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The Results of the Census

Posted on April 28, 2019

The Results of the Census

Nehemiah 10:1 – 12:26

Scripture Reading

Nehemiah 10:32 – 39

32 “We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. 34 We, the priests, the Levites, and the people, have likewise cast lots for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law. 35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord; 36 also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; 37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. 38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. 39 For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

Introduction / Illustration

Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other.

Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.

One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.

God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the aggressiveness of a competitive captain? - Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 97-98.


Purpose: Every Christ follower should daily dedicate themselves to be living sacrifices to the Lord in all aspects of life as Nehemiah exemplifies.

Transition: Nehemiah with God’s help begins to lay out the priorities of the Jewish people living in the newly walled city of Jerusalem as he prepares to head back to his job as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes.

The People’s commitment to the contract with God – 9:38 – 10:2

Nehemiah 9:38 – 10:1

“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.”

“On the seals are the names of Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah.”

  • They put their nameson the line
    • Notice who seemed to sign the contract first or put his name out there as committed. None other than Nehemiah.
    • 84 people sign the contract
      • 10:2 – 8 – Priests are listed
      • 10:9-13 – Levites are listed
      • 10:14 – 27 – Leaders of the people are listed
      • 10:28 – then the mention of the women and children who are committed.
  • All the people stood while the Book of the Law – God’s Word was read and then they had priests come and explain it to them. Now they are publicly committing to the promises and commands of God.
  • They made sacrificesto fulfill the contract
    • I am so grateful for the signers of the Declaration of Independence who put their wealth, reputation, job and families on the line to free America from the tyranny of England
      • 56 signers – 8 were born in Britain
      • Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the revolutionary war.
  • They put their names on the line in very big way.
  • Franklin Graham “Mayor Buttigieg says he’s a gay Christian. As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized. The Bible says marriage is between a man & a woman—not two men, not two women.”
  • Are we willing to put our name on the line for the sake of honoring God’s name even if sacrifice and persecution are involved?
  • How strong are your convictions? How can we engage the culture in a loving and compassionate way pointing out sin but lovingly pointing them to the Savior at the same time?
  • Are we willing to take God at His Word and let the chips fall where they may?
    • Oaths are in the OT that people would take with the idea ofbreaking those oaths would have severe consequences.
    • In the NT, believers are not to bind their obedience by an oath but our obedience should be out of love for our Savior

Matthew 5:33-37

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Quote: “We don’t succeed as Christians because we make promises to God, but because we believe the promises of God and act upon them.” – Warren Wiersbe

Application: Are we willing to put our character and reputation on the line for God?

Transition: Second, we see;

The People’s obligation to fulfill the contract with God – 10:28-39

  • Chastity in marriage – 10:28-30

Nehemiah 10:28 – 30

28 “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 Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, 29 join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes. 30 We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.

  • Separation is simply total devotion to God, no matter what the cost.
  • When a man and woman get married, they separate themselves from all other possible mates and give themselves completely to each other. It is total commitment motivated by love, and it is a balanced decision: We separate from others to the one who is to be our life’s mate.
  • “As long as we love each other, it will work out!” is the argument many pastors hear from Christians who want to marry unsaved people. But the question is not, “Will this marriage work out?” but, “Will this marriage enjoy God’s best blessing and fulfill God’s will?” It’s difficult to see how God can bless and use people who deliberately disobey His Word (2 Cor. 6:14–7:1; 1 Cor. 7:39)
  • Marrying an unbeliever creates all kinds of issues
    • Will I give up my faith?
    • What will our values in general be?
    • What will our spiritual values be?
    • How will God be worshiped? Decision making based on what?
    • Lots of issues that can add tension to the marriage
    • Conformity to the commands of God – 10:31

Nehemiah 10:31

31 And if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. And we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

  • While the Jewish Sabbath was not to be a day of bondage and misery, it was a day devoted to rest and contemplation of things spiritual. It was a weekly reminder to the nation that they were Jews and had a special calling in the world. Some of the Jewish merchants would be especially interested in getting business from the Gentiles, and to close up business on a day when people were shopping seemed a waste.
    • Moses didn’t spell out specific rules for observing the Sabbath, but there was a precedent for not engaging in unnecessary work. They were not to light any fires on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:1–3), and one man was stoned because he gathered wood on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32–36). The prophets sternly rebuked the Jews for violating the Sabbath (Jer. 17:19–27; Amos 8:4–6; Isa. 56:1–2; 58:13–14), because their disobedience was a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem: rebellion against the Lord.
    • The solemn affirmation of faith reported in this chapter also included observing the Sabbatical Year (Lev. 25:1–7, 20–22; Deut. 15:1–11). Every seventh year, the Jews were to let the land lie idle so that it might restore itself, an excellent principle of ecology. Of course, the people would need a great deal of faith to trust God for food for two years; but God promised to care for them. After seven Sabbatical Years, they were to celebrate the fiftieth year as a “Year of Jubilee” (Lev. 25:8ff); and this meant trusting God for food for three years.
    • The evidence is that the nation had not faithfully celebrated these special Sabbatical observances. This was one reason why God sent them into Captivity (2 Chron. 36:21), that He might give the land seventy years of rest (Jer. 29:10). This would compensate for some 500 years of disobedience on the part of the nation (×), one year for each neglected Sabbatical Year or Year of Jubilee.
    • For the Jewish remnant to promise to commemorate the Sabbatical Year was a great step of faith, for many of the people were poor and the nation faced repeated agricultural and economic depression. Not to have extra produce for a whole year would certainly affect their business with the Gentiles around them. The people’s willingness to obey this law is a beautiful illustration of Matthew 6:33.

Transition Quote: British expositor G. Campbell Morgan said: “Whereas the house of God today is no longer material but spiritual, the material is still a very real symbol of the spiritual. When the Church of God in any place in any locality is careless about the material place of assembly, the place of its worship and its work, it is a sign and evidence that its life is at a low ebb” (The Westminster Pulpit, vol. 8, p. 315). – Warren Wiersbe

  • The temple that the Israelites rebuilt did not have all the beauty and splendor of Solomon’s temple but it was functional and able to carry out the ministry that God desired to bring Him glory

Ezra 3:11 - 13

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

  • God does not live in this sanctuary but He cares how we take care of His building
  • First impressions are important for our guests who want to come and hear about Jesus. Thankful for Danny Gatton for taking care of our grounds. Thankful for Steve Brethauer and our door greeters and ushers.
  • The physical building needs to be functional for all the ministries of our church. We have a great, multi – purpose facility with a wonderful parking lot
  • We should take ownership and be proud of our place of worship. We are in the process of looking at some upgrades to our sanctuary and lobby. Possibly replacing the carpet throughout the building.
  • God’s house, or the place we worship God, deserves the support of God’s people
  • Choosing faithfulness in giving tithes and offerings – 10:32-35

Nehemiah 10:32-35

32 “We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. 34 We, the priests, the Levites, and the people, have likewise cast lots for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law. 35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord;

  • This was called the temple tax. The annual census of the people twenty years of age and older was accompanied by the collecting of a half-shekel tax to be used to support the ministry of the house of God.
  • The tax was a reminder to the people that God had redeemed them and paid a price to set them free, and that they should behave like people who belonged to God.
  • The original tax was used to make silver sockets and hooks for the tabernacle, but in subsequent years it helped pay the expenses of the ministry.
  • Verses 33 and 34 talk about the different things they spend money on for the ministries of the temple
  • If we are walking with the Lord, we will gladly give to maintain and improve the church by giving of our financial gifts
  • In verse 35, the Jewish people were taught to give of their best and give it first before spending money on other things.

Proverbs 3:9

 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

  • What is the priority of giving in your budget? Dave Ramsey in Financial Peace University says it should be at the top of your budget.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

  • What does our giving go to?
    • First you are giving to the Lord. Then God has the stewards of the money in the church use it wisely with financial integrity before the church family
    • Salaries
    • General Fund to take care of the utilities and the ministries of our church
    • Missions in order to support the reaching of the lost in cross cultural opportunities.
  • Giving is an act of spiritual worship

Quote: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

  • Care and support for their pastoral leadership – 10:36 – 38

Nehemiah 10:36 – 38

36 Also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; 37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. 38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

  • The elders and pastors need your prayers
  • Those who are paid as vocational ministry people should be taken care of and PVBC does a good job of that. You treat us who work for the church very well.

Luke 10:7

For the laborer deserves his wages

I Timothy 5:17

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching

  • In the end for the Pastor and others who work here whether paid or not, it should be a ministry done out of love and a calling, not just to get a paycheck or accolades.
  • Care and support for their house of God – 10:39

Nehemiah 10:39

39 For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

  • God never forsakes His people when they are in need

Nehemiah 9:31

Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God

  • In Nehemiah 10:39, the people made a promise, a commitment to not neglect the house of our God.
  • Years before, the Prophet Haggai had rebuked the people because they were so busy taking care of their own houses, they had neglected the house of God (Hag. 1:4); and this warning needs to be heralded today
  • We take for granted so much what God has given to us.

Illustration: Jewish synagogue was convened when there were ten adult men thirteen years of age and older and a copy of the Torah – first five books of the OT. They met in homes. They at first did not build what we know today as synagogues.

  • Brazil
  • Mexico City
  • We are so blessed with this building and its amenities!!

Application: Are there specific areas of our lives that are off limits to God?

Transition: Marriage, God’s commands for our good, giving of our finances. Are there any of these areas that are not surrendered to the Lord?

The People in leadership named to govern the contract with God – 11:1 – 12:26

  • The structure of society must be orderly
    • Society begins with the individual
    • Then it is the union of marriage and family
    • Then it is neighborhoods, communities made up of businesses, schools, church, hospitals, etc.
    • Then it is cities
    • Then states
    • Then countries
      • In the past, some examples of governments and their attempt to keep society in order
        • Roman Empire – pax romano – peace at any cost
        • Chinese – Feudal system
        • India – Caste system
        • Monarchies / Dictatorships
        • Republic / Democracies
  • God with his plan of authority and exalting those he will into leadership desired a culture of order and morality.
  • The establishment of godly leadership is vital

Titus 3:1-2

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

  • Our time is short but read I Timothy 3, the verses that talk about the qualifications for an elder to understand what a godly leader looks like
  • We are seeing in this book of Nehemiah, the characteristics of a godly leader in Nehemiah and how he deals with his authority and how he treats the people God has placed under His leadership.

Application: Do we understand and accept God’s authority in our lives?

Key Thought: Are we giving ourselves over to God out of love or duty?

Illustration: Contrast of two coaches for the same team. Jimmy Johnson, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys just after Jerry Jones bought the team and fired Tom Landry, divorced his wife of 26 years when he left coaching at the University of Miami college team to become head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He said he needed a wife while coaching on the college level for social functions and to show families that he would be looking out for their sons. In pro football, however, she was an unnecessary accouterment and a distraction to winning. He said winning football was his number one priority and his two sons second. How tragic!

In contrast to this, Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas cowboys said, "The thrill of knowing Jesus is the greatest thing that ever happened to me ... I think God has put me in a very special place, and He expects me to use it to His glory in everything I do ... whether coaching football or talking to the press, I'm always a Christian ... Christ is first, family second and football third." - Source Unknown.

Questions to Ponder this Week

  1. How are you nurturing your marriage this week?
  2. How are you matching your life to what you read in God’s Word this week?
  3. How are you being faithful to do your part to care and support God’s house?