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1 chronicles

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  • 1. 1 Chronicles – Friday Night Genesis, Friday, February 1, 2013Does anyone know what this is? It is a passport from a country that no longerexists. It is a passport from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and as achild I used to have one. Today, the territory that was once Yugoslavia is hometo 6 different countries and a few more administrative regions. Those of you whofollow the news may also remember that we didn’t exactly shake hands and wisheach other luck as we went our separate ways. And so today my documents listmy place of birth as Croatia, a country I have never been to, despite the fact thatI was born and spent the first 6 years of my life on its territory. I speak the locallanguage in the Serbian dialect and have a distinct Belgrade accent, since that iswhere I grew up and where I went to school. What makes the waters evenmurkier for me is that my mother is British. Not too long after the start of the war Iwas shipped off to continue my education in England, and as my parents retiredthey joined me and now live there to this day. Since Yugoslavia no longer exists,the only passport I have, the only nationality I can officially claim is British. SinceI spent 11 years of my life there, I have, to a certain extent, also been assimilatedinto that culture.In many ways, I feel like the Jews and the Israelites must have felt after the exile– a resident alien. You integrate into life and culture around you. Still you’redifferent. When you return to your country of origin, you find that life has gone onand many things have changed. Your identity, your world view, your culture, yourexperiences – they all differ from the people around you. This raises fundamentalquestions: who am I? Who do I identify with? What set of values do I adopt?Where do I belong?This is where books like 1 and 2 Chronicles come in. We ended 2 Kings withIsrael already dissolved by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Assyrians were thenconquered by Babylon which completely mixed everything up and scattered the10 tribes all over the place, never to be fully reunited. The kingdom of Judahlasted until 586 BC when it too was conquered by Babylon and most of itsinhabitants taken into exile. They spent 70 years in exile. During those 70 yearsBabylon was conquered by the Medo-Persians and it was the Medo-Persiankings who issued decrees for all who were willing to return to Jerusalem,rejoin the small remnant who were not taken into exile and rebuild first thetemple and then the entire city. This small group was led by Nehemiah theadministrator and Ezra the Priest.As the Sunday School lady pointed out at the beginning, even though the book of1 Chronicles takes us clear back to Adam, it is believed, although by no meansconfirmed, that it was Ezra who wrote 1 and 2 Chronicles during that periodfollowing the exile, in other words, the books were written after the events of 2Kings.
  • 2. Understanding this setting will help us to understand why we get to go through allthose endless genealogies and why we get to repeat so much of what we havealready covered in previous books. The first part is very pragmatic – they weretrying to organize their society once again. In Israel of old, land was given as aninheritance to a clan and would stay with that clan. Land could not change handsbetween different clans – it had to be passed down the generations within thesame clan. The genealogies were especially important when it came to theservices in the temple. In the Old Testament you didn’t become a priest becauseyou went to the Seminary and got a degree. You became a priest because youwere a descendant of Aaron. Likewise with all the other services, you served atthe temple because you were from the tribe of Levi. What exactly your serviceconsisted of depended on which one of the sons of Levi you descended from.And so they had to revisit the genealogies to figure out who was who and whatthey were supposed to do.The second reason for writing Chronicles was much more foundational. Most ofthis small group that returned had lived, and many were most likely born andgrew up in foreign countries. Chronicles were necessary for them to reacquaintthemselves with their heritage, their history and their culture. It was there to helpthem once again establish their national identity. Most importantly it told themthat they belonged. Even though many of them were like myself – mutts who hadlived everywhere and belonged nowhere, they were now getting the message –this is where you belong – this is your home. You have a rich historic and culturalheritage. More than that, you have an awesome God who has set out before youthe right way to go and promised to do for you what He did for your ancestorsand restore your fortunes if you follow His way.I was listening to the book of 1 Chronicles on my iPod as I was driving my bigtruck across the country. In hind sight, this may not have been the best idea I’veever had…but I didn’t fall asleep and I didn’t crash so it’s all good. Still, as thegenealogy started up with Adam and continued to branch out, I got a distinctfeeling that in all of this there was a message, not just for the returning Jews ofthe 5th century BC, but also for us in 21st century AD. That message is that weare all connected, and we all belong to God’s family. As you read the beginningof the genealogies you find many instances where so and so had sons and fromthis son came this nation and from the other son that nation. You realize veryquickly that all these nations had a common source tracing back to Noah and hissons, then further to Adam and finally to God. When Luke traced the genealogyof Jesus in Luke 3:38 he makes this full connection: “the son of Enosh, the son ofSeth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38).My mother in law enjoys doing genealogy and has a wall in her dining room filledwith pictures of the family ancestors. Should you ask her, she could tell you manythings about the people in those pictures. Knowing something about our past andwhere we came from gives us a foundation and a sense of identity. Chronicles islike my mother in laws wall, telling the stories of the ancestors, but most
  • 3. importantly, telling the story of the One in whom we all have our beginning –God.Yes, we are all children of God. And that makes a difference. Whether we are leftwithout a country to call our own, whether we are left without even a family to callour own, there is One Person to whom we still belong – God. It also makes adifference in how we view the world and those around us. Yes, we don’t get tochoose our family and sometimes we can get stuck with some difficult people.But as you wonder why God doesn’t just zap that monster, it is helpful to stepback and realize that God also regards them as His child just like He regards youas His child. In the family of God that person is your sibling. And God has roomat the table for all of His kids.Now wait a minute, you may say, doesn’t God make a note of who’s naughty andwho’s nice and only hangs out with the nice ones? He may appear to hang outmore with the nice ones, only because they want to hang out with Him. But as faras God is concerned, He wants to be with all of His children. Listen to what Paulsays in 1 Timothy 2:3,4 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants allpeople to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Elsewhere theBible tells us, and our experience confirms that God sends the rain and the sunon the good and the bad alike.This is the story that Chronicles tell. They trace our family tree back to God, andthen show us God’s interaction with His children over the centuries. They showus a God who is interested and involved in the affairs of His children. And yes, asChronicles show us, this involved not just coddling but also a good deal ofdiscipline, just as any earthly parent has to do to set their kids on the right pathfor life. Apostle Paul understood this: “Endure hardship as discipline; God istreating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are notlegitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had humanfathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more shouldwe submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while asthey thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we mayshare in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Lateron, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those whohave been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-11)Bill Cosby once famously said “Humans beings are the only creatures on earththat allow their children to come back home.” We learned that one from ourHeavenly Father. Because one of the things that we shall see throughout thebooks of Chronicles is that God will not only accept us when we return to Him,but He wants us to return to Him. When the Israelites were hell bent on leavingand going their own way, He let them, and also let them experience theconsequences. This was all part of learning and discipline. However, wheneverthey figured out it was better with God and showed even the smallest hint that
  • 4. they wanted to return to Him, He rushed to bring them back. He even went all outto get them out of the mess that they had gotten themselves into.Chronicles were written for the Jews returning from exile, looking to help themestablish their own identities. But they also have a clear message for us today.We are all God’s children, we are all a part of His family, we all belong to Him. Ifyou feel all alone, a misfit, an outcast, without a country to call your own, withouta family to call your own or maybe even a family that you would prefer not to callyour own. If you feel like you don’t belong anywhere on this earth, there is oneplace where you do belong – in the family of God. You were made by God, youbelong to God and you are loved by God. Even if you have decided to leave God,and you feel like you have done terrible things, maybe things that even your ownearthly family is not prepared to forgive you, God still wants you to come back toHim. You still belong to God, you are still His child. Listen to this wonderfulmessage that God sent through prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites in exile: “Atthat time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, andthey will be my people.” This is what the LORD says:“The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth.Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return.They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back.I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble,because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. (Jeremiah 31:1-4,8,9)Isn’t that a beautiful picture? After all that they had done, after the way that theybetrayed Him, God was still looking forward to being reunited with His people,sending a message of hope: I will be the God of Israel and they will be mypeople, I am Israel’s father, I will build you up again.This is not just a message of hope for the Israelites in exile. This same messageof hope is repeated for all people in Revelation 21. John the revelator says:“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first
  • 5. earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the HolyCity, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as abride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from thethrone saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he willdwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them andbe their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no moredeath’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passedaway.” (Revelation 21:1-4)No matter how alone or out of place you may feel, regardless of whether this is aresult of your own actions or merely the circumstances you have found yourselfin, one fact remains. You are a child of God, you still belong to God. God lovesyou and wants you in His family. Whatever mess you have gotten yourself into,no matter how badly your last encounter with God may have ended, howeverbadly you have been hurt, your Heavenly Daddy is waiting for you with openarms and wants to make it all better. He wants to gather all His children aroundHim once again, because there are no orphans of God.Song: Orphans of God (Avalon)
  • 6. earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the HolyCity, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as abride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from thethrone saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he willdwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them andbe their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no moredeath’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passedaway.” (Revelation 21:1-4)No matter how alone or out of place you may feel, regardless of whether this is aresult of your own actions or merely the circumstances you have found yourselfin, one fact remains. You are a child of God, you still belong to God. God lovesyou and wants you in His family. Whatever mess you have gotten yourself into,no matter how badly your last encounter with God may have ended, howeverbadly you have been hurt, your Heavenly Daddy is waiting for you with openarms and wants to make it all better. He wants to gather all His children aroundHim once again, because there are no orphans of God.Song: Orphans of God (Avalon)