Want to read a boring chapter in the Bible? Go to Ezra 2. It’s everything you DON’T want to find when you open your Bible in the morning.
“Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: the people of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; the people of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two…" (Ezra 2:2-4)
“…; the people of Arah, seven hundred and seventy-five; the people of Pahath-Moab, of the people of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve; the people of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the people of Zattu, nine hundred and forty-five; the people of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty" (Ezra 2:5-9)
Had enough yet?
"…the people of Bani, six hundred and forty-two; the people of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-three; the people of Azgad, one thousand two hundred and twenty-two; the people of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six…” (Ezra 2:10-13)
You get the point, right?
No action. No story. No wise sayings. Just names. Lots and lots of names. 70 verses of names. Names that you’ve never heard of and names that you’ll never remember. Names that you can barely even pronounce!
What’s the point of all these names???
The book of Ezra is a story of heroism. It’s a story of courage and sacrifice. It’s a story of a small group of people who took a giant step of faith and risked their lives for the sake of building God’s kingdom.
And Ezra 2 is God’s way of honoring them.
“If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26)
Ezra 2 is a list of all the names of the people who left their own houses in Babylon and returned to Jerusalem to God’s house, aka the Temple. The Temple and the city had been destroyed decades earlier by the Babylonians and now a man named Zerubbabel was leading a group back to Jerusalem to rebuild it.
It wasn’t an easy job; it required leaving one’s own house to build God’s. It wasn’t a safe job; they knew they would certainly face opposition. It wasn’t an inexpensive job; they left their jobs and sacrificed their resources in order to make the journey.
By all measures, the people who answered the call and took on this challenge were true heroes. They made a sacrifice to build God’s Kingdom and therefore they were deemed worthy of honor in God's book.
I feel the same way about our BUILD YOUR KINGDOM campaign. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen people from all over the world pouring out their financial support in extremely generous ways.
And I’m not talking about “filthy rich, billion dollar net worth” people. I’m talking about people like me and you – ordinary people who work hard for their money and when they give it’s a real sacrifice, something they can feel. I’m talking about people who have kids they still need to put through college… people who have student loans they still need to pay… people who are saving up to purchase a home one day.
These are people who are really making a sacrifice – not because they desire anything in return, but only because they desire to be part of building God’s Kingdom.
Don’t you think these people deserve to be honored as well?
Well, I do!
And therefore we are going to do what we saw in Ezra 2 and in many other places throughout the Bible. We’re going to do two things:
First, we will WRITE THE NAMES of all those who contributed to the Build Your Kingdom campaign in a special book. It doesn’t matter if your contribution was one dollar or one million dollars, if you made any donation to the campaign, your name will be forever documented in our book (but please don’t let that discourage you from offering $1 million :)).
Secondly, we will PLACE THE BOOK PERMANENTLY UNDERNEATH THE ALTAR after we’ve purchased the building and moved in. Those names will therefore be remembered and prayed upon during every Liturgy or service at STSA – whether in 2014 or 2015 or 2055 or forever!
Those names will be there forever (just like Ezra 2) as the group of heroes who built God’s Kingdom in Arlington.
So now I invite you once again, to be part of the BUILD YOUR KINGDOM campaign. Remember, this isn’t about building a church (watch this in case you forgot); it’s about building God’s Kingdom. It isn’t about asking you for money; it’s about inviting you to be part of something great!
Will you join me in building God's Kingdom?