“Now these are the people” begins the long genealogy of those who returned to Israel from Babylon.  Genealogies are not too important to the western mindset because they represent a foreign way of looking at life. We place great emphasis on the individual. The biblical society put its emphasis on the community.  There are no “lone rangers” in the Bible. Everyone understands himself in the context of his heritage and family. Those intimately associated with family and heritage were recognized as good members of society.

Churches today have membership covenants. Just as with Israel, the people of the covenant are those who commit themselves to be supportive, contributing members of the community. They share common values! They cooperate in accomplishing the mission. They take care of each other and look out for each other. Those with good family histories, faithful covenant living records, were considered top quality members. Israel took Proverbs 22:6 for granted: “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”

Chuck Colson, in his remarkable book about the church entitled, “The Body,” quotes Martin Luther’s insistence that “apart from the church, salvation is impossible.” Colson argues it’s not that the church provides salvation, God does, but that the believing person cannot fulfill what it means to be a Christian apart from the church.  He also quotes John Calvin: “So highly does the Lord esteem communion of His church that he considers everyone a traitor and apostate from religion who withdraws himself” from every and any Christian society that preserves the true ministry of God’s Word.

Although both Luther and Calvin are a bit severe in their words, I agree with Colson that not being a part of a Bible Teaching church defies Hebrews 10:25 exhortation to “not forsake the assembly together…”

Ezra insisted that the names of everyone in the community be on one of the genealogical lists in order to be included in “these are the people,” we too should be sure our names are also on the list of names in the Lamb’s book of life and on the rolls of a bible teaching church.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” 1 John 4:10-11(NLT)