1 CHRONICLES 4:1 – 6:81 and JOHN 17:1–26
1 Chr 4
This is another rendering of the lineage of Judah but this one has some additions not seen in the chronology in chapter 2. The principal character that is seen here is Jabez who is probably the son of Coz in verse 8. He was a prominent person and one who was schooled in the law. It could be his reputation that resulted in a town being called after his name (1 Chr 2:55). This was a man who was birthed in travail and sorrow which is reflected in his name. The essence of this man can be seen in the way he prayed. It was in the form of a vow similar to that which was seen by Hannah as she prayed for a man-child (1 Sam 1:11).
The prayer of Jabez is well known which features the asking of an enlargement of his coasts. There is another part of his prayer that I feel helps to speak to its effectiveness. He prays that the Lord would keep Him from evil. This is a portion of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples when He gave them the template of the Lord’s prayer (Math 6:9-13). There was recognition on his part of the danger of being left to himself, especially after asking largely of God.
The problem with Israel as they took land for their inheritance was that they did not give heed to God’s laws and standards. Jabez was one who was well schooled in God’s laws and commandments which helped to shape His prayer before God. This attitude of prayer indicates a measure of the Fear of the Lord in His life. One of the definitions of the Fear of the Lord is an awareness of the presence of God at all times. Such awareness keeps us circumspect in our walk, our thoughts and manner of life. It is a safeguard in helping to keep the enemy at bay. We see in many places of scripture where the Fear of the Lord lays a foundation as the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Pro 1:7, Pro 9:10). The Fear of the Lord is also described as hating evil, pride, arrogancy and the evil way which is reflected in the prayer of Jabez (Pro 8:13). When reading and meditating upon this popular prayer let us never forget to see the element of the Fear of the Lord. We all would love to have our coasts enlarged but it must be tempered by God’s laws and statutes that is governed by the Fear of the Lord. Israel had their coasts enlarged and look what happened when they began to forsake God’s ways. Jabez is a man to admire and learn from. A notable man who is cited in verse 13 is Othneil, who later becomes the first judge of Israel.
1 Chr 5
We have the account of Reuben who under normal circumstances would have been reckoned by genealogy first instead of Judah. This privilege was forfeited due to Reuben defiling his father’s bed over the matter of Bilhah who was part of Jacob’s concubine (Gen 35:22). The birthright ended up going to the sons of Joseph who Jacob adopted as sons having equal rank. They were given allotted portions in the land of Canaan. That one act of Reuben had significant consequences. Their lineage is traced through to verse 10. They were aligned with Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
The tribe of Gad is mentioned in verses 11-17. These records of genealogies were taken during the reigns of King Jotham of Judah and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. The balance of chapter 5 refers to the 2 ½ tribes that settled on the eastern side of Jordan. They were effective in warfare and they experienced the favor of God on a number of occasions (vs 20). Like the other tribes of Israel they also began to go after other gods, the very gods they were called to drive out. They forgot the instructions that God spoke through Moses and certainly were not praying in the manner that Jabez did as seen in the previous chapter. I feel one of the reasons why the people of God go astray is due to the lack of the Fear of the Lord. It helps to keep a people in check and humble before God. The Bible describes the Fear of the Lord as “clean and enduring forever.”
Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Chapter 5 addresses the tribes that settled on the eastern side of Jordan. They saw this land as being suitable for their flocks and desired it even before the entire camp crossed over the Jordan. They settled for less than God’s best and this is something we need to be careful of in our own walk. These tribes did fight the battles alongside their brethren and helped them in getting established before settling down in their own inheritance however it was not God’s best. This thought will be picked up again when we consider Isaiah 15.
1 Chr 6
The attention now turns to the tribe of Levi, who were given the privilege of the priesthood by aligning themselves with the Lord as seen in Exo 32:26. Levi had three sons named Gershom, Kohath and Merari with each of their lineage having specific priestly duties regarding the administration of the Tabernacle. Levi and his sons are mentioned from Gen 46:11. The attention quickly focuses on the sons of Kohath with the primary one being Amram. It will be from Amram where we will see Aaron, Moses and Miriam.
The 4 sons of Aaron are then mentioned in verse 3 being Nadab, Abihu, Ithamar and Eleazar. From here the lineage turns its attention to Eleazar where we see Phineas who intervened in the matter concerning Balaam (Num 25:7-13). He was given the promise of an everlasting priesthood as a result of his intervention (Num 25:12-13). The lineage continues until the time of Zadok (vs 8). Zadok was the faithful priest of David who did not align with Adonijah when he sought to take the throne (1 Kings 1:5,8). This line continues up till the time of the Babylonian captivity through Jehozadak (vs 15). Though it is not mentioned here we find that Jehozadak’s son would be the priest Joshua seen in Ezra and Zechariah (Ezra 4, Zech 3).
The balance of this chapter covers the sons of Merari and Gershom as well as additional information concerning the sons of the Kohathites. The distribution of territories is also covered. We find some additional insights regarding the priest’s role in temple worship. The sons of Merari are noted for some of their musical abilities as seen in verses 29-33. Several of the psalms come forth from this group. We can see the influence that the prophet and Judge Samuel must have had on temple worship. He had a son by the name of Joel and a grandson named Heman who was a chief singer.
2Ch 35:15 And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them.
Psa 88:1 A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite. O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
We know that David had skill with certain musical instruments but we see some musical gifting’s in Samuel’s lineage. A Maschil notation before a Psalm means that it will be an “instructive” psalm. Though there are no direct references linking Samuel to the Psalms he seems to have had an impact upon the sons of Korah who wrote many of the Psalms. We also can assume that Samuel had a great influence over David who wrote many of the Psalms. The Levites were not only priests in the functioning of sacrifices but they were instrumental as well in offering up praises unto God. The priests contributed many instructional and transformational Psalms of which we are beneficiaries of today.
This is the cumulative prayer of the Lord as His role as the Son of Man is coming to its climax. It is an intercessory prayer unlike any other and it must have been John who was privy to this deep time of intimacy with His Father. We will also see in this chapter the functioning of the godhead in each of their defined roles. It begins with the Father who is the preeminent one, the Son who became man in order to become the sacrifice and the Holy Spirit who is the means and enabler of bringing it all to pass.
Jesus recognizes that the hour has now come; the time which the Father had determined before the foundations of the world where the lamb would be slain (Rev 13:8). The betrayer is now at work bringing forth those who would take him away and it is occurring at the feast of Passover. We see in the early thrust of His prayer the desire to make the Father known to those whom he had been sent to. He also prays that the Father would be glorified through Him; asking for the same glory that He had with the Father before the world existed (vs 5). The Lord had the authority to ask for this measure of glory due to His finishing the work He was given to do (vs 4). This was the same blessing the Apostle Paul had as he was approaching death. He could say that he finished the race and the course that God had set before Him (2 Tim 4:7). What a tremendous blessing it is to do the will of God and to know that you finished the work by availing of His grace. Jesus, as the Son of Man was destined for the Cross in the heart of the Father before the worlds began. He is now moments away from fulfilling that task. He is well aware of what will be confronting Him at Gethsemane and it could be one of the motivating factors in His crying out for that measure of glory.
Jesus then turns His attention to His disciples and begins to pray that they too experience the Father’s keeping power in the midst of a perverse world. The Lord prays as a mediator between the people God has given Him and God Himself. He is praying that the church will one day radiate the same glory that is seen between Father and Son. Jesus is about to be taken away from their midst; He expresses concern that the Father would keep them through His Word (vs 11-14).
The Lord then zeroes in on the need for unity amongst the brethren (vs 11). We should recall that just moments earlier the disciples were chiding with one another (Luke 22:24). The Lord countered this by demonstrating the power and role of a servant (John 13:3-5). He had great concern for His brethren seeing that they were not yet united. He realized that in order for the Holy Spirit to come there would need to be unity. It would not be a superficial unity but a deep rooted one as referenced by the anointing oil upon Aaron’s beard (Psa 133:1-3, Exo 30:23-25). It would have to be aligned with the unity seen at the dedication of Solomon’s temple where the 120 priests blew the trumpet together as one sound (2 Chr 5:12-13). It had to be the measure of unity that existed between the Father and the Son because this is how Jesus prayed (vs 11, 21, 22, 23). This intercessory prayer of the Lord for unity will see its fulfilment in just over 50 days as the brethren are gathered together in the upper room.
Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit came upon them as they were gathered together in the upper room. The enemy is strong wherever there is division. This is one of his primary objectives; bringing division and separation into that which is united. This is why broken marriages have such devastating consequences. We see the enemy very much at work within the church as well. We must seek to flesh out any area of discord. The Jebusites were the final enemy that David had to dislodge before the taking of Zion. Jesus is praying that the unity that existed between Himself and His Father would be the same unity seen in the brethren. How could this ever materialize? It can only be through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is where we get another glimpse into one of His primary roles. He is one who unites but He unites on His terms, not ours. It is one of the primary intercessory prayers of the Lord; a prayer He continually makes before His Father. The Lord also prays that the people would be sanctified through His Truth (vs 17). What do we do with Truth when it confronts us? There is an opportunity whereby we can be cleansed and changed as we appropriate Truth in our lives. It liberates and sets free. The Truth cannot be dismissed, minimized or taken lightly. The Bible makes clear that we can be liberated and set free by the Truth as we continue in His Word (John 8:31-32). “Thy Truth is thy Word” John 17:17. May we be beneficiaries of the Lord’s intercessory prayer for our day. I would like to close by sharing the chorus of an old charismatic song I remember singing.
And He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His children;
Yes, He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His own;
Through Him you can reach the Father, So, bring Him all your heavy burdens;
Yes, for you He’s interceding, So, come boldly to the throne.