Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

06 March 2009

Navigating around Kings and Chronicles - Tip Three

The third tip for navigating around 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, and this applies particularly to Chronicles, is to be patient with the genealogies and other such lists. Genealogies are lists of family lines and they can be quite challenging (tedious actually –but did I say that?) to read, especially with all those unfamiliar names and 1 Chronicles in particular is full of them. Indeed the first twelve chapters is almost wall to wall genealogy.

I have been encouraged to be patient and persevere with the genealogies here and in other parts of the Bible by various ministers for three reasons…

1. As you keep reading the genealogies over the years you start to recognise the names. The family lines fall into place and you begin to see how things fit together. The jigsaw comes together in a very satisfying manner.

2. There are occasional little nuggets embedded within the lists as the author unexpectedly breaks the pattern of narration and if you were to skip over the genealogies, you would miss out on them - and they are often very illuminating.

3. And the third reason? Well, I remember making some flippant comment once, wondering how our minister at the time was going to extract any devotional juice for his sermon from the main reading that Sunday which was pure genealogy. And I was sweetly but rightly rebuked (by his wife) that God put it in the Bible so actually it must be important. God has a purpose.

I recently finished reading 1 Chronicles in my quiet time and as previously said, I found the first twelve chapters tough going. (If you look here you will see that even Dr John Piper finds certain parts of the Bible tough to read!!) But after taking four days to get through this section, I had to stop and think, "What can I say thankyou to God for in all of this?"

And it came to me that all these names are lists of people through whom God has been at work in history – some people with God-honouring intent and some with evil intent – as He worked out His purposes, culminating in the birth of Jesus. And that pattern of God's purposes prevailing despite the vagaries of humanity has continued on through all of church history since Christ's 33 years on earth. How patient God is with us.

So I was able to thank God for His patience and also for the baton of truth that has been handed down from generation to generation over a very, very long time. When we have cause to wonder where God might be in the details of our individual lives, it is so good to be reminded of God at work in the bigger picture. This is the benefit of persevering with genealogies and indeed with complicated histories – and I hope it is an encouragement to persevere with navigating through this particular part of the Bible.


Sharon said...

It is also a great encouragement for those who come from a non-Christian family, to consider how they might be the shoot of a future family tree with many Christians within its branches... as well as to those who come from a Christian family to continue that tradition of passing on the faith.

If we don't bother to pass on our faith to our children, or at least do our best to do so, why should we expect God to call someone else to that good work?

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

Thanks so much Sharon. This is a definite blessing and adds real and encouraging weight to the argument for persevering through the genealogies. Thankyou.