1 Chronicles 26:1-19 (Part 1) – Ode to the Maintenance & Operations Guy at Your Church!

Posted: June 2, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 26:1-19 (Part 1 of 2)

Duties of the Gatekeepers

Every church has that guy. He is either a volunteer serving the church in this way or he is an employee of the church. If the church is big enough and has significant enough of a physical plant, he may be a department head with one or more employees that work for him. Regardless of the case, these guys are the quiet and unassuming guys who without which the church would come to a screeching halt. Sometimes, that guy is partly the pastor himself when the church is smaller.

I am talking about the maintenance and operations guy at your church. He makes sure that the church’s mechanical equipment is working properly. He makes sure they get repaired when broken. He is the one who has a critical eye for every inch of the buildings on the church campus. He sees stuff others don’t see. He also can be the same guy who sets up rooms for events. Moves equipment around. He may be the one at the church through which all events must be scheduled. He may be the one who manages the church’s event calendar so he knows what equipment has to be supplied for which event and in which room. He is the one too that manages the church’s disaster reaction and recovery plan. He is the one that makes sure the grounds are in tip-top shape. He is the one that when it snows is out there plowing the parking lot because when it snows it always seems to be on the weekend right before a Sunday morning service. When a pipe bursts and destroys a bathroom, he is the one that manages the clean up and repair contractors. He is the go-to guy for the nuts and bolts operations of the church.

He is a background guy. He is there but nobody really pats him on the back for all he does. It is only when stuff breaks that we remember him. It is only when a room is not set up for an event that he is noticed. It is when the power goes off during church that people know who he is. It is only when wires get crossed and two group want to use the same space at the same time that he is called out. He is the maintenance and operations guy. No glory for a job well done but plenty of attention when things go wrong. Since being in full-time ministry for a little over two years now, I have personally known two of these guys – Chad Vallejo (when I was at Calvary Church in Moline, IL) and Harry Lawhon (the Board of Trustees chairman that assumes this same role on a volunteer basis at my current church, Lamar United Methodist Church).

The one characteristic about these two guys is that they love the Lord and they love their church. Although Chad has now moved on to another position, he worked at Calvary Church because he wanted to serve the Lord in this way and took a significant pay cut to work at his church. He was a salty, sometime gruff kind of guy, but when you cut through the rough, tough exterior, he was a guy that had a heart for helping people and I think that’s what God used to call him to work for his church for a couple of years there. A lot of things that Chad does in the community as well as what he did for his church went unnoticed by many, but Chad wasn’t doing it for the recognition. He just loved people and loved the Lord. It is the same with Harry. Nobody much sees what Harry does for the church. He is there one or more days each week checking on stuff. He doesn’t get paid for any of it. He just loves his church and he loves the Lord.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning was those people who do things for their church because it is their way of saying thank you, Lord, for what you have done for me and, thank you, church for what the relationships at this church have done for me. That idea of serving quietly in the shadows for your church is what came to mind as I read about the gatekeepers at the Temple. Let’s read 1 Chronicles 26:1-19 now:

Chapter 26

1 From the Korahites, there was Meshelemiah son of Kore, of the family of Abiasaph.[a] 2 The sons of Meshelemiah were Zechariah (the oldest), Jediael (the second), Zebadiah (the third), Jathniel (the fourth), 3 Elam (the fifth), Jehohanan (the sixth), and Eliehoenai (the seventh).

4 The sons of Obed-edom, also gatekeepers, were Shemaiah (the oldest), Jehozabad (the second), Joah (the third), Sacar (the fourth), Nethanel (the fifth), 5 Ammiel (the sixth), Issachar (the seventh), and Peullethai (the eighth). God had richly blessed Obed-edom.

6 Obed-edom’s son Shemaiah had sons with great ability who earned positions of great authority in the clan. 7 Their names were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad. Their relatives, Elihu and Semakiah, were also very capable men.

8 All of these descendants of Obed-edom, including their sons and grandsons—sixty-two of them in all—were very capable men, well qualified for their work.

9 Meshelemiah’s eighteen sons and relatives were also very capable men.

10 Hosah, of the Merari clan, appointed Shimri as the leader among his sons, though he was not the oldest. 11 His other sons included Hilkiah (the second), Tebaliah (the third), and Zechariah (the fourth). Hosah’s sons and relatives, who served as gatekeepers, numbered thirteen in all.

12 These divisions of the gatekeepers were named for their family leaders, and like the other Levites, they served at the house of the Lord. 13 They were assigned by families for guard duty at the various gates, without regard to age or training, for it was all decided by means of sacred lots.

14 The responsibility for the east gate went to Meshelemiah[b] and his group. The north gate was assigned to his son Zechariah, a man of unusual wisdom. 15 The south gate went to Obed-edom, and his sons were put in charge of the storehouse. 16 Shuppim and Hosah were assigned the west gate and the gateway leading up to the Temple.[c] Guard duties were divided evenly. 17 Six Levites were assigned each day to the east gate, four to the north gate, four to the south gate, and two pairs at the storehouse. 18 Six were assigned each day to the west gate, four to the gateway leading up to the Temple, and two to the courtyard.[d]

19 These were the divisions of the gatekeepers from the clans of Korah and Merari.

In this passage, we reflect back to earlier in 1 Chronicles where it says that there were 4,000 gatekeepers (see 1 Chronicles 23:5). It was a large group. They were all Levites and did many jobs in the Temple. Some of their duties included checking out the equipment and utensils used each day to make sure everything was working in proper order and that materials had been returned to the storehouse. They were responsible for storing, ordering and maintaining the food supplies for the priests and for the sacrifices. They were responsible for caring for the furniture. They were responsible for mixing the incense that was burned daily. Also, they were responsible for accounting for the gifts brought to the Temple. In other words, the gatekeepers were the operations and maintenance department of the Temple’s day to day business.

We thank God and shout the praises of those who are like the gatekeepers at the Temple. We thank God for those maintenance and operations guys in our temples of the Lord in this day and age. We thank you, Lord, for placing these guys in our churches. Every church needs one whether you have 10, a 100, a 1,000, or 10,000 on Sunday mornings. There’s that quiet, unassuming guy that does all that necessary stuff that gets no accolades. He does it because he loves his church and he loves his Lord. That’s enough for him. That makes his work at the church far greater than the nuts and bolts. It makes it so that people can come to your church campus and worship the Lord without even worrying about mechanical or scheduling or any other logistical issues. That makes the maintenance and operations guy smile and His Lord smiles back at him.

Amen and Amen.

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