For the people of God in Nehemiah’s day, the hard times, the painful losses, and deep hurts were a spiritual wake up call. They didn’t chalk up their experiences to bad luck; they examined themselves before the Lord. God had thrown them in the freezer and it shook them up. They realized that their harsh trials were in fact a severe mercy from God to call them to clean hearts and renewed commitments.
Chapter 10 tells us that they made four solemn promises. The opening verses record the names of the leaders who personally signed this pledge to do these four commitments. Thousands of others followed their lead verbally. As we contemplate the mercy of God to us all after our storm, will you pledge as well?
Promise #1: Submission to God’s Word
God is looking for people who are loyal to Him. The depth of our devotion to God determines our impact on others.
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 us?
Promise #2: Separation From the World
The underlying principle here is that God wants His people to be profoundly different, uncompromised in their values and undivided in their loyalties. But the broader application is sorely needed today—living a life of such radical difference from what the world pursues that you stand out. Can anyone tell you are a Christian? Has there been a Holy Spirit-wrought change in your life that touches your speech, your habits, your choices, your values? Oh that there would be after this day!
"It's not the ship in the water but the water in the ship that sinks it. It's not the Christian in the world but the world in the Christian that constitutes the danger."
Promise #3: Sabbathing for God’s People
The word Sabbath means "to cease, to stop working, to celebrate, to be finished." God instituted Sabbath as a day of the week to set a godly rhythm into the calendar. Jesus told us that the Sabbath was made for man (Mk. 2:27). It is a gift that is so important God demands you receive it. What makes it so valuable? Sabbathing re calibrates the soul and recuperates the body. It tunes your life to the greatness and goodness and nearness of God and His right to call the shots and carry your burdens.
Promise #4: Support For God’s Work
They pledged to do all the offerings, to bring their firstfruits—the best of their harvest—to bring their tithes to the house of the Lord.
Verse 39 sums up their commitment: “We will not neglect the house of our God.” You need to know that at this time, they had not yet built their own homes. But they nevertheless trusted God’s provision and stated their commitment to give to God’s work systematically and sacrificially.
4 promises: Submission to God’s Word, Separation from the world, sabbathing for God’s people, and support for God’s work. All of us can enter into the plan. This is the time to return to the Lord, to enter into the promises that make God’s people a light in this world, useful to God for His glory.