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Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 119:73–176
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26
New Testament Only: Acts 9:23–10:8

The Remnant

Ezra 1–2

Climbing - Figures on booksrem•nant \noun

[Middle English, contraction of remenant, from Anglo-French remanant, from present participle of remaindre to remain — more at remain] 14th century

1 a : a usually small part, member, or trace remaining

b : a small surviving group — often used in plural.

The concept of a “remnant” runs like a thread throughout the Bible.  Remember, if you will, way back in Genesis when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt.  They had thought him dead.  They had thought they were in trouble with Pharaoh’s number one guy but once they discovered he was actually their brother whom they had sold into slavery they were really scared.  Do you remember what Joseph said to them?

Genesis 45:5-7 ESV

“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.  And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.”

From the day Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, God has worked to keep a remnant in the world faithful to Him.  At times this remnant was only one man, as in the case of Noah, or, as in the case of Judah returning from Babylonian exile, as many as 42,360 people.   It is through this, at times, rather thin thread that God raised up His Son, the Savior of all mankind.  God chose the descendants of Abraham to be His witness to the world.  It was through this people that He would show the world who He is and His desire for our return to Him.

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I have always viewed the Israelites as an allegory for the modern church.  God has done the choosing and we are to be His witness to the world.  The church seems, however, to go through cycles of faithfulness and disobedience just like the Israelites.  Be it the church or individual members of the church, disobedience always results in self-imposed exile; a separation from God.  If this analogy holds, then we will find throughout history and even today a remnant that sought God and answered His call to return to right relationship.

At the time Judah was taken into Babylonian exile the number of Judite citizens had to be in seven figures.  Remember that when they came into the Promised Land just the men of fighting age were over 1 million people.  Granted, we are only talking about two or three of the original tribes here but with the passing of time their numbers would have grown significantly; God had promised to multiply them.

Why did only 40,000 exiles return?  They were the ones that had continued to seek God even in the most difficult of circumstances; they were the remnant.  They were the ones through whom God would raise up His Son to save the world.  The others got comfortable living among the heathen.  They planted themselves in exile and had grown in such a way as to feel they had too much to lose to return to the Promised Land.  Returning meant leaving everything they had built up over the years behind and traveling a long distance to a land and temple in ruin.  Hard work for little immediate earthly return lay ahead for any who returned.

Sacrifice was required to answer God’s call to return.  The majority of the exiles were unwilling to make that sacrifice.  Interestingly enough, there were some who answered the call to return who had forgotten who they were.

Ezra 2:61-62 ESV

“Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name).  These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.”

These were descendants of some who had gone into exile and not maintained a record of their heritage.  I’ve shared with you many times the scripture of the Lord Jesus telling us that many will call on His name claiming to have prophesied and healed in His name and of whom He will say He knows not.  What I see in this passage is a failure of fatherhood.  Fathers are responsible for training their families up in the ways of God.  Each of these descendants should have been provided with a clear understanding of who they were and where they came from.  They did not have this and so were excluded from the priesthood.

Brothers, today we are God’s remnant.  We are the thread that God is using to weave together the salvation of the world.  It is through us that others will be called back to right relationship with God.  It is through us that our own spouses and children will hear the call and be raised in the understanding of who they are in Christ.  This is our heritage as members of the royal family of God.  Can there be anything worse than knowing you are a member of the royal family while your children or spouse are not?

Please don’t get me wrong.  You have no power or ability to save your loved ones.  Only Jesus can save them.   It is His Holy Spirit that will call them and convict them.  If you attempt to force them or “convince” them to accept Jesus you will succeed in getting them wet but not saved.  Your role is to live as a disciple of Christ.  You must walk the walk.  They must see you reading your Bible, praying, and the difference that makes in your life.  You should lead your family in their spiritual development by ensuring they go to church and are exposed to Word of God on a regular basis.

You cannot assume that your children are getting what they need to grow in Christ simply by attending church.  To do so would be an abdication of your responsibility as a father.  Our churches do a great job in exposing children to the truths of God and His Word but it isn’t enough.  Your children need your leadership, and the Bible clearly tells us that.  I strongly recommend a daily family “devotion” time where you present your family with some scripture and discuss its meaning followed by prayer.  This can be at the breakfast or dinner table.  This can be a time just before bed.  If you will do this, and stick with it until it becomes a habit, I have no doubt it will become the most precious time of your life.  It will grow your children spiritually and create memories that will last a life time.  The leadership you provide them will be a heritage that will be passed on through the generations so that a remnant will remain long after you are gone.

I pray you will take up the mantel of priest in your home and that generations will be blessed through your faithful execution of the job God has given you as a father.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

(Originally posted 5/24/10)

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