Day 2 Notes – Ezra 2:

Welcome back, fellow exile!


Memory scripture: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 NASB

Time Period

It’s still the first year back from Babylonian exile. Cyrus is king of Persia, and Sheshbazzar is the Jewish “governator” over Judah. We don’t know who the priests are because…they’re still trying to figure all that out.

As the great theologian and writer, Steven Ger, once said, “There’s a lot of great action in genealogies.”

I found humor in that the 5th name of this genealogy, “the sons of Elam were 1,254.” Then near the end, and just to see if you were paying attention, the Lord included, “the sons of the other Elam, 1254.”

In high-tech circles, this is sometimes called a “data janitor” problem. Was there really another Elam, or perhaps one of the census takers entered the same family twice? It raises a question: in a data set of 33 family lineages, there are two pairs of precisely matching numbers, which can happen, but one pair is for two families of the same name?

Crazy odds.

I was reminded of the old Bob Newhart bit, “I’m Larry, and this is my brother Elam, and my other brother Elam.”

Anyway, the much bigger take-away is that they did a census. We should all thank our church administrators who make the effort to update the directory! Ezra is showing us that the Lord wants us to take a measurement of where we are. One thing’s for certain, we don’t have as many priests (lay ministers) as we used to. Our priest-to-family ratio has suffered. Members and pastors have visibly stepped up and filled in the gaps, but when we have “teams-of-one”, then too many are doing too much and will burn out (if they haven’t already done so).

For the second chapter of Ezra, 42,360 people returned. There were only 341 Levites. That’s a 124:1 ratio! No wonder in chapter 8, we will see Ezra double-check their count and go back for more Levites. Now, they had temple servants to help, but think about your church now. What is your member to pastor/rabbi ratio after returning from Covid exile?

We need to pray today that G-d sends us more lay ministers.

Can you imagine being released from exile, excited to get back to a life you once knew, traveling back to your home and temple? How would you cope with the emotions of expectation? What would you hope to find when you arrived?

What if the reality didn’t live up to your imaginings? The Jews clambered up the hill to Jerusalem full of that expectation, and as they crested the ridge…then found their temple tattered and torn; their walls destroyed. What a shock it must have been.

What was your first day back to church or temple like after Covid Exile?

Well, upon their return, the heads of families “offered willingly” to reestablish the temple. Church leaders…we should pray about making this option available to our people – an opportunity to give specifically to our outreach efforts for this restoration of our temple after Covid exile.

Big Take-Aways from Ezra 2

6) Pray for new lay ministers
7) Pray for wisdom on offering an opportunity for an offering for outreach

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