This Week's Focus Passage

‘To leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place.’

Focus Passage: Ezra 9:8

‘To leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place.’

It is a curiosity, knowing that the paragraphic divisions, along with the versification, are none of them any part of inspiration. These paragraphs and verses in our bibles are every one of them the devices of men, albeit with presumed good motives, and in many cases with helpful outcomes. By the use of paragraphs and verses, we are much better able to refer to portions in the Scriptures; they form something like addresses by which we may be helped to find that particular verbiage, or that line, or that thought which we are seeking at any given time. We may look at them as a means for having points of reference. But we are very grateful for these divisions, yet that is all that they are; man-made divisions. Nevertheless, oftentimes there are extremely interesting surprises that do, in fact, hinge upon some coincidence that relates to such divisions. For example, there are many very pointed verses in the Word of God that just happen to be found at John 3:16, or 2 Timothy 3:16, or Malachi 3:16; there are simply a great number of ‘special’ verses that are catalogued at chapter three and verse sixteen of their respective books. In like manner, it has been noted with regard to some of the particularly noteworthy prayers of the Older Testament that the three most prominent among them are each of them located in the ninth chapters of the books to which they belong. These are the prayers of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel. We wish to look this week at the prayer of Ezra in his ninth chapter.

As we turn to that ninth chapter of the book of Ezra, there is yet another conspicuous feature to be observed. There are four uses of the word ‘remnant’ in this book, and each one of them is found in Ezra’s prayer in this ninth chapter. And it is not as though this word is peculiar to Ezra; it is not. There are some eighty-seven uses of the word in the Scriptures. It is just something of an oddity that the four occasions of its use in Ezra are, every one of them, found in this ninth chapter. It would be reasonable, if only upon that basis, to suppose that the remnant is something of a theme for this chapter of the Word of God. Remnant involves those that are remaining. When a people are being spoken of with regard to some particular event or circumstance, those that are not included in that circumstance are the rest, or those that remain outside what is spoken of these particular people. They could more easily, perhaps, simply be referred to as the rest, which is tantamount to being the remnant. But here in this week’s passage is included yet another factor. This ‘rest of the people’ have not only been left to escape from the main body, but we might say, that their being left has been for the purpose of giving us a nail in his holy place. But just what is this nail that has been spoken of; what was Ezra praying for when he asked that they would be given a nail in his holy place?

Ezra was evidently looking for the restoration which would, of course, entail the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. This would naturally involve the place where God promised to meet and dwell with His people. While this ‘nail’ may have been a chosen metaphor for the return of the people, the remnant that had been determined by Jehovah to become involved in the restoration and rebuilding of the dwelling-place of God with His covenant people, it would seem that it most naturally involved the confidence that the promised presence of God is intended to give the chosen people, and indeed does give them. The language of Isaiah speaks to this promise and its importance to the ‘remnant’ in every age. Even after this prophet has pronounced the controversy which God has with His ‘children which have dealt corruptly,’ he concludes the paragraph with this poignant expression:

Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

—Isaiah 1:9

These very thoughts are paralleled by the language of the apostle in his first letter to those in the church at Corinth;

For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? —1 Corinthians 4:7

This is always the true language of those of the ‘remnant.’ We may all echo the words of Isaiah cited above, for had not our God made us to differ; had He not given to His folk a new heart and a right spirit, we had surely been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah. We would be awaiting such destruction as was rained down upon them.

Zechariah has also spoken of the hope of the promise of a remnant as well as a ‘nail.’ The nail is translated in some versions as a peg, or a pin, but the obvious design is toward an appliance by which items, or things, are fastened; things are secured by way of a nail, or a peg, or a pin. We are immediately reminded of our hopes being ‘pinned’ to our Lord and Savior, who was ‘pinned’ to a cross that we might have eternal life; that we may have the hope of eternal life; that to which Paul was alluding when he spoke to those in Colossae, pointing out that Christ had;

Blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. —Colossians 2:14.

Because the remnant was indeed given a nail; a peg; a pin; a fastener; there has been, and is, hope. Paul declared that hope to those in the church of Rome when he cited the prophet’s words in Romans 15:12, And again Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, And he that ariseth to rule over the Gentiles; On him shall the Gentiles hope. Christ is that same hope for the remnant of which Paul speaks; Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Rick Phillips has written regarding the nail in Zechariah 10:4, ‘We read there “from him the tent peg [nail].” The English Standard version sees this as a stake in the ground that makes a tent secure.’ Imagine that; a stake in the ground! We are thus reminded that our Savior was ‘fastened’ to a cross that we might be ‘fastened’ forever and ever to Him.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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