The returned exiles showed how sincere they were in following the Lord! They gathered together for the express purpose of hearing the Law. By this time their language had changed so much that they needed 13 Levites to explain what was said in the readings. The people wept because they realized how far they were from obeying the Law of Moses, and also for joy in hearing it. One month later, the leaders gathered to explore the Law in more detail, and they found that Israel had always neglected celebrating the Festival of Shelters. They did that for the prescribed week with great joy. Ezra read the Law to the people every day. Then afterward, there was a meeting for confessing their sins including the long prayer in chapter 9. This seems to have been an extra event, about one week after the Festival of Shelters was over. After that prayer,
Neh. 9:38 NLT The people responded, “In view of all this, we are making a solemn promise and putting it in writing. On this sealed document are the names of our leaders and Levites and priests.”
After the prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would die, in 2nd King’s 20 we are told that Isaiah only managed to get to the middle courtyard when the Lord’s message came answering Hezekiah’s prayer. Fifteen years were added to Hezekiah’s life, and he received the promise that the Assyrian king would not conquer Jerusalem. In his poem of thanks, Hezekiah said:
Is. 38:15 NLT But what could I say?
For [God/he] himself sent this sickness.
Now I will walk humbly throughout my years
because of this anguish I have felt.
Note the distinction about old Jewish religious laws that Paul made in chapter 2, comparing them with the right standing true believers obtain by union with Christ. We’re not in a religion anymore, we’re in a new relationship with God through Christ. Those old religious regulations had no ability to help one conquer our persistent evil desires. Following the teachings in the New Testament does indeed allow us to be freed from bondage to evil desires. One important way this deliverance happens when we understand, believe, and meditate upon spiritual realities such as those found in 2:13-15, and 20-23. We read other keys recently in Philippians 3-4. And if you are interested in more on this topic, I encourage you to follow the reading plan I posted in Youversion/Bible.com called Buckling the Belt of Truth.
GNT Translation notes:
Neh. 10:1 [I, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, was the first to sign,//The first to sign was the governor, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah,] and then Zedekiah signed. The following also signed:
Col. 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, for that is what [is appropriate for you who live in union with Christ.//you should do as Christians.]
20 Children, [0//it is your Christian duty to] obey your parents [in everything they tell you//always], for that is what pleases [the Lord//God].
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