"Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles,whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua,Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah): The list of the men of the people of Israel:"
(Ezra 2: 1-2)
Welcome to the yellow pages of the book of Ezra!
Biblical verses such as the above are probably skipped—or skimmed—the most by Bible readers. I’m even sure that we haven’t even bothered to ask why these verses are important at all or how they could mean anything to us. Let me shed some revelation of the Holy Spirit upon such seemingly “meaningless” scriptures: the long-winded list of names only prove that our God is a very personal God and every person is precious in His eyes! Not a single name is missed by Him.
Every time I read verses like these, I feel God’s love. I can imagine every name must have had 1001 untold sweet and bitter memories. Every name contains 1001 feelings of God. For each name mentioned, which for us may have no significance, Jesus is willing to come to the world and be crucified once more. Upon this revelation, we should never again feel insignificant or forgotten by God. Every time you come across names in the Bible, do remember your name and mine. God has called us by names because He has a specific plan for each of us.
As those people mentioned in these verses, how can our names be part of the list of people who live in His plan or return to His plan? On our part, here are the steps:
- Obey God’s call to use you!
Once again, pay attention to the names Ezra recorded. Who were these individuals? They were the ones who obeyed God’s call to return to the land of Israel. These were men who chose to return to God’s perfect plan for His people, and God could use them. Don't be satisfied by being a regular churchgoer. Move up spiritually to a higher ground, raise the stake. Be counted among those whose lives make the difference in the world. Be deliberate in requesting to the Lord that your life could be useful to Him, and your name will certainly be joined in the “Hall of Faith” in His eyes!
- Pray for divine connection!
Here is a simple thought: if there’s a list of names, that means no name stands alone, does it? As a matter of fact, to enter deeper into God’s plan, we need others! After all, His Kingdom is a Kingdom of people. Therefore, pray! So God, in His sovereignity, will connect us with others who are also actively walking in His plan. Pray so that we won’t get lost and meet the wrong people at the wrong place and time. God will certainly connect His children beside the still water, on the green pasture under His shepherding! And they will be useful to each other.
- Perceive people around you as divine potentials!
Pay attention to that group of Israelites who followed Ezra. They came from different backgrounds and statuses—the priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants, descendants of the servants of Solomon, and even the excluded clans whose family records had not been recorded and were considered unclean to be priests as a result. My point is, never underestimate anyone, no matter who they are or what their standings. Every morning when you leave your room, perceive others around you as divine potentials for God’s plan and purpose for your life. Manage well every encounter and relationship for we’d never guess who would bring God’s more beautiful plan to you that day—who would minister to you and whom should you minister to. Who knows God is sending a particular someone to add a special ‘something’ in your history and to bring His loving grace to you in His time. You should always be discerning and expectant, because any person—any name—could just be heaven’s “secret agent!”
Another name to make a difference in you,