Bible reading for Nov 17.
1 Chronicles 9-10.
"...besides their kinsmen, heads of their fathers' houses, 1,760, mighty men for the work of the service of the house of God." (9:13)
NAMES AND NUMBERS (ch 9). We now come to the people who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Central in this list are the priests, gatekeepers and singers who served at the temple. The focus of Chronicles is upon the worship of God at the temple in Jerusalem. We notice that, instead of the phrase "mighty men for war", we read "mighty men of the service of the house of God" (v 13). Israel had a tendency to rest upon its military strength (or on alliances with other strong nations) instead of being faithful to dedicated worship of the Lord their God. A sidebar: reading genealogies can be tedious. A professor once said to us in seminary, "All of the Bible is equally inspired, but not all of it is equally profitable." That is, God has fully inspired both the genealogies of the OT and, say, the book of Romans in the NT, but there is much more applicable material in Romans than in the genealogies. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." (2 Tim 3:16) So, yes, in case you are wondering, I do sometimes skim the genealogies.
DEATH OF SAUL (ch 10). We begin the historical account of Chronicles with the death of King Saul, as prelude to the reign of David. Notice this juxtaposition at the end: "all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. And they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted seven days. So Saul died for his breach of faith..." (vv 12-13). Despite the sad ending (his own fault) Saul is mourned in his death, and he is given an honorable burial. I do notice a problem with our current generation in that heroes must be either all good or all bad, completely accepted or completely rejected. The Bible takes a more balanced approach -- even bad leaders can accomplish good things and be worthy of some honor. And good leaders usually have blind spots and failures, what we call "feet of clay" (Dan 2:34). We should give respect where respect is due, and recognize that God has placed people, as he pleases, in positions of power for as long as he wills, and we should give honor where honor is due (Rom 13:1-7).
REFLECT. Faithfulness to the Lord and to our covenant with him is vital. "Breach of faith" (9:1; 10:13-14) describes an act of unfaithfulness or treachery. God has brought us into communion with him at the cost of the death of his Son. It is like a marriage covenant, a family bond, a blood oath, or a permanent treaty of peace. To break this, to turn away, or to worship other gods is to be adulterous and to betray that covenant. God has called us through his Son and his Spirit, and has brought us to himself that we might know and enjoy him forever. We belong to him. Stay faithful!
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering..." (12:22)
A HEAVENLY CITY. Christ is better in every way! Better than angels, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron. And he supersedes the OT covenant with its priesthood and sacrificial system. In this chapter we read that he brings an unshakable kingdom and a heavenly city. The readers are first told to endure discipline as sons of God undergoing training (vv 1-17). Christ himself is our example and we are to look to him (v 2). This is similar to Paul's words in Philippians: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14). The author in verses 18-29 then contrasts the kingdom of Israel based upon the covenant at Sinai with the heavenly city of Zion based upon the new covenant instituted by Jesus (Rev 21:2ff). The chapter closes with the warning, "See that you do not refuse him who is speaking..." (v 25), and concludes with, "...for our God is a consuming fire" (v 29).
REFLECT. There is both continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments. What's the same is God himself, his nature and character, his moral standards, and his plan for humanity. The discontinuity is in the covenantal differences, or "economies" of his plan. Theologians use this term not in a financial sense, but to denote God's management of people in different periods of history. There is a contrast, as well, between what is passing away and what is eternal. The blessings of the new covenant with our Lord Jesus are so great and wonderful, that to turn away from them is even more serious than to turn away from his revelation in the OT. God himself has not changed, but we are in a new relationship with him through Jesus, and we should never, ever take that lightly. Once, when many of Jesus' followers were drifting away from him because of some difficult teaching, Jesus asked his own disciples if they wanted to leave him, too. Peter answered for the group, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69) This is how we should feel, too. There is no other person or place that can save us!
Image credit. Old lithograph of the Citadel (Tower of David) in Jerusalem, source unknown, 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.