, verses 2-8, contain 21 names.
- most are last names, which explains why Ezra's name doesn't appear...
- came from the family of Seraja (the first name on the list)
- In verses 9-13 there are 17 names of some Levites
- so in verses 14-27 there are 44 names of noble families, many of whom had originally returned under Ezra some years earlier to rebuild the temple.
- now let's make the commitment in verses 28 - 39 - READ
- Well, these verses make it very clear what is happening.
- have been studying the Scriptures carefully for many days.
- confessed their sins to the Lord and acknowledged that his judgment on them was just.
- Now is the time to commit to doing your life for Him.
- As we said, we are not suggesting that we do something like that collectively as a church.
- There is no parallel in the NT to this type of corporate event that churches should have.
- However, having said that,
1) The Lord put this chapter in the Bible for a reason, and
2) There is no doubt that one of the reasons why people do not grow as fast as they should... and why we don't always grow as fast as we should, is that we are slow to commit... and in some cases very slowly .
- Let's start with this:
I. God wants his children to commit
A. An important starting point: they must be biblical.
- the argument of verse 28 is very important...
- They were separated from the people of the land, by the law of God
- Sometimes people think that breaking up is just a negative idea.
- we separate from ..... (this, this and this)
- Biblical separation is a separation from something... or a separation from someone...
- They wanted to submit to God's law.
- You see the same emphasis in verse 29 ----
- ENTRY - please tell me how you describe your relationship to scripture in this verse.
- an oath to walk in the law of God
- keep and obey all the commandments of God our Lord
- and its regulations and statutes
-- this is important, because when we talk about making commitments for the rest of class time, we're not talking about making commitments based on anything other than Scripture.
- Some churches ask their people to make promises based on a terrifying standard instead of God's Word.
- so here we don't have "faith promise" missions offerings... because "faith promise" offerings ask a person to pray, God will give them a number to give (in addition to Scripture) and that It's what it's all about you must commit to
- and we say - no, the disclosure is complete.
- God does not give us more separation from the Scriptures.... so we must follow the biblical principles of finances and make our commitments based on biblical principles, not on some supposed feeling that I have on that particular day.
Well, with that being said...
B. There are many opportunities for New Testament believers to do this.
- our reasoning in this lesson this morning is something like this:
1) People don't change as fast as they should unless they commit to it.
2) Those godly people in the book of Nehemiah made a commitment and it was a spiritual help to them...
3) While we're not doing exactly that today, there's no doubt that God constantly asks us to make commitments...and He may...especially at this time of year, He wants you to think about some commitments that you're making go to. he.
- Let us now consider some ways in which it is right and proper for believers to use specific opportunities in their lives to make Biblical commitments.
1) in salvation
- A fundamental aspect of salvation is the obligation to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
- that's why we talk so much about the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved;
- We saw this in the passage we studied in the morning service last week.
- The irony of John 1:12 is that it is often used to teach the exact opposite of what it actually says...
- some people use this terminology and say that in salvation you just have to receive Jesus... you just have to accept the gift of salvation...
- and although there is some truth in this... you have to ask yourself carefully ---- what does it mean to accept Jesus?
- at least we are talking about:
- admit sin
- Recognize that Jesus is the rightful Lord
- Commit yourself to follow it.
- by the way, John 1:12 actually says that... John 1:12 But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
- the part "even those who believe in his name" is often omitted.
- the point is - salvation is a commitment to trust Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to become a follower of Christ.
— By the way, if you're here this morning and you don't know him, in this lesson on making appropriate commitments, we invite you to make the most important commitment of all… trust in Jesus Christ.
(can unfold - isn't it exciting to think of all those who made that commitment this weekend? - as I greeted people I thought - I wonder how many in that vehicle don't know Jesus)
- At baptism, a person publicly confesses Christ.
- they say to everyone who trusts in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their only hope for heaven.
- testify that they died to sin and rose to a new life in Jesus Christ.
- is a step of obedience and such an important obligation that God wants from us.
(In Biblical times and throughout history, baptism was much more public, did anyone here baptize in a stream?)
C. Member of the Church
- ....It is a must
- Our federation calls us to obey the Holy Scriptures
- our principle connects us.
- develop - have you already made these three commitments?
- ENTRY - at other times in a believer's life when a commitment is made and it is perfectly appropriate to do so?
- Marriage, new child, new year, new day (Rm 12,1-2), birth of a child, new job...
- if you are convinced of a passage of Scripture
- if a service opportunity arises in which you can participate.
- month of care
- The question I want to ask you today is: Why did the Lord allow this event to be recorded in the Scriptures?
- Are you making commitments like God wants you to? (or maybe one of the reasons you're not growing as you should, if at all, is that you don't care to study what the bible says about something... but you're committed to doing the right thing, that's another question.
- Another truth that we see in this text is that:
II. God wants us to commit to our children
- See verse 30 -- READ 30 and 36
-- The point is -- in this critical engagement chapter -- one of the first areas that comes up is what you're going to do with your God-given children.
- God wants us to commit ourselves to our children.
- Isn't it interesting that of all the things you could have said about your children, which one came first? (the kind of person they would be allowed to marry)
—now they got this idea from the Scriptures.
- Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:3 taught that God's people could not allow their children to marry unbelievers.
- and it is clear that God's people violated this principle at many points in Israel's history and were badly damaged by it.
- If you are here this morning and you are not saved and your spouse is... let me assure you that we are not here to judge or criticize you...
- but the message of Scripture is this --- God wants you to be saved
- God wants you to be one of his children
- If I talk to someone in this category, they will probably understand very clearly why God would give this principle to his people... because of the difficulty of having a marriage where one is a believer and the other is not.
- therefore the same principle is used in the NT in places like 2 Cor. repeated. 6:14 - "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers"
- Paul said widows in I Cor. 7 that they were free to remarry after the death of their first spouse, but only "in the Lord."
- so the point is - that when these people made commitments, part of those commitments had to do with their children.
- Now let's take a minute and discuss a question together.
- Suppose there was a parent who said, “Well, my 16-year-old son wants to date a disbeliever. We don't like it, but we think he's at the age where he should be able to make those decisions.
- ENTRY - What would you say to a parent who shares this opinion?
- (Address a related topic: You should also care for the spiritual condition of your own child, who would not see the importance of marriage to a believer. INTRODUCTION - What can parents do to help our children develop such beliefs?
— also pointed out the importance of helping our children establish dating patterns.
- ENTRY - Other commitments that a father may have in relation to his children?
- one third of his obligation is recorded in verse 31 - READ
- the question is:
third God wants us to commit to our work
– the point here is – they made a commitment to live for God and even to be different from the world in their work.
- even in the way they did business.
- They would obey what the Old Testament law said about Saturday, even if it hurt them.
- and also to remember that we know that many of these people lived in poverty.
- We saw this in a previous chapter where Nehemiah had to overthrow some of them because the richer Israelites were taking advantage of the poorer ones.
- so there were a number of these people who lived in poverty - and yet they committed to obeying God's Word in the workplace, even if it cost them something.
- Keith Miller, writing about the work, said: "It has always amazed me that Christians have developed a kind of selective vision that allows us to be deeply and sincerely involved in worship and church activities and yet in the everyday life is almost completely pagan". the bowels of our business day in and day out and never notice it.
- Let's work on that now.
- ENTRY - Areas where a believer must commit to please God in relation to work?
- And the relationship with the opposite sex?
- (here's a hot potato) -- what if you work in a place where there are homosexuals?
- Since we believe that homosexuality is wrong, do we also believe that if you work with a homosexual, it is okay to make fun of him, call him names, gossip behind his back, etc.?
- (Also hit - just because someone says it happened doesn't mean it happened)
- (Also, it's not hateful or harassing to say what you think Scripture says on the subject in the proper context. If the setting is appropriate for a homosexual to say, "I think homosexuality is okay," then surely it's just as appropriate for the believer to respond, "I think homosexuality is wrong."
- It is not that one of these statements is offensive and the other is not..
- or that one of these statements is hateful and the other is not...
- The general point here is, perhaps you are here this morning and God wants you to commit to some aspect of your work.
(Yes time - I could debate those who say - well, that's business. I don't mix my religion with my business).
- The last area is the one that really takes up the most space in your commit:
- Lies 34-39
- the question is:
IV. God wants us to commit to our worship
- we don't have time to consider these statements individually, but the end of verse 39 really sums up everything they said in this passage:
- So we will not neglect the house of our God.
-They made a commitment to how they would treat the house of God.
1) Many in our church would say that they too are committed in this way.
- develop --- works under construction, offers (could use transparency on earth)
- develop --- People who work in construction on Friday.
- The painting is coming.