1 Chronicles 1:24-33 – Yo, Abraham! Did Ya Not Learn Anything?

Posted: November 4, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

1 Chronicles 1:24-33

Descendants of Abraham

We all got stuff. We all got family messes. Here in this passage we see the lineage of Abraham. There are three lines of descendants that come from Abraham as we see in this passage. We see the honored line, the descendants of Abraham through his first wife, Sarah. We also though see his descendants through his maidservant/concubine, Hagar. We also see that he had children through a more obscure woman, Keturah who in Genesis is referred to as his wife but here in Chronicles it says she was his concubine. Regardless of Keturah’s status (some think she started out as his concubine and later became Abraham’s wife after Sarah’s death), she is the third woman by which Abraham had children. This used to be stuff only of soap operas on afternoon television. Now, it is a reality of life in our fractured society.

As we know from Genesis, the whole Hagar episode with kids by two women, Abraham had a whole lot of trouble as a result. Sarah became jealous of Hagar almost immediately after she became pregnant. Did Abraham learn nothing from that whole sordid episode at the beginning of Ishmael’s life. It seems not. He went on to have multiple children by a concubine who would later become his wife, after Sarah’s death. No matter what way we look at this thing or try to justify theologically, there was a mess created by all of this. Multiple children by different wives. Inheritance passing only through one line of children. The lineage of God’s people traced through only one line of Abraham’s children. The other two lines of children become nations that either were enemies of God’s people or help God’s people of Israel and Judah to fall into idolatry.

I don’t know about any of you out there reading this, but this stuff is like ripped out of real life in the 21st century. Today, most people nowadays will have on average two marriages in their lifetime. When divorce happens when the children are young, you have kids with different last names from their mothers. If there are children of second marriages, you have further complications with half-brothers and sisters and so on. It can all become very complicated. Not to mention that there are often tensions between first wives and second wives that can cause trouble for everyone. In this way, the Old Testament is very instructive to us in the 21st century. It is us. We are just as messed up as the people and stories of the Old Testament.

Each and everyone of the characters that we consider heroes from the Old Testament all were messed up people with messed up lives. Here, we see Abraham and it reminds us of the whole Sarah-Hagar episode of Genesis. And, yet, Abraham apparently learned nothing from that ugly episode surrounding the rights and privileges that would be granted to Hagar and to Ishmael. What does Abraham do? He takes another concubine/mistress/maidservant (whatever you want to call Keturah) and has kids by her too! How messed up is that? Did he not learn anything? Sure, she became his wife later, but wow did he not learn anything from Sarah’s reaction to Hagar. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, as the old saying goes. We see the same things today. One marriage is dissatisfying so we divorce and remarry expecting different results. We become dissatisfied with the second and go onto a third and wonder why things turn out the same every time.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through the genealogy of the lines of children descended from Abraham. That idea was that Abraham had a family mess with all his kids by three women. But even with all his faults (his weakness for women being only one of them), God used him and he became a hero that we look up in the Bible:

24 So this is the family line descended from Shem: Arphaxad, Shelah,[a] 25 Eber, Peleg, Reu, 26 Serug, Nahor, Terah, 27 and Abram, later known as Abraham.

28 The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael. 29 These are their genealogical records:

The sons of Ishmael were Nebaioth (the oldest), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 30 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, 31 Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael.

32 The sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan.

33 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah.

All these were descendants of Abraham through his concubine Keturah.

In this passage, we see the beginning of the line of Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. In this passage, we see that son of Hagar, Ishmael, is prominently in our memory from the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis. But guess what, Abraham did not only have children by Hagar but he also had children by Keturah. There has been some debate as to whether Keturah was Abraham’s wife or his concubine, since she is described as each in different places in Scripture. Genesis 25:1 says that Keturah was his wife; 1 Chronicles 1:32 calls her his concubine. Genesis 25:6 also implies that Keturah was a concubine. A concubine was a woman who willingly entered into an exclusive relationship with a man for the purposes of meeting his sexual needs or providing children for him (Hagar was considered a concubine of Abraham’s). The woman was often a slave or a single female without male protectors. A concubine did not have equal status as a wife, but, unlike a prostitute, she was provided for and considered the sole property of the man. Because Keturah was in a monogamous relationship with Abraham, she could properly be considered his “wife,” although she had a lesser rank than Sarah had enjoyed.

It could also be that Keturah had begun her relationship with Abraham as a concubine and was then promoted to official “wife status” after the death of Sarah. This would explain the differing biblical descriptions of her role. However, Keturah, the concubine-become-wife, is never referred to in Scripture with the same respect and honor that is given to Sarah as Abraham’s wife (1 Peter 3:6). You often see that too in our modern-day world where a second wife is often not given the same respect by families as a husband’s first wife for various reasons.

Regardless of the status of Keturah, the bigger idea for this devotion is that Abraham apparently had a weakness for women, just as many of our biblical heroes did. Abraham created family messes for himself with the whole Hagar-Sarah episode and apparently learned nothing from it. So, what does he do? He takes another woman later on in life, in Keturah. Abraham had a fatal flaw it appears and it was women.

The takeaway from today is two things. First, a simple and practical thing. That takeaway is that we must allow God to govern the relationships with have with the opposite sex and govern our marriages. When we are single or divorced and are in the midst of dating, help us oh Lord to depend on you to find our next mate – that person of the opposite sex that you want us to spend the rest of our lives with. Help us to trust you even if it takes a long time to find us our mate. Help us not to trust our sexual desires as defining who it is we are to be with. Sexual desires can blind us to those that we are not compatible with in the long-term. Help us not to let our desires cloud our judgment. Help us to hand that responsibility off to you. Further, help us when married to keep you at the center of our marriages so that we do not wreck our marriages because of our selfish desires and wants.

The second takeaway is that there are many of us out there that think that because we have screwed up our family lives that God would never use us and that churches would never accept us. Just look at the Bible, there are a bunch of screw-ups in there. Abraham is one of them. He was a liar and he had a weakness for women. Yet, at the same time, God helped him overcome all of his shortcomings and he became a father of the nation of Israel. His faith in God is always referenced by future biblical characters that followed him. He was considered a great man of faith. In Hebrews, he was considered one of the great hall of biblical heroes in heaven. So, what that says to me and should say to you is that regardless of the mistakes that you have made in your life, regardless of what your weaknesses are, when we place ourselves at the feet of God and ask Him to take over and help us rid ourselves of our weaknesses that is the beginning of our usefulness to Him. All of us are imperfect beings. Through salvation in Jesus Christ, we can be made wonderfully useful to God’s kingdom. Our mess that we made of our life can then become our message of the wonder of Jesus Christ in our lives. And churches? If they are worth their salt, they are full of broken people who have found life in Jesus Christ. None of them, not one of them, is perfect. Church is simply broken people gathered together singing the praises of their Savior. A church is not a place for perfect people. It is a place where broken people come together to figure out life together through their love of Jesus Christ. A church is and should be a spiritual hospital for broken people not a showplace of perfection. We should glory in the all the imperfect people that have been gathered together in our church. It should testify to the greatness of our God.

There are no perfect people in the Bible NOT NAMED JESUS. There are no perfect people in churches ONLY JESUS.

Amen and Amen.

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