A New Census: The Numbers of the New Exodus

Ezra  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:12
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Scripture Reading: Ezra 2
Opening Prayer
Note on preaching through whole books
Note on the value of the Word of God
Note on this particular text
This list is recorded twice in Scripture (Nehemiah 7) and once in an extra-biblical ancient book called 1 Esdras. 1 Esdras isn’t so much extra-biblical but really is a modified version of Ezra-Nehemiah, which were originally one book. Much of it is identical to the Ezra we have today and was a Greek translation in use at the time of Christ.
if we add up the numbers in Ezra 2, we get a total of 29,818.
The numbers in Nehemiah 7 total 31,089.
The number in 1 Esdras, totals 30,143.
But all three lists state that the total number is 42,360
So what is it?
Does this make the Bible unreliable?
Further adding to the confusion, vs 2 points to 11 leaders of the Hebrew community but in Nehemiah there are 12.
So which is it?
Original Autographs
Last week, we primarily saw two things
Ezra 1:1-5 - God moved on the hear to Cyrus king of Persia to adopt a completely foreign concept to let enslaved people return to their home lands and worship their own gods.
And then in Ezra 1:6-11 we saw the Isreal took great wealth from the Persians who willingly allowed themselves to be plundered to restore the people to their home land.
Sermon Body
This week, we have a “new exodus” where God leads his people out of Slavery and into freedom
Out of bondage, and into the promised land
Out of death, and unto life.
And thank the Lord that this is not the final Exodus, not only will there be another Exodus in Ezra but Christ Came to provide freedom from slavery to sin, releasing us from to bondage and bring us into the promise. Our debt of death has been canceled and eternal life is our reward!
Our sermon today is going to be different. We are not going to work through every detail of the text but we will do a survey, highlighting the important elements and then talking about how we should respond to what we have read.
Ezra 2:1 ESV
1 Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.
Notice that there are real people attached to this return.
It could have been easy to try to tell a story that was not traceable but instead ample evidence is provided to prove the claim that is being made
Notice also that they are returning each to his own town. This is not an unimportant detail. They are returning to the covenant, the promised land, and everything that goes with it. Land was a vital part of the promise and it is not forgotten.
Ezra 2:2 ESV
2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
11 vs. 12
12 tribes
Familiar names?
Vss. 2b-20 Clan Names
These people are described with the Term “Israel”
Normal use: entire nation, 12 tribes, or Northern Kingdom
Even though this is Judah returning
Vss. 21-35 Geographical names
Here we have a list of people who apparantly could not trace their lineage as clearly but knew where they came from
Vss. 36-39 The priests
The preists made up about 10% of the population and the factr that they have their own section highlights the purpose of why they are returning; to worship God
Vss. 40-42 The Levites and singers
Levites were members of the tribe who were not decendants of Abraham
Vss. 43-54 The Temple Servants
The term translated “temple servants” (nĕtînîm) literally means “the given” or “the dedicated ones.
These were likely non-Israelites who had converted to the Jewish religion and served the temple work by things like cutting wood for burnt offerings and other more mundane non-priestly duties.
Vss. 55-58 The Descendants of Solomon’s Servants
Similar to the temple servants
Vss. 59-63 Others
Ezra 2:59–63 ESV
59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652. 61 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). 62 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. 63 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.
These people couldn’t prove their linage but at least some claimed to be priests, they might have been Assyrian exiles from the Northern Kingdom
They were not permanently excluded but were kept waiting until the Urim and Thummim could be consulted
Raise your hand if you have a good understanding of the Urim and Thummim...
Exodus 28:30 ESV
30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.
1 Samuel 14:41–42 ESV
41 Therefore Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.
1 Samuel 28:6 ESV
6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.
Probably a dark and light colored stone that were cast
What is important here is that the keeping the purity of God’s covenant was important to the people.
Vss. 64-69 The totals and contributions for the temple
Many others also came who are not enumerated, perhaps hired servants or other members of a household.
Ezra 2:68–69 ESV
68 Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments.
Also, people gave money, desiring to be a part of the temple rebuilding
Vs. 70 The Settling
Ezra 2:70 ESV
70 Now the priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel in their towns.

God is faithful to deliver so respond with joyous giving

I am not just talking here about financial giving
I am not just talking out meeting a need.
Notice what happened in vss. 68-69,
even though all the financial needs for the temple were supplied, the heads of the families were so excited and desirous of celebrating that they gave money toward making the journey and temple better
How can we respond to our deliverance from sin and our coming deliverance from this cursed world and into a new heaven and new earth.
We can give finantially
The New Testament commands us to be joyful givers
Giving should be sacrificial
We should also give of our time
We should approach the question of all of our resources not of how much of “my resources should I give to God” but rather “how much of God’s resources would He have me to keep.

God’s faithfulness to deliver is available so become one of the delivered

Illustration: Like the sons of Hakkoz
You cannot acheive your own deliverance just as they could not prove their ancestry
God made a way for them
God has also made a way for deliverance from sin
It requires nothing of us
It is fully provided by God
Simply start following, turn from living a life of bondage to sin and willingly place yourself under Jesus’ Lordship.
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