Bible reading for Nov 13.
1 Chronicles 1-2.
"These are their genealogies..." (1:29)
PARALLEL HISTORY. Now we step back to read a parallel account of Israel's history, focusing on Judah (the southern kingdom), King David and his descendants, and the temple in Jerusalem. First and Second Chronicles are two volumes of one original work, Chronica, in the Hebrew OT (the Tanakh), coming right after Nehemiah. This was most likely written by, or compiled under the oversight of, Ezra the scribe, sometime in the fifth century BC after the Jews had returned from Babylon. It is an additional witness to the history recorded in 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings.
GENEALOGIES. The first two chapters open with genealogies, as all good Jewish history should! You can compare this with the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, for example. God's work spans the generations. Here the names focus on David and Caleb, and a portion on Edom (descendants of Esau). These were the main family groups in and around Jerusalem after the return from exile. To be considered part of the commonwealth of Israel it was important to show where you were connected to the family tree (Neh 7:5, 64). In a sense this became the basis of the registry of Jewish families after the exile, and how they connected to past history.
FAMILY TREES. Many years ago when I moved to a town after graduating from college, I was approached by an older man in the lobby of the local bank, who thought I looked familiar, and he asked me who I was. I told him my name, where I worked, and so on. But nothing registered with him. I finally said, "I married the youngest daughter of _____", and gave the name of my father-in-law, who was a pillar in that community. His face lit up, and he said, "Now I know who you are!" I found it funny that I didn't seem to have a legitimate existence apart from being connected to one of the family trees in the community. That certainly rubs our individualism the wrong way! And yet, with God, things like history, families, generations, connections, and heritage are important. Even though we are saved as individuals, we are saved into a community.
REFLECT. You and I are ingrafted into God's family by adoption through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are connected to a grand history that extends from creation to new creation. God is a God of generations. By faith we are brought into God's family tree, and our heritage should be important to us. Some of you reading this post were brought up in Christian homes. Perhaps you came to faith early in your childhood. At least you were introduced to a spiritual influence and a holy heritage in your upbringing, even if only one of your parents was a believer (1 Cor 7:14). Have you thanked God today for the connections he has given you, your heritage, and how he ingrafted you into his family tree?
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second." (8:7)
COVENANT COMPARISON. So far in Hebrews we have read that our Lord Jesus is superior to angels, to Moses, to Joshua, and to Aaron the high priest. And now we learn that he brings a better covenant, which is superior to the old. The new covenant was promised by the very prophets who lived under the old covenant (Jer 31:31-34). Under the old covenant God's law stood outside of the people, so to speak, in teaching and convicting their hearts concerning righteousness. The new covenant, enacted by our Lord Jesus, takes God's law and writes it upon our hearts, bringing about a lasting change. There will be forgiveness, God's gracious commitment, and a changed heart which has a kind of new guidance system (or gyroscopic action), so to speak, which ever draws the heart Godward (Jer 32:39-41; cf Ezek 36:26-27). The point is, it was Jesus who brought that new covenant relationship to us, not Moses or Joshua or Aaron. Hebrews makes it clear that there are many things in the OT that are "copies and shadows" of heavenly things (v 5). Jesus is the Reality to which these things point: "These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ" (Col 2:17).
REFLECT. Under the OT the law was like a thermometer, revealing the temperature (condition) of the heart but not changing it. In the NT (new covenant), God the Holy Spirit gives us a new nature and inclination to follow God's law. It is "written on the heart" rather than merely engraved on tablets of stone. In that sense it is more like a thermostat, where the settings actually affect the change. Old Testament law is like the thermometer, revealing our condition. The New Testament gospel, heard in faith, and bringing to us new life from the Spirit, is like the thermostat. That's a big generalization, I know, since the Holy Spirit was working in the lives of believers in the OT, as well, and God has always been abounding in grace. But it's an illustration of the differences between the natures of these two covenants. Charles Spurgeon cites the following poem (often ascribed to John Bunyan) in summary:
yet finds me neither feet nor hands,
But sweeter news the gospel brings,
it bids me fly and lends me wings!"
Image credit. Photo above of the Naryshkin Family tree, 18th century, via Wikimedia Commons. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.