Bible reading for Nov 16.
1 Chronicles 7-8.
"All of these were men of Asher, heads of fathers' houses, approved, mighty warriors, chiefs of the princes. Their number enrolled by genealogies, for service in war, was 26,000 men." (7:40)
PRE AND POST. The genealogies and numbers recorded here come from the time before the Babylonian exile (pre-exilic), during the period of King David (7:2). We'll see, beginning in chapter 9, the post-exilic census numbers are much lower. One purpose of the census of the tribes was to determine the number of soldiers available in the event of war. As we read 1 and 2 Chronicles we will also see some variations in numbers being reported, which may differ from Samuel and Kings. These may be due to scribal errors in copying, the rounding of numbers, or differing method of reckoning. See more in this introduction.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (11:6)
FAITH'S HALL OF FAME. The author of Hebrews has shown us that our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, is greater than all the great OT figures, that he instituted the promised new covenant, and that he is foreshadowed by the OT sacrificial system. He now turns to the topic of faith: "Do not throw away your confidence..." (10:35). The Old Testament provides us with many examples of men and women who believed God and walked with him by faith. What is noteworthy is not that these people attended the services of worship (which they did), or ate only kosher food (which they did), or were circumcised (most of the men were), or were perfectly obedient to the law (which none of them were). They are commended as examples to us because they trusted God and took him at his word. They trusted his character and his promises. By faith they understood truth, worshiped God, obeyed God, followed him, received power, won battles, were tested, suffered well, and looked forward in hope to the future city of God and "the better country" (v 16). They embraced their identity as holy exiles on earth (vv 35-39).
WHAT IS FAITH? Faith is the assurance and the conviction that what God has revealed is true, and what he has promised will come to pass (v 1). In faith we know he exists, and that he is good, rewarding those who seek him (v 6). Faith is considering that God is faithful to fulfill his promises (v 11). It is trust. And it is a kind of "seeing him who is unseen" (v 27). So, in faith we stand upon God's word and we trust his character. A repeated theme in this chapter is that believers have a new kind of valuation -- they value God and his promises as being greater than the all riches of this world. Is this you? Do we so value God? Do we stand upon his word and trust the goodness of his heart? Is this true of you and me: "Standing on the promises I now can see / Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me; / Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free, / Standing on the promises of God." (Hymn by Russell K. Carter)
REFLECT. In light of both passages today we should think often about God's faithfulness, his preservation of Israel (and us), and the fulfilling of all his promises in their time. Hebrews tells us that men and women all down through history have trusted the Lord and stood upon his promises, even when they were as yet unfulfilled. Faith is reckoning God to be faithful. I've been enjoying the messianic worship songs by Joshua Aaron and Aaron Shust recently. Listen to them as they perform at the Tower of David in Jerusalem...
Image credit. "Urban Perspective" by Paul Klee (1928). 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.