From 1 Chronicles 25-27
Today we look at a dry set of records which detail the leaders of the tribes of Israel under David’s rule. In among the record is an off the cuff reference to the LORD’s promise to Abraham to give him as many descendants as there are stars in heaven. Do God’s promises spur you into action? Does his promise to raise up a people for himself motivate you to share the gospel?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
During the reign of David and the coming together of all the tribes there has been increased need for organisation and bureaucracy. The twelve tribes have become a nation under David’s rule. 1 Chronicles 23-27 details the roles of David’s government.
Today’s passage is a recording of the leaders assigned over each of the twelve tribes.
16 Over the tribes of Israel,
for the Reubenites, Eliezer the son of Zichri was chief officer;
for the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah;
17 for Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel;
for Aaron, Zadok;
18 for Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers;
for Issachar, Omri the son of Michael;
19 for Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah;
for Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel;
20 for the Ephraimites, Hoshea the son of Azaziah;
for the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah;
21 for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah;
for Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner;
22 for Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham.
These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel. (1 Chr 27.16-22)
The text says ‘these were the leaders of the tribes of Israel, almost implying all would be mentioned. But the tribes Asher and Gad are not for reasons unknown.
23 David did not count those below twenty years of age, for the LORD had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of heaven. (1 Chr 27.23)
At some point in time David and Joab must have felt inclined to count all the males. Normally they do this above a certain age range because they want to know how big their armies are.
In this case however, they do not count below twenty years of age because of God’s promise. More on this promise below.
24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered in the chronicles of King David. (1 Chr 27.24)
However, their counting (census) could reflect pride in the size of the nation and self reliance. Or it could be a means of gaining more wealth and thus greed. A census could involve money collection. Either way they realised the LORD was not happy with their counting so they stopped.
The promise mentioned in 1 Chr 27.23 was made to Abraham in Gen 15.5 and repeated in Gen 22.7; 26.4; Ex 32.13; Dt 1.10; 10.22; and Heb 11.12.
15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15.1-6)
The off the cuff mention of God’s promise to Abraham in 1 Chr 27.23 and the repetition of the promise in the Torah signify how deeply ingrained and important the LORD’s promises where to Israel.
Reflecting on the Abrahamic covenant and seeing its fulfillment was commonplace in Hebrew thought.
In the gospel Jews in positions of authority simply assumed they were God’s people even though they flaunted with sin. John the baptist criticised their attitude and referred to the promise God made Abraham.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Mt 3.7-10)
From stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham.
The LORD promised to make Israel as many of the stars in heaven. The promise still held weight in John’s time as it does ours.
The LORD’s promises should spur us into action to share the gospel with people around us. God has made some amazing promises in raising up a people for himself. Let’s believe his word and pray for opportunities today.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.