Bible reading for weekend Nov 14-15.
1 Chronicles 3-6.
"These were their settlements, and they kept a genealogical record." (4:33)
GOD KEEPS TRACK. The Jews are back in the land following their exile to Babylon (5th century BC). These are the updated genealogies ("to this day", 5:26, and chapter 9). Words like "registered" and "enrolled" (e.g., 4:41), along with locations (5:26), remind us that God keeps track of his people. It may seem like an endless list of people and places, but this is a testimony to God's preservation of his people. Also, there were remnant families from the various tribes that dwelt in Judah, for example the Simeonites, Levites, Benjaminites (e.g., Paul, Rom 11:1), and others. The Apostle Paul tells us that "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26), which I take to mean that God still has a special place in his divine plan for ethnic Israel, and that there will be a great ingathering of Jews toward the end of this age. We see in Revelation 7:4-8 that there will be many Israelite believers representing each tribe in the final chapter of history.
REFLECT. God knows his people by name. He knows who they are, where they are, where they have been, and how they connect to his Story. Their names are written in his book (Rev 20:12-15). Jesus told his disciples to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). Does this bring you joy and comfort to know that your name is recorded forever in God's registry of life? Does it encourage you that he knows exactly who you are from beginning to end? Is it a blessing to you to have found a place on God's family tree?
"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (10:12-14)
SHADOWS (ch 9). The author is explaining Christ's superiority, that he is greater than angels, Moses, Joshua, and Aaron. The covenant he establishes is the new and eternal covenant prophesied in the OT. And now the pinnacle of the argument of Hebrews -- Christ's work of atonement, and the effect of that work, is eternally superior to any other way of approaching God. We read that the tabernacle and its service is a copy, a pattern, a shadow of heavenly realities (9:1-10). The blood of sacrificial animals cannot actually cleanse the heart and conscience of sin before God. Only Jesus' death can bring forgiveness, cleansing, and redemption (9:11-26). What's left for us is not to make more sacrifices, but to rest in what he has done and await eagerly for his return (9:27-28). Verse 27 tells us that there is no reincarnation or second chances after death: "...it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (cf Ps 78:39).
ONE SACRIFICE FOR ALL TIME (ch 10). This superior sacrifice before God is a once-for-all sacrifice. Note the tenses in verse 14: "has perfected" (completed action in past) and "are being sanctified" (or, "being made holy", present progressive). Our ongoing growth in holiness is a result and outworking of the completed perfection that we have in Christ. We are saints (holy ones) and at the same time being sanctified (growing in holiness). Another strong warning is given in verses 26-31 (see my post on Hebrews 6). To reject the Sacrifice that Christ is, is to be left with no other sacrifice. These Jewish believers were being warned in the strongest terms that they could not just go back to the old sacrificial system (with animals and grain offerings), since these have now been superseded by Christ's atoning work. There is no other way.
REFLECT. And so here is the conclusion: "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised" (10:35-36). Like these Jewish believers, we too should not cast aside our bold confidence in Christ. Our Lord Jesus is pre-eminent in every way. He is not one option among many, nor is he one way among others. He reigns supreme. And all people everywhere need him desperately, whether they feel so or not. This is also why church attendance and ongoing Christian fellowship is vital -- we must continue to speak truth and encourage one another (10:24-25), for the Day is indeed drawing near.
Image credit. "Agnus Dei", painting by Francisco de Zurbarán (1635 - 1640), courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid. 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.