Why Read the Lists?

“I’m glad you’re the one reading this,” said the patient husband.

He was referring to the tongue-twisting list of names in I Chronicles 5 with all their adjacent vowels and unexpected consonant blends.

I could see his point, but, to be honest, I was enjoying the effort of decoding the names and then saying them, one by one, out loud to the air inside our min-van.

As we waded through the names in I Chronicles, I couldn’t ignore the repeated evidence that God keeps records of the names of His people.  When we look at an old year book or at the many pictures that scroll their way through our social media minutes, it’s human nature to look for the faces and names of those we recognize and love.  God needs no news feed to keep track of His beloved, and every face, every name has significance to Him.  This truth is prevalent throughout the Old Testament:   remember Moses begging God to wipe his own name out of the book rather than giving up on his people?  And the lists go on throughout the books of history right into Nehemiah and the years of exile.

In the New Testament,  Jesus told The Seventy (when they returned from their short-term missions trip), “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  His message to them was that God’s cherishing and recording of their name is more reason for them to rejoice than their ability to “trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,” (Luke 10:17-20).

Just as God sees all time at once, exists outside of time, and yet is available to you in your moment, so He also sees all of humanity at once — and yet He cherishes uniqueness.  He knows you by name.

Mostly unpronounceable,
They march across the pages.

Trailing their fathers,
Embedded in community,
Their names inscribe the ages.

There are no nameless —
There are no faceless
Followers of God Most High.
Although we read them
With hearts too numb to marvel
At the grace that’s between the lines;

For these are the people promised to Abraham,
The ones for whom God split the sea,
Who sold themselves cheaply
And squandered their chosen-ness —

Just like me.

Seventy servants
Returned from a mission
With tales of demons falling.

Sharing their conquests,
‘Til Jesus gave perspective:
“Your joy is not your calling,

“But you have names
And you have faces
You’re followers of God Most High.
And so your names,
‘Enrolled among the righteous,’
Are written in My Book of Life.”

For they are the people promised to Abraham,
Outnumbering the stars they can see.
When the Lamb’s Book is opened
They’ll hold their breaths, listening.
On their faces, they’ll be listening —

Just like me.


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71 thoughts on “Why Read the Lists?”

  1. I often want to skip over these long lists of names too. I’ve been reading in Leviticus and Numbers in my daily reading, and oh my. Ha. But it is special to remember that God wanted those names recorded for a reason. Every person counts! Thanks for sharing, Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele, I LOVE this post! “Just like me…” WOW! so true… love how your words brought us face-to-face with the real life people behind those names…just like me. I love the visual imagery in this phrase you wrote, “Just as God sees all time at once, exists outside of time…” Pastor Ray Stedman has said, “When we step out of time and into eternity with Jesus, we will see the panorama of past, present and future–all time at once–and we will know as we are known.” Just a glimpse, a hint of what it will be like when we see Him face-to-Face, gives us such hope and expectancy, even so, “Come Lord Jesus!” Many blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oh gosh, I’ve only just looked at this… again, tears in my eyes as I read your poem. Honestly Michele, you need to put these out there more. Can I edit the article for size and repost? x >


  4. Michele you just bless my heart reading this today. I’ve never thought about comparing how He keeps track of us with Facebook. LOL! What a comparison. I was trying to Read Thru the Bible with Wendy Pope this year and well I got behind with life and all my Bible studies, but I did slow down and read each one of those names like she asked us to. It really makes an impact doesn’t it?

    Have a blessed weekend my friend. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those names give faces to the stories, they make them more real. They highlight the family unit’s importance. Beautiful words, Michelle! Blessings!


  6. Michele, can I edit this down, mainly to just the poem, and repost to my blog?

    Rick has been given a colostomy bag and is feeling very well. It has made a difference. In the natural way of things, this is a very short term help for him to eat, etc., but the prognosis is very short. However, we continue to look to the Lord. Our faith is in Christ, He is our strength and our song and our victory. Win or lose, we win, don’t we. It’s amazing that we can feel distress without fear to corrupt it and make everything else so much worse.

    Love to you.x


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course you can. And thank you for this update on Rick. I was thinking of both of you this morning at work, wondering about his pain levels,etc. I love the distinction you are making between distress and fear. This is truly of God, isn’t it? Please continue to keep me posted on how both of you are doing.


  7. Yes! I’ll be listening for my name, too. (And He will pronounce it right!) It’s such an awesome thought – that the Creator of the Universe not only knows our name but numbers the very hairs on our heads. I can’t fathom it!

    Wonderful poem, Michele! You are so awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have never thought of those lists of names like that before. To be honest, I never read them…they are just so boring and hard to pronounce. After reading your post, I can think of them like the names called at a graduation ceremony. Each name has a face and a story and God knows them all.


  9. Thanks, Michele, for this excellent reminder! I confess that I tend to feel like those lists of names bog me down and often I do not take time to sort them out as you did, BUT your point is well taken. They are important enough to be in the Bible and over and over again I see evidences that God considers names of value. In Revelation, to those overcome as part of the church at Pergamum, He gives a new name written on a white stone. Thank you for this gentle conviction about the value of taking time to read the names!!


  10. Knowing and being known. Love that are names are written on God’s heart and He cares even when we stumble through reading the names of our descendants. Thank you for this beautiful and poetic-filled post.


  11. Tears reading this today. God’s beautiful timing … this comes in the wake of a sermon and time alone with God in which He reinforced these same truths to me. That He sees and knows each one of us so intimately is just incredible to me. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder.


    1. Thank you for letting me know that God used my words in a wonderful chain reaction with the words of others and the anointing of His Spirit over it all. Thankful for you, Anna.


      1. Thankful for you too, Michele, for sharing God’s Truth with us here. You are such a blessing to me.


  12. Amen!Amen!
    God knows my name And yours too friends!😅😆
    A powerful truth we should never forget
    Dear friend, I love this piece truly a blessing stopping by this morning.


  13. I feel the same about the names recorded in the Bible, although I’ve never been able to express it as eloquently as you have. 🙂 God had a reason for including those people, and he does know our names.


  14. Michele, that poem is absolutely beautiful! And what a blessing it was to me this morning. I would love to put a link on my blog soon and share this with others, with your permission. I love reading the Old Testament, and I am so touched by the way you explain the importance of the names. As I read your poem, I couldn’t help but also think of the war memorial we visited this summer, with the names all recorded on the monument – each one significant. Thank you for blessing me this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am guilty of having skipped over the long names from time to time. But you are so right. Every name was recorded for a reason. Every name counts. I am so thankful He knows my name. Blessings!


  16. Last night a friend just shared about reading through the list of names in the Bible. I am so thankful HE knows my name! Hallelujah! Your poem is lovely. Bless you, sister!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Funny, I was thinking about reading through the bible with my kids and my first internal pause was, “oh, but those lists of names . . . ” Something about this reminds me of the lists of names we have on war memorials – names and remembrance. Thanks for sharing, Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow! That was so beautiful! I think this is one of my very favorites ever of your posts, and you know I love them all! Thank you so much for linking up at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!


  19. Michele, JUST THIS MORNING as I was reading in Jeremiah around chapter 40 with all the NAMES, I thought to myself, “God is into names, people…we are individuals to Him – He doesn’t just lump us all together – He calls each of us by name.” What an awesome God we serve. xo


    1. Isn’t it fun when the Spirit blows the same wind around far-away sisters, lifting the same truth? And if it weren’t for this blogging community, we’d never know that it was happening! Thanks for letting me know!


  20. Michele,
    Thank you for this insight today! I have always wondered (and in all honesty, bored by) about all the names! What a beautiful correlation.
    There are no nameless —
    There are no faceless
    Followers of God Most High.
    Amen! What a comfort!
    Thanks, sweet friend, for sharing this hope with me ♥

    Blessings and smiles,


  21. I am so thankful He knows my name! I’ll never forget a precious little man we adopted as a grandfather, he went to church with us for many years and would read a short Bible passage every Sunday morning before the special music . He came to several OT names and read them quite eloquently and when he finished, he laughed and said, “I have no idea what those names are and I’ll never be able to say them like that again. I practiced them all week and every time I pronounced them differently.” He went on to tell they are of significance since they are listed and that God wants them to be remembered even if we have no idea what they did. God placed them there for a reason, don’t skip over them. Thanks for this reminder of reading those names. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    Liked by 1 person

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