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It Takes People to Covenant with God

Rev. Enoch Thompson | December 27, 2023 | Nehemiah 10:1-29



Those who sealed it were: . . . Nehemiah 10:1 (NIV).


Chapter 9 of Nehemiah recounts the sad history of the called and promised people of God, their deviations from the covenants of God and His Law that was to guide them, their many oppressions under foreign kings and the loss of the enjoyment of the many good things that Yahweh had intended for them. This lament issues the determination to agree to recommit their national existence in ways that would ensure that they kept the Law of God; "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 (NIV).


One would expect that the 9:38 cited above would be followed by the content of the agreement, before any other thing. However, we observe that Chapter 10:1-29 (our text for today) which follows, lists the people who served as signatories of the agreement before 10:30-39 takes up the content of the agreement. We see here the importance of people in the realisation of true worship. Rules and decrees, buildings and structures without people will not realize the Kingdom of God. The Church is about people, people who are committed to the God of the Kingdom and who have taken it upon themselves to please Him and advance His cause on the earth.


God’s elaborate effort to catch the attention of Israel in Malachi became effective when some of the people committed to the right ways; Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name.” Mal 3:16 (NIV). There must always be those who fear the Lord and commit to repentance and reformation!


In seeking to renew the cooperative relationship with God, leadership must play the leading role. Nehemiah the governor is indicated as the first signatory to the agreement to be entered with God. He is followed by the priests (vv. 1b-8), the Levites (vv. 9-13), and then the leaders of the people (vv. 14-27). Then, all who form part of the community of faith affirm the group commitment: "The rest of the people — priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighbouring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand- ²⁹all these now join their brothers 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.Nehemiah 10:28-29 (NIV). It takes people to relate with God, and we must make efforts to involve people in all we do in our joint worship of God, beginning with ourselves. Group commitment to God as in our text for today requires in the first place the personal commitment of individual members of the group.



Please spend a moment to reflect on your relationship with God, where it was, where it is, and where you want it to get to. Please put into writing some of the changes that you would want to see in your walk with the Lord going forward.

Reflect upon your church community and its relationship with God and consider ways by which you can call attention to leadership for the necessary re-alignments for better church life.


Dear God, owner of the Church, I come before you with tears of repentance acknowledging that your Church is far away from what you expect her to be. As an individual member of the Body of Christ, I confess my shortcomings and pray for forgiveness. Please help me to start afresh with you, and to contribute to the reformation of your Church. In Jesus’ dear Name, I pray. Amen.





DAILY word study: SEALED The Hebrew word for "SEALED" in Nehemiah 10:1 is "חוּתָם" (chatham). It conveys the idea of sealing or affixing a mark or signature to authenticate or make something secure.

Nehemiah 10, the chapter records the names of those who signed or sealed a covenant, committing themselves to specific obligations and agreements.

In ancient contexts, sealing a covenant was a solemn act. It involved placing a seal, often with a unique mark or symbol, on a document to signify agreement, authenticity, and commitment. Breaking a sealed covenant was considered a serious offence. Sealing symbolizes the commitment and integrity of the covenant. It implies that the individuals are bound by the terms of the covenant and are willing to be held accountable for their responsibilities.

The act of sealing is not merely a formality but a significant expression of dedication. By affixing their seals, the individuals were publicly declaring their adherence to the covenant and their willingness to be bound by its terms.

The use of the term "SEALED" in the context of Nehemiah 10:1 invites us to consider the nature of our commitments and covenants. The act of sealing signifies more than a signature; it is a tangible expression of accountability and trustworthiness. In the case of the covenant recorded in Nehemiah, it signifies a commitment to follow through on the stipulated obligations. The act of sealing implies a sense of responsibility and the willingness to be held accountable. It challenges us to consider the weight of our words and commitments and to approach them with a level of dedication that goes beyond mere formality.


As we contemplate the concept of sealing covenants, we may ask ourselves: How do we approach our commitments, agreements, and promises? Are we intentional about sealing them with integrity and dedication? In our personal and communal relationships, how can we emulate the sincerity demonstrated by those who sealed the covenant in Nehemiah's time? May our commitments be sealed not just with ink and paper but with sincerity of heart and a resolve to honour our words, reflecting the integrity and faithfulness that sealing signifies.

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