Tough Terrain in Bible Readings

1chronicles_I wonder how many people’s new years resolution was to read the Bible in a year? I wonder also how many of those who did are already behind?! However well these people are doing sooner or later they will reach the tough terrain of 1 Chronicles 1-9; more treacherous than Leviticus and Deuteronomy in that it is just names. That’s just the warning I would like to make: they are not just names.

Genealogies, like the ones found here, are always tough reading when you have no invested interest. For the Israelites it is rather like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ (as Paul Blakely commented) but on the popular TV programme they at least have the decency to not investigate or mention all the family members for as viewing public I’m not sure how interested I could remain when I’m just given names! Here in lies the problem: they are not just names.

Each of these persons listed in the nine chapters are people, part of God’s plan and interaction with the world. Even for the Israelites, however, each person mentioned in name only had no real significance on their own. As they returned from Exile in Babylon the writer of Chronicles went back through records and family stories and wrote the names out faithfully. Why? To not connect the exiles returning home with ancestors of the past but to connect them with God who led them and remained faithful to them despite their multiple rejections of Him.

The names are pointing in many different directions; into the past as you pick up names of more famous and noteworthy characters in Israel’s history, at the present for the Israelites returning home and the many tribes uniting again after the dispersal and into the future to the future tribes that will continue the story on. More importantly though, it points to a God who loved and used a people in miraculous and amazing ways, revealing His almighty power, at that same god who brought that same people home as He had promised and to a future and to that god’s eternal plan of salvation for creation, ultimately through Christ.

So with lists of names like this, we should be reading them feeling overwhelmed by all the unknown people that they point to but remembering that ultimately they point to God who was, is and ever shall be, God of Israel, God of creation and God you and me.

About nedlunn

Ned Lunn is a minister in the Church of England. Before this he ran a theatre company, el mono theatre, for seven years. He now writes on spirituality, philosophy, poetry and arts and is a member of a community called, 'Burning Fences', in York which explores art, spirituality and philosophy. He's married to Sarah and lives in York.