Summary: This chapter just seems to be a list of names – it is not. The naming of all the people who returned is a reminder that God cares for His people no matter what situation we are in, because we are always named.
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You Are Named
If you are a visitor here today we have only just started a sermon series which is called Jexit.
And you are thinking, “Well that is a bit of a strange name … Jexit.
But the name comes from the word Brexit where Britain is trying to leave the European Union.
Jexit is about Judah leaving Babylon and coming back home.
The focus of the series is on a time that we don’t often look at – indeed it is that part of history that often gets overlooked.
We are looking at the time when Judah is called to go back from Babylon and go back into the land.
Last week we that God, in order to enable the nation of Judah to come back home to Judea, literally changed an empire.
He changed from the Babylonian Empire to the Persian Empire by putting King Cyrus in charge as the Persian King. We saw that God’s care for us and God’s love for us extends to such an extent that if He needs to He will change Empires. And we were reminded of God’s incredible grace and love in the midst of that change.
Now we don’t have a specific text or verse that we are going to focus on throughout this series but we are going to be looking at different books that are in that time – the historical books. Specifically Ezra and Nehemiah which speak about what is going on back in the land of Judah. We will also look at Esther as well, which talks about the people that stayed in the Persian Empire - those who actually didn’t leave after they and the opportunity.
We will also look at some prophetic books that deal with this era – namely Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi. All of these books tie into the Jexit theme.
Today we are going to continue the series with a focus on Ezra Chapter 2. Now when you get to this chapter as you look it up now you are just going to see a lot of names. There is pretty well 70 verses of names.
I have no intention of reading all of those names, partly because there is a lot there that are just really really hard to pronounce. But also because you can see what is going on and can understand what the situation here is without reading through all of these names.
We will read verses 1 and 2 though just to give us a sense of what is going on. Just to give us a context.
Ezra 2:1-2 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, 2 in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah:
Out of this very big list of names there is actually only 2 names that we know anything about beyond the fact that there name is in the Bible and in that list.
The first of the names that is important or is known there in this list is Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel’s name will come up regularly in this series because he is a key person. He is a key person literally in 2 senses.
He is a key person because he becomes a governor of the province after they return back from Babylon. So he is the connection so to speak between the Persian authorities and the delegated authority that comes through the nations. We saw that is what Cyrus does. He breaks up the provinces and satrapies and then puts governors in place to rule the local area. Zerubbabel is the one who is in charge of this little local area here that on a map that would have been produced by the Persians this tiny little area known as Judea. He becomes the governor of that land.
Zerubbabel is also important in a literal sense because from 1 Chronicles 3:19 we are told that he is a descendant of David. We know, don’t we, or we remember, that for the Messiah to come He needs to be a descendant of David. So God has preserved this guy, Zerubbabel, who is a descendant of David, who comes back to the land.
Later on you can read Matt 1 or Luke 3 where Jesus’ genealogy is found and you’ll find the name of Zerubbabel in Jesus’ genealogy. So Zerubbabel is an important reminder of the promise of the link that God said that His messiah would come through the line of David.
But Zerubbabel is also important in a spiritual sense as well and later on when we read through some passages in Haggai and Zechariah and the name of Zerubbabel will come up as a reminder of the promises of God.