RENEWING our COVENANT & COMMITMENT with GOD
May 20 Bible Reading: Nehemiah Chapters 10-13
"We make a sure covenant, and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it" (Neh 9:38). "Now the rest of the people--the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding-- these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes." (Neh 10:28-29)
The privilege of leading the nation of Israel in covenant renewal fell to the Levites who are listed in Neh 9:5 with a notable omission of Nehemiah. After exhorting the crowd to stand and praise the Lord, they addressed Him in prayer, recognizing His incomparability and glory. The prayer itself follows, at least in a general way, the pattern of covenant texts found elsewhere in the Old Testament and in the ancient Near East as well. After this lengthy prayer devoted primarily to the dismal history of Israel’s past failures contrasted with the unlimited patience and grace of God, the secular and religious leaders led by Nehemiah whose names appear in Neh 10:1–27 affixed their signatures to the covenant text, the provisions of which follow in Neh 10:28–39.
In what appears to be a univocal response, all segments of the community pledged themselves to keep all the terms of the Law that God had revealed to Moses long before (Neh 10:28–29). Addressing an issue that Ezra had already dealt with, they promised never again to intermarry with the heathen (Neh 10:30; Ezra 9:1–10:44). Besides this, they vowed to honor the Sabbath, to pay the required temple taxes, to offer the first fruits of their labor, and to care for the needs of the Levites (Neh. 10:31–39).
During our spiritual life journey, there are times when we veer away from the race that is set for us (Heb 12:1). At these times, more importantly, we need to renew our covenant with God. Just like a married couple renews their marriage vows and reaffirms their commitment to each other, we also need to pause at times and renew our commitment to follow God and be faithful to our heavenly calling. God remembers His covenant with us all the time, as it says in Psalms 105:8-11: He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance”.