Nehemiah

This devotional is written by Sarah Harris. Sarah is a journalist, podcaster and pub quiz fanatic. She has been at St Mary's for five years and has lost count of the number of Life Courses she has been part of.

Nehemiah 12:1-26

Priests and Levites

12 These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua:

Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

2 Amariah, Malluk, Hattush,

3 Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,

4 Iddo, Ginnethon,[a] Abijah,

5 Mijamin,[b] Moadiah, Bilgah,

6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,

7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.

These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.

8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 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:

of Seraiah's family, Meraiah;

of Jeremiah's, Hananiah;

13 of Ezra's, Meshullam;

of Amariah's, Jehohanan;

14 of Malluk's, Jonathan;

of Shekaniah's,[c] Joseph;

15 of Harim's, Adna;

of Meremoth's,[d] Helkai;

16 of Iddo's, Zechariah;

of Ginnethon's, Meshullam;

17 of Abijah's, Zikri;

of Miniamin's and of Moadiah's, Piltai;

18 of Bilgah's, Shammua;

of Shemaiah's, Jehonathan;

19 of Joiarib's, Mattenai;

of Jedaiah's, Uzzi;

20 of Sallu's, Kallai;

of Amok's, Eber;

21 of Hilkiah's, Hashabiah;

of Jedaiah's, Nethanel.

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.

Reflection

When I initially read this passage, I was a little stumped as to what there was to learn from it – it's basically just a list of names! I don't know about you but every time I see a section in the Bible like this, I tend to let my eyes slide over it, preferring to get to whatever story, teaching or piece of wisdom is next. I find it hard to feel anything about a list of names of people who lived thousands of years ago.

But as I read through the passage again, I reminded myself that every single one of those people named was a living, breathing person. They felt joy and anger, love and hate, hunger, irritation, pleasure. They laughed, had likes and dislikes, stubbed their toes, had bad hair days, cried and had a favourite meal. Their actions mattered so much that their individual names were preserved and have survived more than 2,000 years for us to know today, though at the time they may have felt like just another person in a huge movement.

We may not feel as though what we're doing is of much importance. But when we're working with God, it is as a part of something much greater than us. God sees every act of kindness, every testimony shared, every instance of injustice being challenged. Our names may not be handed down for thousands of years in a book, but we have an eternal inheritance as children of the Kingdom.

No one is insignificant. God used Nehemiah, one man with a vision, to do something huge. He used every single person named in this passage. He knows your name, and He can and will use you.

Lord, thank you that though I am just one person, through you I can be part of something huge. Give me a vision for advancing your kingdom here on earth. Guide me through your Holy Spirit to make a difference wherever I am and whatever I have.

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