Have you ever wondered why the Bible contains so many lists of difficult-to-pronounce names? Are they relevant to us today, and if so, how? Believing that there is something to be learned from all God saw fit to have included in His Word, let us consider some answers to these questions.
God knows, loves, and cares about us individually. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered" Matthew 10:29, 30.
"Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" Psalm 139:16. "He calleth his own sheep by name" John 10:3. Each name listed is an individual in whom God has an interest. That's good news for us. We are not lost in the crowd!
Let us take a brief look at a couple of the Bible's many name lists.
The genealogy list of Jesus, found in Matthew 1, contains the names of Thamar (Tamar), Rachab(Rahab), and Ruth. These were heathen and two, with questionable backgrounds. Regardless of our race or history, we can find encouragement and hope knowing that our Savior welcomes all who will to become part of His family.
Now notice Nehemiah chapter 3 where we find another list of names. Israel had long been in captivity. Some had returned to Jerusalem, but the city was in shambles. "The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire" Nehemiah 1:3. This was the report given to Nehemiah. He received permission from the king to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was not without difficulties, but the work went forward. That those who helped in the project were mentioned by name once again shows God's interest in us as individuals. But there are further points to glean.
The priests led out as an example for others (verse 1). How important that Christian leaders do just that in any worthwhile effort. Women were also involved in the work (verse 12). There was no gender exclusion. The chapter reveals that many repaired the part of the wall next to their homes. That has implications for us in taking responsibility for our own surroundings.
I'm so grateful God takes note of us as individuals. I want my name in God's list. I want to be named in His "book of remembrance" Malachi 3:16. I want to receive the promise of Revelation 2:17. "To him that overcometh will I give . . . a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.