Summary: God is all powerful but He chooses to accomplish His work through people. While God’s desire is for all to respond to Him, the fact is that only a remnant will. But in that remnant, God provides the kinds of people it takes to accomplish His work.
1. The leaders (2:2a)
2. The laymen (2:2b-35)
3. The Lord’s ministers (2:36-58)
4. The leftovers (2:59-67)
It’s difficult to find anything more difficult to read through than a list of names. But that’s where we find ourselves in our text tonight. How do you act when you get a new phone book? OK, come clean—what is the first thing you do? You look for your name. Well, even though you’re not going to find your name in this list, that doesn’t make it any less important. As a matter of fact, it is far more important, because it is included in Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” How much Scripture? ALL Scripture. I had a Bible professor who had a line that he used over and over again. He said, “All means all, all the time.” So, if like my professor said, “all means all, all the time”… and the Bible says that ALL Scripture is given by God for our profit… it’s our task to see the profit in even the most seemingly mundane parts of Scripture like the name lists. Unlike a lot of the “name lists” in Scripture, this one isn’t a genealogy. It’s really more like a census. But it’s not even really like a census. Because a census numbers an entire nation. That’s not what this does. Really, it’s more like a passenger manifest. Roger and Zela are on a cruise right now. There are certain things that a passenger ship has to accomplish before it leaves port. First, it has to have an itinerary. People have to know where it’s going, what route it’s going to take, and when it’s going to get there. It also has to have a manifest. The manifest is a list of all the cargo and passengers. Well, just like Roger and Zela are on their cruise, the people in our passage were taking a trip also. Their itinerary was simple. They were going to travel from the place of their exile in Babylon to the place of God’s call in Jerusalem. That was their itinerary, but what was their manifest? Who was taking the trip? That’s what this list is in our passage tonight. The verse we just read tells us that. 70 years before, God had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to carry His chosen people into exile from Jerusalem and Judah. Now it was time for a remnant of them to return. To return with the first purpose of rebuilding the temple. Remember last week we said that Israel had to go through four stages of restoration before they were ready to rebuild the temple foundations. God had to restore resources, a remnant, responsibility, and religion. Last week we looked at restoring resources. Tonight we’re looking at restoring a remnant. God is all powerful, but what is amazing is that He chooses to accomplish His work through people. While God’s desire is for all people to respond to His desires, the fact is that only a remnant will. But in that remnant, God provides the kinds of people it takes to accomplish His work. Just like the remnant we’re looking at tonight. Tonight, I want each of us to respond to God’s call the same way His remnant did. Whatever category we might find ourselves in doesn’t really matter. What matters is that God has a place for each of us in His work. And I want each of us to serve faithfully in the place He has called us. In order to do that, we’re going to look at four kinds of people it takes to accomplish God’s work. The first kind of people is leaders. The leaders are the names listed in the first sentence of verse 2. I will leave you to read the names on your own.