Juan y María Luisa se conocieron cuando estaban en 3er grado jugando en las calles de Reynosa, México. Las cosas acaban de hacer clic, empezaron a salir como adolescentes, y se enamoraron. Eventualmente la joven pareja se casó y comenzó su vida juntos como marido y mujer. La vida era difícil en Reynosa. Había dos clases de personas en Reynosa, los pobres y los ricos. Si usted nació en la pobreza las posibilidades de que salir de la pobreza eran escasas y ninguno. El crimen era desenfrenado y en la mente de todos. La gente preocupada por cómo sería el futuro para sus hijos.
Juan y María Luisa querían una vida mejor, así que decidieron venir a los Estados Unidos. Hicieron el viaje a Houston, Texas y comenzó su familia. Juan trabajó duro, largas horas, y María Luisa se encargó de los niños. Visitaban a la familia en Reynosa de vez en cuando, pero amaban su nueva vida en Estados Unidos. Pensarían en volver a Reynosa de vez en cuando, but the opportunities and the life they could give their kids in America quickly quieted any thoughts of moving back to Reynosa.
Probablemente no conozcas a Juan y María Luisa, pero ya conoces a su hijo Pastor Irvin. Irvin nació en Houston, Texas. Irvin nunca ha conocido la vida que su madre y su papá experimentaron en Reynosa. Su casa siempre ha estado en los Estados Unidos. Su mamá y su papá le contarían historias de su infancia en México. Hablaron de la maravillosa familia se reúnen y la comida increíble que comerían cuando eran niños, pero Irvin dijo que cada vez que visitaría a la familia en Reynosa vería el crimen, pobreza, y barrios deteriorados. Irvin me dijo que la pobreza para aquellos que eran pobres era muy diferente de la vida que conocía viviendo en Houston. Las casas tenían un piso de concreto, no teñir hormigón, no baldosas, madera o suelos alfombrados, but poured concrete that was cold in the winter and hot in the summer.
Le estaba contando a Irvin la historia que hemos estado estudiando en Ezra sobre los judíos que fueron trasladados a Babilonia después de que Nabucodonosor destruyera su ciudad. Mencioné a los que eran jóvenes cuando fueron llevados, así como aquellos que nacieron en Babilonia y nunca supieron cómo era la vida en Judá. Le pregunté a Irvin, "Si alguien vino a ti y te dijo, "Vamos a volver a Reynosa." ¿Qué sería atractivo para usted acerca de esa oportunidad? Irvin dijo, “Nothing.” And so it was for the majority of those who had become accustomed to life in Babylon.
In the scripture we’ll take a look at this morning, en Ezra 2, we’ll see a long list of names of those who heard the invitation to go back to Judah, back to Jerusalem, and they were moved by God to pack their bags and head out. En Esdras 1:5 leemos,
5 Entonces los jefes de familia de Judá y Benjamín, y los sacerdotes y levitas– todos cuyo corazón Dios se había movido– preparado para subir y construir la casa de Jehová en Jerusalén. (Esdras 1:5 NIVO)
We’ll learn that the number of those who made the long journey on the three trips back to Jerusalem was a little less than 50,000, far less than the total number of Jews who chose to stay in Babylon. Why would so many Jews choose to stay in Babylon when they could go back to their homeland? That’s a great question and there’s at least a couple of answers. Ante todo, after more than 50 years in Babylon it had become home. We might think that because the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported so many Jews that they spent their years in internment-like camps in Babylon, but that’s far from what archeologists have discovered. Dejeme explicarle.
In the 1970’s archeologists discovered about 200 clay tablets in Babylon, moderno-día Iraq, which date from 572-477 B.C. We know this because they actually have dates inscribed on them. The tablets are known as the Al-Yahudu Tablets.
Filip Vukosavovic, an expert in Babylonian, Sumerian, and Assyrian culture says the tablets “fills in the gap in understanding what was going on in the life of Judeans in Babylonia more than 2,500 years ago.” The tablets are fascinating in that they list land contracts, purchases, wedding documents, administrative details, information about individual’s wills to their children and grandchildren, etc. An article on Ancient Origins describes life lived in Al-Yahudu, which translated would be something like “Judahtown.” If you’ve ever been to Chinatown or an orthodox Jewish neighborhood in New York then you you can get a sense of what Judahtown was like in Babylon. The article says,
Other than the restriction that they couldn’t leave Babylon, they shared most of the same rights as their rulers. They could own property, they could build up wealth, y, if they did well enough, they could even be made royal officials. Some of Jews living as expats got rich. …Within a few years of being conquered, some of the Jews living in Babylon had already earned enough to buy massive tracts of lands or to be counted among the elite. Some rose so high that they were counted among the most powerful people in Babylon. There are records of Jews in Babylon who worked as royal merchants, courtiers, and even officials in direct service to the king. (Mark Oliver, By the Rivers of Babylon: Life in Ancient Babylon’s Thriving Jewish Community, Ancient Origins, Mayo 9, 2018)
Not all of the Jews prospered in Babylon, some remained poor and struggled throughout their lives, but enough did well that it gave hope to the other Jews living in Babylon. Another reason so many of the Jews stayed in Babylon is that they had simply forgotten, or for those who were born in Babylon, they had never known what life was like in the Promised Land. Like Irvin being born in America, Babylon was home. They were comfortable there. They had no desire to go to a land they had never known. But… As comfortable as life had become for many of the Jews living in Babylon, había sobre 50,000 who were moved by God to load up their belongings and make that long journey back to Jerusalem.
En Esdras 2 we find a long list of names, cerca de 125 names if I’m counting right. We’ll talk more about those names in a minute. An almost exact list is also found in Nehemiah 7. Why would God choose to take up an entire chapter of the short book of Ezra with a long list of names that most of us can’t even begin to pronounce? That’s a great question and the answer is, “We must remember that God keeps His promises.” Remember our Scripture from Jeremiah 29:10?
10 Esto es lo que dice el Señor: «Una vez finalizadas setenta años para Babilonia, Vendré a ti y cumplir mi promesa de gracia para traerle a este lugar. (Jeremías 29:10 NIVO)
God keeps His promises…all of His promises. God told His people that they would be taken away into captivity, but He would not abandon them. God told them He would come for them when their time of discipline was complete, 70 years into the future. God was true to His promise.
There’s another promise that took place many years before the Babylonians came into Jerusalem and destroyed the city. Way back in Genesis 12, Dios le dijo a Abraham, the Father of Jews, «To your offspring I will give this land» (Génesis. 12:7 NIVO).
It’s interesting that as the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem, God told His prophet Jeremiah to buy a piece of land in Anathoth. Anathoth was already under the control of the Babylonians when God told Jeremiah to buy the property. It was the worst idea ever to the rational mind! Far worse than buying swampland, it was like buying a resort in an Afghanistan war zone. Luego, Jeremiah prayed the most beautiful, heartfelt prayer in Jeremiah 32. After the prayer the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. Léanlo conmigo.
42 «Esto es lo que dice el Señor: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. 43 Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.’ 44 Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD.» (Jeremías 32:42-44 NIVO)
¿Has oído eso? God’s people will come back and buy property in and around Jerusalem again one day. God keeps His promises and in Ezra 2 we read about those who made the journey back, incluyendo, according to verse 23, 128 people whose families had been from Anathoth. God was true to His promise to Jeremiah!
God made Abraham another promise, the promise of descendants. What’s interesting about the promise is that Abraham was 75 años de edad en el momento. He and his wife Sarah had no children when God made Abraham the promise. The years rocked along and every time Sarah took a pregnancy test it came back negative! Abraham was wondering one day, more than a little bummed out one day, when God came to Abraham. Read it with me from Genesis 15:5.
5 Lo llevó afuera, y le dijo, «Mira para arriba en los cielos y cuenta las estrellas– Si de hecho puede contarlas.» Entonces él le dijo:, «Así será tu descendencia.» (Génesis 15:5 NIVO)
God kept His promise to Abraham and gave him a son named Isaac when he was 100 años de edad. God kept His promise to Abraham and gave him more descendants than he could have ever imagined. Ahora, 50,000 Jews making their way back to Jerusalem can hardly be compared to the number of stars in the heavens, but God was replanting this little remnant in the land He has promised. God was returning His people to the land He had promised! Let’s take a look at Ezra 2:1-2.
1 Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 2 in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemías, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mardoqueo, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah): The list of the men of the people of Israel: (Esdras 2:1-2 NIVO)
“These are the people…” They are just a list of names to you and me, but to the God who keeps His promise, they were His people that He would lead back to the land He had promised those who had gone before them. Derek Kidner writes, “So these were living portions of Israel, roots and all, for replanting” (Kidner, Derek. Esdras y Nehemías. pg. 39).
What was the purpose of the long list of names and locations? If you will look in your Bible you can see great detail and thought went into the organization of the list. En los versículos 2-63 we have the list categorized for us. Let me give you the outline of the list.
- Esdras 2:2-20 Ancestral names or clans
- Esdras 2:21-35 Geographic locations
- Esdras 2:36-39 List of Priests
- Esdras 2:40-42 List of Levites
- Esdras 2:43-54 List of Temple servants
- Esdras 2:55-58 List of Descendants of Solomon’s servants
- Esdras 2:59-63 Otros
I want to focus on verse 2 where we find the names of the leaders, eleven leaders all together, even though there are twelve listed in Nehemiah’s list. We don’t know much about most of these names although we do know Jeshua was the high priest who is called “Joshua” in Haggai 1:1 y Zacarías 3:1. The Nehemiah and Mordecai in this list are not the Nehemiah we’ll study later or the Mordecai of the book of Esther. There is one name I want to highlight for you though, the man Zerubbabel.
The name Zerubbabel means “offspring of Babylon,” he was born in Babylon. We know that Zerubbabel was a descendant of the last king of Judah, king Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin was only king for three months when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar kept him in solitary confinement in Babylon for more than 30 years until his successor freed him. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God spoke about Jehoiachin. Mira Jeremías 22:24 and verse 30 dice.
24 «Tan ciertamente como vivo yo,» dice Jehová, «even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 30 Esto es lo que dice el Señor: «Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.» (Jeremías 22:24; 30 NIVO)
The signet ring was a symbol of honor. God was letting king Jehoiachin know that He was stripping him of his throne, of his power, his honor, and authority. Peor aún, God said Jehoiachin would be recorded as childless, he would never come back to Jerusalem, and none of his offspring would prosper or sit on David’s throne. That would be the horror of all horrors for the people of God.
Fast forward to Ezra 2 and there we find the name Zerubbabel, “offspring of Babylon,” born in Babylon, and yet he is the grandson of king Jehoiachin. Cómo sucedió? I thought Jehoiachin wouldn’t have any children? The Jewish rabbis tell us in the Talmud that Jehoiachin repented of his sins, God forgave him, and showed him great grace. That’s how we can explain Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor, Evil-merodach releasing Jehoiachin from solitary confinement and giving him a seat at the king’s table. Leemos en 2 Reyes 25,
29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived. (2 Reyes 25:29-30 NIVO)
Oh, the grace, the wondrous grace of our God! Where would we be if it were not for the grace of our God?! Ahora, let me show you something even more amazing. Remember how God told Jehoiachin that if he was God’s signet ring He would take it off? Remember how God told Jehoiachin that He was stripping him of all of his authority, honor, y poder? Ahora, muchos años después, we run into Jehoiachin’s grandson, a man named Zerubbabel, born in Babylon, and he is one of the leaders of the first wave of Jews going back home to Jerusalem, not to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, but to rebuild the temple of God. The prophet Haggai came to Jerusalem after the rebuilding of the temple had stopped. He spoke God’s Word to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, el sumo sacerdote, y en Hageo 2:23 he spoke these words.
23 «‘On that day,’ dice Jehová de los ejércitos, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ dice Jehová, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.» (Ageo 2:23 NIVO)
When the people of God thought all hope was lost, that their best days were behind them, that the line of David was over and done with, God in His wondrous grace restored all hope by making Zerubbabel, the grandson of the deposed, disgraced king, His own signet ring. He restored power, autoridad, and honor to the line of King David. John MacArthur escribe,
The pre-Exilic signet of Jehoiachin was removed by God (Jeremías 22:24) and renewed here in his grandson, Zorobabel, who reestablished the Davidic line of kings, which would culminate in the millennial reign of Christ. ( Biblia de estudio MacArthur. pg. 1336)
Reading John MacArthur’s commentary led me to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. I turned there and began to read…and sure enough, I found Jehoiachin, also called Jeconiah, and his grandson, Zorobabel. Escucha esto.
12 Después del exilio a Babilonia: Jeconías fue padre de Salatiel, Sealtiel padre de Zorobabel, 13 Zorobabel, el padre de Abiud, Abiud padre de Eliaquim, Eliaquim padre de Azor, (Mateo 1:12-13 NIVO)
You see my friend this is much more than a list of names, these are the people of God, people moved by God to go home to Jerusalem and rebuild the most important piece of any community, God’s House. Most people, when they come to lists like this in the Bible, just skip right over them. I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity this morning to shine a spotlight on just one name, the man Zerubbabel. Qué increíble historia! What a testimony of the grace of God, the faithfulness of God to His promises. Behind every name in this list is a story, how I wish we knew all of their stories.
The same can be said for every one of you who are here this morning. We know some of the stories of how God has used people in our day, people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham, but your story is equally important to God. He is writing His story through your life my friend, don’t skip a page. Don’t skip the painful moments of the story. Don’t skip the dark, desperate moments of the story. Don’t skip the embarrassing moments that you hope nobody else learns about. God is writing His story on the pages of your life and I pray you will see His hand at work.
Something came to mind this past week as I was looking at the list of names in Ezra 2. Qué honor! ¡Qué testimonio! These folks gave up Babylon to faithfully follow God into a war-ravaged city whose best days were behind her…or so everyone thought. Don’t you know that years later, generations later, the descendants of those faithful men and women of God would pull out a copy of Ezra 2 and point out their families with pride. What a blessing to have your name recorded in God’s Word!
That’s not attainable for you and me, but let me clue you in, there’s something much more important than having your name recorded in Ezra’s list. Is your name listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about, so let me explain.
The Bible speaks about the book of life or the Lamb’s book of life. It’s God’s book, a book that lists all of those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and willingly follow Him wherever He leads. Jesus was speaking to His followers one day when He said,
20 Sin embargo, no os regocijéis que los espíritus presenten a ustedes, sino regocijaos de que vuestros nombres están escritos en el cielo.» (Lucas 10:20 NIVO)
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In the book of Revelation, John had a vision of heaven one day, la ciudad de Dios. En Apocalipsis 21:22-27, él escribió,
22 No vi un templo en la ciudad, porque el Señor Dios Todopoderoso y el Cordero son su templo. 23 La ciudad no tiene necesidad de sol ni de luna que brillen en ella, para la gloria de Dios la ilumina, y el Cordero es su lumbrera. 24 Las naciones caminarán a la luz, y los reyes de la tierra traerán su gloria y honor a ella. 25 En ningún día serán sus puertas nunca serán cerradas, porque allí no habrá noche. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Apocalipsis 21:22-27 NIVO)
Who are the citizens of the City of God? Who will experience the glory of heaven one day? Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Is your name there? If you have received Jesus, el cordero de Dios que quita los pecados del mundo, then you’re name is forever written in the Lamb’s book of life. If you’ve never surrendered your life to Jesus then won’t you do so this morning?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91a
OKC, OK. 73114
Septiembre 22, 2019