1 Chronicles 24:20-31 – Eight Decades of the “Family Business”

Posted: May 30, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 24:20-31

Family Leaders Among the Levites

The thing that I thought about this morning was the fact that I did not initially know what to write about. This passage is basically just a listing of family names and the leader of those families. But then it gradually came to me that these were families that were dedicated to Temple service. Sure, the biggest reason that they were in the “temple business” was that they were descendants of Levi. However, there was the rankings of the families mentioned in here where it says “without regard to age or rank.” I am not sure whether that is a reference to within each family or among the various families. I am of the mind that within families there would not be much controversy as to ages and ranks. But, between families that would have been rankings maybe based on how dedicated to the Lord the families seemed to be. Of course, that would have been subjective rankings based on some obvious clues (much like the college football rankings by sportswriters and coaches). The thing that I came down on as to what to write about was this fact there these family were in the business of running the temple. It was their family business.

Without really trying to focus on that idea of serving the Lord full-time, it has basically become the family business of our branch of the Bowling family. When you look at my Pop and Granny’s family, it has become the family business. My dad was a lifelong pastor in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (SCUMC). He was an active pastor (both full-time and then retired/part-time) for almost 6 decades. My Uncle Doug was similarly an active pastor for just over 5 decades in the same SCUMC. Both are now deceased. My brother is currently about to close out his 38th year as a pastor in the SCUMC. At age 59, he still has a ways to go, and miles to travel before he retires from the full-time ministry (and I am sure once he does retire from full-time ministry that he will serve as a retired/part-time pastor to some small charge of churches near wherever he settles in retirement). And as a side note, my brother’s wife is a Methodist preacher’s kid. Her dad, my brother’s father-in-law, was a contemporary of my dad and uncle and he too served for over 5 decades as a pastor in the SCUMC. And, then, there’s me. Most of my life, I had a pretty successful career in corporate finance and auditing. But I went into full-time ministry about 27-28 months ago. At first, I started out as an associate pastor in a non-denominational church in northwest Illinois. It was where I got my foot in the door in full-time ministry. However, events conspired in such a way that this time last year, I came back home to be a pastor in the very same SCUMC that is the legacy of my family. I am about to finish up my first year at my current appointment, Lamar UMC in Lamar, SC.

The SCUMC as the family business is kind of similar to these Levite families being dedicated to ministry in these Old Testament texts. In those days, the family members had no choice in the matter. It was God’s assignment for their family from the time the Israelites were in the desert of Sinai. In my family, however, the choice has been voluntary. What caused our family to serve the Lord as pastors full-time. There has now been a Bowling family member serving in the SCUMC as pastors since 1957 when my dad entered the ministry. That’s now 63 years of there being a Bowling as a pastor in the SCUMC. My brother will probably serve another 10 years before he retires. Because of my late start in the SCUMC, I will most likely serve full-time til the mandatory retirement age of 72 about 15 years from now. So, when I retire, it will most likely be the end of the family business unless my granddaughter, Ralyn, goes into the ministry in the SCUMC. But I bet she will become a schoolteacher just like her mom and continue another legacy in our family – my Grandmother Bowling was a schoolteacher and ultimately a principal, my Uncle Ed was a second career school teacher, my cousin Jennifer is a school teacher, and my daughter is a schoolteacher. With the exception of my Uncle Ed, that seems to be a legacy of the women in our family. If Ralyn becomes a school teacher, it would be the fourth generation of the Bowling family that had a school teacher in it.

When I retire most likely 15 years from now, that will have meant that our family will have been pastoring in the SCUMC for 78 years. That’s almost 8 decades of a Bowling being a full-time pastor in the SCUMC. That’s a legacy. That’s the family business.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this not very exciting passage of names that I just rushed right through. The idea that these were people where the family business was serving the Lord. That’s what got me to thinking about my own family, the Bowling family. Let’s read the passage now, 1 Chronicles 24:20-31, with that idea of “the family business” in mind:

20 These were the other family leaders descended from Levi:

From the descendants of Amram, the leader was Shebuel.[a]

From the descendants of Shebuel, the leader was Jehdeiah.

21

From the descendants of Rehabiah, the leader was Isshiah.

22

From the descendants of Izhar, the leader was Shelomith.[b]

From the descendants of Shelomith, the leader was Jahath.

23

From the descendants of Hebron, Jeriah was the leader,[c] Amariah was second, Jahaziel was third, and Jekameam was fourth.

24

From the descendants of Uzziel, the leader was Micah.

From the descendants of Micah, the leader was Shamir, 25 along with Isshiah, the brother of Micah.

From the descendants of Isshiah, the leader was Zechariah.

26

From the descendants of Merari, the leaders were Mahli and Mushi.

From the descendants of Jaaziah, the leader was Beno.

27

From the descendants of Merari through Jaaziah, the leaders were Beno, Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri.

28

From the descendants of Mahli, the leader was Eleazar, though he had no sons.

29

From the descendants of Kish, the leader was Jerahmeel.

30

From the descendants of Mushi, the leaders were Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth.

These were the descendants of Levi in their various families. 31 Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. Lots were drawn in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the family leaders of the priests and the Levites.

All of us ended up in the ministry for a complex web of reasons, but certainly feeling a desire to serve the Lord, lead a flock of believers, deepen their walk with Jesus, and simply honor God in gratitude for our salvations were common to each of our experiences. However, not all believers (even ones whose depth of faith would make me feel less than) go into the ministry. That we had two sets of brothers from two consecutive generations of the family end up in full-time ministry says something. The family business is serving the Lord in the SCUMC. It is an honor to be a part of that lineage.

I used to tell people that my dad, my uncle, and my brother were Methodist pastors in South Carolina and that I was the black sheep of the family, I was an accountant! LOL! But now, just like a son of some multi-generational family business wanted to do things his own way, left the family business, made a name for himself out there, but now has come home to take over the family business. I am now part of the family business. I hope that there will be people in heaven one day that I will meet that say that one of us of these two sets of brothers from two consecutive generations helped influence them to the cross. Over eight decades by the time I retire, maybe, just maybe, there are some folks walking the streets of gold because of the dedication of my family to this, the family business.

Amen and Amen.

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