As God had moved in the heart of Cyrus to enable the return of the Israelites to their homeland, Ezra spent some time writing a list of those that returned from captivity to take up residence once again in the promised land.  Ezra 2:1-2 tells us, “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. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.” This is one of the many passages in the Bible that I would skip over or just skim through. It’s a very tedious list of unpronounceable names with apparently no devotional value. There seem to be a lot of passages with lists of names, lists of materials, and lists of ritual duties that seem to be irrelevant to the modern mind. But it’s difficult to ignore the Apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 3:16 that teaches us that all scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for us. How are these names beneficial for us?

Beville says, “Such a manuscript is a historian’s dream and relatively rare. But it is the providential hand of God that has preserved it throughout the centuries, and what a marvelous account it is! Perhaps you have tried to trace your ancestry with a view to producing a family tree. Many people who engage in such a project find themselves frustrated by poor parish/church records of marriages, births, and deaths. Many more modern records are frequently lost, damaged, or destroyed. This comprehensive list is very precise in the detail it records and does not leave room for imaginative speculations. Such minutiae may appear insignificant or irrelevant, but the Holy Spirit has been careful to attend to detail. Therefore, this is not trivia; rather, it is the Lord’s list, which is recorded not only on earth but also in heaven! Rather than seeing this as a tedious catalog, we should see it as a scroll of honor.”[1]

Annually, the Navy would publish the list of names of all those who were advanced after taking the advancement exam. I remember the heartbreak I would feel after studying for several months and then finding my name was not on the list. On the other hand, I remember when the list for advancement to Chief Petty Officer came out, and my name was on it. There it was!!! “Charles E. Larsen” advanced from first-class petty officer to chief. I really loved seeing my name on that list. I still have copies of that list. They published the list in the Navy Times! It was a boring read for most people. But it was exciting for me because I was on it! My name was on the list, but advancement would not become effective for six months or so. I had to wait from October 1974 to May 1975 before I could change my stripes. But my name was on the list, and I knew it was coming.

Well, I have my name on a much more important list today. The Bible refers to it as the Lamb’s book of Life. I’m more secure on this list than on the Navy’s list. There are eight references in the New Testament to the ‘book of Life,’ and two of them refer specifically to the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Seven of the references appear in the book of Revelation. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are those who belong to God, those who have attained eternal life.”[2] Revelation 3:5 refers to the book of Life in which the names of believers in the Lord are found. This verse also makes it clear that once a name is written in the Book of Life, Jesus promises that He will never blot it out, proving once more the doctrine of eternal security.

[1] Beville, Kieran. 2004. Exploring Ezra: The Secret of Spiritual Success. Exploring the Bible Commentary. Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

[2] Got Questions Ministries. 2002–2013. Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.