"The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Torah of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Torah that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord and his rules and his statutes." - Nehemiah 10:28-29
In 445 bc, the Jews who had returned to the land of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah dedicated themselves to following the Torah. It was a covenant renewal ceremony like previous ones in Israel's history. Unfortunately, it will not work out. The people lack the ability and power necessary to do all the commandments of the Lord. They are still trying to live out God's ways in their own strength.
Some life principles are: (1) it is good to have a desire to carry out God's law; (2) however, we should never make promises to God, because we won't keep them; (3) sinful human nature prevents us from living up to our best intentions; and (4) to please God, we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment (Romans 8:3-4). This is the only way we are able to please God with our lives.
"For God has done what the Torah, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." - Romans 8:3-4
Father, it is foolish for us to make promises to you. We always fail to live up to our best intentions. To please you, we must depend wholly on your grace and the power you give us by the Holy Spirit. This is a hard truth for fleshly, self-sufficient man to accept. Teach us how weak we are, so that we may desperately depend on you. May your great power be at work within us.
"Now to [God] who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Messiah Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21
"'This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says Yahweh of hosts.'" - Zechariah 4:6
"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."' Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." - John 7:37-39
Thank you, Father, that we live by grace and not by law. May we walk in your grace today. May rivers of living water flow out of our hearts today. In Jesus' name, amen!
- Jeff Coleman