RMM RoundUp November 17
1 Chronicles 9-10
Last year I wrote a blog called “All Scripture Is Inspired By God And Profitable - Even Leviticus!” I thought about writing a second version of that blog focused on 1 and 2 Chronicles. Why in the world are these books in the Bible? The first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles rank among the most difficult chapters of the Bible to plow through, it is name after name after name after name. What gives?
While I cannot make the argument that reading genealogies is interesting I can make the argument that it is necessary and important. For one thing, those names remind us that God is involved with PEOPLE IN PARTICULAR not PEOPLE IN GENERAL. He knows, saves, rebukes, corrects and preserves people BY NAME. I would imagine that people who lived through the exile and were included among those who returned to the Promised Land under Zerubabbel or Ezra or Nehemiah would have enjoyed hearing the names of their ancestors and recalling how God had worked in their family in days gone by.
The Bible says that the names of ALL of God’s people will be read aloud by Jesus on the last day. We talked about that on Sunday. In my sermon I said:
“According to the Bible there are Books kept in heaven. Your name and your deeds are in one of those books. You want to be in the one called “The Book of Life”. Revelation 20 says:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it…. I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done…. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)
At the end of time, when all deeds have been done and all stories written Jesus will read from the books. And if your name is not read from the Book of Life then you will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Here Jesus promises these faithful few living inside a largely dead and apostate church –if you are faithful, if you carry on in Christian faith and witness – I will never forget you. I will never disown you. No matter what happens to you on this earth, when you’re dead I will read your name out of the Book of Life before God and all the angels of heaven. If you confess me in your day then I will confess you on that day. That is the promise that is given to the faithful and it is enough.”
I don’t imagine we will be bored listening to that long list of names, rather, I imagine it will be the most exhilarating experience of our lives. Knowing that God has loved us, knowing that God has saved us - BY NAME - is a wonderful thing indeed. It was for God’s people in the Old Testament and it will be for God’s people in the New.
The names are also there to remind us that these are real stories. They really happened. They are not recorded in order to create a sort of “spiritual illustration” for the doctrines contained in the New Testament. They are real stories about how God saved people in the past. There are probably a few other good reasons to slug through these chapters, but those are the ones that come most immediately to my mind.
As for the chapters we’ve been reading (1-8 before today and 9-10 today) the first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles prepare you for the rest of the narrative. They are filled with various genealogies intended to prepare you for the story of David. You will notice that 1st and 2nd Chronicles runs roughly parallel to the stories recorded in 1 and 2 Kings. Chronicles however has a more particular focus on the southern kingdom of Judah and the house of David in particular. Think of it as a “zoomed in” version of 1 and 2 Kings.
Chapters 9 and 10 complete the “prelude” as it were and now the story is set to begin. If you’ve made it this far, you are through the hard stuff and it should be smooth sailing from here on in.
Hebrews 12 is a wonderful passage and there is no end to the things that could be said about it. In terms of the book as a whole, chapter 12 brings us to the end of the body of the letter, chapter 13 is filled with closing thoughts and blessings. Chapter 12 is essentially a call for perseverance. The Apostle is writing to Jewish Christians living in Rome who have been recently experiencing a fair bit of pressure from the government. They have not yet suffered martyrdom but they have suffered the loss of privilege and standing. The Apostle’s closing counsel is quite intriguing. In essence, he says:
1. This is the path of Jesus. He was crucified after all. Follow him to heaven even if by way of a cross. (Vv.1-2)
2. Don’t grow weary. Who told you this would be easy? (Vv. 3-4)
3. Don’t despise the discipline of the Lord. Even if this isn’t “your fault” there is no doubt that God is using it for your good. Learn what there is to be learned in this situation. (Vv. 5-11)
4. Don’t be grouchy or divisive. Try to be joyful, peaceful and wise and above all things, keep your eyes on the eternal prize. (Vv. 12-17)
5. Remember the coming kingdom. This world has its ups and downs, but the Kingdom of God is forever; be very thankful that you have a part in it.
Reading that list I can’t imagine anything more relevant to our situation today. Christians today are starting to feel the sting of cultural censor and so many of them feel that the course of wisdom may be to trim our sails, pull our punches and do what we must to make nice with the world. But now is not the time for that. Things are not nearly so bad.
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:4 ESV)
Not even close! It is certainly not time to slide back or to shrink into the shadows. It is time to stand and shine.
This is the path of Jesus after all. Therefore, don’t grow weary, be humble, learn what can be learned from our present difficulties, stay joyful, be discerning and above all things, remember the kingdom of God.
This remains the Word of the Lord - thanks be to God!
Amos is one of my favourite books of the Bible! Amos wasn’t even a “real prophet” - he was a goat herder - but this brother spoke truth to power!
He begins his book with a few words of rebuke for the pagan nations surrounding the people of God. Nations and kings are judged and held accountable for their conduct in war, their excess in violence and their failure to honour treaties and international agreements. Apparently, God holds all nations to a certain standard based on universal moral law and common decency.
Next the prophet turns his attention to God’s covenant people and immediately we notice a much higher standard:
Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes (Amos 2:4 ESV)
The moral and sexual behaviour of God’s people has become entirely unacceptable:
they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals… a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned (Amos 2:6–7 ESV)
Notice that God cares about BOTH economic and sexual ethics. BOTH. Apparently God can care about two things at the same time. Also apparent is the fact that the better you know God the better the behaviour that he expects from you:
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2 ESV)
I think we have that exactly backwards in the contemporary church. We think that because we know God we can more or less do as we please. Not so, according to the Bible.
In Amos 6 the prophet has a blast of rebuke for those who think that God is largely indifferent to the moral and ethical conduct of his people. They are enjoying life and indulging in earthly pleasures, quite certain that all will turn out fine in the end. Apparently, God comes for those people first:
“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile (Amos 6:4–7 ESV)
We are warned.
The second half of Luke chapter 1 is one of the most interesting chapters in the Gospels. It contains some of the impressions, understandings and prophetic utterances of the very first people to learn about the coming of Jesus Christ. It is very interesting to notice how they understood the significance of this event. Mary understood it clearly as the ultimate fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham. She says:
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever. (Luke 1:54–55 ESV)
You can draw a straight line from Genesis 3:15 through Genesis 17:7-8 to here in Luke 1:55. Mary considers Jesus and she says clearly “this is that”. Jesus is the long awaited offspring! Jesus is the promise! Jesus is help and hope and mercy for the people of God.
Zechariah also has an interesting perspective. Filled with the Holy Spirit he understands Jesus as the long awaited deliverer - the new Moses, the new Passover and the new return from exile. He says:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us (Luke 1:68–71 ESV)
Zechariah wants to be liberated from oppressors so that he can worship and serve the Lord in freedom. He sees in Jesus the hope that:
we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74–75 ESV)
Jesus is the long awaited seed of the woman, the offspring of Abraham, the son of David, our help, hope and mercy, our prophet like Moses, our Passover Lamb, our victory from oppression and our freedom to worship. He is all of that - and so much more. Thanks be to God!
Our Father in heaven, you know us, you chose us, you called us and you saved us - thanks be to God! We are your people, the sheep of your pasture and we give you praise! Thank you for setting us on the path of life, now grant we ask the grace to follow in it as we should. Do not let us fall or fail. Hold us fast in faith and witness! Strengthen us and sanctify us. Let their be nothing in us that would obscure or distract from your goodness. Show us more of Jesus Christ that we all with unveiled face might behold the glory of God as though in a mirror and be changed by one degree of glory to the next. Let this be the work of the Spirit in us, we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pastor Paul Carter
N.B. RMM Roundup assumes the Bible reading guide also known as “The M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan”. You can find a single page version of the 1 year plan here: http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/year_classic_single_letter.pdf and a version of the 2 year plan here: http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/year_carson_a4.pdf