Archive for the ‘13-1 Chronicles’ Category

1 Chronicles 2:9-17

From Judah’s Grandson to David

What will be your dash? It’s the age-old Christian commentary about the dash between a person’s date of birth and their date of death on a tombstone represents the life that we lived in between birth and death. What will be said of our lives? What will be said of our dash?

In wading through the lengthy genealogies at the beginning of 1 Chronicles (and they are quite extensive, taking up the first nine chapters), we know that it was Israelites who were living in captivity’s way of tying themselves back to the past of the once-great nation. I get it. It’s family history. It is making a displaced people feel like they belong to something greater than their current condition. I get it. However, not being part of the ancient Israelite people, these genealogies are in and of themselves not very inspiring. However, when you pick out names that you know from the previous books that come before 1 Chronicles, it’s like a montage episode, a flashback episode, an anniversary special episode of one your favorite television shows. You can pick out names and say oh yeah I remember that person’s story. These genealogies then give you an opportunity to reflect on the totality of that person’s life as played out in the story from somewhere in Genesis to 2 Kings. Today’s character that pops out at you is David.

He is one of the greats of the Bible. To the Jewish people of the biblical era, he was a great man. He represented the height of Israel as a unified kingdom. He represented the greatest extent of the land area of the ancient Israelite kingdom. He, himself, represented the standard for a godly king. He represented a man that was passionate about doing God’s will. His story is one of warning too as well. His sin weaknesses created the cracks in the kingdom that nearly destroyed him as a father and as a king. It is these cracks in the foundation of the kingdom that would ultimately lead to its complete fracture into two weaker kingdoms. His blind spots to his greatest sin weaknesses such as the pleasures of women and his unwillingness to be a real father to his children are warnings to us as men. His story is one that demonstrates to us that our sins will have consequences for a long time, even after we have repented of them. His story is a warning to us to think twice about making the choice to follow our flesh into actions that we KNOW are wrong. His story is a warning to us to listen to wise counsel about when we have sinned. His story is one that warns us to repent of our sins, drop our pride and trying to protect our reputation and position, and try to correct the wrongs that have been caused by our sins.

Further, his story is a warning to all parents. We must be actively involved in our kids lives. We must be willing more to be their parents than their friends. We must correct them when they have done wrong. We must show them tough love when it’s in their best interest. We must let them fall on their face at times in life so that they learn that there are consequences to their actions or their inactions. We must also defend them when they have been wronged. We must also keep right and wrong in mind when there is a conflict between children that we love equally. In those situations, where our children are in conflict with one another, we must be able to defend one and punish the other. We must demonstrate to them that each child will be judged by God’s definitions of right and wrong and that we will be the family enforcer of God’s plan for families. We must be parents first and always to them no matter their age. We must place raising our kids up in the right way as more important than any job that we have. Even if our job is a super-important one to the company, organization, or even a nation, we must be fathers first and leaders outside our family second. David’s problems in this area, that of being a real parent to his kids almost killed him and these problems dogged him throughout his reign as king.

However, for all his failings as a father and as man, what is David remember most for? It is not his failings but rather his love of God. He was known as “a man after God’s own heart!” For all the adultery, conspiracy to commit murder, and just downright bad parenting, David is best known for his passion for the Lord. David ultimately repented for all his sins, accepted all the one-time and ongoing consequences of his sins, and was restored to the God he loved. That was his dash. Redemption. Restoration. Passion for the Lord.

His dash screams loudly to us as Christ followers in the 21st century. With that in mind, let’s read this genealogy in 1 Chronicles 2:9-17 and pause at David’s name and think of him before moving on to the next name in the list. Let’s read it now:

9 The sons of Hezron were Jerahmeel, Ram, and Caleb.[a]

10

Ram was the father of Amminadab.

Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, a leader of Judah.

11

Nahshon was the father of Salmon.[b]

Salmon was the father of Boaz.

12

Boaz was the father of Obed.

Obed was the father of Jesse.

13 Jesse’s first son was Eliab, his second was Abinadab, his third was Shimea, 14 his fourth was Nethanel, his fifth was Raddai, 15 his sixth was Ozem, and his seventh was David.

16 Their sisters were named Zeruiah and Abigail. Zeruiah had three sons named Abishai, Joab, and Asahel. 17 Abigail married a man named Jether, an Ishmaelite, and they had a son named Amasa.

In this passage, we are reminded that David is one of the best-known people of the Bible. From Scripture, we know that he was in no way a perfect man, but he exemplified what it means to seek God first in all areas of life. God called David “a man after his own heart” (see Acts 13:22) because of David’s passionate desire to serve and worship the Lord. From the story of David, we can take instruction. Although we will not always be perfect, we can please God in the same way by making God our first consideration in all our desires and plans.

In David’s story, we can take heart that we, too, though not perfect, can be men and women after God’s own heart. In David’s story, we can find that our sins have long ranging consequences even if we are “after God’s own heart!”. We see that the consequences of our sins must be dealt with and that the consequences often do not go away after repentance from them. We are forgiven our sins through repentance but God never said he would take away the consequences of those sins. But part of repenting of our sins is humbling accepting the consequences of our sins and working to make things right. David teaches us of imperfections but yet of a continuing desire to shake those things off and continue loving the Lord.

David loved the Lord and learned from his consequences. David loved the Lord and accepted God’s correction and instruction with humility. But most of all, David loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. He was not perfect but, man, did he love the Lord. He was not perfect and most of all he knew it. He relied on the Lord not his imperfect self. He loved the Lord with passion. He was a man after God’s own heart.

May that be said of you and me. May that be our dash. May that be the thing that people remember about us and use as instructive. What phrase or what single word will come to mind when people reflect on your life? What better compliment can be paid than for people to say that you were a man or a woman “after God’s own heart!” May that be your dash. May that be my dash.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 2:1-8

Descendants of Israel & Judah

It is interesting to think about how my life has taken its twists and turns that have led me to this place, being the pastor of Lamar United Methodist Church. I am sure that there are folks that live in Travelers Rest, SC and Greenville, SC that would chuckle quite a bit if they heard that I was now a pastor. I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I was even in church for many years after adulthood through the end of my first marriage. But as a teenager and as a person in my twenties and early thirties, I attended church in name and space only. As the old saying goes, “I went to church on Sunday and lived like hell the rest of the week.” Sure, there were moments of deep reflection at good sermons along the way and I thought I was a good person to offset my lack of adherence to the right way of living. In those days, I thought of Christianity as being about do’s and don’ts. And, I just couldn’t maintain that right path with the pull of the pleasures of this world. Add to that, my first wife’s family church (that my dad served for 4 years and then I stayed after marriage) resembled more of a social club than it did a spirit-filled and challenging church. So, after my first marriage disintegrated when I was 31, I quit going to church for about 7 or 8 years. It was not until I was 39 years old and it was December 2001 that I accepted Christ as my Savior.

He may have been my Savior but the Holy Spirit had much to do to make Jesus my Lord. It was a baby Christian from a spiritual maturity standpoint for a long time. It was not until I met Pastor Luke Brower in August 2009 that I began to really grow up, spiritually speaking. From Luke, the Lord handed me off to Pastor Jeff Hickman at LifeSong Church and then to Pastor Tim Bowman of Calvary Church. Under the leadership of these men, I was forged into a willing soul to follow God’s calling on my heart. Other men such as Dr. William Cashion and Dr. Larry McDonald at North Greenville University where I got my Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree were influential in shaping my call to ministry. And now, here I am today about to preach my 20th sermon at Lamar UMC this Sunday morning in the fall of 2019.

I am sure there are people that would laugh. I am sure that there are people that would say that I may have been mean or hurt them over the years that would say that they cannot believe I am a pastor. But that’s the thing, we can change our outcome through Jesus Christ. He can change us and mold us into something made useful to the kingdom. When I look back at the man that I used to be (and not that I am some super-virtuous person now), I am amazed at where God has me now. I have to chuckle myself. It just amazes me sometimes that people even call me pastor. I am humbled by what I am now vs. what I was before Jesus radically changed my life from the inside out (and is still changing me from the inside out). I am humbled by the family legacy of pastoral ministry of which I am now a part. Where would I be without that providential favor from God? But yet, here I am. I am thankful that the Lord has me where He has me. I know with each passing week that this is what I was called to do. All of it (even on those weeks where I am just completely worn out by the end of the week).

It does not matter how you start the raise or even how you are doing in the middle of the race. It matters how you finish the race. Could you imagine the thoughts and words of disbelief of many of the early Christians when Paul became a Christian? Shock, disbelief, fear, anger, among other emotions. But the Christian-murdering Paul went on to become the most influential man in Christianity outside of Jesus Christ himself. It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you end it.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Chronicles 2:1-8 this morning and I read about this guy, Er. Here, he is mentioned just this once in the Bible (as far as I can tell) and the only mention is that he was a wicked man and that God judged him for it. That’s it. It got me to thinking about what people in my past may think of me being a minister. That thought led me to think of the wonderful Reclaimer, Jesus Christ and how He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us after we accept Him as our Savior. How sad it must be that Er’s story is complete and he was judged as evil. How sad for Er’s eternity. Let us read this passage now:

Chapter 2

1 The sons of Israel[a] were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, 2 Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

Descendants of Judah

3 Judah had three sons from Bathshua, a Canaanite woman. Their names were Er, Onan, and Shelah. But the Lord saw that the oldest son, Er, was a wicked man, so he killed him. 4 Later Judah had twin sons from Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law. Their names were Perez and Zerah. So Judah had five sons in all.

5 The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

6 The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Darda[b]—five in all.

7 The son of Carmi (a descendant of Zimri) was Achan,[c] who brought disaster on Israel by taking plunder that had been set apart for the Lord.[d]

8 The son of Ethan was Azariah.

In this genealogy, not only do we see a list of names but also insights into some of the people named. Here, almost as an epitaph, the genealogy states that Er “was a wicked man” so the Lord killed him (v. 3). Now, thousands of years later, this statement is all we know of the man. Each of us is forging a reputation, developing personal qualities by which we will be remembered. How would God summarize your life up to now? Some defiantly claim that how they live their lives is their own business. However, Scripture teaches us that the way we live today will determine how you will be remembered by others and how you will be judged by God in the absence of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Where will your story finish? Will you be judged as evil by the Lord? We all would be in the absence of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. We all would be based on the merits of our lives in front of the just and righteous Judge, our Father in heaven. I know I would be. Even now as a pastor, I would still fall short of the perfection needed to exist in heaven with the Father. It is only through the reclamation project that Jesus started in my life in December 2001 that I can fully expect to be in heaven with my Father in heaven. It is only through the grace covering of Jesus Christ that I will not pay the penalty for my sin-filled nature. Just one sin condemns us much less a fully-loaded lifetime of sins that we commit. We have no leg to stand on. On our own merits, we are Er. We are and will be judged as evil and condemned to an eternity in hell in the absence of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is only then that His perfection, his holiness, his purity, all those things that we need to be in the presence of God in heaven, are imputed to us.

If God was writing your epitaph today, what would He say? Would He judge you with the same sentence as Er? It’s never too late to accept Jesus as your Savior. It’s not how you start the race. It’s not how you are running the race now. It’s how you finish.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 1:34-54 (Part 3 of 3)

Descendants of Isaac

When I read this passage and saw that includes the names of the Edomite line that descends from Esau.  I wondered why. They were enemies of God’s people. The Chronicles books were a recounting of Israelite history after they had been exiled to Babylon so this was a looking back not a history being written as the events happened as is the Kings books. Therefore, the Edomites were known enemies with which the Israelites had fought with for centuries off and on. Why, then, recount the names of a group of people that simply and mortally hate you? It was because they were descended from Adam. They were part of the descendants of Abraham. They were the people of Abraham’s grandson, Esau. That struck of how God remembers us all. When I went to LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC, they had a motto that said, “Every person has a name and every name is important!” That meant that we as church members should make every person feel welcome, learn their name, and make them feel that they are an important part of our church family. That’s what this passage screams out to me that each one of us is important to God regardless of whether we have come to Him yet or not. It tells us that we should not judge people or write them off as not worth the effort. It says we should not categorize people as not worth our time or investment. It says that we should not judge people and pigeon-hole them based on our own preconceived notions of who they are.

That idea of pigeon-holing people somewhat reminds of my first experience in a full-time ministry position. I was titled director of business services/staff pastor. However, as time went by in the position, it became clear that the staff pastor part of the position was title only. There were never any opportunities afforded to allow my pastoral skills to be developed. The only pastoral duties that I performed were those that I informally was able to create through the vast number of relationships that we were able to build with church members as a confidant, a friend who listened, a counselor,  a marriage mentor, a small group leader. However, from an actual job point of view, it appeared that I had been categorized as an accountant and not a pastor to be developed. It is only now that I am the solo pastor of a small church in South Carolina that my pastoral passions are able to come to fruition.

I love my job as the pastor of Lamar United Methodist Church. Being the solo pastor means that there are a myriad of balls that I have to keep in the air at the same time. It is a challenging job just in and of itself keeping the current number of balls in the air at the same time. It is also challenging as to the future road of this church as it looks to make a bigger impression on our community for the Lord. But all of it has me finally in the sweet spot that God wants me to be in. The sweet spot that even my previous job prepared me for. God has me in the this place, for these people, for this time at just the right time for them and for me. Sure, I look back at my previous position and wonder why I was not allowed to flourish in pastoral duties. However, there were things that God had me learn there that can be used in this current challenge. But I thank God that I am now able to do what He called me to do and be – to pastor. I thank Him for the trail of experience that brought me to this place at this time. That God thought my name was important. That God thought enough to prepare me for this place at the time I would be ready for it – through all my experiences of the past.

The experience is a reminder that I should not and you should not simply categorize and label people as not worth the investment. We should not look at a person’s past and say that their past is indicative of their value for the future. We should not say you are this, so you can’t be that. What if God was that way with us? What if he labeled us as not worth the pursuit? What if He just wrote us off? That idea of each person being important to God and for us not to label people as not worth the effort is what I thought of this morning when I read about the Edomites in this passage. Let’s read the passage now, 1 Chronicles 1:34-54 for the third of three blogs about this passage.

34 Abraham was the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel.[a]

Descendants of Esau

35 The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

36 The descendants of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho,[b] Gatam, Kenaz, and Amalek, who was born to Timna.[c]

37 The descendants of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.

Original Peoples of Edom

38 The descendants of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.

39 The descendants of Lotan were Hori and Hemam.[d] Lotan’s sister was named Timna.

40 The descendants of Shobal were Alvan,[e] Manahath, Ebal, Shepho,[f] and Onam.

The descendants of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah.

41 The son of Anah was Dishon.

The descendants of Dishon were Hemdan,[g] Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.

42 The descendants of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.[h]

The descendants of Dishan[i] were Uz and Aran.

Rulers of Edom

43 These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites[j]:

Bela son of Beor, who ruled from his city of Dinhabah.

44 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah became king in his place.

45 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites became king in his place.

46 When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Avith. He was the one who destroyed the Midianite army in the land of Moab.

47 When Hadad died, Samlah from the city of Masrekah became king in his place.

48 When Samlah died, Shaul from the city of Rehoboth-on-the-River became king in his place.

49 When Shaul died, Baal-hanan son of Acbor became king in his place.

50 When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Pau.[k] His wife was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred and granddaughter of Me-zahab. 51 Then Hadad died.

The clan leaders of Edom were Timna, Alvah,[l] Jetheth, 52 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 53 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 54 Magdiel, and Iram. These are the clan leaders of Edom.

In this passage, we see that we must ask the question, “Why are we given information about the descendants of Edom, who were the mortal enemies of the Israelites? Esau, ancestor of the Edomites, was Isaac’s oldest son and thus a direct descendant of Abraham. As Abraham’s first grandson, he deserved a place in the Jewish records. It was through Esau’s marriages to pagan women that the nation of Edom began. This genealogy shows the ancestry of enemy nations. They were not a part of the direct lineage of King David and, thus, the Messiah. This listing then does two things. First, it further solidifies Israel’s special identity and role. Second, it shows that even the enemies of God’s people are known by name by our Father in heaven. For us, that means even if we are far from God, and as a result, at odds with God, He still knows us personally. It signifies that every person is special to God even when we do not know His Son as our Savior and Lord. We thank God for that. He pursues us with a relentless love even when we are running away from Him. This passage seen in that light reminds us, as Christians, that non-believers no matter how far they have run and no matter what they have done are worth the effort. No one has done anything so bad that God forgets their name and writes them off. We, then, should never write people off nor should we judge people by what they have done in the past. God forgives the past when there is repentance and looks to the future of each person on the planet. Every one of the them.

Is there someone in your life that you have written off as not worth the effort? Is there a group of people that your church has written off as not worth investing in? Are you and I judging people as not worth sharing the gospel with? This passage reminds us that every name, every person is important to God EVEN when they seem to be running as fast as they can in the opposite direction from Him. Even people that are blatantly living in opposition to God’s Word and are reveling in the effort are known to God personally. Every name is worth the effort. We should not write people off as “they”, thus, making them not part of “us”. God relentlessly pursues everyone of us until we accept Christ as our Savior. He thinks everyone is worth the effort. He sees what each one of us can be. He has a calling for each person once they become part of the family of God. He knows their talents and exactly how they can flourish in His kingdom. We should do no less. We should not judge people as not worth our investment of time, talents, and resources. We should not judge people as not worth pursuing so as to show them the love of Jesus Christ. We should relentlessly pursue the unchurched in our midst until they come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Every person has a name and every name is important!

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 1:34-54 (Part 2 of 3)

Descendants of Isaac

Yesterday, we talked about how one comment in 1966 from my grandfather to one of my uncles set in motion a history of enmity between my uncle and the rest of his blood family that lasted over 5 decades. There are cousins out there that I know nothing about other than meeting them one time in the mid-1970s when my father was trying to mediate the rift between my grandfather and my uncle. These cousins most likely have their own version of history as to who we of the Ralph Bowling, Sr. clan (my grandfather, his four other sons and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren). They do not know the real us and do not know the real story behind the family rift. Stubbornness on the part of my grandfather and my uncle caused most likely a continental drift between the truth of what happened in 1966 and the reality that my uncle most likely constructed for his family (his children and their progeny). It is a sad tale of stubbornness that led to a leg of my grandfather’s genealogical tree that was chopped off and became an independent tree. It is a sad tale of where the lack of reconciliation led to reasons being piled on reasons for hatred, distrust and a forever wound that would never heal. It led to a litany of reasons why the relationships could never be joined again. All because of a stupid comment, a lack of forgiveness, pride, and a series of actions that piled up that would forever prevent reconciliation to the point that the current generations within our family. There are cousins I have out there that I met once but who have a completely different version of history to support their dad’s idea of who we are and why he had to continue his hatred of his own blood family.

Sometimes in today’s America, we wonder why the Middle East is such a volatile powder keg of a region of the world. We just don’t get sometimes why everyone there just can’t get along. No matter how many peace accords Western nations have tried to broker in the Middle East, the region seems to be forever a place of war and that it is hopelessly lost in conflict. The hatred in the region is so completely embedded in the psyche of groups of people that it seems hopeless to ever combat these fundamental hatreds. We wonder why. This is where the Old Testament intersects with our modern age. If you wonder why the region is so embroiled in hatred. It goes back over 6,000 years and thousands of generations of differing versions of the truth. The roots of the hatred go back to Jacob and Esau and Ishmael and Isaac. The Old Testament is more than just a construct of interesting stories. It is the basis of who we are as a world of people groups. It is a testament to the fractured world in which we live in which pride and arrogance are at the root of all the conflict in the world and how we have gotten to where we are today. We are all cousins dating back to the genealogies here 1 Chronicles. Yet, things happened during these early genealogies forever caused diversions of paths of people. To justify hatred among brothers and cousins for generations, versions of truth were developed to justify the diversions of family trees.

It’s that idea of justifying hatred that becomes institutionalized in families is what I thought of this morning. Let’s read the passage now, 1 Chronicles 1:34-54 for the second of three blogs about this passage.

34 Abraham was the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel.[a]

Descendants of Esau

35 The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

36 The descendants of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho,[b] Gatam, Kenaz, and Amalek, who was born to Timna.[c]

37 The descendants of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.

Original Peoples of Edom

38 The descendants of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.

39 The descendants of Lotan were Hori and Hemam.[d] Lotan’s sister was named Timna.

40 The descendants of Shobal were Alvan,[e] Manahath, Ebal, Shepho,[f] and Onam.

The descendants of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah.

41 The son of Anah was Dishon.

The descendants of Dishon were Hemdan,[g] Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.

42 The descendants of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.[h]

The descendants of Dishan[i] were Uz and Aran.

Rulers of Edom

43 These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites[j]:

Bela son of Beor, who ruled from his city of Dinhabah.

44 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah became king in his place.

45 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites became king in his place.

46 When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Avith. He was the one who destroyed the Midianite army in the land of Moab.

47 When Hadad died, Samlah from the city of Masrekah became king in his place.

48 When Samlah died, Shaul from the city of Rehoboth-on-the-River became king in his place.

49 When Shaul died, Baal-hanan son of Acbor became king in his place.

50 When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Pau.[k] His wife was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred and granddaughter of Me-zahab. 51 Then Hadad died.

The clan leaders of Edom were Timna, Alvah,[l] Jetheth, 52 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 53 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 54 Magdiel, and Iram. These are the clan leaders of Edom.

In this passage, we see that Amalek. He is the grandson of Esau and was the son of his father’s (Timma’s) concubine (see Genesis 36:12). He was the ancestor of the wicked tribe known as the Amalekites, the first people to attack Israel on their way to the Promised Land. To understand, the significance of this genealogical reference, we first must review some biblical history.

For ancient Jewish readers, Amalek is swept into the long story of God’s faithfulness to Israel, the complicated choosing of a king, and the protection of God’s people from their enemies. That the Amalekites became an evil and wicked people that had deep hatred of the Israelites take us back to the root of it, Jacob and Esau. Scripture records the long-lasting feud between the Amalekites and the Israelites and God’s direction to wipe the Amalekites off the face of the earth (Exodus 17:8–13; 1 Samuel 15:2; Deuteronomy 25:17). Why God would call His people to exterminate an entire tribe is a difficult question, but a look at history may give some insight.

Like many desert tribes, the Amalekites were nomadic. Numbers 13:29 places them as native to the Negev, the desert between Egypt and Canaan. The Babylonians called them the Sute, Egyptians the Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets refer to them as the Khabbati, or “plunderers.” The Amalekites’ unrelenting brutality toward the Israelites began with an attack at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8–13). This is recounted in Deuteronomy 25:17–19 with this admonition: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind [typically women and children]: they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!”

The Amalekites later joined with the Canaanites and attacked the Israelites at Hormah (Numbers 14:45). In Judges they banded with the Moabites (Judges 3:13) and the Midianites (Judges 6:3) to wage war on the Israelites. They were responsible for the repeated destruction of the Israelites’ land and food supply.

In 1 Samuel 15:2–3, God tells King Saul, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them, put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

In response, King Saul first warns the Kenites, friends of Israel, to leave the area. He then attacks the Amalekites but does not complete the task. He allows the Amalekite King Agag to live, takes plunder for himself and his army, and lies about the reason for doing so. Saul’s rebellion against God and His commands is so serious that he is rejected by God as king (1 Samuel 15:23). The escaped Amalekites continued to harass and plunder the Israelites in successive generations that spanned hundreds of years. First Samuel 30 reports an Amalekite raid on Ziklag, a Judean village where David held property. The Amalekites burned the village and took captive all the women and children, including two of David’s wives. David and his men defeated the Amalekites and rescued all the hostages. A few hundred Amalekites escaped, however. Much later, during the reign of King Hezekiah, a group of Simeonites “killed the remaining Amalekites” who had been living in the hill country of Seir (1 Chronicles 4:42–43).

The last mention of the Amalekites is found in the book of Esther where Haman the Agagite, a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag, connives to have all the Jews in Persia annihilated by order of King Xerxes. God saved the Jews in Persia, however, and Haman, his sons, and the rest of Israel’s enemies were destroyed instead (Esther 9:5–10). The Amalekites’ hatred of the Jews by this point was institutionalized and was just part of the psyche of the people. At some point, they just hated the Jews because it was part of the engrained culture of the people, not really knowing why. It just was. You find that this state of affairs continue to this day in the Middle East.

So, the takeaway this morning is to stop the madness before it becomes institutionalized hatred. The Amalekites and the Israelites were related to each other. But ultimately the separation of the family trees led to different lifestyles, different histories, and institutionalized hatred that just is part of who you are. To unravel that is difficult when it becomes part of the basis of the culture.

Each of us may have people in our lives that we have come to dislike and even hate. And we are passing those hatreds along to our children. It just becomes part of the family culture deeply engrained. To unravel it is difficult. Is there someone you need to forgive before it becomes layered into the generations of your family? Are you constructing a reality that justifies hating someone as being OK? Let us take hold of ourselves and realize that God could easily hate us and give us no chance. He could write us off and be justified in it. We have constructed our version of ourselves that is far from the real truth of the real us that God knows. He could just write us off. However, He loves us even when we are flaunting our rebellion in his face. He loves us so much that He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. His name is Jesus. He made a way for us to end the animosity between us and Him. He made a way.

Is there someone that you should show the same forgiveness? Is there someone that you have constructed a reality where your hatred is justified? Is there someone with whom you may be creating a generational hatred between your family and theirs? Is there someone you just need to lay down your pride and forgive? God has done no less for us? Let us end the war right here. Let us show the same love for others that God has shown us through Jesus Christ!

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 1:34-54 (Part 1 of 3)

Descendants of Isaac

In this section of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles we see the lineage of Isaac whose sons were Jacob and Esau. It reminds you of what family rifts can do to a family. There are those watershed moments in family life where things get said or things get done and there is this huge family blow-up. After the blow-up, family members don’t talk to each other for a long time. If it is allowed to continue, the thing that caused the blow-up gets warped out of proportion and families sometimes never heal from the wounds caused.

In my extended family, this very thing did happen. There was a visit to my grandparent’s house (at that time, they owned a farm in northern Spartanburg [SC] County) by my uncle Doug. This was way back in 1966. I was 4 at the time and was not there and all of this information was shared over the years by my dad. Back then, in 1966, my uncle Doug was about 23 and my grandad, Pop, was around 51. The visit was to inform Pop and Granny that Doug and Marlene were going to adopt children, two girls, because they were unable to conceive on their own. Somewhere in this fateful conversation, my grandad, the rough, group, no filter, full of sarcastic humor, guy that he was, said something to the effect of Doug not being a man because he could not impregnate his wife. Knowing Pop as I came to know him over the years, it was just him trying to be sarcastically funny. However, this was a situation where that type of humor was not what was called for. But Pop being Pop, with no filter between his thoughts and his mouth, he said it. It was out there. Uncle Doug did not take it well at all. In fact, he immediately got up and departed Pop and Granny’s house and slammed the front door so hard that it shattered the glass in the door. Surely, there were other things brewing between Pop and Uncle Doug and this was just the final straw. That day, in 1966, effectively ended the relationship between Uncle Doug and our extended family (Pop, Granny, the four other brothers and all of us kids of those four remaining brothers). Within a few years after the blow-up, my Uncle Doug went as far as to tell others that his parents had died when he was young and publicly claimed a couple in Spartanburg with whom he had a close relationship as his parents. It got THAT bad.

The rift in the family was never healed. Uncle Doug never came around the family again. Although my dad tried to mediate the rift several times over the first decade of the rift, it was never healed. No one stepped forward. Neither Pop or Doug was willing to give ground to one another. When my grandfather passed away suddenly in the Summer of 1979, nothing changed for Doug. Further down the road, when my grandmother passed away in 2009, nothing changed for Doug in all those 30 years and now that both the parents were gone. Between 2009 and Doug’s death in 2015, there were no attempts by Doug to reconcile with his brothers and their families. The remaining brothers did not wish to have things the way they were but over the years, their efforts to reconcile with Doug had always been thwarted. They took the approach that if he wanted to be part of the family, it was his call. So, sometimes, one act, one moment in time becomes a permanent fracture in families. Sometimes, we offer so much forgiveness to others but yet offer absolutely none to family.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I reflected on this particular part of the genealogies presented in 1 Chronicles 1. The fact that Esau never reconciled with his brother, the fact that Esau’s descendants became enemies of the nation of Israel/Judah, all of it began over some stew, literally. Little thing led to a little bigger thing, selling a birthright for the stew, that became a rift in the family. Mistakes were made all around and yet it was never healed. Forgiveness was not part of the equation for these very real people. Let’s read the passage now, 1 Chronicles 1:34-54 for the first of three blogs about this passage.

34 Abraham was the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel.[a]

Descendants of Esau

35 The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

36 The descendants of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho,[b] Gatam, Kenaz, and Amalek, who was born to Timna.[c]

37 The descendants of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.

Original Peoples of Edom

38 The descendants of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.

39 The descendants of Lotan were Hori and Hemam.[d] Lotan’s sister was named Timna.

40 The descendants of Shobal were Alvan,[e] Manahath, Ebal, Shepho,[f] and Onam.

The descendants of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah.

41 The son of Anah was Dishon.

The descendants of Dishon were Hemdan,[g] Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.

42 The descendants of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.[h]

The descendants of Dishan[i] were Uz and Aran.

Rulers of Edom

43 These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites[j]:

Bela son of Beor, who ruled from his city of Dinhabah.

44 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah became king in his place.

45 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites became king in his place.

46 When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Avith. He was the one who destroyed the Midianite army in the land of Moab.

47 When Hadad died, Samlah from the city of Masrekah became king in his place.

48 When Samlah died, Shaul from the city of Rehoboth-on-the-River became king in his place.

49 When Shaul died, Baal-hanan son of Acbor became king in his place.

50 When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Pau.[k] His wife was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred and granddaughter of Me-zahab. 51 Then Hadad died.

The clan leaders of Edom were Timna, Alvah,[l] Jetheth, 52 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 53 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 54 Magdiel, and Iram. These are the clan leaders of Edom.

In this passage, we see that Israel is another name for Jacob, the name given to him by God (Genesis 32:28). Israel means “someone who struggles with God”. Israel’s (Jacob’s) 12 sons become the nation of Israel. Esau’s descendants became the nation of Edom, a constant enemy of Israel. Esau was a manly, man. He was the consummate outdoorsman. He was the eldest son of Isaac and being born first, he had the natural rights given to the eldest son (birthright). Jacob got his name from the birth process too as after “his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob” (Gen 25:26).

The author of Hebrews warns against a root of bitterness springing up and says

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Heb 12:15-17).

A “root of bitterness” did spring up from Esau and it is understandable in a sense because Jacob tricked him into giving him Esau’s birthright for one simple meal. Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger and exhaustion but this also proved that Esau didn’t really appreciate his birthright (despised it) and gave it away to satisfy his appetite. In other words, Esau gave up his birthright and all the blessings that went with that, to satisfy the flesh but for a moment.

My Uncle Doug allow a root of bitterness toward my grandfather to fester into a forest of bitterness that separated him from his family for a half a century. It is only now that they are all in heaven that they will be reunited. In this passage, the root of bitterness created a nation of people that were bitter enemies of Israel/Judah. All of it could have been avoided with a little forgiveness and Esau’s descendants would have been a part of God’s chosen people rather than enemies of them.

Let us all look at our family situations. Are there things going on in your family where pride has gotten in the way of forgiveness. What if God did not forgive us for our sins. Let us love the way God loves. Sure, there are things that we all sometimes have to apologize for. There are things that we have to eat our pride about. There are things that we just need to sit down and talk out. Love should always win. Not pride. See what pride did to the Edomites vs. the Israelites. It did not have to be that way. Neither does it in your family.

Remember, we offend God. We grieve God. We cause tears in His eyes because of our blatant rebellion against His will for us. Yet, He loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins even though we don’t deserve a daggum bit of it. We don’t deserve God’s love an forgiveness, but He thinks of our eternal future as being greater than His being right about our inability to be good children. He loves us anyway. Is there someone in your family that you just need to love anyway?

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 1:1-24

From Adam to Abraham

As parents, when we go to a graduation, and particularly when the graduation is for a large school, these events are rather long events. For example, some large state universities have their graduations over several days and do it by the colleges of arts and sciences that make up the university so that you do not have to sit through an extended and long graduation ceremony is all degrees were conferred at one time. At a large university like the University of Central Florida, our nation’s largest university, approximately 10, 000 undergraduate and post-graduate degrees are conferred each year. Their graduation ceremonies are held in six different ceremonies over three days. It would take quite a long time to hold their entire graduating class ceremonies in one event. And, it would be exceedingly boring. However, for the parents of a graduating son or daughter, it is a significant event in family life when family of a graduate hears the name of their child called, regardless of whether it is six graduations over 3 days or at one combined event. My oldest child, Meghan, graduated from Clemson University in December 2007. At Clemson, since it is not a small school by any means but it is also not a really large university either. At any given time, Clemson has about 13,000 students so they hold two graduation ceremonies each year. Even then, graduation take time.

As a parent, you have to wade through a long list of graduate names as they are read off and the graduates walk across the stage and receive their undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. You do this and you respect that each graduate has put in the work to graduate from their chosen school. You respect that your child is part of this body of kids who struggled together over 4 or more years to get to this milestone moment in their lives. It is a momentous moment for all parents and families in attendance not just you and your family and child. But, virtually all of the names read are names of people that you have never heard of. You may know some of your child’s friends here and there among the names called. However, when you hear THAT name that you have been waiting to hear, your child’s name. There are few moments in life where you are prouder as a parent as when you hear your child’s name called out as a graduate of their chosen university. You are beaming with pride. They tell you at the beginning of the conferring of degrees to hold your applause til all names have been called and the final conferment languages is read by the president of the university. And, sure, that is the respectful thing to do. However, it is so hard for you and your family NOT to offer up a yelp and a cheer of some sort when your child’s name is called. It means something. It is your child. It is your child reaching a milestone in their lives. It is a moment where they have put in the hard work over a long period of time and are now receiving their reward. It is a moment that signifies that your child is ready to take on the world on their own. It is simply a momentous moment for parent and child and family. It’s hard not to send a quick little family cheer of some sort.

It is also important to note at these graduations that these large institutions actually know and recognize the existence of your child. They are individually known. Their grades are tracked. They progress toward graduation is monitored. They are known by someone or several people in the administration of the school. There are professors that know your child’s work and some that know your child personally. It is recognition by this large university that your child has mattered to them and that their name appears individually on a degree conferred by this university. It gives you as a parent and the graduating child an affinity not just to the friends that they have made here at the school but it provides an affinity to the school itself that is hard to describe. It makes you feel like part of the family of that school, the legacy of that school, it makes you feel like you belong to something special. That feeling is quite real at Clemson University, a school that promotes a culture of family throughout the university even though it is not a small school. The saying that “there is something in these hills” that Clemson people talk about that makes you feel like you are part of a very unique place in the university landscape of our country. You feel like you belong to a special group that is forever tied to this place called Clemson. I am sure that others feel the same way about their kid’s university or college but this is my kid and my kid’s school.

I think about that this morning as I read the lengthy list of names in the genealogy that begins in Chapter 1 of 1 Chronicles and continues for 9 full chapters…9 full chapters of this book of the Bible. But the first thing that you notice in all of this is that names matter. It was the point of Chronicles to make the exiled Jews remember their history as God’s people in a time in their history that they no longer had their own nation. It is important for them to tie themselves to their roots and learn from the past of Jewish history. But for us as 21st century readers, it may just seem a yawner like a parent at a graduation hearing all the names called of children that are NOT their own kids. Those names mean nothing to them other than they are part of your child’s graduating class. It would be weird to be a graduation for just your child. It would not seem as momentous if there were not others whose names are called. The graduation ceremony would not be as elegant or as formal if it were just a graduation of one person, your child. Thus, having all the names read means that your child was part of something bigger, something special, a special group that they will forever belong to. That, to me, is the point, the idea that I walk away from with these first 23 verses, because those first 23 verses show us something unique when you look at who these names are. Let’s read the passage, 1 Chronicles 1:1-23, now:

1 The descendants of Adam were Seth, Enosh, 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, 4 and Noah.

The sons of Noah were[a] Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Descendants of Japheth

5 The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.

6 The descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath,[b] and Togarmah.

7 The descendants of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.

Descendants of Ham

8 The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim,[c] Put, and Canaan.

9 The descendants of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 10 Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth.

11 Mizraim was the ancestor of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 12 Pathrusites, Casluhites, and the Caphtorites, from whom the Philistines came.[d]

13 Canaan’s oldest son was Sidon, the ancestor of the Sidonians. Canaan was also the ancestor of the Hittites,[e] 14 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 15 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 16 Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites.

Descendants of Shem

17 The descendants of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.

The descendants of Aram were[f] Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.[g]

18 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah.

Shelah was the father of Eber.

19 Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg (which means “division”), for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups. His brother’s name was Joktan.

20 Joktan was the ancestor of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 21 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 22 Obal,[h] Abimael, Sheba, 23 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan.

In this passage, you might initially think it’s a yawner. Something to glide right through without much to glean from it. However, it was the Apostle Paul that said, “All  Scripture  is  inspired  by  God  and  profitable  for  teaching,  for  reproof,  for  correction,  for  training  in  righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, there is something to be learned from these first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles which are nothing but genealogy. This record beginning at 1:1 demonstrates several things. For one thing, this record demonstrates that God is interested not only in nations but also in individuals. Although billions and billions of people have lived since the beginning of man in Adam, God knows and remembers the face and name of each person who has ever lived since the beginning. Each of us is more than a name on a list. We are special persons whom God knows and loves. As we recognize and accept his love, we discover both our uniqueness as individuals and our solidarity with the remainder of the world, both past and present.

In these first verses, we see that all nations are seen and referenced by their roots going back to one of Noah’s sons: Japheth, Ham, or Shem. Japheth is the father of many general nations. Ham is the father of almost all of the “bad nations” on earth. Shem is the bearer of the messianic seed line resulting in Christ

and Israel as well as other nations such as the Ludites, Aramites, etc. Thus, the point of these first 23 verses can be viewed in this way. Descendants of all 3 sons of Noah are present at Christ’s birth, death, the descending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the End Times. It’s a constant reminder of God’s intent to reconcile all nations to Him. All names are important to him. All people are important to God. He wants all of us to be reconciled to Him. At my home church, LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC, they have a saying that let’s people know that they are not just a number and a faceless person at the church. It is that “everyone has a name and every name is important!” It is the same with God. Everyone has a name and every name is important to God. He loves us all throughout time and has offered His love to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants our name to be in the Book of Life. As Christ followers, He will be beaming with pride when our name is announced at our final graduation from this life into the long list of graduates who get to walk through the gates of heaven.

Amen and Amen.

OVERVIEW OF 1 CHRONCLES

Personal Reflection on Overview of 1 Chronicles

This morning, we begin the next book of the Bible, 1 Chronicles. What was once the united kingdom of Israel is now a distant memory. Life is in tatters. Once what was a great nation is now destroyed. Now, they are captives no longer free. They self-involved life that they had lived through Judges and 1 & 2 Kings has now come crashing down upon them. What they once had is no more. They are now at their rock bottom. Now is the time that they must examine their history and get at the root causes of why they are where they are now. One of the key truths that come forward from our coming reading of 1 Chronicles will be that future generations of God’s people must learn from Israel’s history about the priorities and patterns of faithfulness expected of them. The only way that we learn from our past is to examine it. Otherwise, we are destined to repeat it.

Recently, my youngest daughter admitted to herself and to me, for the first time, that she has been hopelessly addicted to mind-altering substances, most recently heroine. She has been in a faith-based recovery program now for almost two weeks. One thing is common about any and all addiction recovery programs is self-examination. One of the steps of the process is to take an honest look at our lives from beginning to now to fearlessly look at all that has happened in one’s life to have come to this: rock bottom. In this process, it is often that a person with an addiction problem finally submits control of their lives over to God. In this process, they often find their value in the Lord. In this process, they often find their calling to help others avoid their own pitfalls. It is my prayer that my daughter finds salvation in the recovery center. It is my prayer that she finds her value in the Lord. It is my prayer that she will find her voice, her own voice, her own unique calling in the Lord.

It got me to thinking about one of the things that I had to do as part of my calling to full-time ministry where it began with applying to seminary and then several times after that where I have had to write down my own salvation story. When we sit down and write our salvation story, it is really no different than what an addict has to do when their do their “searching and fearless moral inventory” as part of step 4 of the 12 step recovery process. We are all addicts to sinful behaviors. Our addictions may not be to mind altering substances but we all are addicted to sin. We all have our sin weaknesses. We all have our fatal flaw sins. Those sins that capture us and captivate us. Those sins that lie to us. Those sins that nearly destroy us. When you sit down and examine your own life from beginning to salvation, you learn what those fatal flaws have been. I learned mine during the process. I was such an approval junkie that I lived my life for the approval of others, particularly women. I defined myself by the relationship that I was in. I defined who I was and validated who I was by the approval of the woman in my life. It led me to make decisions in life that were not God-centered but rather to please my human gods – the women in my life. It was not until that I had completely lost myself and who I was and lost everything that was meaningful to me that I woke up and saw God.

Each of us needs to write down our life history, our real honest life history. We can see all the real, raw sins that we have committed, people we have hurt, destruction we have wrought, and decisions that we could have made differently. We can see where we departed from the right path. We can see where we departed from God and followed Satan’s siren call. We can see our spiral to our knees before God. We can see where God had his hand in our lives even when we were not asking for it. We can see our need for forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. We can see where we made a mess of our lives. And through Jesus we can make our mess in our message to others.

That’s what the purpose of 1 and 2 Chronicles. It is a retelling of the same story of 1 and 2 Kings from the point of view of a people that have crashed and burned already. It is a retelling of the searching and fearless inventory of the people of God’s downward spiral to their knees in captivity in Babylon. It is the mess becoming a message. That’s the point of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles. Do not do was we have done. Follow the Lord so that your lives will not end us as ours has. Letting the mess become the message.

Amen and Amen.

OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF 1 CHRONICLES

This overview is copied from the following website: http://reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/41779

Purpose:

To direct the restoration of the Kingdom after the exile with special emphases on the unity of Israel, the king, the Temple, and immediate blessings and curses.

Date:

c. 520-400 B.C.

Key Truths:

  • The united Kingdoms of David and Solomon provide models for God’s people as they seek the blessings of God.
  • The fate of each generation of Israel was determined by its adherence to God’s ideals for kingship, the Temple, and the unity of God’s people.
  • Future generations of God’s people must learn from Israel’s history the priorities and patterns of faithfulness expected of them.

Author:

Jewish tradition considered Ezra the primary author of the books of Chronicles (First and Second Chronicles are two halves of one book), Ezra, and Nehemiah. At least two considerations suggest that he was the author of Chronicles:

  • The book was written during the postexilic period near the time of Ezra’s ministry (see “Time and Place of Writing”) and
  • Many passages in Chronicles reveal affinities with the priestly concerns that undergirded Ezra’s work (see “Purposes and Distinctives”).

Other considerations, however, cast doubt on this traditional view of authorship:

  • The date of composition for Chronicles cannot be limited to Ezra’s lifetime (see “Time and Place of Writing”),
  • The Chronicler’s focus on kingship (see “Purposes and Distinctives”) is absent from Ezra’s teaching, and
  • Ezra’s concern with apostasy due to intermarriage is not a prominent theme in Chronicles (2 Chron. 1:1-9:31).

The traditional viewpoint remains hypothetical. No doubt Ezra’s ministry was in harmony with the teachings of Chronicles. He may even have contributed in some way to the composition of the book. Still, neither historical nor Scriptural evidences indicate conclusively that Ezra was the author of Chronicles. As a result, most modern interpreters simply refer to the author as “the Chronicler.”

The Chronicler relied on many written sources as he composed his history:

  • He depended on a number of Biblical texts. He drew heavily from Samuel and Kings and followed portions of the Pentateuch, Judges, Ruth, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.
  • He also cited several otherwise unknown royal sources: “the book of the annals of King David” (1 Chron. 27:24), “the book of the kings” (2 Chron. 24:27), “the book of the kings of Israel” (1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 20:34), “the book of the kings of Judah and Israel” (2 Chron. 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; 32:32) and “the book of the kings of Israel and Judah” (2 Chron. 27:7; 35:27; 36:8).
  • He referred explicitly to a number of prophetic sources: the writings of Samuel (1 Chron. 29:29), Nathan (2 Chron. 9:29), Gad (1 Chron. 29:29), Ahijah (2 Chron. 9:29), Iddo (2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22), Shemaiah (2 Chron 12:15), Isaiah (2 Chron 26:22) and anonymous “seers” (2 Chron. 33:19).
  • The style and content of many passages also suggest that the Chronicler used other unspecified sources.

Time and Place of Writing:

The final verses of the 2 Chronicles (2 Chron. 36:21-23) indicate that the Chronicler wrote after the release of the exiles from Babylon (c. 538 B.C.). The lack of Hellenistic influences suggests that he composed his history before the Alexandrian period (c. 331 B.C.). Nevertheless, opinions vary over the precise date of composition.

Some interpreters have proposed that the Chronicler wrote as early as the reconstruction of the Temple under Zerubbabel (c. 520-515 B.C.). At least three evidences support this view:

  • The Chronicler consistently presented the Temple and its personnel in close partnership with the royal line of David (see “Purposes and Distinctives”). This emphasis suggests the possibility of composition near the days of Zerubbabel when expectations of royal and priestly partnership were still high (e.g., Zech. 4:1-14).
  • The Chronicler gave much attention to the details of priestly and Levitical duties (1 Chron. 6:1-53). This focus suggests a date of composition during the time when the new Temple order was being established.
  • The Chronicler’s omission of Solomon’s downfall due to intermarriage (1 Kings 11:1-40) stands in striking contrast to Nehemiah’s appeal to Solomon’s difficulties (Nem. 13:26). This omission suggests that the Chronicler may have written before intermarriage had become a major issue in the postexilic community.

The majority of interpreters have held that the Chronicler wrote during or after the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah, in the latter half of the fifth century or the early decades of the fourth century B.C. The main evidence in favor of this view is the royal genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:17-24, which some interpreters believe extends up to five generations after Zerubbabel, but see the note on 1 Chronicles 3:21.

A specific date of composition for Chronicles cannot be determined. It seems best to accept a range of possibilities from sometime near the days of Zerubbabel to sometime soon after the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah (c. 515-400 B.C.). The major themes of the book fit well within these boundaries.

The Chronicler wrote for historical and theological reasons. His extensive use of historical documents (see “Author”) and devotion to numerical and chronological details (e.g., 1 Chron. 5:18; 2 Chron. 14:1, 9; 16:1, 12, 13) indicate that he intended to give his readers an inerrant historical record. But he did not merely offer information about the past; he also wrote to convey a relevant theological message. Comparing the Chronicler’s history with those of Samuel and Kings reveals that he shaped his account of Israel’s past to address the needs of the postexilic community. He wrote to encourage and guide his readers as they sought the full restoration of the Kingdom after the Babylonian exile.

The people who had returned from exile faced numerous difficulties. The restoration had not brought about the dramatic changes for which many had hoped. Instead, they endured discouraging economic hardship, foreign opposition and internal conflict. These difficulties raised many questions: Who may legitimately claim to be heirs to the promises God gave his people? What political and religious institutions should we embrace? Should we hope for a new Davidic king? What is the importance of the Temple in our day? How may we find the blessings of security and prosperity for our restored community? The Chronicler addressed these and similar questions in his history.

Purposes and Distinctives:

The book of Chronicles was originally untitled. Its traditional Hebrew name may be translated “the annals (events) of the days (time).” This expression appears often in the book of Kings with other qualifications (e.g., 1 Kings 14:29). It also occurs elsewhere in this form without further qualification (Neh. 12:23; Esther 2:23; 6:1). Some Septuagint (Greek Translation of the Old Testament) texts refer to Chronicles as “the things omitted”; i.e., a supplement to the history of Samuel and Kings. Jerome (and Luther following him) called the book “the chronicle of the entire sacred history.” Our modern title stems from this tradition.

The Chronicler’s theological message may be summarized in many ways, but three concerns were particularly prominent:

  • The People of God. Throughout his history the Chronicler identified the people who should be included among the heirs of God’s covenant promises. The prominence of this theme appears in his frequent use of the expression “all Israel” (see notes on 1 Chron. 11:1; 2 Chron. 10:1; 29:24). The Chronicler’s concept of God’s people was both narrow and broad. On the one hand, he looked on those who had been released from exile as the people of God. Representatives of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, who had returned to the land, were the chosen people (see note on 1 Chron. 9:3). As such, they played a vital role in the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, however, the Chronicler identified God’s people with all the tribes of Israel (see note on 1 Chron. 2:3-9:1). The restoration of Israel was incomplete so long as some of the tribes remained outside the land, separated from the Davidic king and the Jerusalem Temple. As a result, the Chronicler went to great lengths to include both the northern and southern tribes in his genealogies (1 Chron. 2:3-9:1), to present an ideal of a united Kingdom under David and Solomon extending to all the people (see note on 1 Chron. 11:1) and to depict the reunification of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in the days of Hezekiah (see note on 2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). The returnees were the remnant of God’s people, but they had to pray and hope for the restoration of all the people of God. As Hezekiah put it in his day, “If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate” (2 Chron. 30:9).

  • The King and Temple. In the Chronicler’s view, God had organized his people around two central institutions: the Davidic throne and the Jerusalem Temple. These political and religious structures were fundamental to the life of Israel. In his genealogies, the Chronicler gave special attention to David’s lineage (1 Chron. 2:10-17; 3:1-24) and to the organization of the priests and Levites (1 Chron 6:1-81). He emphasized that God had chosen David’s line as the permanent dynasty over the nation (1 Chron. 17:1-27; 2 Chron. 13:5; 21:7; 23:3). The establishment of David’s throne was a demonstration of divine love and blessing for Israel (1 Chron. 14:2; 2 Chron. 2:11).

The Chronicler also focused on the Temple as the dwelling place of the Name (2 Chron. 7:12, 16; 33:7). The joy and splendor of music in Temple worship were chief concerns in the Chronicler’s history (see notes on 1 Chron. 6:31-47, 9:15-16, 28-34, 15:16-24; 16:4-6; 25:1-31; 2 Chron. 5:12-13; 23:13, 19, 29:25-30; 34:12).

The Chronicler drew a close connection between kingship and the Temple in many other ways as well (e.g., 2 Chron. 13:4-12; 22:10-24:27). With this emphasis on king and Temple, he instructed his postexilic readers not to lose sight of either institution. The full restoration of the Kingdom could not take place apart from the Davidic king and the Jerusalem Temple. As the Lord said to David, “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his Kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever” (1 Chron. 17:11-12).

  • Divine Blessing and Judgment. The Chronicler composed his history to show his readers how to receive God’s blessings in their day. He accomplished this end by drawing close connections between fidelity and blessing, as well as infidelity and judgment (1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 6:14; 7:11-22; 15:2; 16:7-9; 21:14-15; 24:20; 25:15-16; 28:9; 34:24-28). The king and the Temple could not in themselves secure God’s blessing for Israel. His blessings depended on obedience to the Mosaic Law (1 Chron. 6:49; 15:13, 15; 16:40; 22:12-13; 28:7; 29:19; 2 Chron. 6:16; 7:17-18; 12:1-2; 14:4; 15:12-14; 17:3-9; 19:8-10; 24:6, 9; 25:4; 30:15-16; 31:3-21; 33:8; 34:19-33; 35:6-26) and to the prophetic/priestly instruction (2 Chron. 11:4; 12:5-8; 20:20; 21:12-19; 24:19-25; 25:7-10, 15-20; 26:17-20). Blessings came to those who upheld the purity of Temple worship (2 Chron. 15:1-19; 17:1-6; 24:1-16; 29:1-31:21; 34:1-35:19) and humbly relied on God instead of human strength (1 Chron. 5:20; 2 Chron. 13:18; 14:7; 16:7-8; 32:20).

When the people of God and their kings turned to sin, the immediate retribution of illness and military defeat often followed (1 Chron. 10:1-14; 2 Chron. 13:1-16; 16:12; 18:33-34; 21:15-19; 25:14-24; 26:19-20; 28:1-5; 33:1-11). Even so, when the people came under God’s judgment, they could be restored to blessing by humbly seeking God through repentance and prayer (1 Chron. 21:1-22:1; 2 Chron. 7:13-15; 12:1-12; 33:10-13). By emphasizing these themes the Chronicler showed his postexilic readers the way to divine blessing in their day. The full restoration of God’s people would come only as they lived in fidelity to the Lord. The prophet Azariah stated the matter succinctly to King Asa: “If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).

As the book unfolds, prominent motifs appear a number of times, but certain themes are emphasized over others in each portion. The history divides into main parts: (1) the genealogies of God’s people (1 Chron. 1:1-9:34), (2) the united Kingdom (1 Chron 9:35-2 Chron 9:31), (3) the divided Kingdom (2 Chron. 10:1-28:27), and (4) the reunited Kingdom (2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). Each part contributes specific elements to the Chronicler’s overall theological purpose.

  • The Genealogies of God’s People (1 Chron. 1:1-9:34). Genealogies in the ancient Near East followed a variety of forms and served many different functions. These variations appear in the Chronicler’s use of genealogies in the first nine chapters of his history. Some passages follow the form of linear genealogies that trace a single family line through many generations (e.g., 1 Chron. 2:34-41); others are segmented and sketch several family lines together (e.g., 1 Chron. 6:1-3). The Chronicler’s genealogies also skip generations without notice, emphasizing persons and events that were important to his concerns (e.g., 1 Chron. 6:4-15). Beyond this, just as other ancient genealogies often included brief narratives highlighting significant events, the Chronicler paused on occasion to tell a story (1 Chron. 4:9-10; 5:18-22).

 In addition to different forms, the function of ancient genealogies also varied. They occasionally sketched political, geographical and other social connections. In some such cases, the expressions “son of” and “father of” had a meaning other than immediate biological descent. In line with these ancient (yet ordinary for that time) functions of genealogies, the Chronicler provided an assortment of lists, including families (e.g., 1 Chron. 3:17-24), political relations (e.g., 1 Chron. 2:24, 42, 45, 49-52), and trade guilds (e.g., 1 Chron. 4:14, 21-23).

The Chronicler included extensive genealogical records in his book to establish that his readers were the legitimate continuation of God’s elect people. He accomplished this end by reporting the special election of Israel from all of humanity (1 Chron. 1:2-2:2), the arrangement of the tribes of Israel (1 Chron. 2:3-9:1), and the representatives of the tribes who returned from Babylon (1 Chron. 9:16-34).

By identifying the postexilic readers as the continuation of the chosen line, the Chronicler pointed to their opportunities and responsibilities. Since they were God’s people, they were offered the opportunity of God’s blessing in the Promised Land. They had a solid basis for hope in the full restoration of the Kingdom. But their identity as God’s elect people also entailed many responsibilities. The Chronicler’s genealogies focused on the breadth and order of the tribes of Israel, emphasizing especially the importance of the Davidic and Levitical families (see note on 1 Chron. 2:3-9:1a). If his readers were to receive the blessings of God, they had to observe these divinely ordained arrangements carefully.

  • The united kingdom (1 Chron. 9:35-2 Chron. 9:31). The Chronicler viewed the reigns of David and Solomon as Israel’s period of glory. He focused on the positive qualities of these kings and chose not to reference many of their well-known shortcomings and troubles recorded in Samuel and Kings (see notes on 1 Chron. 9:35-29:30 and 2 Chron. 1:1-9:31). David and Solomon ruled over all the tribes and territories of Israel (see note on 1 Chron. 11:1); they provided rich blessings through their political structures (1 Chron. 14:2; 2 Chron. 2:11; 9:8) and the Temple (1 Chron. 22:1; 2 Chron. 7:11-22).

For this reason, the united kingdom laid the foundation of hope for the postexilic readers. God had chosen David’s line and the Temple in Jerusalem to be the instruments of blessing for his people through all generations.

But this hope of blessing was conditional. The Chronicler also presented David and Solomon as models to be imitated. The postexilic community had to devote itself to the ideals of the united kingdom. Humble and faithful reliance on God, commitment to Davidic rule and devotion to the Temple were essential to receiving the blessing of God.

  • The Divided Kingdom (2 Chron. 10:1-28:27). The Chronicler’s record of Israel’s history from Rehoboam to Ahaz focuses on events in the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Although he relied on the book of Kings for much of his information, the Chronicler omitted large blocks of material dealing with the Northern Kingdom, Israel. In his view, the important historical events of this period took place in Judah, where the Davidic king and the Temple resided.

In many respects, the Chronicler evaluated the kings of this period according to the ideal of the united kingdom. He applied several criteria to Judah’s kings (see “Purposes and Distinctives: Divine Blessing and Judgment”). Was the king faithful to the Law of Moses? Did he support the Temple order established by David and by Solomon? Did the king listen to prophetic and priestly instruction? Did he rely on foreign alliances, or seek God in humility and prayer? The writer evaluated some kings negatively (Jehoram, 1 Chron. 21:4-20; Ahaziah, 1 Chron. 22:1-9; Ahaz, 1 Chron. 28:1-27) and others positively (Abijah, 1 Chron. 13:1-14:1; Jotham, 1 Chron. 27:1-9). For the most part, however, he distinguished between each king’s years of fidelity and infidelity (Rehoboam, 2 Chron. 10:1-12:16; Asa, 1 Chron. 14:2-16:14; Jehoshaphat, 1 Chron. 17:1-21:3; Joash, 1 Chron. 22:10-24:27; Amaziah, 1 Chron. 25:1-28; Uzziah, 1 Chron. 26:1-23).

The Chronicler reported these events to illustrate how the conditions of Israel depended on her fidelity to the ideals established in the united kingdom. With remarkable regularity, he demonstrated that God blessed his people when they proved to be faithful and chastised them when they turned away from him. Victory, security and prosperity came to those who sought the Lord, but defeat, trouble and illness to those who forgot him (see “Purposes and Distinctives: Divine Blessing and Judgment”).

This portion of the Chronicler’s history addressed the needs of the postexilic readers by explaining their situation and offering them guidance. Just as Judah’s kings had experienced God’s chastisement, the postexilic community suffered difficulties because of infidelity. God’s promises of restoration had not failed; the people had failed. Similarly, just as the kings of Judah were blessed as they turned toward the Lord, the Chronicler’s readers could hope for restoration, security and prosperity if they would do the same.

  • The Reunited Kingdom (2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). Beginning with Hezekiah, Israel entered a new phase of her history. The Chronicler presented Hezekiah as a new David/Solomon; Hezekiah reunited the faithful of Israel and Judah around the Davidic throne through worship and celebration at the Temple (see notes on 1 Chron. 29:1-36:23 and 1 Chron. 29:24). This reunited people experienced several periods of failure: Manasseh’s apostasy (1 Chron. 33:1-10), Amon’s entire reign (1 Chron. 33:21-25,) and the overall reigns of the kings of Judah just before the exile (1 Chron. 36:2-14). But each of these failures was followed by God’s gracious renewal of the people: Manasseh’s restoration (1 Chron. 33:11-17), Josiah’s reforms (1 Chron. 34:3-35:19), and the return from exile (1 Chron. 36:22-23).

This portion of the Chronicler’s history also offered hope and guidance to his readers. Despite the failures of the reunited Kingdom, God continued to grant blessings to his repentant people. These events reminded the readers that God extended his mercy to them, offering them his blessing. At the same time, however, the events of this period demonstrated the requirements placed on those who longed for the full restoration of the Kingdom during the postexilic period. The nation must turn to the Lord in humility and live faithfully before him.

Christ in Chronicles:

Focusing on his concerns for the people of God, for the king and for the Temple, as well as on divine blessing and judgment, the Chronicler wrote his history to bolster Israel’s hope in the coming of the Messiah. His immediate focus was the restoration of the postexilic community, but the New Testament revealed that the Chronicler’s ideal of the restored Kingdom found fulfillment in Christ.

  • The Chronicler’s hopes for the people of God became a reality in Christ. Those who follow Christ are the heirs of Israel’s promises (Gal. 3:14, 29; 4:28; Eph. 2:11-22; 3:6), as were the faithful of the postexilic community. Christ’s Church extends beyond Israel to include the Gentiles (Luke 2:32; Acts 9:15; 11:1, 18). At the return of Christ all of God’s elect will be united under the lordship of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22).
  • The Chronicler’s interest in the restoration of David’s throne was also fulfilled in Christ. Christ was born the Son of David, the rightful heir to the Davidic throne (Luke 1:32; Rom. 1:3; Rev. 22:16). Jesus met all the conditions of obedience placed on David’s line (Rom. 5:19; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:7-10). In the resurrection, Christ took his throne in heaven (Acts 2:33-35; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9; Rev. 3:21). He leads his people into blessing and victory (Rom. 8:37; Eph. 4:7-13) and reigns until all his enemies are defeated (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
  • The Chronicler’s emphasis on the Temple likewise finds fulfillment in Christ. Christ offered himself on the cross as the perfect atonement for sin (Heb. 9:11-28; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2), and he intercedes in the heavenly palace of God on behalf of his people (Heb. 3:1; 4:14-16; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1). On his return, Christ will bring all his people into the blessed presence of God (John 14:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
  • The Chronicler’s focus on divine blessing and judgment also anticipated the work of Christ. Jesus warned his church of the necessity of fidelity to God (Matt. 5:17-20). He suffered death on the cross so that his people might be delivered from judgment (Rom. 3:21-26). He grants them new life so that they may be assured of the reward of eternal blessing (John 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:13; 1 John 2:25).
  • The Chronicler wrote to encourage his postexilic readers to renew the Kingdom in their day. But his history also pointed forward to the inauguration of the Kingdom in the first coming of Christ and to the glorious consummation when he returns.