1 CHRONICLES 7:1 – 9:44 and JOHN 18:1–40
1 Chr 7
The 4 sons of Issachar are picked up at the beginning of chapter 7. Tola, who is one of the sons has 5 of his sons mentioned who happened to be among many of the mighty men of valour who existed in the days of David. Another son of Issachar named Uzzi, had a son Izrahiah who then had 4 sons of his own who also proved to be mighty men in warfare. Some of these men will be picked up again when we see David’s mighty men covered in 1 Chronicles 12. The next line of sons mentioned is Benjamin (vs 6). He had three sons and the first of these sons featured is Bela. He had 5 sons and just like those of Issachar proved to be mighty men of valour. The next son of the line of Benjamin mentioned is Becher. He has 9 sons and they too were men who could fight. The third son of the line of Benjamin mentioned is Jediael (vs 10-11).
The sons of Naphtali are referenced in verse 13. The sons of Manasseh are mentioned in verse 14. The daughters of Zelophehad who were cited at the time of the dividing of the land can be traced to this lineage (vs 15). The lineage of Manasseh is cited through verse 19. The sons of Ephraim are picked up in verse 20 and cited through verse 29. Asher is picked up in verse 30 and is cited through verse 40.
It is amazing to see how detailed these genealogies were. An exhaustive study of each of the tribes of Israel would help bring many of these unknown character names to light. We often hear about the mighty men of David who fought alongside him at Ziklag leading up to his coronation at Zion where he became king over all of Israel. These men identified and fought with David when he was at a very low point. Who were these men? Many of them are named here in chapter 7. It is so easy reading past all of the names from the lineage of the different tribes without giving attention to their significance, either for good or otherwise. This helps to assure our uniqueness as a person in a world filled with approximately 6.5 billion people. In God’s eyes we each have an identity and a purpose. The danger of our world today is that we can easily get lost in its mass of people and complexity of problems. We become a number or like a name on a list in the early books of Chronicles.
Let’s do an experiment. I took one of the names from 1 Chr 7 at random. I did not do any previous study or cherry picked any particular name. I chose the name of Zethan in verse 10. He comes from the lineage of Benjamin. I cannot find much concerning him as to what he did but it it is the meaning of his name that caught my attention. His name means “an olive tree”. The symbolism of this name is rich and provides many interesting insights for believers. The first mention of anything that has to do with an olive tree is immediately after the flood in Noah’s day (Gen 8:10-11). It speaks of peace, seeing that the waters of God’s judgement had abated. The meaning does not end there. Later we find it is the oil of the olive trees that lights the lamps of the candlesticks in Moses tabernacle (Exo 27:20, Lev 24:2). There are the two cherubim’s made of olive trees in the holy Temple as seen 1 Kings 6:23. This is a picture of a true believer in the house of God who are likened to green olive trees. We then see the two olive trees mentioned in Zechariah as being the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. These two olive trees represent Moses and Elijah (Zech 4:14).
One of the many names of 1 Chronicles 7 has just opened up a fascinating insight into aspects of God’s kingdom. There is not much we can find concerning Zethan in a cursory study of his person but the meaning of his name is significant and God can speak through it. I picked one of the unknown names at random and look what opens up. Let’s be encouraged that each and every one of us is special and unique. We cannot do exhaustive research on each and every name in this reckoning of genealogies nonetheless we can be assured that there are messages that can be gleaned provided we come before the Lord with an expectant heart. The world today seeks to define people as a mere number in the mass of humanity. When uniqueness and individuality as defined by God is stripped away we become a collective mass, ripe for a conforming message of servitude to the prince of this world, the prince of darkness. We are a people, fearfully and wonderfully made, created for a purpose (Psa 139).
1 Chr 8
The entire chapter is dedicated to the tribe of Benjamin as an exhaustive lineage is presented. We want to specifically note verse 33 where the first mention of Saul is given. The verse mentions his name and then goes on to list his sons and their sons etc. There is no mention given of Saul becoming the first king over Israel. His name is treated on par with all of the others. There is a lesson that needs to be repeated which should prove helpful for us today. How was it that Saul became the first king of Israel? The rendering of genealogies in 1 Chr 8 is a true rendering, it does not cite him as king perhaps because he should never had become king in the first place. There is so much emphasis today on hearing the voice of God through the prophetic and rightly so; God speaks through His prophets and scripture has revealed profound accuracy in its fulfilment. The problem often centers on whether we want to hear what God is saying. We often like to mould God’s Word into our pre-conceived template. This is a reflection of what is in our heart. If Israel were truly a people who wanted God’s best they would have never persisted to have a king outside the will of God. After all, God told them what would be the manner of king that would rule over them (1 Sam 8:8-19). He made it clear that they did not want Him to have the rule and reign over their hearts (1 Sam 8:7) but rather to have a king like the other nations. If Israel truly did their homework they would have sought out the prophetic words that came upon the sons of Jacob. It would have been clear to them that the sceptre of rule was to come forth from Judah.
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be”. (Gen 49:10)
Saul was a Benjamite and was not destined to be of the lineage of kings. The interesting thing is that God in the end allowed it due to the people’s insistence. He even gave Saul promises if he would uphold and keep God’s statutes and commands. He gave Saul a significant victory against the Ammonites which only emboldened Saul and the people all the more that Saul as King was the right choice. We know how it ended. The question is have we learned from this tragic failure in Israel or are we prone to making the same mistakes today? The reading of chapter 8 has Saul as just another name among the all of the other Benjamites. This is not to diminish Saul or any of the other names in any way but it is interesting that no mention of him being the first king is mentioned. To me, it is a message of confirmation that it was never part of the eternal plan of God. It resulted due to a people’s insistence to circumvent God’s purpose and intent for His people. He had a king in mind and He had a timing for that king to reign. Saul was not that King as seen in this chronology and it should stir us to pray through for God’s will and intent to be fulfilled in all things, especially matters of significance. The scriptures are filled with insights that help point the way for us; the question is are we really after His heart? There is a real concern and danger when the church today is encouraged to make the same mistake that Israel did in the insisting of Saul becoming king.
1 Chr 9
This represents a new phase in the reckoning of genealogies. In the previous chapters the records were drawn from the archives of both Israel and Judah, prior to the carrying away into captivity. The records now reflect the period of the restoration era. In verse 2 the return of people are divided into 4 groups. These groups were common even before the carrying away. There were the Israelites which would be the common people in general, the priests, the Levites who tended to the priests and the Nethinims who were workers of the sanctuary. They could have been represented by people like the Gibeonites who deceived Joshua at the time when Israel moved into their inheritance. In verse 3 we see the tribes of Judah and Benjamin which were the largest of tribes together with Manasseh and Ephraim settling into Jerusalem. There are a few people mentioned who can trace lineage to Judah. There is Ammihud in verse 4 who is referenced in Neh 11:4. The sons of Zerah in verse 6 who also can be traced to Judah. There is a son of Benjamin mentioned in verse 7 by the name of Sallu who is referenced in Neh 11:7.
In verse 10-34 we have mention of many of the priests and Levites. Several of these priests are cited in Nehemiah and Ezra who are then traced back to the priests and Levites of Moses day. It will be during this period of the Restoration where the priests will have a pronounced function. This will be picked up in greater detail when reviewing Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and Malachi. The priests and their divisions as seen between the Levites and sons of Zadok will be picked up when we study Ezekiel 44. This reckoning of genealogies is a testament to the faithfulness of God’s Word. It is the fulfilment of that which Moses foresaw hundreds of years before.
Deu 4:26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
Deu 4:27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.
Deu 4:28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
Deu 4:30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
We give attention to these details because it speaks of something to come in our day as well. The prophet Haggai prophesied during this period of Israel’s return from captivity. He encouraged the workers and the priests such as Zerubbabel and Joshua who were involved in the restoration work of the temple (Hag 2:4). Haggai also spoke of a greater glory to come to the latter day house. A prophetic Word which has effect for our day.
Hag 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
We need to understand and appropriate the truths from this period of Israel’s history. Our God is a God of Restoration. This theme is threaded throughout the whole of scripture. It is seen in the very last verses of the Old Testament where the hearts of the fathers will be restored to the sons (Mal 4:4-6). In understanding the message of Restoration as it pertains to Israel’s history we must also understand two additional truths. 1) The message of Babylon and its application in our lives. 2) The role of the priest in helping to bring re-alignment (Restoration) to that which had been broken. These two truths will be thoroughly addressed as we approach the major and minor prophets. The pre-exilic prophets will address the sin, idolatry and need for Babylon while the post-exilic prophets help to encourage, stabilize and establish the return of Israel via the priesthood. This model paves the way for a proper understanding as to how we can qualify and then reign with Christ as kings in the millennium and the ages to come (Rev 20:6).
The moment of the Lord being betrayed into the hands of men has now come. It is difficult to understand what must have been going through the mind of the Lord at this time. He just delivered His very best counsel to His closest disciples as seen in the previous chapters. He held nothing back because He realized that His time was at hand. He went forth to the garden knowing what was about to take place. We find in Luke’s account an intense travail in the Spirit concerning the area of the human will. The Lord cried out for some sort of alternative to the “cup of suffering” but in the end submitted to the will of the Father as opposed to His own (Luke 22:42). I have always found verse 4 in John 18 to be fascinating:
“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?” (John 18:4)
That thought of “went forth” intrigues me. There is a sense of being ready to face the moment. There is no sense of cowardice or retreat in His demeanour. There is something about a person who stands up and goes forward knowing full well the consequences of their actions. I recently heard the account of children around the age of 8 or 9 who were threatened to be killed if they did not renounce Jesus and Christianity. They were told that they would be beheaded in front of their parents if they did not change their mind. After 2 days the assailants returned and found these young children’s resolve as strong as ever. They would not renounce their faith because of their love for Jesus. They were tragically beheaded before their parents but their story has touched countless lives. It was the steadfast testimony of a young man named Stephen who captivated those who witnessed his defence and subsequent burning (Acts 7). His testimony had an effect upon Saul of Tarsus and we know about his life and all that he did for the kingdom. We will need such valour and courage in the days before us. We need the ability to have the testimony that the three friends of Daniel had when their lives were challenged in not bowing down before the image (Dan 3:18).
Jesus asked the question as to whom they were seeking; they answered, Jesus of Nazareth. Judas was with them at this time. Jesus answered; “I am He” and they immediately fell backwards. What does this imply? Is it possible that there was a bit of a revelation of Himself as the Son of God, not just the Son of man? What would cause them to fall backwards? Was it a revelation being given to them that they were not just seeking a mortal man for execution but something more, far more? The Lord then asks them a second time the same question as to whom they were seeking. They responded again by saying Jesus of Nazareth. This incident seems to isolate Jesus from the others because He says to His accusers that if they are seeking Him then let the others go their way (vs 8). This seems to provide insulation between Jesus and the brethren. The Lord would need them for the establishment for the early church so he wanted to be sure they would not be implicated with Him. Peter however is a bit of an exception due to His taking issue with Jesus on previous occasions that he would never forsake the Lord; that he would go to prison and to death etc. This opened a door of opportunity for the enemy to enter in and to challenge him.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” (Luke 22:31)
We see Peter taking action when they confronted Jesus in the garden (vs 10). Soon thereafter he is accused in being seen with Jesus on a few occasions (vs 17, 25-27). In each instance Peter denies knowing the Lord, growing more indignant with each subsequent denial. The Word of the Lord is fulfilled in verse 27 when the cock crows. The Gospel of Luke gives a powerful portrayal of this moment. It states that the Lord and Peter made eye contact at the exact moment of the final denial when the cock crowed (Luke 22:61-62). This was a trial that Peter did not have to go through but it was brought upon him due to His taking issue with the Lord’s Word. We need to be so very careful at such times. We may have every good intention but we have to be sure to undertake the battles that the Lord ordains and not just make presumptions.
The high priest then begins to challenge the Lord on His doctrine. The Lord’s response is very well crafted. He makes clear that everything He said was openly spoke. In essence He was revealing the ignorance of the high priest’s charges. There is nothing secretive that was shared; if you want to know then ask those who actually heard the teachings. The Lord was not giving the high priest an easy way out. If you are making a charge then bring out into the open the charge. This drew a rebuke and a slap of the palm across the face by an attending officer of the priest.
Jesus speaks again; if I have spoken evil then tell me what was spoken, if not then why is it you smite me? This is a picture of the media reality we see today. Consider an example from the 2012 presidential election. A senior democratic member of the US Senate made a charge of tax evasion against the republican nominee running for president. The charge was baseless and untrue and they put pressure upon the republican nominee to prove otherwise. Can you see how easy it is to bring baseless charges against a person? The purpose is to try and put that person on the defensive. The democratic senior senator later admitted that the charge against the republican nominee was without merit; he had no regrets seeing that the nominee did not win the election. It is the seriousness of the charge that matters as opposed to the facts and truth. This has been employed on numerous high profile cases and sad to say this tactic is effective. Jesus handled this situation brilliantly; He simply said to present whatever evidence you have. He did not go about seeking to defend Himself.
Jesus was passed along from Annas to Caiphus and back to Pilate. It was clear that Pilate did not want anything to do with Jesus; he tried to have Him judged according to their law (vs 31). The Lord then has an interesting discussion with Pilate. Jesus was asked by Pilate if He was a king. The Lord responded by saying that He is a king but not of this world; He also spoke of bearing witness unto the truth. Pilate then asks, What is Truth? That question is a subject all its own. It can be said of us What do we do with Truth? How do we respond when Truth confronts us? We quickly see how the Jews responded when Pilate was willing to release Jesus. He found no fault in Him nor did he want to hold Him. He gave the Jews a choice! They could have Barabbas or the Truth. They rejected Truth for a villain and the same thing is happening today. Do we really desire Truth in the inner most part of our being?