These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua:Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,Amariah, Malluk, Hattush,Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah,Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services.10 Joshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:…………………..22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals. 24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. 26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law.

“Progo,’ Meg asked. ‘You memorized the names of all the stars – how many are there?’

How many? Great heavens, earthling. I haven’t the faintest idea.’

But you said your last assignment was to memorize the names of all of them.’

I did. All the stars in all the galaxies. And that’s a great many.’

But how many?’

What difference does it make? I know their names. I don’t know how many there are. It’s their names that matter.”

(Madeleine L’Engle, A Wind in the Door.)

Here on planet earth, names matter because people matter. I believe it’s important to try to remember names, if possible, and it can even feel like a blessing to someone to use their name in speaking to them.

In the Bible we occasionally come across lists like this. Superficially, we may not find them all that inspiring, but they always have a purpose. These verses provide a list of the priests and Levites who returned from exile under the leadership of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest (Ezra 3:2; 5:2) It’s been suggested these names may have been recorded as a kind of roll of honour – to remember those  involved in leading a ‘revival’ in their day. Also, they may be there to inspire future generations of leaders  to great exploits in God. When I read Christian biography I am invariably stirred by the possibilities suggested by these exemplary lives. They are a challenge and an encouragement to climb higher, to scale the heights with God.

 A Steve Green song says,

‘Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful; may the fire of our devotion light their way.

May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey.

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.’

Seemingly dry lists from the past may act as fire lighters! Bring your life a little closer to the flame.

PRAYER: Lord, we pray we may live the kinds of lives worth writing about, even though our stories may not be written. Help us to live in such a way that we inspire the next generation, for your glory.