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The Making of a Covenant

INTRODUCTION:  A covenant is a solemn agreement. The most important covenants in the Bible are those in which God makes a covenant with man: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, etc. Here is a covenant which man makes with God. The Israelites recognize the importance of God and covenant together to wholly follow Him.

    1. Their Repentance (Nehemiah 9:1)
      1. The time of repentance
        1. The twenty-fourth day of the seventh month (compare Nehemiah 8:2)
        2. Two days after the last day of the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39 with Nehemiah 8:18)
      2. The place of repentance; where they were assembled
      3. The expression of repentance
        1. Fasting (Esther 4:3)
        2. Sackcloth (Psalm 35:13)
          1. Made of black goats hair (Revelation 6:12), a coarse, heavy fabric
          2. Worn because of its prickly texture
          3. Commonly used as a sign of:
            1. Sorrow (Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31)
            2. Humility (1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 19:1)
            3. Repentance (Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:5)
        3. Earth on them (1 Samuel 4:12); reminding themselves that they were of the earth (Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7)
    2. Their Separation (Nehemiah 9:2)
      1. From all strangers (2 Corinthians 6:17)
      2. From their sins
        1. They confessed their sins
        2. They confessed the iniquities of their fathers (Nehemiah 1:6; Leviticus 26:40-42)
    3. Their Service (Nehemiah 9:3)
      1. They stood in their place (Nehemiah 8:7)
      2. One fourth of the day they heard the reading of the law (1 Timothy 4:13)
      3. Another fourth of the day
        1. They confessed their sins
        2. They worshipped the Lord (Psalm 89:7)
  2. THE CONFESSION OF THE LEVITES (Nehemiah 9:4-38)
    1. The Greatness of the Lord (Nehemiah 9:4-6)
      1. In glory (Nehemiah 9:4-6a; Philippians 2:9-11)
        1. From Levites standing on the stairs (Nehemiah 9:4)
        2. The Levites speaking to the people (Nehemiah 9:5)
          1. Stand up
          2. Bless the Lord
        3. The Levites praising the Lord (Nehemiah 9:5-6a)
          1. Blessed be thy glorious name (Nehemiah 9:5)
          2. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone (Nehemiah 9:6a)
      2. In creation (Nehemiah 9:6b; Psalm 33:6, 9)
      3. In preservation (Nehemiah 9:6c; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3)
    2. The Call of Abraham (Nehemiah 9:7-8)
      1. Chosen (Nehemiah 9:7)
      2. Brought forth (Nehemiah 9:7)
      3. Renamed (Nehemiah 9:7)
      4. Found faithful (Nehemiah 9:8; 1 Corinthians 4:2)
      5. Received a covenant from the Lord (Nehemiah 9:8)
        1. God performed His part of the covenant
        2. God is righteous
    3. Their Deliverance from Egypt (Nehemiah 9:9-11)
      1. God heard the affliction of Israel in Egypt (Nehemiah 9:9)
      2. God showed His signs to Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Nehemiah 9:10)
        1. He dealt with their pride
        2. He got Him a name (Exodus 9:16)
      3. God delivered the Israelites from Egypt (Nehemiah 9:11)
    4. Their Guidance in the Wilderness (Nehemiah 9:12-21)
      1. God led them in the way (Nehemiah 9:12; Exodus 13:20-22)
        1. A pillar of cloud by day
        2. A pillar of fire by night
      2. God gave them His law at Mount Sinai (Nehemiah 9:13-14)
      3. God provided for their needs in the wilderness (Nehemiah 9:15)
        1. Bread from heaven for their hunger
        2. Water from the rock for their thirst
        3. Promises of possession for their heart
      4. They rebelled at the leadership of the Lord (Nehemiah 9:16-18)
        1. They would not obey His commandments (Nehemiah 9:16)
        2. They appointed a captain to return to Egypt (Nehemiah 9:17)
        3. They made a molten calf to be their god (Nehemiah 9:18)
      5. God continued in His mercies toward them (Nehemiah 9:19-21)
        1. He did not forsake them in the wilderness (Nehemiah 9:19)
        2. He gave His good spirit to instruct them (Nehemiah 9:20)
        3. He provided for their needs in the wilderness (Nehemiah 9:21)
    5. Their Possession of the Land (Nehemiah 9:22-25)
      1. God gave them possession of the Promised Land (Nehemiah 9:22)
      2. Their children went in to possess the land (Nehemiah 9:23-24)
      3. They prospered abundantly in the land (Nehemiah 9:25)
    6. Their Rebellion in the Land (Nehemiah 9:26-31)
      1. They rejected the rule of the Lord  (Nehemiah 9:26)
        1. They were disobedient
        2. They rebelled against the Lord
        3. They cast the law behind their backs
        4. They slew the prophets
        5. They wrought great provocations
      2. God gave them into the hand of their enemies (Nehemiah 9:27a)
      3. God delivered from their enemies when they returned to Him (Nehemiah 9:27b-28)
      4. They continued to rebel against the Lord (Nehemiah 9:29)
      5. God preserved them because of His great mercy (Nehemiah 9:30-31)
    7. The Call for a Covenant (Nehemiah 9:32-38)
      1. A personal appeal to God (Nehemiah 9:32-33)
        1. The great, mighty, and terrible God (Nehemiah 9:32)
        2. The God who keeps covenant and mercy (Nehemiah 9:32)
        3. The God who sees the troubles His people have endured (Nehemiah 9:32)
        4. The God who is just in all that He has done (Nehemiah 9:33)
      2. A confession of the sins of the fathers (Nehemiah 9:34-35)
      3. A cry for help to the Lord (Nehemiah 9:36-37)
        1. Because they are servants in the land (Nehemiah 9:36)
        2. Because of their servitude to the kings of the land (Nehemiah 9:37)
          1. Dominion over their bodies and possessions
          2. Serving the kings at their pleasure
          3. Daily in great distress
      4. A commitment to make a covenant with the Lord (Nehemiah 9:38)
  3. THE SEALING OF THE COVENANT (Nehemiah 10:1-28)
    1. The Names of those Signing (Putting their Seal to) the Covenant: 84 names (Nehemiah 10:1-27)
    2. The Remainder of the People Agreeing to the Covenant (Nehemiah 10:28)
      1. Separated from the people of the land
      2. Separated unto the law of God
      3. Separated according to understanding
  4. THE PROMISE OF THE COVENANT (Nehemiah 10:29-39)
    1. To Observe the Words of God (Nehemiah 10:29)
      1. They entered into an oath
      2. They promised to observe
    2. To Separate from the World (Nehemiah 10:30-31)
      1. The people of the world (Nehemiah 10:30; Titus 2:14)
      2. The practices of the world (Nehemiah 10:31; Jeremiah 10:2)
    3. To Give to the Work of God (Nehemiah 10:32-38)
      1. Shekels for the service of the temple (Nehemiah 10:32)
      2. Offerings for the work of the temple (Nehemiah 10:33)
      3. The wood offering by lots (Nehemiah 10:34)
      4. Offerings of the firstfruits (Nehemiah 10:35-37)
      5. The tithe of the tithes for the priests (Nehemiah 10:38)
    4. To Support the House of God (Nehemiah 10:39; Hebrews 10:25)
      1. To bring offerings for the house of God
      2. Not to forsake the house of God

CONCLUSION: This covenant made by Nehemiah and the people of Israel to the Lord is similar to the covenant made by King Josiah and the people of Israel (2 Chronicles 34:29-33). It is the result of a return to or rediscovery of the word of God and its teachings. It is made by a people who had strayed from the teachings of God, but who are led to return to those lost teachings. God’s people sometimes stray far away from the Lord. This story provides an illustration for all who need to come back to God’s word.

Memory Verses:

Psalm 119:57 Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
Nehemiah 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.