Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 1-21

 •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 9
When Christ was born, a usurper was on the throne, but God has preserved the genealogy of the rightful heir of David, who is also heir of the promises made to Abraham, in whose Seed all the nations will be blessed. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3-73And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 6And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. (Genesis 12:3‑7)). This promise was verified to Abraham as regards the former part, surely, but as a whole goes very far beyond him; it looks onward to the Seed, “which is Christ” (Gal. 3:1616Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)). Eternally will they be blessed who bless Him, and eternally will they be cursed who curse or despise Him and reject His salvation. Not all Israel were blessed in faithful Abraham; but in his Seed, in millennial glory, all Israel and all the nations are to be blessed. Israel will be pre-eminent in blessing, but all nations are included in the far-reaching promise.
In Luke it is not the royalty of the Son of David, but the genealogy there is traced up to Adam. Christ is presented as Son of Man in likeness of sinful flesh, but in real flesh. “The Word became flesh,” and thus He takes up the cause of lost man, for it was a too light thing to raise up only the tribes of Israel: “I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:5, 65And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. 6And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:5‑6)). Messiah has special relationships with the Jew, with Israel; but, the Word having become flesh, in due time God's salvation must be to the end of the earth; His salvation cannot be limited to a few (Titus 2:1111For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11)), it is “unto all.”
In Matthew, there is His royalty as from David, but as from Abraham all the promises are fulfilled in Him, for He is the Object of them all. And as regards Israel and the kingdom, it was best that he (Matthew) should not begin with Adam. In the genealogy here in Chronicles, Adam, Abraham, and David are the three salient points, each the head of a class; the first including all men, the second (Abraham) all the seed of promise, the third (David) a line of kings. As from Adam, He partook of flesh and blood (for which humanity is as true of Abraham and of David, yet faith and rule marked 157 these respectively), but that which gives the character to Adam and makes him so fatally prominent is that he FELL. As descended from Abraham, the father of the faithful, the first who lived by that faith which separates from the world, we see Jesus our Lord (who must in all things have the pre-eminence) the Head of a new race, a race marked by faith, righteousness, and a divine nature, not lying under sentence of death because of sin, but having justification of life, (Romans 5). a new line, separate and distinct from the world. As from David, not the Head of a race, but as the heir to the throne, as having the dominion not only of Israel but of the world. If separation from the world (John 17) is seen under the Abrahamic aspect, the Davidic shows that same world in subjection to Him who is alone able and worthy to reign.
Adam is the starting point, and the Holy Spirit leads on through a list of names, yet no unmeaning list, till we come to David, the type of Him who, amidst other glories, is called the last Adam, who will shortly have all things put under Him, and in whom all families of the earth shall be blessed.
The King is before the mind of the Spirit, Who hastens onward and with seven names covers the whole time from the creation to the deluge, a space computed to be nearly one thousand seven hundred years. In all that time only two men are singled out for their faith till we come to Noah, Abel and Enoch of the old world; Noah links the old and the new, as it were, the last of the old and the first of the new, though that prime place he could not keep in honor. In Noah's sons we have the heads of the three great divisions of the human race, with characteristics so different as developed in this present day that infidels dare to deny their common blood (Acts 17:2626And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)). In Genesis, as here, the order is, Shem, Ham and Japheth; not that we can assume this to be the order of birth, for in Gen. 10:2121Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. (Genesis 10:21), where Shem and Japheth are mentioned, Japheth is called the elder, and it is a question with some whether “younger son” in Genesis 9:2424And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. (Genesis 9:24) refers to Ham or to his son Canaan. Be this as it may, another order than the natural is before us, for the natural order, i. e, priority of birth, is constantly departed from when it traverses the order of grace and of God's purpose of blessing; and if Japheth and his descendants are noticed first, it is but briefly and then dismissed. That which brings the children of Ham into prominence here is that they are so often in collision with the people of whom came The King.
From Gen. 10, we learn that the isles of the Gentiles are the portion of Japheth; but, if far from being prominent in the beginning, these names reappear in the prophetic record of the close of this world's history (see Ezekiel 27-39 and Revelation 20, where the names of Japheth's sons recur). They spread over their allotted portion of the earth noiselessly, hidden by their own insignificancy and in the darkness of their idolatry, unnoticed in the history of God's dealings with nations who at the first interfered with Israel (for that which makes any Gentile prominent is his having to do with Israel, whether with them or against them), but to come out in fearful prominence at the close, when the Son of David is about to make good His title to the sovereignty of the world. The sons of Ham have had their day of supremacy. The race of Japheth is now dominant, and will be a little longer. That of Shem is yet to come, when, in the person of the Jew, the glory of that race shall be manifest to all. But the Anointed of Israel must first come; for if the earth is to be blessed through the Jew, the Jew will owe his greatness to the presence of Him to Whom these genealogies lead. Until then the pride and haughtiness of Japheth will increase, and when it has reached its climax will be suddenly destroyed; for are not the first Beast, the future Emperor of the West, and the King of the North, all of the proud and domineering race of Japheth?
Then comes Ham, of whom was Nimrod. Worldly power is first seen in that line, which is now the most degraded. With him is the first mention of a kingdom (Gen. 10:1010And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. (Genesis 10:10).); its beginning and its end was Babel-confusion. Man would be a power independent of God; if individually powerless, what would not combination do? Therefore they would make themselves a name and have a place of union lest they be scattered. The attempt to prevent scattering was the occasion of it. No scattering so complete and thorough, rendering intercourse impossible, as the confounding of their language: they could not “understand one another's speech.” Man away from God begins to build a city, his first city, but never finished it, “they left off to build the city, therefore is the name of it called Babel” (Gen. 11:8, 98So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:8‑9).). Returning to Chronicles, we come to the familiar names of Canaan and his progeny. The Philistines were not of Canaan, but as descendants of Ham, were congeners; our attention is called to them that we may know the origin of these most troublesome enemies of Israel. The descendants of Canaan have special notice because it was their land that was destined for Israel.
Now we come (ver. 17) to Shem. One of his sons, Asshur, built Nineveh (Gen. 10:1111Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, (Genesis 10:11)), one of the cities prominent as an enemy of Israel, though the founder of the race of Shem. Thus, though destroyed in judgment, it was nearer to Israel than Babylon, the city of Nimrod of the race of Ham. But the line of blessing did not run through Asshur, but through Arphaxad. Another event is related in connection with Shem's race, whose effects are of far wider range than the past greatness of Nineveh or of Babylon, however solemn and portentous their judgment and destruction may be. The names Shem and Arphaxad lead to Peleg, and in his days the earth was divided. Peleg lived in the time of Nimrod, when God scattered men by confounding their language. We may remark here that while in the cases of Japheth and of Ham, the Holy Spirit just records names, though Nimrod is called a mighty hunter, it is nothing but the mere fact without a word of praise or blame; when we come to Shem we are, as it were, in a higher atmosphere, we find that God is the Lord God of Shem, and the moral aspect, or character of things appears, and not merely names or history.
This dividing of the earth no doubt put an end to Nimrod's kingdom, but is not mentioned in connection with his name. The Lord God of Shem appeared in judgment upon man who was seeking to make a name in the earth. This intervention of God is in connection with the name of Peleg. The moral dealings of God are constantly seen in connection with the race of Shem, yet not with all his posterity, only with a chosen line. Joktan, Peleg's brother, has many sons to continue his line, but Peleg must wait for another occasion when his son shall appear in the renowned line that leads on to David. Besides this title to have his name recorded in this genealogy, it is associated with the judgment of God. The name of Peleg will be a continual reminder until the new heavens and the new earth of the judgment upon man through sin. Even the day of grace met the sin, and rose above the judgment in God's wise way, not by annulling the judgment, or obliterating the sin, but by giving power to the Apostles at the day of Pentecost to speak to men in their own tongues wherein they were born—to their amazement—thus proclaiming the grace of God amid the evidences of His judgment; yea, using the tokens of judgment as channels to proclaim His grace. Go where we may, the differences of tongues meet us, and proclaim God's rebuke of man's pride and ambition; and the unfinished Babel is a monument over the departed greatness—at least the potential greatness of man (Gen. 11:66And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Genesis 11:6)).
So with Shem are connected both the judgment and the grace of God, Who is the Lord God of Shem. Previously there was but one language. Now the history of nations begins, and men soon learned to hate and fight. It is a solemn thought as we look round upon the many and diverse nations of the earth, that all these nationalities have their origin in sin and judgment. In the eternal state when the last trace of this moral ruin is effaced, the tabernacle of God will dwell not with nations but with men, nationalities will disappear.
A fresh start is made (ver. 24) and the Holy Spirit goes back again to Shem and from him direct to Abram—the same is Abraham. No collateral branches are noticed. And here is another dividing. Not of the earth as in Peleg's day but a dividing or separating from among the nations of a people by God for Himself. Judgment did the former, grace works now. The consequences of the former are wars and hatred among the nations, which will cease in the time soon to come, when “He shall judge an long many peoples and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:33And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Micah 4:3), Isa. 2:44And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)) But the dividing which began with Abram has eternal results. The Gentiles surrounded Abraham though he lived apart from them. Israel was enclosed in a vineyard and forbidden to mingle with Gentiles. The church is by grace separate from the world, though as to present circumstances in constant touch with it. But what will it be in heaven? no touch of evil there! And as between believers and the world we may perhaps say “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed.” Only grace is active in calling and saving.
But this re-commencement with Shem and going direct to Abram is one of the many indications that Christ—the Son of David—is the object of the Holy Spirit in this genealogy. Up to this point the chosen line has not been definitely distinguished from others. Now it is, and the call of Abram is given, the starting point of a new race in relationship with Jehovah-God, and all other nations outside.
Yet, not all his descendants are included in Abram's call. Outside the line of promise are many sons and they are noticed first. We see here a well-defined and established principle in God's ways with man, first that which is natural, afterward that which is spiritual. The family of Ishmael, and the children of Keturah are given. Then Abraham is named again, of whom is Isaac, and from him Esau and Israel. Not Jacob, the name given at his birth, but Israel, the name afterward given when as prince he had power with God and with men, and had prevailed: the name points onward to the ultimate purpose of God. It was in his distress and fear that God gave him the name of “Israel,” a pledge to him that in no subsequent trouble would God fail to deliver him. Esau the first-born had no such title from God. He was a prosperous man; kings and dukes sprang from him. His family are given, and the place where he acquired his power. He was a descendant of the man who was called out from his kindred and country, to be separate from all peoples and to receive the promises. Esau returns to the people that Abraham left. Neither the call nor the promise was for him In his sons he rises to supreme power. This may be the reason why the sons of Seir are so abruptly brought in (see Gen. 14:6; 36:6-206And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. (Genesis 14:6)
6And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. 7For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. 8Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. 9And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: 10These are the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. 11And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. 12And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau's wife. 13And these are the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife. 14And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah. 15These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz, 16Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah. 17And these are the sons of Reuel Esau's son; duke Nahath, duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these are the dukes that came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife. 18And these are the sons of Aholibamah Esau's wife; duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife. 19These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes. 20These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, (Genesis 36:6‑20)
, Deut. 2:12-2212The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the Lord gave unto them. 13Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered. 14And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the Lord sware unto them. 15For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed. 16So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people, 17That the Lord spake unto me, saying, 18Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day: 19And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. 20(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; 21A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the Lord destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead: 22As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day: (Deuteronomy 2:12‑22).) Seir was a Horite that inhabited the land and as a chief may have given his name to Mount Seir. The Horim were dispossessed by the children of Esau. “By thy sword shalt thou live,” said Isaac to his firstborn; and his became the dominant race. Yet soon the two races were blended in the persons of Eliphaz, son of Esau, and of Timna daughter of Seir: a union of one who could claim descent from Abraham with one of the race of Ham. What could the result of such a connection be but Amalek, the bitter and first enemy of Israel in the wilderness?
And where now do we see the greatest hostility to such as would be faithful to the heavenly call? Among those who, despising their birthright-separation and its privileges, have allied themselves with the world.