I’ve been reading Ezra and Nehemiah a few times recently, preparing for a series at church. More than once I’ve said to myself, ‘I guess we won’t be reading that chapter.’ Mainly the thought comes with passages like this:
On the seals are the names of Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah; these are the priests. And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; and their brothers, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. The chiefs of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, Baanah.
Nehemiah 10:1-27, ESV
We have had genealogies for Bible readings in the past, and will again. They’re not easy – often the only Bible readings to end with some applause for the reader! And even though we won’t get into these in our upcoming series, I think they’re great.
For me, they remind me again that the Bible is so very real and concrete. It’s story unfolds with real people, culminating in the fleshly reality of God walking among his own nation. (‘The word became flesh …’) Christianity can’t be reduced to philosophy or principle. It’s not the golden rule or love.
It reminds me of something John Dickson says at the start of Life of Jesus (imperfectly recalled): it’s as if Christianity places itself on the chopping block of history.
So to all those unpronounceable names, welcome. To all those who by faith will join the people of God, welcome. For the real Jesus really came to graciously offer us the Father’s welcome.