By Jim Faughn
To some, it may appear as just another one of those long lists of names we find in the Bible. This particular list is at the beginning of the seventh chapter of Ezra. The list begins with Ezra and works his lineage back through sixteen names. The sixteenth name is “…Aaron the chief priest” (v. 5). I guess you could say that this is similar to the lists of “begats” we find in various places in the Bible --- only in reverse.
I suppose we would have to have the mind of God to understand all of the reasons why a list like this is in the Bible. Was it included to help to establish the “credentials” of Ezra? After all, if he could trace his lineage all the way back to Aaron, it would help to establish the fact that he did, indeed, have some credibility.
Were these names included merely to take up space? The obvious answer to that is, of course, an unqualified no!
I’d like to mention one thing that comes to my mind when I read the words “this Ezra.” It helps to establish the fact that I am not reading a book of fairy tales, legends, fables, etc. It helps me to know that, when I read the Bible, I’m reading about real people, real places, real events, etc.
There is not a passage in my Bible (or yours) that begins, “A long time ago in a land far, far away…” Instead, when I am reading God’s word, I am reading about many people whose names are found in history books. I am reading about events that those same history books verify as having taken place.
Consider the following passage as just one more example of this:
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:1-2)In these two short verses, there are five governmental officials named. Does the evidence of history tell us that these were real men? Yes! In these same verses, we read about six places (The Roman Empire is implied while the other five are named.) Did these places exist? Yes! In these same two verses, two religious leaders (besides John) are mentioned by name. Did they really live and did they serve in the capacity mentioned in Luke 3:2? Yes!
If all of this is true, why, then would I doubt that John lived? Why should I deny the evidence he presented about Jesus?
Why, in fact, should I deny or question the validity of anything I read in the Bible?
Two words --- “this Ezra” --- say to me, "You can trust your Bible."
- Jim Faughn, a retired preacher, serves as an elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org