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Two Critical Priorities

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Q: In what ways do people try to run away from the consequences of their decisions?
Q: Do you struggle with owning your own consequences?
Let people share.
Blame others
Dont take accountability
We are going to be talking about Consequences and how to respond
Currently where we are in the book of Nehemiah we saw
Nehemiah and round the people up to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
They faced ridicule, persecution and threats of violence/death from outside and inside from other Israelite as well
Enemies were plotting and accusing them of
Opposing the King
Raising an army
People were plotting how to discredit Nehemiah
There were issues even among themselves, some were oppressing the poor among them and taxing each other.
Wall averages, 40 feet tall and 8 feet thick and is 2.5 miles long.
This did this in 52 days
That is a huge accomplishment.
After the wall was built, you expect a giant party to happen especially after all that opposition
And it does but not before something more important.

Nehemiah reads the law of Moses before all the people in the city square.

Nehemiah 8:2–3 ESV
So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
He does that and then this happens.
Nehemiah 8:9 ESV
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.
Basically the 10 commandments, how to sacrifice properly and how to interact with one another.
Q: Why were the people weeping after reading the law?
They saw that they were not obeying it.
Do not have other Gods before me
Do not work on the Sabbath, Keep it Holy.
Bring your sacrifice to God
Do not intermarry with the foreigners
This is why that's a big deal.

If you obey

Deuteronomy 28:7–8 ESV
“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Have they experienced any of this?
THis is the very reason why Nehemiah was weeping in Chapter 1 of the book when he heard that the walls were torn down, because he knew God did not bless them.

If you disobey

Deuteronomy 28:25 ESV
“The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Deuteronomy 28:36 ESV
“The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone.
Deuteronomy 28:41 ESV
You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity.
Deuteronomy 28:52 (ESV)
“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land.
Deuteronomy 28:64 ESV
“And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
All of these things happened
Defeated by enemies
Sent to other nations and server other gods
Sons and daughters in captivity
Fortified walls torn down
Scattered among the nations
It makes sense why the people where crying out after hearing the reading of the law.

After the reading the law, Nehemiah command to have a feast

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Q: Who could celebrate after that downer!
Why would Nehemiah have the people feast and celebrate after this huge downer?
See if people have answers.
Here’s how the feast went
Nehemiah 8:17–18 ESV
And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.
During this 7 day feast, the people are also reading the OT.
This is the cycle they are going to clearly see
Blessing > Disobedience > Judgement > Cry Out >Mercy/Grace
Back to the question. In the description of result of disobedience, it did not mention any sort of feast or celebration.
Day 1 - Read God’s commandments, read how the people disobeyed, see the Judgement, they cry out and God Shows mercy. Now celebrate
Now we see the people respond after those 7 days
Nehemiah 9:1 ESV
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.
After all that festing, the realtiy of their disobedience and God’s goodness was too aparent.
All we did is disobey, we should serve our enemies for the rest of our lives yet God gifted us this undeserved feast.
Nehemiah 9:9–17 ESV
“And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them. “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
Here now they admit to why they are in the situation they are in.
Nehemiah 9:36–37 ESV
Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.
What can the people do at this point?
Rededicate themselves to God.
We made an oath to keep the Covenant as you commanded God
We will, keep the Sabath, to not intermarry, to offer sacrifice to God, to tithe, to forgive debts and to attend to the needs of God house, to not neglect it.
This rededication is amazing, it sounds wonderful. But does it last?
This is the period when God is going to go silent for 400 years until Jesus comes.
In that time we see Israel go back to their old ways.
God has had enough, it is evident that we are not able to keep our side of the covenant promise.
Jeremiah 31:33–34 ESV
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Luke 22:20 ESV
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

What is the take away, how does this relate to you?

Are you going through this cycle like the Israelites?
Are you experiencing personal blessing and peace?
Are you in a state of rebellion and disobedience?
Are you experiencing God discipline and judgement?
Or are you crying out for deliverance and rededicating yourself to Him?
It doesnt have to be this way.
1. What are contracts and why do we have them?
2. What are some of the uses for contracts?
At the end of Nehemiah 9 and in chapter 10 we see the Israelites signing a contract obligating themselves to do certain things. This follows on the heels of the “Watergate” revival that we saw in chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 9. Read 9:36-38
3. What prompted this contract?
4. Why a contract, why didn’t they just give their word?
There were several things that the Israelites committed themselves to, but they all fell into two categories: Attention to holiness and Attention to God’s house. Let’s look at the first category, holiness. Read 10:28-31.
5. Who was making this commitment?
6. What was the first thing they contracted to do? (obey God’s word)
7. What was their second commitment? (v30—separated living)
8. How does this apply to us today? Can you think of a New Testament passage that deals with this subject?
The people had the practice of intermarrying with the ungodly. This was specifically banned by God, and it was a major factor that led to Israel’s demise. God still calls us today to separated living. This principle is reiterated in 2 Cor. 6:14-18. Believers have no business marrying unbelievers. There is a major clash of values, priorities and ideals when this occurs. Seperated living not only applies to marriage, but to business and to day-to-day living. God tells us to come out from among the world and be separate. We should not act or think like those who do not know Christ. We also need to be careful about the influence of our friends.
9. What did their commitment in verse 31 involve? (Morals over money).
The Jews decided that hey would put God before money. No longer would they transact business on the Sabbath. This probably cost them financially, but they did it. Holiness requires that we put morals first. It is about God first not making money. The second category that the Israelites commitment involved was attention to God’s House.
10. Notice the summary phrase at the end of verse 39. What is it? Let’s look at the specific ways that they would ensure not to neglect God’s house.
11. First, they made a sacrifice for God’s house and its work. What was this sacrifice and why was it so significant? (verse 32-33)
12. Next, they committed to serve. What specifically did they do to serve God’s house and who was involved (verse 34).
13. What was the final commitment (verses 35-39)? (Tithes and offerings)
14. What did the tithe primarily support?
The tithe was used to sustain those who had devoted their lives to serve the Lord in His house. The Levites were to take a portion of the tithe received and use it to support the priest, temple keepers and singers. There was a system of mutual support. Unfortunately, the people later neglected this promise of tithing (13:10-13) and God’s full time servants were no longer adequately provided for. They had to leave the Lord’s work and find secular employment to survive. NT references: 1 Cor. 9:7-11; I Tim. 5:17-18. If today we had sitting here a contract with God that contained the same items that the Jews committed to in Nehemiah’s time, would you sign it? Could you commit yourself to holiness as demonstrated by obedience to God’s word, separated living and putting morals above money? Could you further commit to not neglecting the house of God by sacrificing, serving and tithing?
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