Growing up Southern Baptist, I was presented with several options at the altar call each week. The speaker called those who did not know Jesus to repent and trust in Him; those who knew Jesus but had been living in sin to “rededicate their lives” to Christ; and for others to surrender to God’s call into vocational ministry. I remember very clearly responding to each of these calls at different times in my life. Today’s passage reminds me of those times.
The first few verses contain a long list of names, something we’ve become familiar with in Nehemiah. This list records the names of the family heads who sealed the renewed covenant with the Lord after the prayers of confession, repentance, and worship in chapter 9. Recording names provided an important layer of accountability and community solidarity, just like walking down the aisle in my Baptist church. It meant that all the people in my community knew I had made a commitment to follow Jesus, repented for turning away from Him, or surrendered to the ministry.
Also important is verse 28, which states that everyone else, including “their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand” also bound “themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the law of God.” As we saw earlier, the inclusion of women and children shows that a relationship with God is open to everyone. Knowing God is not just for the family heads or the “important” people in society—it is for all of us! Praise the Lord for His open invitation for all to come to Him!
>> Have you given your life to Jesus? Are you a Christian but living in sin? Do you feel God calling you to ministry? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, call your pastor or a friend today and talk to them about it.
We do not want to make a hasty vow to You, God, making promises we will never fulfill. Therefore, give us insight and discernment as we weigh Your calling on us! Move our hearts so that we can in truth say, “I will serve You.”