30 ‘We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.31 ‘When the neighbouring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.“NIV

As we read the remainder of this chapter, it will be good to keep in mind these words from Tom Hale:

‘These verses list the specific commitments the people agreed to in writing. These commitments are only a tiny portion of all the commands of the Lord the people had promised to obey (verse 29). Probably these specific commitments are emphasised here because they had been badly neglected in the past; most of them relate to the services and upkeep of the temple. These commitments may not at first glance seem to apply to modern Christians, but indeed they do. They concern separating oneself from evil, cleansing one’s home, obeying the commandments, contributing to the church, and serving God with one’s tithes and offerings. Let us not simply sign a pledge to do these things; let’s actually do them!’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.764.

Bible people know where to draw the line. There may well be more grey areas in life than some Christians care to admit, but there definitely are clear boundary lines in Scripture, and we need to know where they are and choose in advance that we are not going to transgress. As we read the Bible, we will develop a number of core convictions about right and wrong, and there are times we have to be ready to say, ‘’We promise not to…we will not…’’ There will be moments when we have to say, like Luther, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other!’ It may be costly.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that your Word is liveable. As I read it, enable me to grow in understanding of the things I should and should not do. Help me to not just form convictions, but to also embody them.