The people of God heard the Word and confessed their sins. Yet this was not all that was required. What commitment would they make to the Lord?
According to the last verse of the prior chapter, the princes and religious leaders made a covenant with God. They were not alone. The rest of the people joined with their brothers in this solemn promise “to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD.”
Their pledge was not only to obey in general. Specific obligations were cited in writing. They would not intermarry with the people in the land who were not Jews. They would keep the Sabbath day and even the Sabbath year. They would care for the poor in their midst.
The assembly also agreed to support the religious rituals of Israel in ways that were not precisely enumerated in the Law of Moses. They pledged to do what was right and necessary even beyond the exact letter of the Law. They would give their goods and even their children to the service of the Lord.
They would also respect the offices of priest and Levite according to the Lord’s Word. These religious leaders also pledged to do their part. Concerning the worship of God they gave this solemn word: “We will not neglect the house of our God.”
This was a faithful step for the leaders and the people to take. It was good for them to make this commitment, but would they do what they had promised? The people in the days of Moses and Joshua had also promised to do what the Lord commanded. At various moments in the history of God’s people exemplary kings had led the nation in commitments of ceremonial and moral faithfulness. Yet all of those words had come to nothing. God required perfect obedience from His people. How would they ever satisfy His holy demands?
Now we know how the Lord determined to keep covenant not only with the Jews, but with all His elect from every nation. He has perfectly kept the demands of His own Law and then died the death that our disobedience deserved. We are still called to pledge our obedience to God. We are never permitted to say that we have decided to keep on sinning. But when we fail, the Lord of glory lifts us up again calling us to repent and to recommit ourselves to obedience. His Son has accomplished a salvation for us that can never fail. Jesus is our perfect confidence.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, Your Son’s Name is on the seal of the Covenant of Grace. In His faithfulness we have been granted life. We thank You for His Name, which is the Name above all names. He faced such trouble and pain for our sake. He set His heart upon doing what was right according to Your Law and He has accomplished this wonderful obedience. He did not need to do this for Himself. He had life through His divine nature forever. Yet He became man and obeyed You as our substitute. He came to build a new house for You, a temple made without hands. We are in that temple, for we are in Him.