to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice
July 02, 2019 – Tuesday
Nehemiah 10:28-29 NIV
28 “The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— 29 all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind 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.
The rest of the people? Who were the initial people so that the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand were considered the rest of the people? To find out let’s turn to the last verse of chapter nine. It is there at the end of the prayer (verses 5 through 37) we find
“In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”
(Nehemiah 9:38, but in Hebrew texts 10:1)
A total of 84 of Israel’s leaders put their signatures on the agreement – binding agreement – or rather covenant they were making with God and they are listed in the first twenty-seven verses of chapter ten. This is not all that different from the men (56 in all) who signed the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (which may be read in full here) with the concluding statement
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
So, returning to Nehemiah, The rest of the people, with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand,joined their leaders and 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. Why this public commitment to the covenant with God? Making such a covenant publically meant everyone knew what they had agreed upon individually and it served as a form of accountability with all who had done so with them, including family members. In binding themselves with a curse and an oath to follow (obey) the Law of God, they were saying they expected a curse from God if they did not obey His law as a form of correction – not as a permanent curse. Instead as a course correction, to bring them back to compliance with the Law of God. Guzik adds in his commentary
Many of us have done a similar thing. We probably didn’t pray “God, curse me if I disobey You.” But many of us have prayed, “Lord, whatever it takes I want to follow You. Whatever it takes I want to be Your man.” That is essentially praying the same thing, and that is a good prayer.
Did you catch this covenant included their sons and daughters who are able to understand? This implies an age of accountability from knowledge and understanding. There is a reason young men and women are not generally permitted to make legally binding agreements. The reason is they seldom have the knowledge and understanding to know what they are agreeing to at the time. This is even true of many so-called adults who make all sorts of agreements they do not understand or are unable to fulfill. Nonetheless the adults are responsible for what they sign up for. Young men and women may be found competent by a court to make certain legal decisions, but it is still unusual for this to occur. Bottom line, we should never press our children to make a commitment they do not truly understand. However, once they grasp the import of such a decision to follow God/Jesus, their decision should be encouraged.
With this in mind, perhaps we should examine our personal commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
RileyD, nwJ (to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)