I was working my way through barn chores when I began thinking about it again.
I think I noticed it the first time I ever read the whole Bible through. It’s there, over and over again. Somehow it captured me and since then every time I see it in a passage- I underline it and cherish it.
I mentioned it one time, in passing, to a group of people and some laughed. They didn’t understand the joy I claimed at that single word.
The technical meaning is a small part of something that remains after the rest has gone. I had one person tell me, “it just brings to mind a scrap of material that isn’t useful for anything.”
The word is spattered here and there throughout the Old Testament and then, in the New it emerges again.
The first is in Ezra. The Israelites are nothing like the great nation that God made them in the days following the exodus from Egypt. Instead they are prisoners, slaves, servants of great kings that care little for their plight. Then, God moves.
“the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia” 1:1
He suddenly decides to rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. No earthly reason for such an undertaking. What did he know of the God of the Jews? Yet, the call goes out and the remains of the houses of Benjamin, Judah and Levi crawl out of their hidden places and travel to the city that once was boasted as the most glorious place on earth and is now in ruins.
The men who had been more numerous than the stars in the sky were reduced to a mere page of names. Yet, in those numbers we find some of every part of Jerusalem. The Priests, The Levites, The Singers, The Gatekeepers, The Temple Servants, The Servants of Solomon…
Then it comes… there in ninth chapter. Ezra is praying and he uses the term.
“But now, for a brief moment,
the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant
and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary,
and so our God gives light to our eyes
and a little relief in bondage.” 9:8
God, in his graciousness, leaves a remnant. A “scrap of material that isn’t useful for anything” and gives them a firm place in his sanctuary. He puts light in their eyes and gives them relief in their bondage.
That is just the beginning. You can catch glimpses of it throughout Scripture.
“a remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.”
“in that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown…for the remnant of his people.”
“let them glean the remnant of Israel…”
“O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel…”
Some may hear hopelessness in the word but I hear the sweet melody of redemption. Redeemed. Remnant. The words even look similar, don’t you think?
This brings to mind a song that I fell in love with a few years ago. “Wallflower” by Laura Woodley. The chorus says,
Wallflower come dance with me,
Left over you’re just what I need.
You’ll be the Queen of my heart.
This, then, is the message of the word. Remnant. Left over. Useless. Broken. And then, God moved.
No earthly reason for the undertaking. Yet, He took that worthless inadequate thing and said,
You’re just what I need.
You’ll be the Queen of my heart.
You. The Remnant of Israel.
Scattered to the ends of the earth.
I will gather you together and build within you a stunning bride.
My priceless remnant.
Now, every time I see that word, nestled in amongst the thousands of words in the English language, I can hear him whispering in my ear…
Come and dance with me. You’re just what I need.
I choose you. Beautiful One. You belong to me.
And I think if you listen closely you’ll hear it too.
Maybe for you it’ll be in the sound of the wind or the warmth of the sun. Maybe you’ll find it in the laughter of a child or in the quietness of your morning devotions. But I urge you to listen.
For I truly believe that inside all of us there is a remnant of God’s perfect counterpart… the thing we were created to be. And he is waiting, longing, to gather you to himself.