Wednesday, 28 May 2014

(149) May 29: 1 Chronicles 22-25 & John 11:1-17

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 can learn from the details.

To ponder:
To be “old and full of years” is a mark of honour and blessing (Job 42v17). It was then that David made Solomon king, and gathered Israel’s leaders, priests and Levites in readiness for the temple being built. The Levites over thirty were counted and organised into those to “supervise the work of the temple” (ie. its day to day activity, 9v28-32), act as officials and judges (ie. administer God’s law and settle disputes, 2 Chr 19v8), be gatekeepers (see 9v17-17), and praise God with the instruments David provided. They would serve on a rota, and were divided according to branches of Levi’s family tree, but in three groups according to his three sons. The note on Jeush and Beriah being counted as one family because they didn’t have many sons shows a concern that workload was evenly spread. Under Aaron, whose descendents were set-apart as priests, we also have a summary of the priestly role (23v13). In describing his descendents as having this role “for ever,” the author effectively means generation after generation as long as the covenant stands (Heb 7v11-28). He goes on to clarify that Moses’ descendents are to be normal Levites rather than priests. The note on Rehabiah’s numerous sons explains why Eliezer’s line was not combined with another as in 23v11, and that on Eleazar’s daughters clarifies that his descendents remained Merarites. In our particularly laid back day, the concern with order and organisation not only highlights the importance of the temple, but the need for these things if the church’s worship is to be fitting for our holy and orderly God (1 Cor 14v26-40).
            It seems that having first counted those over thirty, David later counted those over twenty (23v24, 27). Now God had granted Israel “rest” and settled in Jerusalem, these Levites no longer needed to pack and carry the tabernacle and its various articles, and so could be given new tasks. In short, they were to assist the priests as outlined (23v28-32). Noteable is the praise that was to accompany the morning and evening sacrifices and when burnt offerings were made on Sabbaths and festivals (see ch. 25). Ritual is only sincere when in the context of heartfelt thanks.
            Chapter 24 moves from the Levites in general to deciding an order by which priests would minister in the temple. This was established carefully by priests, proportionally with respect to the number of descendents, and impartially, by lot. Nadan and Abihu’s premature death is mentioned not because of the sin that led to it (Lev 10v1-2), but to explain the succession of Eleazar and Ithamar, the heads of the two priestly lines. 24v5 may mean that as both regular priests and High Priests had come from both, no-one could claim a higher place in the order, which was recorded by a scribe in David’s presence - and so could not be queried (see 24v7-19). The roles the Levites received were also granted by lot (and so by the LORD) and in the presence of David and appropriate witnesses (24v31, 25v8).
            Chapter 25 records the Levites given to music. The word translated “commanders of the army” (25v1) could refer to chief Levites which makes more sense. The men were to “prophesy” to music under the supervision of their father. Here we see prophesy is a broad category as this does not seem to entail the visions or predictions of prophets, but an organised thanking and praising of God by trained Levites, no doubt for his acts and mercies to Israel (25v3, see Ex 15v20-21). This suggests every Christian prophesies in some sense when they praise God in church or in what they say to others. So Peter can explain the declaring of God’s wonders at Pentecost as an outpouring of prohecy (Acts 2v11, 16-18, 10v44-46).

Praying it home:
Thank God for the priveledge of service within his church. Pray he would give wisdom to those whose role is to organise and encourage Christians in their service, and especially those involved in music.

Thinking further:
None today.
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