The Need To Belong
A daily devotion for August 14th
1 After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed. 2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do. 3 I said to them, "The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses."
4 Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. 5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:
6 These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 7 in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah):
The list of the men of Israel:
8 the descendants of Parosh 2,172
9 of Shephatiah 372
10 of Arah 652
11 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818
12 of Elam 1,254
13 of Zattu 845
14 of Zaccai 760
15 of Binnui 648
16 of Bebai 628
17 of Azgad 2,322
18 of Adonikam 667
19 of Bigvai 2,067
20 of Adin 655
21 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98
22 of Hashum 328
23 of Bezai 324
24 of Hariph 112
25 of Gibeon 95
26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188
27 of Anathoth 128
28 of Beth Azmaveth 42
29 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743
30 of Ramah and Geba 621
31 of Micmash 122
32 of Bethel and Ai 123
33 of the other Nebo 52
34 of the other Elam 1,254
35 of Harim 320
36 of Jericho 345
37 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721
38 of Senaah 3,930
39 The priests:
the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973
40 of Immer 1,052
41 of Pashhur 1,247
42 of Harim 1,017
43 The Levites:
the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah) 74
44 The singers:
the descendants of Asaph 148
45 The gatekeepers:
the descendants of
Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 138
46 The temple servants:
the descendants of
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
47 Keros, Sia, Padon,
48 Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,
49 Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,
50 Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,
51 Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,
52 Besai, Meunim, Nephussim,
53 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
54 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
55 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
56 Neziah and Hatipha
57 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:
the descendants of
Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,
58 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
59 Shephatiah, Hattil,
Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon
60 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392
61 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:
62 the descendants of
Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642
63 And from among the priests:
the descendants of
Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).
64 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
66 The whole company numbered 42,360, 67 besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 245 men and women singers. 68 There were 736 horses, 245 mules, 69 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.
70 Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 drachmas of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests. 71 Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 drachmas of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 drachmas of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.
73 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns.
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns,
So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. (Nehemiah 7:5a)
It was necessary to ensure that only true Israelites lived within Jerusalem. There follows a list of names of all the families of those who came back from Persia to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra, some thirty years before the time of Nehemiah. These were among the ones who helped him build the wall. He is not only giving credit to them but is also recognizing that they will be responsible to carry on what he has begun. So having appointed leaders who would succeed him--men of integrity, courage, and faithfulness--he now sees to it that their followers are also true Israelites.
The spiritual application is that we need to know that we really belong to God. You will never be a successful servant of Christ nor ever faithfully work for Him and serve Him until you are assured that you know Him and belong to Him. This is not only necessary for leaders but for the common people as well. We all need to know our spiritual pedigree; otherwise, our service will be weak and largely ineffective.
Verse 61 lists some who could not prove their ancestry and were therefore not permitted to live in the city of Jerusalem. Certain ones among the priests were denied the right to minister because they could not prove their ancestry. Many try to minister in the church of God today who are uncertain that they belong to God. Sometimes pastors, seminary professors, and leaders in the Christian community do not themselves know that they are true Christians. These always wreak havoc in the churches they seek to serve.
The reference to the Urim and Thummim is interesting (Nehemiah 7:65). These were two stones (their names mean
perfections) that the high priest wore on his garment by which he could discern the mind of God. No one really knows how they worked. Nehemiah says these suspect priests were not allowed to minister
until a high priest arrives who has the Urim and Thummim. I think this is a hidden reference to our Lord Jesus. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is said to be
a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20), meaning one who lives forever and who fully knows the mind of God. He can restore suspect priests to a place of assurance in their ministry and give them back their office. He can bring them the assurance that they belong.
Father, thank You that I can rely on the promise of Your Word that I do belong.Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God(John 1:12).
Life Application: How does truly knowing Jesus and why we belong to God make our good deeds fruitful and effective? Do our acts of service stem from a response to God?
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