Nehemiah chapters 11-12 presents a list naming the people who would live in Jerusalem, those who would remain in the surrounding villages, & the dedication of the wall; this passage serves as a conclusion to the story of the repopulation of Jerusalem.
The dedication ceremony described is the culmination of everything that’s taken place over the course of the book; the wall is complete, the people have repented and turned to God, their Savior. There is much celebration and rejoicing. But as I was reading, I was left with a question…
Why are the lists of names important? Why would the Holy Spirit inspire them to be written, not just here, but throughout Scripture?
Now, we could potentially over-spiritualize it and say that these lists are representative of the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelations 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27), in which the names of all God’s people, past, present & future, are found.
And maybe that’s the reason… but maybe there’s another, practical reason for the existence of lists like we find in Nehemiah 11 & 12.
They serve to show us the fruit of obedience.
Did the people of Jerusalem realize that their names would be a part of the Bible? Almost certainly not. They were simply being obedient to the will of God.
I wonder how much thought we really give to obedience? While our names aren’t going to be a part of inspired Scripture, I think we need to really come to grips with how much obedience to Jesus matters. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:13-16:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (emphasis added).
We are to be salt and light, transforming the world around us because of what Christ has done in us, for us and through us. We are to let our light shine before others—we are to obediently seek to do the will of God in every area of our lives—so that those who see might give glory to our Father in heaven.
So how are we doing with that? If someone looked at our lives today, would they see transformation?
Would they seek obedience to the will of God?