On the twenty-fourth day of the same month the people of Israel gathered to fast in order to show sorrow for their sins. They had already separated themselves from all foreigners. They wore sackcloth and put dust on their heads as signs of grief. Then they stood and began to confess the sins that they and their ancestors had committed.
For about three hours the Law of the LORD their God was read to them, and for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the LORD their God.
There was a platform for the Levites, and on it stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They prayed aloud to the LORD their God.
The following Levites gave a call to worship: Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said: "Stand up and praise the LORD your God; praise him forever and ever! Let everyone praise his glorious name, although no human praise is great enough."
And then the people of Israel prayed this prayer: "You, LORD, you alone are LORD; you made the heavens and the stars of the sky. You made land and sea and everything in them; you gave life to all. The heavenly powers bow down and worship you.
You, LORD God, chose Abram and led him out of Ur in Babylonia; you changed his name to Abraham.
You found that he was faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him. You promised to give him the land of the Canaanites, the land of the Hittites and the Amorites, the land of the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Girgashites, to be a land where his descendants would live. You kept your promise, because you are faithful.
"You saw how our ancestors suffered in Egypt; you heard their call for help at the Red Sea.
You worked amazing miracles against the king, against his officials and the people of his land, because you knew how they oppressed your people. You won then the fame you still have today.
Through the sea you made a path for your people and led them through on dry ground. Those who pursued them drowned in deep water, as a stone sinks in the raging sea.
With a cloud you led them in daytime, and at night you lighted their way with fire.
At Mount Sinai you came down from heaven; you spoke to your people and gave them good laws and sound teachings.
You taught them to keep your Sabbaths holy, and through your servant Moses you gave them your laws.
"When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven, and water from a rock when they were thirsty. You told them to take control of the land which you had promised to give them.
But our ancestors grew proud and stubborn and refused to obey your commands.
They refused to obey; they forgot all you did; they forgot the miracles you had performed. In their pride they chose a leader to take them back to slavery in Egypt. But you are a God who forgives; you are gracious and loving, slow to be angry. Your mercy is great; you did not forsake them.
They made an idol in the shape of a bull-calf and said it was the god who led them from Egypt! How much they insulted you, LORD!
But you did not abandon them there in the desert, for your mercy is great. You did not take away the cloud or the fire that showed them the path by day and night.
In your goodness you told them what they should do; you fed them manna and gave them water to drink.
Through forty years in the desert you provided all that they needed; their clothing never wore out, and their feet were not swollen with pain.
"You let them conquer nations and kingdoms, lands that bordered their own. They conquered the land of Heshbon, where Sihon ruled, and the land of Bashan, where Og was king.
You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky, and let them conquer and live in the land that you had promised their ancestors to give them.
They conquered the land of Canaan; you overcame the people living there. You gave your people the power to do as they pleased with the people and kings of Canaan.
Your people captured fortified cities, fertile land, houses full of wealth, cisterns already dug, olive trees, fruit trees, and vineyards. They ate all they wanted and grew fat; they enjoyed all the good things you gave them.
"But your people rebelled and disobeyed you; they turned their backs on your Law. They killed the prophets who warned them, who told them to turn back to you. They insulted you time after time,
so you let their enemies conquer and rule them. In their trouble they called to you for help, and you answered them from heaven. In your great mercy you sent them leaders who rescued them from their foes.
When peace returned, they sinned again, and again you let their enemies conquer them. Yet when they repented and asked you to save them, in heaven you heard, and time after time you rescued them in your great mercy.
You warned them to obey your teachings, but in pride they rejected your laws, although keeping your Law is the way to life. Hard-headed and stubborn, they refused to obey.
Year after year you patiently warned them. You inspired your prophets to speak, but your people were deaf, so you let them be conquered by other nations.
And yet, because your mercy is great, you did not forsake or destroy them. You are a gracious and merciful God!
"O God, our God, how great you are! How terrifying, how powerful! You faithfully keep your covenant promises. From the time when Assyrian kings oppressed us, even till now, how much we have suffered! Our kings, our leaders, our priests and prophets, our ancestors, and all our people have suffered. Remember how much we have suffered!
You have done right to punish us; you have been faithful, even though we have sinned.
Our ancestors, our kings, leaders, and priests have not kept your Law. They did not listen to your commands and warnings.
With your blessing, kings ruled your people when they lived in the broad, fertile land you gave them; but they failed to turn from sin and serve you.
And now we are slaves in the land that you gave us, this fertile land which gives us food.
What the land produces goes to the kings that you put over us because we sinned. They do as they please with us and our livestock, and we are in deep distress!"
Because of all that has happened, we, the people of Israel, hereby make a solemn written agreement, and our leaders, our Levites, and our priests put their seals to it.
The first to sign was the governor, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and then Zedekiah signed. The following also signed:
Priests: Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaia.
Levites: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the clan of Henadad, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
Leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel,Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
We, the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the Temple guards, the Temple musicians, the Temple workers, and all others who in obedience to God's Law have separated themselves from the foreigners living in our land, we, together with our wives and all our children old enough to understand,
do hereby join with our leaders in an oath, under penalty of a curse if we break it, that we will live according to God's Law, which God gave through his servant Moses; that we will obey all that the LORD, our Lord, commands us; and that we will keep all his laws and requirements.
We will not intermarry with the foreigners living in our land.
If foreigners bring grain or anything else to sell to us on the Sabbath or on any other holy day, we will not buy from them. Every seventh year we will not farm the land, and we will cancel all debts.
Every year we will each contribute one-eighth of an ounce of silver to help pay the expenses of the Temple.
We will provide for the Temple worship the following: the sacred bread, the daily grain offering, the animals to be burned each day as sacrifices, the sacred offerings for Sabbaths, New Moon Festivals, and other festivals, the other sacred offerings, the offerings to take away the sins of Israel, and anything else needed for the Temple.
We, the people, priests, and Levites, will draw lots each year to determine which clans are to provide wood to burn the sacrifices offered to the LORD our God, according to the requirements of the Law.
We will take to the Temple each year an offering of the first grain we harvest and of the first fruit that ripens on our trees.
The first son born to each of us we will take to the priests in the Temple and there, as required by the Law, dedicate him to God. We will also dedicate the first calf born to each of our cows, and the first lamb or kid born to each of our sheep or goats.
We will take to the priests in the Temple the dough made from the first grain harvested each year and our other offerings of wine, olive oil, and all kinds of fruit. We will take to the Levites, who collect tithes in our farming villages, the tithes from the crops that grow on our land.
Priests who are descended from Aaron are to be with the Levites when tithes are collected, and for use in the Temple the Levites are to take to the Temple storerooms one-tenth of all the tithes they collect.
The people of Israel and the Levites are to take the contributions of grain, wine, and olive oil to the storerooms where the utensils for the Temple are kept and where the priests who are on duty, the Temple guards, and the members of the Temple choir have their quarters. We will not neglect the house of our God.
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place.
Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world.
When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages.
In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, "These people who are talking like this are Galileans!
How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages?
We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia,
from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome,
both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia---yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!"
Amazed and confused, they kept asking each other, "What does this mean?"
But others made fun of the believers, saying, "These people are drunk!"
Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen to me and let me tell you what this means.
These people are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only nine o'clock in the morning.
Instead, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about:
'This is what I will do in the last days, God says: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams.
Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message.
I will perform miracles in the sky above and wonders on the earth below. There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke;
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will turn red as blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes.
And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.'
"Listen to these words, fellow Israelites! Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine authority was clearly proven to you by all the miracles and wonders which God performed through him. You yourselves know this, for it happened here among you.
In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him.
But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner.
For David said about him, 'I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is near me, and I will not be troubled.
And so I am filled with gladness, and my words are full of joy. And I, mortal though I am, will rest assured in hope,
because you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the paths that lead to life, and your presence will fill me with joy.'
"My friends, I must speak to you plainly about our famous ancestor King David. He died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day.
He was a prophet, and he knew what God had promised him: God had made a vow that he would make one of David's descendants a king, just as David was.
David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said, 'He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.'
God has raised this very Jesus from death, and we are all witnesses to this fact.
He has been raised to the right side of God, his Father, and has received from him the Holy Spirit, as he had promised. What you now see and hear is his gift that he has poured out on us.
For it was not David who went up into heaven; rather he said, 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit here at my right side
until I put your enemies as a footstool under your feet.'
"All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah!"
When the people heard this, they were deeply troubled and said to Peter and the other apostles, "What shall we do, brothers?"
Peter said to them, "Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit.
For God's promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away---all whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
Peter made his appeal to them and with many other words he urged them, saying, "Save yourselves from the punishment coming on this wicked people!"
Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day.
They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.
Many miracles and wonders were being done through the apostles, and everyone was filled with awe.
All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another.
They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed.
Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts,
praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.