Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chronicling Chronicles

 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God"
2 Timothy 3:16

Several years ago, at church, the pastor made the announcement that those who attended the evening Bible Study were to read 1 Chronicles, chapters 22 - 29.  Since I don’t participate in that particular study, I paid little attention to their assignment until I heard the pastor say that while eight chapters seemed like a lot, they didn’t really need to “read” all of it.  These chapters cover David and Solomon’s preparation for, and building of, the temple, and they were told that chapters 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 did not need to be read.   These are some of those “fun” chapters; y'know, like the “begat” chapters?  Admittedly, not usually your more inspirational information.  But I felt like the pastor was telling the congregation that these chapters were not important.

Well, I was indignant.  I couldn’t believe that my pastor, someone educated and well-versed in Biblical knowledge, and full of the Holy Spirit, would imply that anything in the Bible did not need to be there.  Or that it was not necessary for anyone to read it.  Or that it is too mundane and tedious for people to get anything out of it.  I was incensed that anyone would think these words were any less inspired by God’s Spirit than any other in His Bible.

When my hubby and I talked about it later, he pointed out that what the pastor probably meant was, that the reading of those chapters was not necessary for that particular study.  But I’m a passionate person, the fire had been lit under me, and I was off and running.  I had been told not to read those chapters -- so I went home and read them.   

There's some insight into my rebellious personality, eh?

I wrote down the thoughts God gave me, and I want to share them with you.

These chapters are a listing of those needed for the building of the temple, a description of their duties, and how they were divided up to perform their duties: supervisors; bailiffs; judges; public administrators; priests; prophets; assistants for sacrifices; assistants for purification ceremonies; bakers; those who checked weights and measures; custodians; Chief Officer and keepers of the treasury; keepers of dedicated items; musicians; singers; guards for the temple, gates and storehouses; Captain of the Guard; recording secretary; chaplain to the king, and prophet to the king.  38,000 strong, and many of them listed by name. And we are told in chapter 23 that David separated them into divisions according to their lineage.

All divisions and duties were carefully structured so as not to hinder the spirit of the project, or the necessary worship.  1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order” and in verse 33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”  We see that here.  He preserved for us His instructions for the building of the tabernacle.  His instructions are orderly, thorough and exact, with nothing left to chance, and all members are called to their respective tasks.

I read that some of the individual tasks were decided by casting lots, which was often done in the Old Testament, a process now unnecessary with the gift to us of God’s Spirit and I rejoice that we are able to make decisions through prayer, and reading the Bible.

Chapter 23 also tells us that there were 4,000 assigned as gatekeepers.  This must have been a crucial job, to keep a watchful eye, and warn of possible invasion.  But David knew there also needed to be musicians with instruments, and singers.  And I was surprised at how many were assigned to that:  4,000.  As many as were assigned to be guards.  David was a writer of psalms, a maker of music, and a maker of instruments.  He knew that singing and praising God was as important as building the temple.  Praying and singing and praising God is as important as teaching and the learning.  Don't think of doing one without the other.

I learned that all agricultural assets were guarded by one division, and that all treasures and spoils were guarded by one division, not everyone guarding their own.  We do this today when we tithe, or give money to a charity.  It’s not our money.  It is God’s money, given to us.  We must be zealous stewards of all entrusted to us by God.  Earn, acquire, spend and save wisely, and only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  "And do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, but treasures in Heaven."  (Matthew 6:19)

While David knew the count of all guards and workers, there was no count of people under the age of 20.  God had commanded the census in Moses’ time, but when David ordered one, God punished him, because David’s pride had been the impetus for the census.  
I Chronicles 21 says that satan had moved David to number Israel.  He wanted to revel in the size of his army, and the vast number of people over whom he reigned.  Is there a lesson here for us about our personal pride in things that actually belong to God?  Deuteronomy 8:17, warns us against thinking that our own power or strength makes us wealthy.

It is simply amazing how much building was done in this part of the world at this time; the pyramids, the Sphinx, the glorious temples, all without heavy machinery, and I was struck by the sheer numbers here: 38,000 people.  But Jesus didn’t need 38,000 people to raise a temple.  He raised it up in three days.  And today?  It takes just one person to build a temple.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?”  And God cherishes that temple even more than the one that took 38,000 people to build.

~ "he read all the words of the law,
    the blessings and the cursings,
       according to all that is written" ~
Joshua 8:34

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