Resource Scripture Passage: Nehemiah 12, in the current Thoughtful Study Series
Reading some portions of the Hebrew Bible—the Old Testament—may leave you wondering, “Why are so many historical details considered sufficiently important to be included as holy writ?” This is a great question. Thanks for asking.
The expansive range of Scripture’s teaching moves from the creation account to redemption’s climactic scenes—yes, from Genesis to Revelation (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There are thousands of details! I sure hope there’s not a test.
Additionally, throughout Scripture’s historical record the Messiah is central. Though some might disagree (which is their privilege) disciples believe Jesus remains the premier personality of Scripture. (There is a see-further reference in the Life Application section of this post.)
The three indicators noted below help me make sense of times when Scripture lists details like names (but also more than names) which do not sound like anyone in my neighborhood (North America). Thankfully, God is not limited by geography to the North American continent.
Indicator One—Nehemiah 12 draws attention to God’s people as individuals. These names, though unknown and possibly challenging to pronounce, are the names of real people. You may recall (or check it out again) the blog posting for Nehemiah 3 of August 18, 2020 and the article by Jen Wilkin mentioned there. It is a solid reference.
Indicator Two—notice the presence of the priests in Nehemiah 12. Scripture does not here expound on their role. Checking a Bible encyclopedia will help you in your understanding, if this is new awareness for you. Nehemiah’s book has not primarily been about rebuilding a city but about responding to God’s gracious invitation of returning to life as His people. This makes Nehemiah’s account sound like Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son—Luke 15:11-32.
Indicator Three—there is at least one group within the list of names of Nehemiah 12 who held another significant task—these individuals were to lead the songs of thanksgiving. Nehemiah 12 affirms: “…the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving” (Nehemiah 12:8).
- Given the three indicators mentioned above, what do you make of Nehemiah 12?
- The see-further reference: The New Testament letter of Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 14-16 identifies Jesus as “…our great high priest.” Do you find a connection from the Old Testament to the role taken by Jesus?