“This is the genealogy of those who went up with me…” (Ezra 8:1).
Arduous in every way, Ezra’s journey was about to commence. Pain, heartache, and difficulty awaited every traveler he'd recruited. Hundreds of miles and millions of enemies lay between them and Jerusalem. The journey would be treacherous, but the work of God must go on. A scholar and practitioner and teacher of the words of God, Ezra amassed a team of willing folks, those who wanted to join him in bringing the temple of God to a glimmer of its former glory. They wanted to witness the worship of God, to see the glory descend upon Israel once more.
Before they traveled, however, Ezra counted. He numbered every person, the genealogy of every family, who embarked on such a dangerous voyage with him, with God. He delighted in each one of them, thanked God for them, for Ezra knew he was not alone. God was with him, but so were God’s people. Ezra delighted in the company of saints who had, in many ways, become willing to traverse such danger for the glory of God. It was the fear of God that would get them from point A to point B, and point B would be no picnic. So Ezra numbered these great ones who would join him on the quest. They belonged to God and Ezra didn’t want even one to slip through the cracks of time's memory.
Are You Thankful Like Ezra?
But how about me? Do I number and thank and rejoice at the people God has put around me? Do I celebrate the individuals whom God has touched, people who have said, yes? It is good to rejoice in humans, individual, real, flesh and blood humans — people whom God has purchased with the blood of his Son. Moreover, not only those but to count and rejoice and sing over those who have decided to journey with you on a quest for the prioritization of God.
A man wants to build a family that reflects the nature and character of God. Does he rejoice when his wife joins him on the venture? A pastor wants to labor for a church that does not fritter away its existence with vanity and self-love, instead choosing to be all-in on the commission Christ has given. Does he celebrate the people God has raised up to team with him in the eternal struggle? A professional wants to figure out a way to honor Christ in their work, even when their work-place is hostile to the God they serve. Do they sing and clap and praise the God of all flesh when he brings some flesh-and-bones support their way?
They say we should count our blessings. Like Ezra, let us count the people who have blessed us by joining with us in the battle. It is no easy task to prioritize God with our lives, our finances, our bodies, our minds, or our emotions, so let us rejoice when God brings people into our lives to help us do so. Ezra thought highly of those who went up with him, let us praise God for those who have gone up with us.