Script for the May 18th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 18th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 1 Chronicles 4-7. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

1 Chronicles 4

We come again to a bunch of names. In fact, the list of names will continue until the end of chapter 9. When we arrive at 1 Chronicles 10, we will get back into the stories.

So, I won’t make this a lengthy podcast. I’ll just point out a few things that I see in the list before us.

In verses 1-23, we see the descendants of Judah. There are some names we recognize and many that we don’t.

The one name I will point out is a man named Jabez.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (CSB): “9 Jabez was more honored than his brothers. His mother named him Jabez and said, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ 10 Jabez called out to the God of Israel, ‘If only you would bless me, extend my border, let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not experience pain.” And God granted his request.’”


I only bring Jabez’ name up because his name was brought out of the shadows and into primetime in April 2000 when Bruce Wilkinson’s newest book was published. It was titled: “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life.” It has sold over 9 million copies and was obviously at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List.

In this book, Bruce Wilkinson unpacks 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. The author stated that he had prayed this prayer every day since college (I think). He assured the reader that it had been a source of great blessing to him.

Yet, as I read the book, it seemed that the author, who I greatly respect, was reading much more into the text than was merited. However, you may want to check it out to see what you think. It’s a reasonably short book and easy to read.

In verses 24-43, we are given the names of the descendants of Simeon.

Another principle that we might get from readings like this, with all of its endless names, is that what may make us bored is not boring to the Lord. We are bored with names because we aren’t thinking about the fact that each name represents a life and a story. We often don’t see that. But God does.

So while we may merely be a name to others who may not value us, the Lord knows us. He knows our name. He knows our story. And He loves us. He sent His Son to die to pay our sin debt. And if we trust in Jesus to save us, then the Book of Life, which is filled with names, will have our name in it, too.

1 Chronicles 5

As we look at verses 1-10, we read a list of Reuben’s descendants. Yet, it’s not just a list. It begins with something that Reuben probably wishes could be forgotten.

1 Chronicles 5:1-2 (CSB): “1 These were the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel. He was the firstborn, but his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, because Reuben defiled his father’s bed. He is not listed in the genealogy according to birthright. 2 Although Judah became strong among his brothers and a ruler came from him, the birthright was given to Joseph.”

Reuben was the oldest son who would have received the blessing and birthright and right to lead as the patriarch. But he destroyed his opportunity to get what would have been rightfully his when he had sex with his dad’s concubine, Bilhah. We read in the Genesis account that Bilhah was the mom of Reuben’s brothers, Dan and Naphtali. So this act was simply vile. His lust led to gross immorality and he paid the consequences.

Among other things, this is a great opportunity to celebrate that our sins are not recorded anywhere so that they would be remembered forever. Instead, Colossians 2:14 tells us that if we are saved, our sins were nailed to Jesus’ cross. So, since they were nailed to the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for those sins, and we will never see them again.

Some would ask, “Well what about the judgment of the saved? Isn’t there a Judgment Seat of Christ that the saved will be judged at?” Yes, that’s true. But our sins won’t be brought up there. Our sins were dealt with on the cross. Instead, that judgment for the saved will be a judgment of grace. It will simply determine the number of rewards we receive as we prepare for eternity.

But, getting back to the Scripture, I just want us to be forever grateful that our sins aren’t recorded anywhere in Heaven as Reuben’s sin was recorded in this chapter. If we are saved, we’re forgiven, and God has chosen to never, ever remember our sins again.

In verses 11-22, we read about the descendants of Gad.

An interesting verse in this section tells us that the 2 ½ tribes of Israel that resided on the eastern side of the Jordan River waged war and were helped by the Lord. The Bible tells us why.

1 Chronicles 5:20 (CSB): “They received help against these enemies because they cried out to God in battle, and the Hagrites and all their allies were handed over to them. He was receptive to their prayer because they trusted in him.”

So we see that folks were in a time of need, they cried out to the Lord (obviously from their deep desperation), and they trusted that God would help. And He did. This aligns with the prayer principles that we read about in the New Testament.

In verses 23-26, we come to the descendants of the half-tribe of Manasseh. In these verses, we realize how quickly things can change. People that found God faithful as they relied upon Him can eventually fall so out of favor with the Lord that they experience horrible consequences. Just listen to what happened to the 2 ½ tribes of Israel that had previously experienced victory in battle when they trusted in the Lord.

1 Chronicles 5:25-26 (CSB): “25 But they were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors. They prostituted themselves with the gods of the nations God had destroyed before them. 26 So the God of Israel roused the spirit of King Pul (that is, Tiglath-pileser) of Assyria, and he took the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh into exile. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and Gozan’s river, where they are until today.”

This reminds us of the fact that we cannot rely upon yesterday’s faithfulness. We need to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly today. Then, when we wake up tomorrow, we chase after Him again.

1 Chronicles 6

We are given some names of Levite descendants in verses 1-30. The male Levites were responsible for the transporting and care of the tabernacle and Temple. While they may have felt like their job was not important, something that may have led to Korah’s rebellion in Number 16, they were vital to the life of Israel. They may have thought about starting a business called “Ten Thousand Men and a Truck.” Being a mover isn’t nearly as glamorous as being a priest who can actually perform his duties inside the Tabernacle and Temple. But they were vital! They were needed!

One thing that the Apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 12 is that God has gifted every single person with something that they can do for the benefit of the church. Regardless of how big or small they may think their contribution is, it is vital to the life of the congregation.

So, that’s the lesson I see when I observe the Levites. I’m reminded that even though the Levites were essentially responsible for only the transportation and care of the Tabernacle and Temple and its furniture, their job was essential. And so is ours if we are using our gift to bless the body of Christ, regardless of what that gift is.

Then, we move to verses 31-47 where we read about the genealogies of the musicians. One name that appears in this list is very familiar to anyone who has read the book of Psalms.

1 Chronicles 6:39 (CSB): “Heman’s relative was Asaph, who stood at his right hand: Asaph son of Berechiah, son of Shimea,”

Asaph wrote many of the psalms. Psalms 50 and 73–83 are titled “Psalms of Asaph.” So, apparently, this man was very gifted. You would think that King David would only select the best musicians to play such a prominent role in his kingdom. And we will learn more about Asaph in 1 Chronicles.

Asaph’s giftedness and calling led me to hone in on the lesson I observed with the Levites. The lesson of the Levites is that God calls particular persons to serve in specific areas. The lesson of Asaph and the musicians lead us to believe that folks should be legitimately gifted, and growing in giftedness, in the areas in which they serve.

So, you don’t want a song leader who can’t sing. You don’t want a preacher who can’t preach. You don’t want an usher who can’t smile. You don’t want a treasurer who doesn’t know how to work a simple math problem.

No! If we do something for the Lord and for His church, then we should do it well.

Colossians 3:23-24 (CSB): “23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”

If we realize that everything we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord, then we realize we need to do it well.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times that “The Lord told us to make a joyful noise. He didn’t require that we sing on key.” Well, that is true, but that doesn’t mean the person who can’t sing on key should make everyone feel awkward by slaughtering a song in a public worship service.

So, my friend, find out what you are good at doing, and what you enjoy doing. Consider getting some honest feedback from a few people at church regarding what you think you would like to do to serve the Lord and the church. If they agree, then get with the church leadership to see if you can get plugged into the life of the church and use your gift, whatever it is, to serve. There’s nothing like being a part of a church that is working together to fulfill God’s purpose of glorifying Him and making disciples.

In verses 48-53, we read of Aaron’s descendants. These men served as priests who were actually engaged in Israel’s worship. They served in the Tabernacle and Temple.

While they had a greater privilege, the danger was also greater. We read in Leviticus 10 that two of Aaron’s own sons did not fully comply with God’s commands and so He killed them.

Leviticus 10:1-2 (CSB): “1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them to do. 2 Then fire came from the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”

We also read in Leviticus 16 that entering the Holy of Holies in an unprescribed way and time would also lead to death.

Leviticus 16:2 (CSB): “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he may not come whenever he wants into the holy place behind the curtain in front of the mercy seat on the ark or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.’”

So while the job of a priest may have seemed like it was at the top of the food chain and an enviable position to aspire to, it carried with it dangers that other places of service didn’t have.

The New Testament teaches that all believers are now priests (see Revelation 1:6) and can go directly into the Lord’s presence without going through any other person (see Hebrews 4:14-16). Yet, considered loosely, just as the priest was the one who led in worship in the Old Testament, the pastor now leads in the New Testament congregation.

And with the position of pastor comes dangers. Regarding the Lord, we read about how seriously we should step into a position where we influence through teaching the Word.

James 3:1 (CSB): “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.”

But regarding the dangers that come from others, there are many things that wear on a pastor. The stresses of leading a church are unlike anything else I’ve done. The things that keep a pastor awake at night are usually the thing he cannot share with anyone else. This list is lengthy. But I think one of the things that wear most on a pastor is that attacks upon him don’t primarily come from outside the church – they come from inside the church. It is very rare for a pastor to not have at least one person in his congregation who is creating problems for him behind the scenes.

Because of this, a May 9th article in the New York Times entitled: “As a ‘Seismic Shift’ Fractures Evangelicals, an Arkansas Pastor Leaves Home,” said that 42% of pastors thought about getting out of the ministry in the past year. An even more terrifying statistic attributed to a Barna Poll in the 2021 Pastoral Mental Health Report done by FaithLife Church Communications said that 12% of pastors had thought of suicide within the past 12 months.

We need men who will serve as faithful pastors. We need men who will study and preach God’s Word faithfully. We need men who will set a godly example with their lives and compassionately call others out who are not living in a way that honors the Lord. We need men who will stand against those who care nothing for the Bible’s words on spiritual authority.

So pray for faithful men who will lead. But also pray for those in your church’s leadership who might be struggling a lot more than you realize. Find ways to encourage them to continue in their work.

Well, from the priesthood, we get back to the Levites in verses 54-81. Particularly, we are given a list of the places where the Levites settled as this chapter comes to an end.

1 Chronicles 7

Let’s just plow through this chapter.

In verses 1-5, we read of the descendants of Issachar, one of the sons of Jacob.

In verses 6-12, we read of Benjamin’s descendants.

In verse 13, we read of Naphtali’s descendants.

In verses 14-19, we read of Manasseh’s descendants.

In verses 20-29, we read of Ephraim’s descendants.

And finally, in verses 30-40, we read of Asher’s descendants.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You that You have given us this day. At whatever part of this day we are in right now, we give ourselves to You. We pray that as we surrender to You and to Your will, we would desire to enjoy You by being obedient to You. May You give us the joy that comes from faithfully serving You, even if life might be a bit chaotic for us right now. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!