We find a number of names are mentioned in Ezra 8: the names of “them that went up with me from Babylon.” Here you have a record of those who did absolutely separate themselves to go through with God; we have Holy Writ here, and it is as if the Holy Spirit is taking the pen and putting down the names of men who took responsibility in the testimony of God, and HE is setting down every name of the wholly devoted company who went right through with God; for the Holy Spirit would have made comment, if anyone had stopped on the way. No, these left the comparative ease and comforts of Babylon for a long and difficult journey, fraught with many dangers, and came back to a ruined city. There is hard work, a certain amount of suffering, opposition, and so on, but they are willing to pay the cost and go through; and these are the ones whose names are severally recorded with such care, and their names will stand as long as the Bible stands; they are “Called, chosen, and faithful” wholly for God, whatever the cost.
Are we going through with God? Or are we counting the cost and drawing out? And notice that the next thing in the chapter is Ezra’s statement: “I found none of the sons of Levi there” (Ezra 8:15).
Why was this? The Levites were those who had an inheritance only in God; they had no inheritance in the land (Joshua 14:4-5). To go to a land of desolation in which, in any case, they had no inheritance, does not look very promising, and they were getting more in Babylon than they could get there, and so the Levites could not see how they were going to get their bread and butter, and they knew they had no right to enter into the land-realm of things; and because they had no inheritance in the land, but had to trust the Lord, they stayed in Babylon. Those who had to come out and have their portion only in God, without seeing where “on earth” it is coming from, were miserably few; no Levites came out! And is it not the same in the ministry of the Word, when you come out of a system where you are sure of your supply? It is a test of faith to have a secured position in the world of religion, and to come out and have your portion only in God, nothing in the world; and we find not many can stand up to that. So we find no Levite in that record of names.
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