Names from the past

“Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah. The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth” (1 Chronicles 1:1–4 NIV).

Names. Genealogies. People who lived long ago.

These usually don’t mean much to us. In fact, we probably think these are the most boring parts of scripture and perhaps we even skip over them when we read them. The Reader’s Digest Condensed Bible left them out as being irrelevant.

Although we may struggle to become excited about these lists of names, what if it were the names of our ancestors? My family tree is in the photo above – at least my parents, my siblings, my children, and my sibling’s children. I can get rather excited about these names, even going back several generations. The difference, you see, is that these people mean something to me. They are my family. They are my loved ones.

We need to realize that the lists of names found throughout scripture are the ancestors of God’s people, Israel. And some of them would even be our ancestors – in faith at least, if not in life.

Most of the people who are listed in the genealogies we know nothing about. They are but a name. But there are a few who were outstanding for doing good and there are a few who are infamous for doing evil.

Perhaps this should prompt us to consider our lives. What will people remember about us 100 years from now? 200 years from now? 500 years from now? – providing that the Lord delays coming that long. Will we be remembered for anything that we did? And if we are, will we be remembered for doing good and our faithfulness to the Lord?

Moses had this same sentiment when he wrote the following in the only Psalm attributed to him:

“All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:9-12).

Our lives are short. Even seventy or eighty years seems to be short the older that we get. But are we using what time we have wisely? Are we seeking to serve God? Are we diligent in applying his word to our lives so that we can gain wisdom?

As we begin to read the Chronicles we begin with lists of names, Israel’s ancestors. There are nine chapters of these lists, leading us from Adam to Abraham to Jacob and then his sons and their descendants. Maybe it isn’t exciting reading to us, but we do find the ancestry of King David, which is also the lineage of Jesus the Messiah. Some of these names, then, should have importance to us.

While this may not be exciting to read, look out for recurring names as well as places of significance. See how many names you do recognize. Notice the brief details that are given about a very few of these people.

And as you read, be asking yourself how we can better “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Readings for next week:
30 July – 1 Chronicles 1
31 July – 1 Chronicles 2
1 August – 1 Chronicles 4
2 August – 1 Chronicles 5; Psalm 90
3 August – 1 Chronicles 6

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