Thursday, 22 May 2014

(143) May 23: 1 Chronicles 6-7 & John 8:21-36

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider again why the Levites are given such prominence.

To ponder:
Alongside the monarchy, Chronicles has a particular concern with the temple. And so, after the stress on the line of Judah and so David, we see a stress on the Levites, whose role was to serve at the temple. Levi is therefore placed at the centre of the tribal genealogies. And whereas the author makes no comment on Moses, Aaron or the Exodus (6v3), he notes that Azariah “served as priest in the temple Solomon built” are highlights the cessation of the temple’s activities when Jehozadak was deported because the LORD sent Judah into exile. This all demonstrates the primacy not just of the rule of God, but of worshipping him. And both are made possible by Christ’s roles as king – who governs us by his word and Spirit, and priest – who makes us acceptable to God by his sacrifice and intercession. As the only perfect and everlasting Son of God, it is necessary that these roles are combined in him, as only he can forever ensure a truly righteous kingdom and a truly sufficient atonement.
             The Levitical roles at the time of David are outlined, perhaps looking to the glory days as something to aspire towards, and as a model of what would be established when the Christ came. It is striking that after the ark arrived at David’s tabernacle and once Solomon built the temple, people were “put in charge” of music, overseen by Heman, and assisted by Asaph and the Merarites (23v30, 25v1). We should not despise the focus on music and song in church life, nor the ascribing of people to give time to ensuring it is done well. Just as songs have marked the key lessons in Israel’s history (Ex 15, Deut 32, Jud 5, 2 Sam 22), so they are a key way in which the gathered church is to thank and praise God and be taught his word (Eph 5v19-20). Indeed, the book of Revelation shows singing marks heaven itself.
            Other Levites took on the other activities of looking after the objects of the tabernacle and temple, whilst Aaron and his descendents were the priests and so in charge of offerings. The stress here is on the High Priest’s role within the Most Holy Place, and so with the day of atonement in particular. The detail about the land allotted to the Levites stresses they were provided for, no doubt reminding the current generation to provide for their successors – as we should Christ’s ministers.
            Two things are noticeable about the genealogies of the remaining tribes. First is the stress on the amount of fighting men each had, with a note of those who were outstanding (see also 5v18). Judah would have been so much weaker at the time of writing. So this may also have been to stress Israel’s glory days in hope of their future restoration. The second thing to stand out is the lack of the tribes of Dan or Zebulun. There may be a hint of Dan’s descendents in the mention of Hushites just before the sons of Naphtali (7v12-13, see Gen 46v23-24). However, we cannot know why there is just a hint and nothing on Zebulun. It may simply be that records were lost, stressing how absolute the exile of the northern kingdom was.
            We should remember Joseph’s line was split into the two tribes of Ephraim and Mannasseh (7v29), of which the former became the key tribe of the northern kingdom and the latter split into two half-tribes, settling on the east and west of the Jordan. The greatness of Ephraim in particular fulfilled Gen 49v22-26. The promise of blessing there may explain why the death of two of Ephraim’s sons is mentioned, as it presented a crisis as to the expansion of that tribe. It may also explain the recording of where Joseph’s descendents settled, showing God did indeed bless them with land in the centre of Canaan and containing key towns. Nothing can hinder the fulfilment of his word.
Praying it home:
Praise God for his provision of music and song for his glory and our joy and learning. Pray for the development of musical worship in your church and your appreciation and edification of it.

Thinking further:
None today.
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