Renew Covenant

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8 August, 2021Pastor Mark SchultzRoad to Recovery

"Never ask someone to do what you are not prepared to do yourself.' It's a leadership principle that every successful leader learns and which Nehemiah demonstrates repeatedly through the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall. But the rebuilding of the wall is just the first stage of a much larger and more difficult renewal project that needs to occur; the reformation of people's hearts as they are restored to their God-designed purpose and work in this world. As Israel's hope is renewed, as they start to feel safe, secure and protected again, the people revert back to old habits…living selfishly and for their own agenda. So when Nehemiah discovers a widening economic rift in God's people, he's swift to act, regardless of the risk to his influence as a leader.  For just as the walls of the city need to be rebuilt on strong foundations, so do the lives of God's people. Nehemiah brings them back to their spiritual foundations, calling them to renew that covenant and live in their covenantal identity. We too are called to daily renew the covenant of grace that shapes our identity; a covenant sealed in the blood of Christ and poured out as a living sacrifice for the world. It's a powerful step in our journey on the road to recovery.

#4 in series: Road to Recovery

Nehemiah 5:1-19

 Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”

3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”

4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. 7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them 8 and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

9 So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 

13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

14 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. 15 But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.

17 Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people. 

Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? Nehemiah 5:9b

Every time you enter a room, look at your hands and say, "I am here to serve". That's covenant living! 

  1. Of all the promises that God has made to you, which one(s) do you remember regularly so that you live according to them?
  2. How do these Scriptural promises shape your responses to challenges you face?

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