Reflection Guide - Nehemiah 9:38-10:27

Key points from the sermon:

  • Because of their egregious sin against God, Israel is now making a “firm covenant in writing.”  They feel the weight of their sin and they are remembering God’s faithful, covenant love. They’re repenting and choosing to re-enter that covenant love.  They realize how much they’ve messed up and they’re declaring that they want to do better.

  • Likewise, when we feel the weight of our sin, we try to do better.  Or we give up in despair. Or we try to tweak God’s character. These are all coping mechanisms (unhealthy coping mechanisms, but coping mechanisms nonetheless) for dealing with brokenness.  God had a plan all along for our brokenness. He knew we couldn’t do better, so He had a plan all along for a new covenant through Jesus Christ.

  • In 10:1-27, we see a long list of names.  These people were willing to be known. God knows us too.  He has engraved our names on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16)!  We are fully known and fully loved by our God.

  • By writing down their names, the Israelites are also boldly declaring that they’re all in this covenant together.  This is a corporate covenant.  In American Christianity, we like to tout our individuality.  We are indeed all created uniquely by God. But in reality, this “individuality” is sometimes selfishness disguised as independence and it sabotages relationships.

  • When we trust in Christ, He gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal - a guarantee (Eph. 1:13).  We have total security in His new covenant - not because we are faithful, but because He alone is faithful.  When we rest in that security, we can allow God’s covenant love to truly transform us and all of our relationships.

Scripture to meditate on this week:

“In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” -1 Corinthians 11:25

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is a covenant?  How does it compare to a contract?  Why were the Israelites writing this covenant?

  2. How do you typically respond when you feel the weight of your sin?  Do you write a covenant, try to do better? Do you give up and despair?  Do you try to tweak God’s character?

  3. Why is it significant that the people listed their names on the sealed document?

  4. The Israelites were writing a corporate covenant.  Why is this idea of a “corporate covenant” such a challenge for us?

  5. How is God’s covenant good news for us?  How should God’s covenant impact the way we live?

Practice:

This week let’s die to our American “individuality” - selfishness disguised as independence.  Think of one person or one situation this week when you know you’ll be tempted towards “individuality.”  Ask God to help you deny yourself in that moment and “count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).  Journal about the experience - tell God what was hard and what was good about it. Even if you fail miserably in this endeavor, rest in the security we have in the new covenant because of Christ!  While we are unfaithful, God remains faithful and that’s our hope!