August 24 A Family Covenant, Part 2
“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes.” (Nehemiah 10:28-29)
Nehemiah left his position in Susa as the chief cupbearer to the king to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. He led the people to work at it, finishing the wall in record time. But the physical wall, the temple, and all the external rebuilding couldn’t change the hearts of God’s people. So Nehemiah led the people to worship the Lord and read The Law together. “And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God.” (Nehemiah 9:3) After the Levites acknowledged God’s sovereign, exalted rulership, and role as creator, they prayed a prayer of sincere confession and recommitted themselves to honor God with their practices, because of his compassion, grace, steadfast love, and forgiveness. “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” (Nehemiah 9:38) In Chapter 10 we have a record of the people all agreeing with the Levites, including themselves in the written covenant and commitment to honor God’s statutes.
A family covenant can be a powerful tool for a family that wants to devote themselves to Jesus Christ. The purpose statement can be like a mission statement after the preamble of doctrinal significance and biblical faith. The purpose statement may be a specific goal or “mission” of the family, such as being more gospel-centered as a family or encouraging each other to apply biblical teachings. The Levites in Jerusalem had a specific purpose, implied in their confession, that immediately precedes their intention to create a written testimony. “Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.” (Nehemiah 9:34-37) The Levites wanted Israel, the family of God, to appreciate all that the Lord had done for them and enjoy the freedom he had prepared for them in their own nation.
We establish most family rules and boundaries because of issues and problems that arise; organizations do the same thing. So, as your children act out conflicts, rebelliousness, or confusion over moral and ethical issues, perhaps it is time to work on a family covenant. The purpose of the covenant should address your primary concern for your family. Rather than wait for the next crisis, will you begin thinking about your mission as a family dedicated to Jesus Christ?