Have you heard the saying, “Life is hard, and then you die?” Well, in August of 2007, I amended it to, “Life is hard, but moving is harder.” And moving ourselves 2,200 miles across the country in a couple of 26ft. Penske trucks was downright – well, challenging. For such a long-distance move, we agonized over what to take and what to leave behind, give away or throw away. We’d lived in our current home for fourteen years, plenty of time to accumulate lots of “treasures.” One of our daughters would be moving half of her stuff to Washington with us and leaving the other half in storage at college – a logistics nightmare, but a space relief for the move. The other daughter was graduating from college and would be living with us. Funny thing. She actually wanted to take her college apartment possessions with her. Go figure. Well, by God’s hand, we did it. We moved approximately 2 ½ households 2,200 miles across 9 states in 4 ½ days. My father-in-law went along to drive a truck; Roy drove the second truck, both trucks towing vehicle dollies. The girls and I took turns driving our van. No breakdowns, flat tires, physical assaults or murders. Now, stop for a moment and imagine 50,000 people with 8,200 pack animals going 900 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem. That means 6 people shared a single pack animal –horse, mule, camel, or donkey – as well as what each one could carry on foot. How did they decide what to pack for their new lives in a new land?
(I’m not going to copy all the verses because much of it consists of names and numbers. I was afraid you’d get spooked and stop reading! So, I’ll use this: “…” and pick up where the story begins again.)
Ezra 2:1-61 – “Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, in company with Zerubbabel…) The list of the men of the people of Israel: the descendants of Parosh 2,172…The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah…but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel” (emphasis added).
- They couldn’t just run down to the nearest courthouse and check out the computer database or microfiche, so how were some able to show they were descended from Israel? Scrolls and parchments tucked away. Impeccable records of family heritage and the Law were maintained and treasured – and undoubtedly given top priority on a camel’s back to Jerusalem. God entrusted Israel with maintaining the Holy Scriptures so that you and I could have access to the full revelation of His Word – from Creation through Revelation. God has guarded it, and generations have sacrificed their blood for it, so that you and I can read both the Old and New Covenant God made with humankind.
Ezra 2:62-70 – “These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys. When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments. The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns” (emphasis added)
- These people made a priority of two things when packing for their journey: proof of their heritage and offerings to Jehovah. Now, my husband is a packrat, and I’m incredibly un-sentimental. We had more than a few disagreements on what went to Goodwill as we packed for our move. I believe the remnant of Israel discovered two important rules of thumb on cleaning out the proverbial closet. Keep it if it has 1) family significance, or 2) potential for ministry significance. Those Israelites who settled in their own towns, did so because they knew their family history. Those who couldn’t find their important papers…probably had an overzealous closet-cleaning wife!
Lord, oftentimes my decision to keep something is based on materialism or a doubt that You can provide for my future needs. Teach me the discipline of simplicity, while working in my heart to value the truly irreplaceable treasures of family and ministry opportunities.