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.”
. . . We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God . . .
Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work.
. . . The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept. “We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 9:38-10:39
After the Israelites had listened to and understood the Word of God, they were faced with one question, “What do we do from this point on?” Were they going to move forward in obedience, or were they going to neglect God’s Word and return to business as usual? Their response was to move forward in obedience. To underscore the seriousness of their determination, they made a binding agreement among themselves, put it into writing and affixed the seal of their religious leaders to it. The binding agreement was attested to with a curse and an oath.
Regardless of how we view the issue of binding themselves with an oath, the essential principle at play is that they were determined to follow the Word of God in absolute sincerity, regardless of what the personal consequences were. It is interesting that even in our day and age, we administer oaths to people who take the highest ranks of leadership in government. They are expected to take an oath to follow the laws of the land, defend the nation, and carry out their responsibilities with absolute integrity. Violating that oath carries severe consequences.
Two things should arrest our attention regarding the conduct of the Israelites:
First, they were determined to do everything to be faithful to the LORD their God. It was that determination that caused them to take the oath. They wanted to experience a definite turning point in their relationship with God.
Jesus made it clear that God is looking for a people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). In our walk with God, there has to be a point in time when we say to ourselves, “I will follow Jesus with all my heart, soul and might, regardless of the personal consequences to me.” Until we sincerely get to that point, our worship of God will never get to the point of being in Spirit and in truth. There must be a discernible point of decision to be completely sold out to God. We will not be perfect every day, but our hearts will not condemn us!
Second: The Israelites made an important decision: “We will not neglect the house of our God.” They were determined that they would give whatever God required of them to ensure that there was adequate provision for God’s house. They could not claim to love God while holding back from the house of God what was needed to keep it functioning.
One of the things that clearly shows our love for God is our sincerity in ensuring that we help provide for God’s house. It is rather unfortunate that some unscrupulous religious leaders exploit God’s Church for their personal gains. Nonetheless, we have a responsibility to ensure that God’s house is provided for. If you are uncomfortable with financial accountability where you worship, then, by all means, ask God to lead you to the right place. But make it a point not to neglect God’s house! Contribute what God requires of you for the upkeep of His house. It is part of your responsibility. If you don’t do it, God’s work will be affected. Don’t neglect God’s house.
Prayer: Father, please help me not to neglect your house. Help me to give faithfully that which you require of me for the upkeep of your house. Amen.