The Israelites are gathered together. They have listened to the law being read and are choosing again to have God be their God and to live His way.
They are described as “all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the land to the Law of God.”
There are two parts to being holy unto God. To be holy is to be set apart. We need to be set apart from and set apart to.
There’s a dividing wall, a chasm. We need to be on one side or the other. We need to separate from and to.
The Israelites separated from the peoples of the land.
They literally separated and had moved back to Israel. They separated from the wives they wrongly took on, but they were also separating from the practices of the people of the land.
They were going to observe the Sabbath. They were going to refuse to buy or sell on the Sabbath. They were going to not plant on the seventh year and release debts as the Sabbath law demands.
They were also going to take care of the house of the Lord and the Levites. They were going to tithe and give an addition tax for the temple and take turns providing the wood.
That part I wonder about. I don’t know that was from the law. They say, “We also take on ourselves the obligation to give yearly a third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God.”
They put an obligation on themselves. It makes me think ahead to the Pharisees who, between this time and Jesus’ arrival, have built up all sorts of their own obligations they put on the people.
Jesus, more than anything, resists the Sabbath laws of the Pharisees. In trying to obey God and preserve the Sabbath, they go way off kilter the other way making all sorts of rules up about what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath.
They end up obeying themselves and their own ideas of God instead of following God and getting to know His way, so much so, that they don’t even recognize the Lord of the Sabbath.