Tuesday, 20 May 2014

(141) May 21: 1 Chronicles 1-2 & John 7:32-53

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why the details in addition to the names are included.

To ponder:
Chronicles begins setting Israel’s history in its wider context. Israel’s history is ultimately about world history. We read how the people are descended from Adam and Abraham with a stress on David’s line. This reminds us that through Abraham’s royal seed, God is going to bring blessing to the whole earth, cursed as it is in Adam. It looks the church therefore to its mission to bring that blessing to others by sharing the gospel of Christ (Gal 3v6-14).
Of course the genealogies are necessarily selective, being gleaned from Genesis and elsewhere. Father can mean any male ancestor and son any male descendent. So there are undoubtedly gaps. The focus is on key individuals. It is also on key nations, those of the Ancient Near East known to Israel. Here we might wonder why the descendents of Abraham are paused for the genealogy of a man called “Seir” (1v38-54) and a list of kings and chiefs of Edom. Edom was the nation predominantly linked to Esau. So this may be to distinguish those of the nation that weren’t from his line. Most probably it anticipates in faith the day when “Edom,” described as “Seir” and Jacob’s “enemy,” will “be conquered” by a ruling “star” from Jacob who will also cause Israel to “grow strong” (Num 24v18). This reflects the author’s confidence that after Israel’s return from exile, the people can be looking for the coming of their Christ. It therefore looks us to his final suppression of all evil and the establishment of his kingdom.
We should also note the detail that is purposefully made to stand out from the straightforward lists. It teaches that just as human history includes greatness (1v10) yet also evil (1v19), so does Israel’s (2v3, 7, 22). Sometimes the people were therefore blessed, fulfilling God’s purpose of multiplying and becoming a great nation. Yet sometimes, they seem not so blessed – perhaps hinted at by the note of those who had no children (2v30, 32, 34). Whatever the case, we see God’s purposes are worked out through the good and the bad. So Judah’s sons were born to a Canaanite wife (2v3) and Sheshan’s daughters to an Egyptian. All this gently nudges the reader to consider what their legacy might be and how they might therefore contribute to the fulfilment of God’s purposes.
One might ponder the apparent prominence of Caleb in chapter 2 (not the Caleb who spied out the land). In reality, he seems significance because he and his two brothers (2v9) structure 2v3-4v24 in a ‘V’ shape or chiasm. At both ends are Judah, then an emphasis on David and so Ram’s line, then on Caleb’s, with two lists of descendents from Jerahmeel in the centre. It is unclear why these three brothers are used. But the structure sets Judah apart from the other tribes, with David’s line surrounding the other two.
Praying it home:
Praise God for his concern for all the peoples of the earth. Pray that you, your children and their children would serve Christ and contribute well to his purposes.

Thinking further:
To read the NIV Study Bible introduction to 1 Chronicles, click here.
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