In your Bible, there are 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. If we are honest with ourselves, there are certain books of those 66 that really don’t peak our interest at all. Even if we have disciplined ourselves to read the Bible in a year, very often we speed through the books that we consider to be boring, so we can get to the good stuff! This issue has been brought forth more and more in my thinking recently, since in our church we’ve committed ourselves to go through the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse.
In our Thursday night Bible study, we have just started the book 1 Chronicles. Immediately we are confronted with a potential problem. The first nine chapters of this book are extensively genealogies. So I feel the added pressure of retaining my listeners attention! In all honesty, I’ve never done a study on 1 Chronicles, I’ve read through them before, but studying a book of the Bible is far deeper than just reading it.
Having the conviction as I do, that All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, leaning on God, we are tackling the books that have been neglected! So far so good! On Thursday night we completed the introduction to the book and the first chapter, and I must confess, it went better than I thought. There is a wisdom and depth in scripture which is not always obvious at first glance.
In studying the Bible its really important to have helpful tools. A good study Bible is a must! I have recently acquired the cultural backgrounds study Bible, which has been very insightful in bridging the gap between the culture in which these books were written, and our current culture 2 to 3.000 years removed. Surely we would be spared from much error, if we could have a better understanding of the culture the Bible is addressing in its historical framework. Finding a good commentary is also a must! I am finding the Tyndale commentary on 1 Chronicles to be extremely helpful. As this commentator points out, a good commentary is meant to function like a John the Baptist. Pointing to the Bible, it must decrease while the Bible increases.
The amazing discovery I found with 1 Chronicles, was in considering the time and framework in which the book was written. It was put together after the Jews returned from exile, so it was vital that these people recovered and restored their identity. Hence the reason for so much genealogy in the first nine chapters. For the priesthood to be restored and become fully functional once again, it was vital to prove one came from Levite stock. Some who claimed to be priests could not come up with proof. their genealogical records had been lost, so they could not serve as Priests. Also for the inheritance of the land, what tribe you came from determined what part of the land would be yours, keeping in mind there were some from the 10 tribes who went back with Judah.
Another amazing discovery for me, is how the compiler of Chronicles condenses earlier passages of scriptures in just a few verses. For example the whole of Genesis chapter 5 is condensed into 4 verses in the opening chapter. I am seeing the genealogies like a brief survey of the Bible of what’s gone on before. The who’s who of scripture. I am really looking forward to the next chapter and wondering what gems I will find next.