My goal in writing reflections from 1 & 2 CHRONICLES are the following: First, to encourage you the reader that if you will pay attention to the words on the page and listen carefully you will mine a lot of truth for life without the need of a commentary or any secondary source even thought at times I’ll reference said works for help. That is, “take up and read” to enrich your soul Christian.
Second, I write to give you a model of how observations can be done in scripture that do not read into the text something foreign to the author’s intent. This will help you experience the joy of discovery and increase your confidence in your ability to comprehend God’s word.
Third, by doing the above my hope is that you will be able to hear God’s voice all the more clearly because it is the word of God that is forever settled in heaven, and not our subjective impressions, however valid they may be. That is, we have a more sure word of prophecy according to Peter—meaning the inscripturated word of God—then a glorious experience we may claim to have (2 Peter 1:16-21). Too often we Christians have bizarre ideas of what “God” is supposedly speaking to us and when it contradicts the Bible, be assured we are not hearing his voice.
I’ve often glanced through my Bible and not really paid much attention to this portion of holy writ. A seemingly endless bouquet of names, attached to each other, I’ve thought to be laborious at worst and not relevant at best. I was wrong!
According to Gleason Archer, scholar of Old Testament Studies and languages, genealogies are space-time-history events that occurred in redemptive history. That is, God is revealing a specific word through these people and we would do well to heed their message.
First, these chronicles were compiled by either Ezra or one of his contemporaries after the Babylonian captivity of Israel came to an end (586-539), where Jewish colonists were returning to Jerusalem to establish a new commonwealth of Israel [Gleason Archer, Bible Difficulties, Pg. 216].
Second, because all that remained in Israel was ruins, the people had to hold on to only their memories, traditions, Scripture and their God. This is the God who promised to them the restoration of the land after the termination of their exile [Gleason Archer, pg. 216]. They thus had to establish their lines of descent from Abraham and the twelve sons of Jacob so that the apportioned territories of the land could be allotted to the proper heirs.
Third, Yahweh Elohim (LORD God) personally made a covenant with Abraham and his “seed” through which Israel would live consecrated lives to the LORD. Only a tenth of the people are believed to have returned to the land which was in shambles, the rest of Israel chose to die in Babylon. God’s redemptive plan was bound up with those who returned to the land.
Fourth, emphasis in genealogies culminates in the New Testament where Christ is the rightful heir in the Davidic line (Mt.1) and by right has the authority to demand complete obedience of both Jew and gentile alike [Bible Difficulties, Pg. 216].
What’s in a genealogy? Identity! The identity of God’s people is wrapped up in God’s work in redemptive history which climaxed in the incarnation, Christs arrival in the fullness of time. Here God is revealed as one who strategically, specifically and skillfully redeems a wayward people who owe their blessings entirely to mercy.
For what does this genealogy argue against? It first argues against a cyclical worldview which eradicates any “telos” purpose, from existence and holds to a circle of events which endlessly repeat themselves. It secondly argues against a mechanistic worldview that considers matter as eternal—thus there’s no designer, no mind to consider, no person with which to reckon. Third, it argues against a polytheism that has endless finite gods needing to be appeased so their egotistical needs are met and it goes well with their subordinates—us. Fourth, it argues against a radical monotheism (Islam) where the divine God can’t be known personally but must nonetheless be served and obeyed.
What does this genealogy point to ultimately? This genealogy points to the personal, triune, self-existent, all-knowing, all-wise, all-good, all-powerful, ubiquitous God to whom we owe our very existence and to whom we will all give an account.
That’s significant, maybe laborious but with much reward, it’s not irrelevant but utterly pertinent to making sense out of the Scriptures and what the author of sacred writ (God the Spirit) is revealing.