Daily Reflections January 2, 2017
Modern day Scripture readers struggle to understand why there are so many genealogies in the Bible. Some of us are story people, some of us are propositional people but very few of us are genealogy people. Why then are these lists in the Bible?
For one thing these lists remind us that God is personal. He doesn’t save “people generally”, he saves these people specifically. Our brains get tired reading long lists but his doesn’t. Thank God! The Bible says that your name is one of these long lists – if you have put your faith in Christ. The Bible says that the worst thing in the world is to NOT FIND yourself on one of those lists. In the last chapters of the Bible we find this horrifying statement:
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 ESV)
Not being on the list is bad. We see that in Ezra 2. There were some folks who could not prove their identity as priests – they weren’t on the list. The Bible says:
Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name). 62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. (Ezra 2:61–62 ESV)
The old Puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry comments on this passage saying:
Now that the priests had recovered their rights, and had the altar to live upon again, they would gladly be looked upon as priests. But they had sold their birthright for the honour of being gentlemen, and therefore were justly degraded, and forbidden to eat of the most holy things. Note, Christ will be ashamed of those that are ashamed of him and his service.
Ezra 2 is a reminder that we mustn’t ever hold our identity as children and priests of God through Christ cheaply. It is the most precious thing in the world! Do not let the desire for earthly titles and honours cause your grip on Christ to slacken.
whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:33 ESV)
O let us still be found in Christ when the exiles are gathered home at last!
Acts 2 is one of the great “hinge chapters” in all the Bible – everything is different on the other side. In Acts 2 the climactic promise of the Old Testament is finally realized in the life of the church. In the Old Testament the people of God found themselves utterly unable to live in such a way so as to receive and possess the promises of God. They tried – some more than others – but in the end, they always fell deeper into sin and ruin. The law showed them the way to live, but it did not give to them the power to fulfill it. Something else would have to be given. That something else was promised in passages like Ezekiel 36:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25–27 ESV)
The gift of the Holy Spirit changes everything! The death of Jesus on the cross sprinkled us and made us clean. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus made it possible for him to pour out the Holy Spirit upon the church – and that is what happens in Acts 2; thanks be to God! To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this isn’t the beginning of the end, but it is certainly, the end of the beginning. “Behold, I am making all things new”.
Pastor Paul Carter
N.B. These Daily Reflections follow the 2 year version of the popular RMM Bible Reading Plan. In 2017 we are on year 2 of the plan. To access a copy of this plan see here.
Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Unabridged), Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2004), n.p.