34 “We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law.
35 “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.
36 “As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.
37 “Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. 38 A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury. 39 The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept.
“We will not neglect the house of our God.”
(Nehemiah 10:34-39 NIV)
As part of a national day of revival, Jewish people committed their hearts and lives to living for the Lord. As part of that commitment, the leaders wrote and signed a document detailing specifics of their obedience to the Lord.
In our previous time together, we studied the first details of their obedience. Today, we will take a look at the remainder of their promises to the Lord.
In yesterday’s passage, we saw the leaders committed to honoring God in their personal lives. In today’s text, we see the leaders commit to honoring the Lord in the Jewish community as well as their personal lives.
This commitment to honor God in the Jewish community focused on obeying God in bringing their tithes and offerings to the Lord. From our study of Ezra chapter 8, we know that the Levites were not given an inheritance of land in Israel or Judah. They were to be fully dedicated to serving the Lord, and not have to spend time working to earn a living. The Levites were somewhat similar to pastors and church staff in our day – supported by the funds of the church attendees. In the case of the Levites, their food allowance came from the generosity and obedience of the people and the priests.
When Ezra prepared to leave Babylon, he noticed there were no Levites among the returning exiles. The Levites had been so mistreated over the years (some of them nearly starved to death) that none were initially willing to volunteer for more hardship. The lack of care and concern for the Levites reflected the overall spiritual condition of the people and Jewish leadership. Ezra prayerfully requested that some Levites go with the returning exiles, and the Lord changed the hearts of some Levites who then volunteered to go.
As we see the Jewish leaders and people commit to bringing their tithes and offerings to the Lord, we see the change in their hearts reflected in their finances and provisions. The Levites would now be properly cared for, as the Lord originally intended. This was a positive sign of change in the Jewish people.
The principle of “first fruits” mentioned several times in today’s passage was a sign of faith in the Lord. By giving the Lord the first part of the harvest, the people were showing their thankfulness to the Lord for His provision and telling the Lord that they trusted Him for the remainder of the harvest.
What does living in a community of faith look like in our day?
Is it all about us and what we can benefit from our association with a local church, or is there a deeper commitment to the Lord and to His work, including the sharing of the resources the Lord has provided to us?
May we exhibit generosity to others, just as the Lord has shown generosity to us in His protection, His provision, and His care and feeding of us along life’s way, as well as His ultimate provision of eternal life through His Son’s death and resurrection.