Promises of Faithfulness
Scripture reading for May 12th: Nehemiah 8:2-10:39
Nehemiah knew that the real strength of God’s city would come not from walls of stone around it, but from a renewed commitment to follow the Law of the Lord. The word of God is a sure foundation for blessing and success and also a strong source of protection when His people are walking in faith. Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law began to read aloud to the people. They listened attentively. (Nehemiah 8:1-3)
As the people listened, they needed explanation. It had been many years since they had heard God’s word and some had never heard it. The people began to weep at the law of God. Nehemiah told the people not to weep, but to share food and fellowship and rejoice because the “joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
They were reading the law of God again the second day and found that the Israelites were to celebrate the Feast of Booths by making shelters and living outside for a week. This feast commemorated their deliverance from Egypt and wandering in the wilderness. They decided to celebrate it. They read from the Book of the Law each day for seven days and on the eighth day had a holy assembly. There they repented and separated themselves from foreign influences and confessed sins. A beautiful prayer of repentance is recorded in Nehemiah 9.
Following this prayer, they made vows to God to maintain purity in marriages. (Nehemiah 10:30) They recognized God’s desire for godly offspring and purity of living and worship. They promised not to buy or sell on the Sabbath and to cancel debts in the seventh year. (Nehemiah 10:31) They promised to pay their temple alms and tithes to care for the Levites and the House of God. (Nehemiah 10:32-37)
All this commitment was brought about by simply reading aloud the Book of the Law! God’s word has power to bring change in our hearts. It brings conviction of sin and reveals the love and mercy of God. The confession was public and the vows of commitment were even put in writing! (Nehemiah 9:38) This new commitment brought the joy of the Lord to the people and it was their strength!