Counted and Cherished

Counted and Cherished

Throughout the Bible, there have been countless instances where people were counted. It’s a concept familiar even in modern times, as seen in events like the decennial census in the United States. Yet, not every community or individual perceives the importance of being counted. In my own neighborhood, the census often met with indifference and even resistance. We considered it an intrusion into our personal lives, failing to grasp the significance it held.

The Divine Census

“Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities.” — Nehemiah 11:1 (NASB1995)

Whether one regards participation in a census as valuable or intrusive, Nehemiah 11 introduces us to a census of exceptional significance. Nehemiah, the appointed governor of the region, led this census. The purpose was far beyond mere headcount; it aimed to provide the nation of Israel with a comprehensive understanding of their collective standing. The backdrop to this endeavor was a dispersed nation that was gradually reuniting under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Restoration of a Nation

The significance of Nehemiah’s census goes beyond numbers. It represents a pivotal point in the journey of Israel. Scattered and fragmented, the people were reclaiming their identity and unity. This was a period of restoration, led by faithful leaders who recognized the importance of rebuilding not only the city walls but also the nation’s soul.

Divine Lessons Hidden in Censuses

Even though poring over census records might seem monotonous, each detail holds significance. The Bible often weaves profound insights into seemingly mundane events, and censuses are no exception. These moments of counting carry deeper spiritual lessons that unveil God’s character and His purposes.

Census of the Heart

The divine censuses prompt us to reflect on the state of our own hearts. Just as Israel assessed its condition through physical numbers, we should regularly evaluate our spiritual alignment. Are we scattered or united in our relationship with God? Are we rebuilding the broken areas of our lives under His guidance?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” — Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB1995)

Counted as His Children: Embracing Identity

God’s censuses in the Bible often serve to emphasize identity. In Exodus, the census of the Israelites highlighted their uniqueness as God’s chosen people. Similarly, we are counted as beloved children of God, each with a distinct purpose and role within His larger narrative.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” — Galatians 3:26 (NASB1995)

Unity in Diversity: A Kingdom Perspective

Censuses underscore unity within diversity. In God’s eyes, every individual counts, regardless of their background or circumstances. The early church exemplified this unity by counting everyone equally important, forming a diverse yet harmonious community.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls…And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” — Acts 2:41, 44 (ESV)

Taking a Divine Census

  1. Regular Self-Assessment: Just as Israel took stock of its state, regularly assess your spiritual condition. Are there areas in your life that need restoration or rebuilding? Seek guidance through prayer and scripture.

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” — 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB1995)

  1. Embrace Your Identity: Recognize that you are uniquely counted in God’s kingdom. Embrace your identity as a cherished child of God, and let it inform how you interact with others.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:10 (NASB1995)

  1. Promote Unity: Reflect the unity in diversity that God values. Embrace people from all walks of life, valuing their worth as children of God. Strive to build harmonious relationships within your community.

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” — Colossians 3:14 (NASB1995)

In delving into the significance of biblical censuses, we uncover a treasure trove of wisdom and insight. These seemingly dry records become portals to understanding God’s heart and His purposes for His people. Just as Nehemiah’s census marked a turning point for Israel, we have the opportunity to allow divine censuses to transform us, individually and collectively.

Through understanding the deeper meanings of censuses, we open our hearts to God’s transformative work, both individually and collectively. Just as He counted and chose His people throughout history, He continues to count us as His beloved children today.

About The Author

Jesse Velez

Although Jesse Velez will forever carry the essence of a Native New Yorker, he currently calls the sun-soaked city of Miami, Florida, his home. Celebrating a marriage of 31+ years to Eusebia, he proudly embraces his role as the father of five grown children. Jesse has cultivated a profound grasp of the Bible over the span of 40+ years, dedicated to following and serving Jesus while engaging in extensive reading and in-depth study of the scriptures.