A little like Ezra 2, Nehemiah 7 is, basically, a list of the returned exiles. This is twice-recorded which must tell us something about its importance, right?
Upon completion of the work (v.1), Nehemiah passes on overall leadership, so to speak, to his brother Hanani (cf. 1.2) and Hananiah the governor of the castle (v.2). Not the main point of chapter seven, but another leadership lesson right there – know when it is time to pass on a work to those better suited to the task.
After being prompted by the Lord (v.5), Nehemiah gets the people together to, it appears, check who is around compared to the list that we would call Ezra 2.1-70.
So, why is this list so important as to have it included twice in two Biblical books (or, actually, twice in one book if you consider that Ezra and Nehemiah are historically considered as one)?
Well, despite the need to rebuild temples, despite the need to rebuild walls, people are the main work, aren’t they. Temples are to allow people to commune with God, walls are to protect people. People are at the centre of what is really going on here.
People are the real work.
Each and every person listed in vv.6-73 is important, each is precious in the eyes of the Lord. Every single person of the c.2% that returned from exile is important. It was precious in the sight of the Lord that they gave up a comfortable life in Babylon and returned to pretty-much nothing in Jerusalem. Each and every person here that returned to God was celebrated and valued, and I have no doubt that there was rejoicing in heaven when each of them chose to return to God, literally and physically (cf. Luke 15.7).
As for each and every returning exile, as for you. Despite being part of a wider family, both a global and local body of believers, you, individual you is precious, valued, and celebrated by the God who made you. If you feel lost among a sea of others, perhaps you feel like the one person in the midst of a vv.6-73-sized group of people, then take comfort from knowing that you are known and you are loved by the maker of heaven and earth.