1 Chronicles 7:14-19 – Riptides & Free Will, Safe Shores & God

Posted: January 21, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 7:14-19

Descendants of Manasseh

The thing that came to mind this morning as I was taking my shower this morning was weird. You know how random ideas come to your mind and you are not sure why that particular idea popped into your head. I was just doing the mundane things of getting ready for my workday this morning, washing my body after an 1:45:00 workout on the stairs in the education building at the church I serve. Then, washing my hair. Rinsing. Drying off. Picking out underwear and undershirt, my clothes for the day, my shoes. Standing there drying my hair, a word came to me. Riptide. Riptide. Riptide. I was like what the….. Riptide. Riptide. I was wondering what that meant for me or my people or, well, my blog readers (the vast army that this represents! LOL!).

At first, I was thinking about that being a cool Christian contemporary song because of what it represents. If you are at the beach, you leave the shore and go play in the water. But if you do not pay attention to how the water movement, you can find yourself in a riptide. Riptides, or rip currents, are long, narrow bands of water that quickly pull any objects in them away from shore and out to sea. … Most riptide deaths are not caused by the tides themselves. People often become exhausted struggling against the current and cannot make it back to shore. That reminded me that often in life, by the choices that we make we often get caught up in riptides of our own making. Our free will choices lead us away from God, just as a riptide will pull you away from shore. Often we struggle against our own mistakes and try by our own power to get back to where we used to be, like trying to swim directly to shore in the midst of a riptide. We struggle with all our might, our will against that which is pulling us out to sea. In that swimming against the current of the riptide, we exhaust ourselves, literally, and often die in the attempt to go in our own power. There are only two ways to get out of a riptide and in both help comes from the shore itself.

When struggling in a riptide, we can hope that someone notices and help comes from the shore in the form of lifeguards with their emergency inflatable boats and so on. Help coming from the shore. Another way the shore can help us too is if there is no lifeguard coming, we must focus ourselves on the shore and horizontally with the shore instead trying to swim to shore through the riptide. By focusing our eyes on the shore and swimming parallel to shore so that you can eventually swim out of the narrow band of the riptide’s current pulling away from shore. In spiritual terms, the shore and the help from it represents God to me. When we try to do things in our own power and swim against the consequences of our free will choices, we will fail. When we focus on the shore, God, we take our eyes off our own power and look to Him for help. It may come from an intervention of others or a miracle from Him (similar to the lifeguards coming to your aid). It may come from God giving us the answer that we must execute on our own (similar to remembering to swim parallel to shore to get out of the band of the riptide).

What we can learn from this thought that God put in my head is that we have free will to make the choices that we make. Sometimes, our choices place us in situations in currents of life that take us away from God and we often do not realize it until we are in danger and we notice finally that we are rapidly being pulled away from God, away from His safety, away from his solid ground, away from his terra firma. We often get so caught up in the consequences of our choices, our sins, that we can drown in them. Only then often we realize that we need help from God, from his safe shores. He is faithful to us. He will rescue us when we cry out for help. It may be a miracle. It may be an intervention from a friend. It may be God giving you the path to escape the effects of the sins that ensnarl you. He will be faithful to lift you out and give a new chance at life. You must cry out to Him for help. Many of us are too proud and struggle against the riptide and lose our life in the process. We must lose our pride in our own strength and rely on a God that is surely faithful to each of us even when we think we do not need Him. Realize it. Realize that you need Him. Swallow your pride and ask Him to save you from your riptides.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I did research on what we can learn from the tribe of Manasseh. Two things came forth, free will and God’s faithfulness. Then, those two thoughts made the word that God placed in my head this morning, riptide, make sense. Let’s read about the genealogy of the tribe of Manasseh in 1 Chronicles 7:14-19 and then read the results of my research after that:

14 The descendants of Manasseh through his Aramean concubine included Asriel. She also bore Makir, the father of Gilead. 15 Makir found wives for[c] Huppim and Shuppim. Makir had a sister named Maacah. One of his descendants was Zelophehad, who had only daughters.

16 Makir’s wife, Maacah, gave birth to a son whom she named Peresh. His brother’s name was Sheresh. The sons of Peresh were Ulam and Rakem. 17 The son of Ulam was Bedan. All these were considered Gileadites, descendants of Makir son of Manasseh.

18 Makir’s sister Hammoleketh gave birth to Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah.

19 The sons of Shemida were Ahian, Shechem, Likhi, and Aniam.

Again, in this tribal genealogy, this time, Manasseh, Israel’s twelve tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Manasseh (and Ephraim), his grandchildren. After Jacob wrestled with Him all night, God renamed Jacob “Israel,” which means “you have struggled with God and men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:22–30). The name Israel represents not only the modern-day country but also, originally, Jacob’s offspring to whom God promised a great nation whose “descendants will be like dust of the earth . . . spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south” (Genesis 28:14). Jacob’s grandson, for whom the tribe was named, was born in Egypt to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, daughter of the priest Potiphera. Joseph named his firstborn “Manasseh” because God had made him “forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41:51).

Free Will of Man

This tribe provides us with many lessons; chief among them are messages about free will, obedience, faith, and the nature of God. Early on, we learn that Manasseh is frequently referred to as the “half-tribe” of Manasseh. This designation highlights the choice made by some of the tribe to reside east of the River Jordan (Numbers 32:33; Joshua 13: 29–31). They believed the Transjordan was the more suitable land to raise their flocks. The rest of the tribe settled west of the Jordan, in Canaan, following Joshua’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land. As is evident throughout Scripture, God endows His children with the freedom to choose. Exercising free will can lead to undesirable or even disastrous results, especially if we disobey God or make selfish choices. Manasseh learned this lesson—painfully—when they failed to obey God’s command to destroy the Canaanites. Part of this failure was due to a lack of faith that God would give them strength to overcome a seemingly unconquerable foe. Manasseh illustrates other human failings as well, such as greed and covetousness. The (half) tribe of Manasseh desired more land because they were “a numerous people.” They may have had the numbers, but they were unwilling to follow Joshua’s exhortation to clear “the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites” (Joshua 17:12-18).

Faithfulness of God

On the other hand, the tribe of Manasseh at times exhibits faithfulness to God. Gideon, who would later become one of Israel’s best judges, questioned God when called to “save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” One of Gideon’s objections was that his “clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). Gideon required proof from God—twice—before he acted (Judges 6:36–40). Once convinced of God’s will, Gideon moved forward with 32,000 troops to conquer the Midianites. But then God told Gideon that he had too many troops for the job, and God reduced his corps to a mere 300 men. Following God’s lead, this paltry force routed the enemy. The battle proved God was with Gideon and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

Oh Father, help us to remember that we can get caught up in the riptides of our mistakes and Satan will draw us away from God, but God is faithful to rescue us if we cry out to Him. Let us remember that we must seek God even in our free will. He is faithful to never lead us away from shore. However, if you are in the midst of the riptides of your life, focus on God and cry out to Him for a way out. He is faithful to rescue you by miracle, by intervention of others, or by enlightening your mind on how to find your way out and back to Him, back to safe shores.

Amen and Amen.

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