1 Chronicles 5:1-10 – Sin Is Subject to the Governing Law of the Universe: Cause & Effect

Posted: December 16, 2019 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 5:1-10

Descendants of Reuben

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only a second to lose it. How often are we remembered for what we did wrong that what we did right. Yesterday, we talked about how what we do in front of our kids matters. Because our actions teach them lessons that mere words do not. Our children imitate what they see. It is a documented fact that those who abuse their spouses are most often a product of a childhood where abuse was prevalent. Many other socially deviant behaviors in us can often be traced to the environment in which we were brought up. What we do in front of our kids matters. The theme of that blog was what we do now matters.

Sin has its consequences. God offers us redemption and forgiveness from our sins but he does not take away the consequences of our sins. God’s universe is built on the simple immutable law of cause and effect. Actions have equal reactions. The physical universe is built upon this premise by God. In the realm of human endeavors, cause and effect rules that govern the physical world are also in effect there. All the actions we take cause reactions. God gives us His Word to guide us in our lives so that our actions will have positive reactions. Sin, however, has negative reactions. Sin is hurtful to us and to others and thus produces negative reactions. Sin has negative reactions. Sin has negative consequences. Sin is selfish behavior. It is always about what I want without consideration of what our actions will do to others. Satan wants us to be selfish because he is selfish.

Here in this passage, we are reminded about Reuben’s sin that had consequences. His sin of sleeping with his dad’s wife had long-lasting consequences. It effected all his descendants. He should have received the prime inheritance from his father Abraham, but his sin was remembered and he paid the consequences. Even in the retelling of the history of the tribes of Israel found in the books of Chronicles, his indiscretion is remembered and retold.

Sure, at the time, Reuben probably thought that Abraham’s wife was beautiful and sexy. David though Bathsheba was hot to trot. Throughout the Bible and throughout human history, you will find men that just thought a woman was just way too sexy not to take a taste. It is the ultimate in selfish behavior. Adultery never has no impact. We do not have to be famous people for such sins to play out publicly. We see it in our society. Where sex has become a recreational sport and marriage is disposable, we are suffering the consequences of sexual sin. Sin never has no consequences. It is a basic law of the universe. Cause and effect. Action and reaction. The reaction to the action of sin is always negative never positive. When Satan is enticing you to fulfill your selfish desires, he is going to make it sound so good but he never tells you about the negative impacts – that always come. Each of us has stories of how our stupid sin decisions have adversely impacted our lives. Some sins have long lasting consequences that some of us are still dealing with years later. Sure, the impact may diminish over time but nonetheless we may deal with the consequences of our sins for the rest of our lives. In many cases, our children and our children’s children on down the line have to deal with our stupid decisions to follow our selfish desires. Reuben is a biblical example of generations after generation dealing with Reuben’s stuff.

With that in mind let us read 1 Chronicles 5:1-10 together, now:

Chapter 5

1 The oldest son of Israel[a] was Reuben. But since he dishonored his father by sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, his birthright was given to the sons of his brother Joseph. For this reason, Reuben is not listed in the genealogical records as the firstborn son. 2 The descendants of Judah became the most powerful tribe and provided a ruler for the nation,[b] but the birthright belonged to Joseph.

3 The sons of Reuben, the oldest son of Israel, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

4 The descendants of Joel were Shemaiah, Gog, Shimei, 5 Micah, Reaiah, Baal, 6 and Beerah. Beerah was the leader of the Reubenites when they were taken into captivity by King Tiglath-pileser[c] of Assyria.

7 Beerah’s[d] relatives are listed in their genealogical records by their clans: Jeiel (the leader), Zechariah, 8 and Bela son of Azaz, son of Shema, son of Joel.

The Reubenites lived in the area that stretches from Aroer to Nebo and Baal-meon. 9 And since they had so many livestock in the land of Gilead, they spread east toward the edge of the desert that stretches to the Euphrates River.

10 During the reign of Saul, the Reubenites defeated the Hagrites in battle. Then they moved into the Hagrite settlements all along the eastern edge of Gilead.

In this passage, we remember Reuben. His sin of incest was recorded for all future generations to read. The purpose of this epitaph was not smear Reuben’s name but to show that painful memories are not the only results of sin. The real consequences of sin are ruined lives. As oldest son, Reuben was the rightful heir to both a double portion of his father’s estate and leadership of Abraham’s descendants. However, his sin stripped away his rights and privileges and destroyed his family. We, too, must consider the disastrous consequences that sin may produce in our lives when we are looking at giving in to temptation.

Jacob declares that Reuben “will no longer excel” (verse 4) due to his sin of incest with Bilhah, his father’s concubine wife (Genesis 35:22). Although that sin was committed forty years prior, there was left an indelible spot on Reuben’s character and that of his posterity. By committing this uncleanness with his father’s wife, there would be reproach upon his tribe and the family, to whom he ought to have been an example and a blessing. He forfeited the prerogatives of the birthright, and his dying father demoted him, although he did not disown or disinherit him. He would still have all the privileges of a son, but not of the firstborn.

Jacob’s sad prophecy for Reuben certainly came true. No judge, prophet, ruler, or prince came from that tribe, nor any person of renown except Dathan and Abiram, who were noted for their rebellion against Moses. Reuben’s tribe chose a settlement on the other side Jordan, a further indication of the loss of godly influence on his brothers to which his birthright entitled him. Although Reuben was the firstborn, the kingdom was given to Judah and the priesthood to Levi, leaving Reuben’s tribe to be small and non-influential.

Further, Reuben was “unstable as water” (some versions translate it “turbulent as water”), and in this phrase we find several lessons for all Christians. For one thing, Reuben’s virtue was unstable; he did not have control of himself and his own appetites. The charge of instability could refer to his being sometimes very regular and orderly, while at other times wild and undisciplined. As Christians, we are to be in control of our flesh and its appetites and desires at all times. Most importantly, we are to be steadfast in our faith and not “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

We also learn from Reuben that those who dabble in sin must not expect to save their reputation or maintain a positive influence upon others. Although we know our sins were nailed to the cross and we are forever forgiven for past sins, we still have to suffer the consequences of those sins, which include remorse and a loss of reputation and influence. Reuben’s sin left an indelible mark upon him and his family. As Christians, we must understand that dishonor is a wound that will not be healed without a scar.

Remember, your grandchildren and grandchildren’s grandchildren may be on the raw end of dealing with what may feel good to us in the heat of the moment right now. Action and reaction. Cause and effect. That’s the law of sin. That’s the governing law of the universe.

Amen and Amen.

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