Some might say “It’s like watching paint dry” or “I’d rather listen to the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.” I have to admit that I fall into the category of “some” who would use one of these rather creative statements to describe my feelings about a long drawn out history lesson. A chronicle is a historical account of facts and events ranged in chronological order, as in a time line. I have to ask this question, do you skip over the often lengthy lists of names (genealogies) in the Bible. I typically do.
The author, or chronicler of first and second Chronicles in the bible had the long tedious job of assembling the historical records from Adam to Abraham. The Chronicler in this context summarizes the genealogy of the nations (1 Chron 1:1–54), outlining Israel’s ancestry all the way back to creation and highlighting God’s special purpose for Israel in the world. This long list of names and places retell a story akin to that of an extreme roller coaster, a history of a people who experienced both the incredible power of a jealous, angry and just God and then who in the same breath is a God who is full of love, grace, mercy and goodness. The ultimate purpose of these words written in Chronicles was to remind the present and future generations that they were from the royal line of David and that they were God’s chosen people.
Some people say, “you don’t know where your going till you know where you have been.” My journey into full time vocational ministry has made me take a step back and look at how God has been shaping me over the past 40 plus years. My history, the events and experiences of my life and the lives of those in my families heritage have played a major role in shaping who I am today. The chronicler works to list names, dates and relations, it is our job to complete the picture. What is it in your life that shaped you into the person you are today? When was the last time you stepped back in time to experience the history of those who came before you? God’s word included these incredibly hard to read passages so that we can be reminded of the incredible things he has done for us.
Every now and then I have the privilege of hearing stories about the “olden days”. These past stories of adventure and experience from an older generation often hold a glimpse into a vastly different world from that which we live in today. Bygone are the times of what some of them would call a much “simpler” life. A time when high tech was a simple transistor radio or when penny candy was actually a penny. We all have a story, a historical timeline of memorable and forgotten events that shape the very essence of who we are. Knowing our history is an important aspect to knowing who we are.
The first four chapters in the book of Deuteronomy recount the events in the “recent” history of the people of Israel, Moses reminds them where they had come from and what has happened over the past 40 years of wandering in the desert. He is speaking to a new generation of people that were born in exile due to the previous generations disobedience and ignorance of God’s direction. Moses’ whole point in bringing up their history was to motivate and encourage them to put their hope and trust in God alone for deliverance into the promise land. The people are reminded of God’s law through Moses as he digs deeper into its meaning, significance and importance for their lives. Near the end of the book, Moses leaves them with a stern warning in regards what will happen if they do not follow God’s law. He also leaves them with a word of encouragement and assurance that when they repent of their sinful ways God will forgive them and continue to walk with them.
Moses commands the people to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (6:5) We hear this command again from Jesus in Matthew 22 where he is asked this question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? This is the first and greatest commandment, says Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Did the Israelites love the Lord with all they had all the time? Unfortunately, no. Their lives, much like ours today were filled with distractions (sin) that tested and often destroyed the bond of our relationship with God. One of the most amazing realities in our relationship with God is the completely underserved gift of grace given through his son Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, we can come before Him every hour of every day with the promise of forgiveness. Do you have that assurance in life? Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength?