A Remnant Returns.
“So a total of 42,360 people returned to Judah, in addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women.” – Ezra 2:4-5 NLT
God has spoken, a decree has been issued, the leaders have been chosen, and the people selected. Now the return to the Land of Promise can begin. Under the leadership of Sheshbazzar and his nephew, Zerubbabel, the grandson of King Jehoiachin, a relatively tiny remnant of Jews begin their journey back to Judah all the way from Babylon where they have lived in God-imposed exile for 70 years. Few, if any of these would have been a part of the original group who were captured and taken prisoner to Babylon. Those individuals could have still been alive, but like Daniel, they would have been advanced in years and unlikely able to endure the rigors of the long, arduous trip back to Judah. So there were descendants of the original Jews who were take captive by Nebuchadnezzar. They had lived all their lives in a foreign land, but now they were going to be allowed to return to the Promised Land. In spite of the sins of their fathers, God was going to restore them to the land He had given the people of Israel all those years ago. This would have been a rag-tag group, made up of all kinds of people. Some were commoners, some the descendants of priests or Levites, some were the sons and grandsons of servants who worked in the Temple or who served Solomon. And the only thing they had in common was that they could prove their Jewish ancestry. The only thing that deemed them worthy to return to the land was that they were part of the people who had been chosen by God. It’s interesting that God did allow some who could not prove their Jewish ancestry. There was a small group of individuals who were given the right to return to the land even though they couldn’t prove they were descendants of Israel. What a reminder that many of us, in fact, all of us who are non-Jews, have been allowed entry into God’s kingdom through the mercy and grace of God.
Obviously, there were tens of thousands of Jews who chose to remain in Babylon. We’ll never know their reasons for staying, but we can only guess that some feared the trip, while others refused to leave the comforts of life in Babylon. There were probably many who had grown accustomed to life in captivity. The thought of traveling all those miles back to Judah only to live in abject poverty was less than appealing. The number who chose to return was relatively small. When you consider that they were tasked with the job of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the Temple itself, it seems impossible. How can this small, rag-tag group of individuals accomplish something so great and against such huge odds? There strength lie not on their numbers, but on their God. It was He who would make their impossible task possible. Jeremiah had expressed this reality in a prayer, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” (Jeremiah 32:17 NLT). And God had confirmed it. “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NLT). God was going to use this remnant to accomplish His will. He was going to use the weak to reveal His power. He was going to accomplish the impossible through the improbable. And He is still doing the same today. Our success lies not in our strength, but in our God. It is He who accomplishes the task and wins the battles, not us. God doesn’t need great numbers to do great things. He just needs a few. Jesus only needed a few loaves and fishes to feed a huge crowd. He takes our insufficiencies and accomplishes the impossible and improbable.
“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NLT
Father, nothing is impossible for You. You are always taking a remnant and doing the impossible and improbable through them. You take what is weak and reveal Your strength through them. That way we can never boast that we did it. We can never grab the glory. Raise up a remnant today Father who would be willing to watch You work through them to accomplish great things in our day. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men