READ – 1 Chronicles 1:1-3; 2 Chronicles 36:23
9 Chapters of genealogy!?! When we come to places like this in our reading of the bible, we often skip forward or mindlessly tune out. What’s the point? The point is that genealogies function as links from the past to the present. Chronicles was written to tell us two things about our present lives no matter what time we live in: 1) The present is always a time of great possibility and opportunity for God to work in you and through you 2) The present is always filled with very real difficulties and discouragements – sometimes so hard, we lose hope and we lose sight of God.
To show us how God can powerfully renew us in the present, Chronicles takes us back to the past. It is a re-telling of the story of Israel (especially the stories of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings) that points us to how God has worked in the past – not for us to go backward - but to move us forward with great hope.
In order to understand Chronicles, we first need to understand a little bit about to whom it was written. They are called the “post-exilic community.” They were a group of Israelites who had resettled back in Jerusalem after what was the lowest and most tragic point in their history as a people – the exile. During the exile their land was taken over, most people were taken captive to Babylon, and the temple was destroyed. Everything was lost - their homes, their freedom, their entire way of life and the centerpiece of their faith. Having gone through the exile, the people were wondering, “Are we still God’s people? Where is God in all this? What happened to his plan?”
Along come the prophets of the exile. Their message - “This isn’t the end! There is going to be a return from exile! And guess what – all the stories you’ve heard about Abraham, Moses and the Exodus, the great Kings of old… the return is going to be better than all of that combined. It is going to be the most awesome thing God has ever done!!” When we arrive at the end of the book (2 Chron 36:23), the point is clear - you are part of the promised return! It’s here! It’s you. But the problem was that their reality wasn’t awesome. It was actually very difficult. Progress had been made, but rebuilding was hard, results were unimpressive and resettling was dangerous. They were wondering - Who are we, really? Why are we here?
The beginning and ending of Chronicles show us three major rediscoveries God uses to renew us:
REDISCOVERING OUR STORY
By starting with the name, “Adam,” Chronicles is telling us where all our stories begin. We all trace our beginnings back to Adam and find that we are made to be in relationship with God and to reflect Him (image Him) in all of life (work/play, relationships, mind, soul, body, marriage, family, on good days, bad days, all days). This means our stories don’t start with us - our story begins in Eden. If we don’t remember that – we won’t know who we are or why we are here. We are created, called and are destined for something great – to know God + to make him known.
With its conclusion, Chronicles highlights another major theme in the story God is writing in history and in our lives. By ending with the return from exile, the message was clear - “the exile wasn’t the end.” The message for us is that what looks like “the end” to us is never THE END - it’s always a gateway into a new beginning; death leads to resurrection. There are many ways we write THE END in our stories, when God says it’s just AN end. No matter the loss, the hardship or the trial, God can renew us with hope and purpose.
REDISCOVERING OUR MISSION
One of the biggest mistakes we can and do make and do make as the church is to evaluate the effectiveness of God’s mission in the world with the wrong metrics - power, popularity, headlines. The genealogies of Chronicles 1-9 remind us that from Adam all the way up until the present day through many years of ups and downs, in and through the sins, stumblings and failures of His people, through the valley of the exile, all the way to today, God is moving His mission forward. Even when we can’t see it, nothing can stop God’s mission to bring renewal to us and through us. God isn’t losing!
The genealogies also show us our place in God’s mission. We see the personal love of God (he remembers names no one knows!) right alongside the big purposes of God (9 long chapters of names!). God zooms in on his people. He knows our names, our situation and our struggles. But he also calls us to zoom out to gain perspective on our place in a much larger purpose/mission than our own individual happiness. We are invited to be a part of his great mission.
The genealogies of Chronicles also lead us to a rediscovery of community. From Adam all the way until the present God always renews us in the same way – not as isolated, private individuals for our own good but in community; in relationship with others. In these long lists, we find Abraham and Moses mentioned in passing right along with guys named Jobab and Chelub. Each person’s life is a link in the chain of God’s redemptive plan for humanity – everyone is needed, everyone has a place.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?
2. How might remembering that your story begins with Adam provide you with renewed perspective on the difficulties/disappointments in your life? What places in your life have you written “THE END” over, where God might be calling you to see it as AN end that leads to a new beginning?
3. Do you sometimes look at the culture, the world or your own life and feel like “God isn’t winning?” How does it give you comfort and hope to remember God isn’t losing even when we can’t see how?
4. In the sermon it was said, “Chronicles points us ahead to God’s greatest win in Jesus. What we find from God’s greatest victory is that love loses in order to win. God’s mission moves forward not by seeing things from a win-lose perspective or even a win-win perspective BUT from a lose-win perspective. Through giving up rights, letting go of power, serving of others and sacrificing to bless, God’s mission moves forward and we become more like Jesus.” Do you agree? How does this challenge you?
5. How might God be calling you to rediscover your need for and place in community? How might this community group be a community that brings renewal to your life?
6. Read Luke 3:23-38. How does Luke’s genealogy complete the Chronicles? Why is our connection to Jesus (the 2nd Adam) the essential link in the chain for our renewal?
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY
1. I & II Chronicles (Daily Study Bible) by JG McConville. Great short commentary.
2. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary 1-2 Chronicles by Mark J Boda. Longer but readable commentary on the book.