1 Chronicles 6:1-30 – Practical But Yet Set Apart from the Usual

Posted: December 20, 2019 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 6:1-30

The Priestly Line & The Levite Clans

The priestly line of the Levites. They were without land because of something Levi did when he was younger. Levi’s descendants defended God’s honor at Mt. Sinai after the Israelites pursued idolatry in Moses’ absence. Levi’s descendants did not have land in the Promised Land, but had cities that became cities of refuge for people accused of high crimes until their trials could be heard. The Levites had no land they could call their own, but yet they were the ones who interpreted God’s Word for the people. They were different and they were set apart. None of them were perfect. Even the original priestly family Aaron, Moses and Miriam, all had their troubles and their weaknesses. However, the priestly line of the Levites continued through this family of descendants who all had their flaws, made mistakes, but even in all their flawed humanity, God used them to achieve His purposes.

This passage is a reminder of several things. First, God does call and set apart those that will minister to His people and interpret His Word to the practical day-to-day workings of peoples’ lives. Second, he does not call perfect people to be set apart for this purpose. He sets them apart despite their flaws and imperfections. Third, you don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. You have to be willing and available.

It is the calling of a pastor to minister to his people under his care. We are called to take God’s Word and make it practical to the day to day. If we are not doing that, we are not serving God. If our leadership of the people in our care is not about the real world application of biblical texts and biblical principles then what are we doing here? We must make God’s Word come alive. If we are not making God’s Word practical and it seems of weird little exercise that we do on Sunday morning that has nothing to do with our day-to-day lives, then, we have missed the bus, missed the boat, and other such metaphors. The Levites were charged with caring for the Tabernacle and later the Temple but they were also charged with interpreting God’s Word for the day-to-day life of God’s people. And, that is why God set them apart for specific service and not owning land. He wanted them concentrating on God’s Word. He wanted them to observe life and be able to recall God’s Word and how it applies to a given thing that they observed in life. You can’t do that when you are preoccupied with other things.

All the Levite line, even Moses, Aaron and Miriam, all had flaws. They were all imperfect. To be called to ministry does not mean that you had to have been perfect before nor after God’s calling. God can redeem what was wrong and make it right. He can take your mess of your life and make it part of His message. He can make the worst into His best. He can take a murderer and make him the leader of His people out of Israel, in Moses. He can take a murdering persecutor of Christians and make him the greatest voice in Christianity other than Jesus in Paul. He can take a murdering adulterer and make him the greatest king Israel has ever known and make him the writer of some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, the Psalms. He can redeem the lowest of the low and make it the highest of the high.

All the bottom line is that God can redeem but we have to be willing to let him do it. We must be all-in when He calls us to ministry. We must want to shepherd, love, challenge, interpret and even say hard things that need saying as we ministry. If ministry is just a job like it seemed to become in later generations of the Levites, that ability to be in tune with what God has to say to His people through us gets cloudy and messy. However, when we simply have a heart that wants to serve God no matter what the culture is doing (like the descendants of Levi at Mt. Sinai) and just want to glorify God, He can use us. If we want to satisfy people and not God, the ministry becomes about something other than God’s Word. But if we put God’s Word and the things of God first, He can use us!

With that idea in mind, let’s review these names, and remember the flaws and imperfections of the major names in this list, in this passage, 1 Chronicles 6:1-30. Let’s read it now:

6 [a] The sons of Levi: Gershom,[b] Kohath, and Merari. 2 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3 The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 4 Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, Phinehas of Abishua, 5 Abishua of Bukki, Bukki of Uzzi, 6 Uzzi of Zerahiah, Zerahiah of Meraioth, 7 Meraioth of Amariah, Amariah of Ahitub, 8 Ahitub of Zadok, Zadok of Ahimaaz, 9 Ahimaaz of Azariah, Azariah of Johanan, 10 and Johanan of Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem). 11 Azariah became the father of Amariah, Amariah of Ahitub, 12 Ahitub of Zadok, Zadok of Shallum, 13 Shallum of Hilkiah, Hilkiah of Azariah, 14 Azariah of Seraiah, Seraiah of Jehozadak; 15 and Jehozadak went into exile when the Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

16 [c] The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 17 These are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their ancestry. 20 Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, 21 Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. 22 The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, 23 Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, 24 Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. 25 The sons of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth, 26 Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, 27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. 28 The sons of Samuel: Joel[d] his firstborn, the second Abijah.[e] 29 The sons of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, 30 Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.

With this passage, we must recall several things. While Moses was receiving the law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites rebelled and made a Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-6). Moses interceded for Israel but made the Israelites drink the water with the ground up powder of the calf (Exodus 32:7-20). Moses then stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on Yahweh’s side? Come to me.” And the Levites, Moses’ own tribe, gathered around him (Exodus 32:26). So Moses called for the Levites to slaughter their fellow Israelites—“Thus says Yahweh God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” And the Levites killed about 3,000 men (Exodus 32:27-28). This episode recalls the violence of their ancestor Levi (Genesis 34:25-31). But here such righteous zeal brought the Levites blessing, as they were “ordained for the service of Yahweh” (32:29). This is the origin of the priesthood in Israel. The Levites were given the responsibility of the priesthood because of their zeal in defending God’s honor. Whereas God originally consecrated the firstborn sons of the Israelites (Exodus 13:11-15), now He chose the tribe of Levi to take that place in His service (Numbers 3:11-13, 41, 45).

So we see that the same violent nature that lost the Levites land also gained them the priesthood. Of course, there is a major difference—Levi acted foolishly by slaughtering foreigners in defense of his sister’s honor (Genesis 34), while the sons of Levi acted righteously by slaughtering Israelites in defense of God’s honor (Exodus 32). In this way, we see God’s redemption of the line of Levi. While the Levites did not receive land as an inheritance in Canaan, this was also used for good. In fact, the biblical text (post-Jacob’s curse in Genesis 49) focuses on the positives of the Levites not having land. God turned Jacob’s apparent curse for the Levites’ good. Thus the Book of Joshua states that the Levites received no inheritance of land because Yahweh Himself and the “priesthood of Yahweh” were their inheritance (Joshua 13:14, 33; 18:7).

May we as pastors to strive to hand over our imperfections to God and have Him mold them into something useful for the kingdom. May we as pastors strive to seek deep understanding of God’s Word so that we can make it real to day to day life for our people. May we strive to be humbled by our choosing such that we always seek Him and not ourselves. When we have those combination of things together, God can use us in His service.

Amen and Amen.

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