A Renewed Commitment
By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte
Nehemiah 10: 30-32 (NASB)
“We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons. ‘When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. “We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God.”
Following the dedication of the walls, the children of Israel put together a written commitment to serve the Lord. The leaders, priests, and then everyone else signed the document as a way to show their dedication to keeping their word. Today we get the first glimpse into the contents of their commitment.
In verses 30, the people agree to not give their daughters in marriage to the neighbors, or take daughters from the people around them for their sons. Does this mean the Israelites were racist? No, what this is referring to is being “unequally yoked”, or in other words, God does not want us to marry unbelievers. We find examples throughout scripture where people married unbelievers and it never turned out well.
2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Because the people had just come from seventy years of exile in Babylon due mostly in part from the sin of idolatry, the need to stay spiritually pure was a big deal. Therefore, the issue was something they felt the need to commit in writing with everyone signing in agreement.
In verses 31 and 32 the contract continues with keeping the Sabbath day holy and also committing to a Sabbath year for the land. This was something outlined by Moses from God Himself during the time in the wilderness. By renewing their commitment to God’s law in a way that they would also not buy or sell from their neighbors on the Sabbath, the people set the example to their neighbors, and they set themselves apart as God’s chosen people.
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
· Being unequally yoked can also mean agreeing with what the world says is “true’ for them. Don’t be afraid to be different and hold to God’s truth.
· God wants us to go to all the world in evangelism. He wants us to change the world and not the other way around. Do not let the world change me.
· Remember to be an example in how I do things.
· Make a renewed commitment to seek God’s will and be obedient to His will.
These next few weeks will be a study of what the Israelite people put their names to in commitment to God. These three verses today are a good reminder that our commitment starts with setting ourselves apart and not conforming to what the world says, but what God says to do.
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?
- In what way am I letting other people turn my heart away from God?
- What am I accepting as okay in others that could lead me down a path I do not want to go?
- In what area of my life am I a good example to others and what area do I need to do better?
- What can I do to be a better steward of my time and resources?
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