1 Chronicles 9:1-9 – The Appalling Silence of The Good People!

Posted: February 5, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 9:1-9

The Returning Exiles

It was Martin Luther King who once said,

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

The appalling silence of the good people allowed institutional racism to exist in the South far longer into the 20th century simply because no one had the guts to speak out. We, Southerners, my grandparents and those before them in the South simply went along to get along. Fear of retribution from this unspoken and sometimes very real social order keepers kept our mouths shut when they should have been clamoring. Sure there were plenty of us who knew that the treatment of other races, particularly negroes, in the South was substandard and wrong. There were plenty of us who did what they could to ease the suffering of blacks. There were plenty of us who loved our black friends and those blacks who worked for us. There were plenty of Atticus Finches in the South. However, there was this overwhelming pall over the South that was unspoken and it reigned over us. Fear of challenging the societal status quo held us in chains from speaking out against the institutionalized racism that existed in our midst. We can pat ourselves on our own backs for how “we were with our black friends and black workers” but we were the silent good people that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of. We did not support the institutional racism of the South but we felt powerless to change it and therefore did nothing to change it.

The more that I think about it over the years, I believe that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight for equality for blacks was as much to wake up the white people of which the quote above speaks. His constant keeping of the plight of blacks in the spotlight was to wake us up from “the appalling silence of the good people!” His keeping the sore of racism from scabbing over was to alert the good people of the South that it was time to end their silence and end the unspoken but powerful social system that we all obeyed out of fear. Fear was the most effective weapon of the strident racists to keep the “good people” of the South from standing against the wrong of institutional racism. King’s call was as much to us good people of the South to wake up from our “silence is acceptance” slumber and stand up against what was and dream of what could be. Without the assistance of the clamor of “the good people” of which Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of in my opening quote, the changes that came to the South in the late 60’s and forward years would not have happened had “the appalling silence of the good people” of the South not ended. My parent’s generation spoke out. Many took risks with their lives and stood with the fight for equality for all, for blacks. When they banded together and were no longer silent good people, the systematic apartheid of the South began to crumble.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I thought about the return of the remnants of Israel that begins in 1 Chronicle 9 as I read 1 Chronicles 9:1-9. The thing was that most assuredly there were those in Israel and Judah that were obedient to God. There were those who continued to be faithful to the Lord. However, the appalling silence of the good people of Israel and Judah allowed the evil of the rest of the people to continue and flourish unfettered. They did not stand up. Their silence was tantamount to acceptance. That’s the thought this morning about knowing wrongs and not righting them, about silently standing by while sin runs rampant around us, about the appalling silence of the good people. Let’s read the passage now:

The people of Judah were exiled to Babylon because they were unfaithful to the Lord. 2 The first of the exiles to return to their property in their former towns were priests, Levites, Temple servants, and other Israelites. 3 Some of the people from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh came and settled in Jerusalem.

4 One family that returned was that of Uthai son of Ammihud, son of Omri, son of Imri, son of Bani, a descendant of Perez son of Judah.

5 Others returned from the Shilonite clan, including Asaiah (the oldest) and his sons.

6 From the Zerahite clan, Jeuel returned with his relatives.

In all, 690 families from the tribe of Judah returned.

7 From the tribe of Benjamin came Sallu son of Meshullam, son of Hodaviah, son of Hassenuah; 8 Ibneiah son of Jeroham; Elah son of Uzzi, son of Micri; and Meshullam son of Shephatiah, son of Reuel, son of Ibnijah.

9 These men were all leaders of clans, and they were listed in their genealogical records. In all, 956 families from the tribe of Benjamin returned.

In this passage, we see that, although not every person or family in Judah was unfaithful, the entire nation was carried away into captivity. Everyone was affected by the sin of a few. Even if we don’t participate in certain widespread wrongdoing, we still will be affected by those who do. It is not enough to say, “I didn’t do it!” We must not quietly accept the wrongs and the sins that we see going on around us. We must stand up for the truths of the Bible.

We have spoken about the good people of the South that finally stood up against the systematic apartheid that was in place in the South and it was only then that things changed in real and concrete ways. We know that there are issues today, right now, in our 21st century world where our silence (for fear of being called out by the intolerance of the age of tolerance) is equal to accepting where our culture is heading. There are things that we watch on TV and maybe complain a little bit about on social media but that’s the end of it. We know that there are things that are going on in our society that are against the will of God but we fear the same type of system in the air that was present in the apartheid system of the pre-1970’s South. The gospel is not politically correct. The Bible goes against many of the things that our culture now glorifies and accepts as OK. Anyone who stands against that will be vilified in the court of public opinion!

The appalling silence of the good people has happened throughout the centuries and when we do not band together to speak out against evil and wrong, we are accepting it as OK, just as the silent good people of Israel and Judah did in their day. And we see what happened with them. They went from being a regional superpower under David and Solomon to a crushed and subdued people because of the appalling silence of the good people.

Amen and Amen.

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