Jerusalem was not the only town the people of Judah took back. We see a list of other towns that those who returned from captivity lived in.
The number of Jews who returned from captivity was FAR less than those who went in. But those who returned reclaimed their ancestral land; their individual inheritance. When we looked at those who stayed in Jerusalem we also saw that the nine out of ten who were not chosen returned to the places their fathers had occupied before the captivity. “And the rest of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites were in all the towns of Judah, every one in his inheritance” (verse 20). Today we see a list of those towns.
From what I can gather, Judah spread out southward and Benjamin to the north of Jerusalem. They both spread out east to west. I’m curious how many people lived in these towns as when Joshua first went into the land the people were not enough to inhabit ALL the land as it was so vast. The tribe of Simeon occupied the central section of Judah in the beginning. Now Judah is to take up the whole land. Even the town of Ziklag, which was under Philistine control during David’s time, is occupied by the people of Judah. That’s a LOT of territory!
They had to trust God to take care of them in this scattered form. The king of Persia had given them permission to return home but the neighbors weren’t happy about it. And there was no king there to help them in the day to day interactions with their neighbors. Jerusalem was secure but the people in the scattered towns probably weren’t. Talk about an exercise in faith! A new beginning for all.
Most of these people had been living in the land for the last 100 or so years. The majority of the people came back with Zerubbabel. They had probably learned how to deal with their neighbors. Some had even intermarried with their neighbors. But now they were to be separate. I wonder how that went over at the ‘block parties’. They had to trust in God to get them through the rough spots in neighbor relations.
This same thing happens when new people come to the Lord. Those that come as children don’t face the same difficulties as those who come to Him later in life. Those late comers have to contend with old relationships and habits that are contrary to their new faith. They have to separate themselves from their old lives of sin or risk being pulled back into it. The ONLY way to do this is to trust in the Lord. Let Him supply you with friends that will lift you up. I know the temptation to ‘be a witness’ to the old friends is strong but it is more likely they will cause you to stumble. Pray that God would send a better witness to them and witness yourself by living the life He has called you to.
Both old and new testaments tell us to be separate from the world. Psalm 1:1 and 2 Corinthians 6:17 are good examples of God’s directive. Trust God to bring those about you who will lift you up as you walk away from temptation. Place those you have to leave behind in His hands. He knows just what to do with them.
Father God, thank You for always being there for me when I had to walk away from people that were once important to me. My ex-husband was one of those people. I didn’t so much as leave but was left by him. You sustained me during that time and helped me to break the ties that bound us. Thank You for protecting my heart during the time I was alone in the role of parent. And thank You for bring me a man who shares my love for You to spend the rest of my life with.