And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem…
The company that came out of Babylonian captivity was by no means a disorderly or unorganized multitude. It was well officered, and was divided and subdivided into ranks. It probably marched in regular order. Under the "Tirshatha" Zerubbabel, Jeshua the high priest, and Mordecai (probably the honoured deliverer), with other natural leaders, came (ver. 70), priests, Levites (a singularly and disproportionately small number of these), the people (typical Israelites - laymen, citizens), the singers, the porters, the Nethinims. There were -
I. VARIOUS RANKS IN THE HOST OF THE LORD (ver. 70). "The priests, and Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims," etc. Each man of the 42,000 had a part to play in this exodus as well as in the settlement and the building which should follow; but some had more difficult and responsible posts than others. No service was without value of its kind. They could not have carried their treasures without help from the porters, nor conveyed the sacred vessels without the Nethinims; nor could they well have spared the singing men and women, whose sweet songs of Zion must have beguiled the way and helped them on over rough places and up steep heights towards the site of the city of their hopes. Much less could they have spared the priests and the leaders, who by their clear head and commanding will were to do more than the others with their hand and tongue. One is our Master, even Christ: we all take the truth which we hold and teach from the words of the great Teacher himself. But many are the parts we take, and varied the services we render, as we journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem, as we build the house and kingdom of the Lord. In our Christian ranks are great leaders, like Luther, and Calvin, and Knox, and Chalmers, and Wesley; great writers and apologists, like Augustine, and Butler, and Baxter; great preachers and missionaries whose name is legion; and below these in spiritual rank and influence are ministers, teachers, officers, "sweet singers," and all the company of those that help in the service of the sanctuary, in the work of the Lord, down to the "doorkeeper of the house." Each man in his place renders valued service: service which, if not marked "valuable by the handwriting of man, is yet truly and really valued by the observant and discerning Master. He who does well, working conscientiously and devoutly, the work for which he is fitted, is rendering a service to his race and to his God which is not overlooked, and will never be forgotten. Its record is on high, and he who wrought it will hear of it again, when every man (who is anywise praiseworthy) shall have praise of God, and the blessed, heart-satisfying Well done" shall be spoken by the Son of man.
II. EXCELLENCY OF WORK IN HIS SERVICE (vers. 68, 69). The narrative (vers. 68, 69) anticipates the arrival in Judaea and the work to which they there addressed themselves. It states that some of the chief of the fathers "offered freely for the house of God," and that they "gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work." Here were two acceptable elements in all sacred service -
(1) cheerfulness, which the Lord loveth (2 Corinthians 9:7); and
(2) fulness, according to ability, every one doing the best he can: not the least that can be offered with decency, but the most that present resources will allow. In building up the spiritual house of our Lord's kingdom - a work in which every Christian disciple is to be engaged - we may bring silver and gold to the treasury, or we may bring manual labour, or mental work, or spiritual exercises, or we may contribute the services of the teacher or the organizer. We may help in one of a hundred ways, more or less important. And not only is each one honourable and valuable in its way, but each work admits of being done in varying degrees of excellency - more or less cheerfully, more or less efficiently. We must aim at perfection in every department. When we realize that we are giving to him
(a) who "gave himself for us,"
(b) who is giving his Spirit to us, and
(c) who will give his glory to us, we shall give, not of our weakness, but our strength; not sluggishly and inefficiently, but "after our ability." The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive "riches." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: