Nehemiah Ch10 v 29
All the people 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.

The book of Nehemiah gives a wonderful account of the goodness of God towards His people. In the first chapter Nehemiah hears of the distress of the small remnant that had returned from exile who were in great distress and the walls of the city were broken down and the gates burnt with fire. The news drove him to his knees in fervent prayer. God overruled and the King gave him permission to return and build and provided him with many benefits for this great task. So Nehemiah returned and galvanised the demoralised residents of the land to rebuild the wall. Despite much opposition from the neighbouring rulers and from within the Jewish community the wall was rebuilt in 52 days. The neighbouring rulers recognised that it was done by God.

After a number of activities in resolving domestic issues we come to Chapters 8 & 9. All the people gathered together as one on the 1st day of the 7th month and told Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which the Lord had commanded to Israel. He did so and read it to all the people who listened attentively.
He read from morning to mid-day. The Priests and Levites helped the people to understand what was being read. On the second day the the heads of the father’s houses of all the people with the priests and the Levites gathered to Ezra in order to understand the the words of the law.
On this second day they read about the feast of Tabernacles and realised that it had not been celebrated for centuries. They immediately determined to celebrate the feast. Which they did climaxing with a solemn assembly on the 8th day. Each day the Book of the Law was read and the there was very great gladness amongst them all.
Then on the 24th day of the month they all met again. This time it was those who had separated themselves from all foreigners. But this occasion was different as the people came fasting, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads. The came in mourning. For a quarter of the day they read again from Book of the law. For a further quarter they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.
As far as God was concerned they learnt about His greatness, creatorial power, holiness but also about His kindness, mercy, care, forgiveness, righteousness, guidance, provision, deliverance, patience….
As far as they were concerned they learnt about their disobedience, rebellion, their evil ways, their killing of God’s prophets….
So what did the people do? They confessed their sins and made a covenant to walk in God’s ways and be obedient to God’s laws from that day forward. It was signed by all the leaders and the people, it was a solemn oath.

So what does this mean for us to day. We are certainly not like God’s people of old, we certainly haven’t done the things that they did. But wait a moment. How have we progressed in our Christian Faith; are we more Christ-like than we were 12 months ago, or 10 or 20 years ago? Has our knowledge of our heavenly Father increased through the study of the
Word, is our witness more effective, has our service become deeper, and what about our prayer life? I am sure all of us must hang our heads in shame. So what should we do? Listen to the words of the apostle in Philippians 3:13-14:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So let’s confess our failures, forget the past and as the Hebrew writer proclaims, in ch12
“let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us pray that we as individuals and a church might commit ourselves in the coming months to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

C. Restall

1 O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heav’nly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

2 Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I sought the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?

3 What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!
How sweet their mem’ry still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

4 Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove Thee from my breast.

5 The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne
And worship only Thee.

6 So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

William Cowper

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