Friday, 23 May 2014

(144) May 24: 1 Chronicles 8-10 & John 8:37-59

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider what we learn about Saul.

To ponder:
In the lead up to historical narrative, the genealogies focus on Saul, Israel’s first king, but bracketing a record of the re-establishment of worship in Jerusalem after the exile. So not only are the key themes of rule and temple raised again, but also the historical scope of 1 and 2 Chronicles.
            Linking the two are notes in Saul’s genealogy of those living in or near Jerusalem (8v28, 32, 9v38). This is probably the point of 8v6-7. The “deportation” mentioned was to Manahath, just outside Jerusalem (8v6-7). It doesn’t therefore refer to the exile, but to an emigration of these families. With Saul only mentioned in passing (8v33), the focus is therefore on Benjamin’s partnership with Judah as the two tribes that would comprise the southern kingdom of Judah located around Jerusalem. We might consider that belonging to the New Jerusalem comprising those in Christ is the most critical aspect to our legacy too
8v8-12 do not record the same sort of proximity to the capital, but do relate how some descendents born out of the land in Moab, the place of immorality (Num 25), end up in the land and defeating some Philistines in Gath. They are therefore noteworthy Benjamites, whose lives would have been inspirational, like the brave and blessed sons of Ulam (8v39-40).
            9v1 ends the lists to that point. It must refer to other books than our 1 and 2 Kings as they contain no genealogies. We then move to the resettlement of Jerusalem after Judah’s exile because of unfaithfulness. The mention of the settlers “own property” stresses the regaining of the land. What is striking is how small the populations were compared to the previous lists of fighting men (ch. 7). Much would need doing for the kingdom to be restored.
The focus moves to the high pedigree by descent of the priests, and how able those responsible for ministering in the temple were (9v11, 13). A surprising amount is then said about the “gatekeepers.” They were Levites tasked with guarding the entrances to the tent and then temple. As with the pedigree of the priests, their noble root under Phinehas is stressed, as is their orginal commission from David and Samuel together with their role (9v23-3) and even means of having time off (9v25). By these means the author places post-exilic worship in continuity with that under David. Although it was at this point less illustrious, it was no less genuine or important, and the author expects it to be modelled on what went before. Likewise, although culture changes, today’s church is in continuity with that of the apostles, and the roles God has assigned within the church remain the same and are to be patterned on those within the New Testament. Moreover, as with the gatekeepers and Levites, each has their own task in benefitting the whole.
            Nothing is recorded of Saul’s life except his death, with 1 Samuel 31 being repeated but for the addition of 10v13-14. So we are reminded Saul’s death accompanied that of his sons and led to Philistine occupation and the accrediting of their god with victory. However, it was actually the LORD who brought it about, turning the kingdom over to David because of Saul’s unfaithfulness, seen particularly in not obeying God’s commands, and consulting a medium rather than enquiring of him. It seems we are therefore being readied for a contrast with David, the ideal king, as we look ahead to his descendent, sent by God to establish the ideal kingdom. Supporting this is the note that Saul’s ancestors came not from near Jerusalem, which has been the focus throughout, but Gibeon (8v29). He was the people’s choice and not God’s.

Praying it home:
Thank God for maintain his church over the last two thousand years. Pray that you would have a servant heart and wisdom as to how best to play your part within the church.

Thinking further: The sources of Chronicles
Just as Luke used many sources for his gospel, we have seen in the genealogies that the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles has used many himself. Genesis, 1 Samuel and Nehemiah have already been alluded to, as have books not included in our Old Testament. It’s also true to say that from the distant future of the twenty first century it is hard to see how some of the genealogies fit with what we read elsewhere. The author has certainly been very selective in the names and detail he has included. Nevertheless, we should not assume what he has compiled is haphazard or inaccurate. We have seen he has had purpose in the details and particularly in how he has structured things. He has therefore proved himself particularly careful in how he has crafted his account. Indeed, he has done so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3v16).
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