The Bible teaches that God is gracious, but does so in more ways than just saying God shows grace. The Bible teaches about the grace of God through the testimonies of the people He showed grace to. God has been providing unmerited favor since the beginning! The Bible shows that God has been pouring out His grace upon people for a specific reason. He certainly reveals His attributes and characteristics through the grace He provides in individual testimonies, but also reveals details to the larger essence of His promises. While genealogies bore some people and confuse others, taking time to address the names of the Bible shows that God has a pattern for the things He does in the people’s lives who are mentioned. Many of the genealogies are incomplete genealogies, which means that there are gaps between the names. The people listed had more kids or kids in different orders than the scriptures show. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is wrong, it means that God did particular things in the lives of the people mentioned that reveal patterns to the work God does to bring salvation.
In 1 Chronicles 2:1-17 the Bible lists another forty-seven names. These names list the genealogy of the family of Jacob. First, it is worth noting that the genealogy of Jacob is described as “the sons of Israel.” The Bible again refers to Jacob by the name that God have him – Israel. This means that the children that came from Jacob are God’s own inheritance since God changed Jacob’s name to make him His own inheritance. Thus, the names found in 1 Chronicles 2:1-17 are the roots of what the Bible refers to as “the children of Israel.” Jacob had twelve sons, which became known as “the twelve tribes of Israel.” These men were later referred to as “tribes” because of the growth that took place through them. As sons of Jacob, these men were heirs of God’s promises to Abraham and Isaac since God repeated the promises made to them also to Jacob. God swore that Abraham would be a great nation, receive a land inheritance, and that the blessing for all the families of the world would come through Isaac. God then made that same promise to Isaac stating that Jacob would be the heir of those promises. This shows that the twelve children of Israel are collectively the heirs of God’s eternally unconditional promises made to Abraham long before.
The genealogy provides details however that seem random and troubling. This is the genealogy of God’s people; the people He later identified as His own “special treasure.” The testimony of the genealogy shows that this treasure was tainted! The genealogy documents the family line of Judah. This is because in Genesis 49:8-10 God promised that His Messiah, the King of Israel, the Blessing to all of the families of the earth, would come through the bloodline of Judah. The bloodline of Judah does not start well. God swore that the revelation of His righteousness would take the form of flesh through the bloodline of Judah, but the bloodline of Judah seemed to be problematic. Judah at first had three sons through a Canaanite woman. This was forbidden by God when the Lord spoke to Abraham regarding the manner in which He wanted His people to live. Esau broke this command and grieved his parents greatly. Judah later did the same thing and brought more grief to the work God desired to do through this family. The scriptures state that one of Judah’s sons through the Canaanite woman was “wicked in the sight of the Lord,” and God killed him while they were living in Canaan. Another of Judah’s three sons of the Canaanite woman also died in Canaan. Though God promised to bring the Messiah through the family of Judah, his family did not seem worthy at the outset. Yet God did not cut off the family of Judah and rescind His promise.
The scriptures also show two other sons that Judah had later under terrible circumstances. The scriptures state that Judah had a son named Perez and Zerah through his daughter-in-law Tamar. The scriptures go on to show that Perez is the son that God selected to continue the Messianic bloodline. God promised that the King of Glory would come from Judah, and of the five sons that Judah had, God picked the son that was born of an incestuous relationship. While this might seem perverse and crooked, it is important to consider the perspective of God. If the Lord had five sons to select from to nurture the Messianic line, which son would have been best? The first three children were the results of a disobedient relationship just as much as the second two sons were the result of a perverse relationship. Though it seems that God selected the worse of the two, there are two important things to ponder. First, the classification of “worse” would be representative of the judgment of men and women. God clearly sees things differently. To the Lord, sin is sin no matter what form it comes in. Secondly, God selected “the worse” of the two in order to prove a point about His grace.
The Bible teaches that “love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8).” Though the relationship between Judah and Tamar was perverse and horrible, God proved that He is able to make something glorious out of it anyway. Think about the fundamental basis of God’s New Covenant promises. God promised that He would dwell in the hearts of dark and wicked people who are spiritually dead in order to restore the spirit and revive the soul in order to transform the person He dwells in into His own likeness. If God is going to make such a promise, wouldn’t it be helpful to see Him prove He can perform such a thing? This is why God selected the people He did to be in the Messiah’s bloodline. The Messiah is Jesus Christ, the Son of God – God in flesh. Perfection, purity, righteousness, justice, and holiness was made manifest through flesh and blood. He who knew no sin became sin. Jesus was tempted in every way, yet sinned not. But consider the family He came from. Based on the heritage that spurned from Judah and Tamar, it seems that God was working with tainted goods. Nevertheless, God was able to transform that filth into glory on account of grace!
The genealogy of Judah shows that God showed this extent of grace from generation to generation. One of the descendants of Judah was a critical figure through the testimony of Joshua and the work he did to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. A man named Achan is listed as one of Judah’s sons and the Bible explains that he was “the troubler of Israel” because he transgressed the Lord with accursed things. In Joshua Chapter 7 the Bible explains that the children of Israel lost a battle for the first time while making efforts to obey God’s command to destroy the Canaanites. The reason they lost this battle was because Achan took some of the spoils that he wasn’t supposed to, hid them, and then lied about possessing them. Achan’s disobedient and deception cost the entire army of Israel a victory. The children of Israel were defeated and discouraged and were forced to destroy one of their own to purge the sin that Achan committed from their midst. Nevertheless, God did not destroy the tribe of Judah or the family of Achan’s father. The family of Achan was judged, but the tribe of Judah continued on. God continued to provide favor even though His people were so disobedient.
The genealogy also makes mention of a man named Boaz. Boaz was the man that took the Moabite woman named Ruth as a wife. Recall that Ruth was a woman that was despised because of her nationality and her past. The man that was supposed to marry Ruth decided that he didn’t want to, leaving Ruth as a rejected widow. Being a Moabite woman, she was not accepted among the children of Israel. Yet it was Boaz that fulfilled the duty of the “kinsman redeemer” and took Ruth as his wife. The marriage of Boaz and Ruth connected the despised people of Moab to the line of Judah so that Ruth actually became a direct descendant to King David and Jesus Christ! These circumstances of Ruth’s life show that she had no business being a person of privilege. Still, the Lord grafted her into the Messianic line and used her with great purpose. Ruth was actually the great-grandma of King David. Even the circumstances of David becoming king show the grace of God since he was the seventh of seven sons of his father Jesse. There were six other sons that should have been king according to the cultural traditions of the time, but God selected David; another extension of unmerited favor.
The bloodline that leads to the revelation of God’s righteousness through Jesus the Messiah is rooted in the grace of God. The testimony of Judah and his descendants shows that none of these people were qualified tools of God. None of their circumstances show that these people had righteousness of their own. The Messiah is referred to as “the Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6),” but the testimonies of the Messianic bloodline show that the Messiah’s righteousness couldn’t have been handed down by His ancestors. These were wicked and corrupted people. These were pitiful and foolish people. Nevertheless, God purposefully selected these men and women to be a part of His work in spite of who they were to show that His grace transcends their foolishness and corruption. God purposefully selected these men and women to be names in the midst of His work in spite of who they were to prove to us that He is able to turn filth into glory. God’s been doing this type of work for a long time. What’s to stop Him from continuing to do the same in us?
The Bible explains that God is stern in His judgments, but that doesn’t mean that He is impatient and unmerciful. When God gets angry, things get scary. To be an enemy of God is a terrible thing! Yet it is important to consider the full truth of what the Bible explains concerning God’s judgments. First, the Bible teaches that all people are sinners at the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5). Therefore, when we are born, we are born with righteousness that is as valuable as a filthy rag to the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). Hence, none are righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). This means that when we are born, we are of the world and friends to the traditions of corrupted humans and self-righteous standards of wickedness. According to James 4:4 we were all enemies of God; that is, until we were saved by the grace of God. This is why the Bible teaches that mercy is the foundation of salvation. The essence of God’s promises is based on His judgment. The blessings of God are only made available when God destroys the corruption that perverts His goodness. God swore to destroy the enemies of His people that taint His blessings, but the reality is that ALL of God’s people were at one point His enemies! Clearly God must express mercy and patience with people so that His people can be afforded the time to repent before He judges. Praise the Lord that His mercy endures forever!
This truth is even communicated through genealogies. The names listed in 1 Chronicles 1:35-54 show the names of the descendants of Esau. The first section of this genealogy lists forty-five names that came from the first son of Isaac, the heir of Abraham. After listing these names, the Bible documents the various kings that came from the people of Esau, also known as Edom. The scriptures testify that the people of Edom had kings long before the children of Israel did. The genealogy shows that Edom had eight kings come from the descendants of Esau, and also eleven chiefs. There is a compelling presentation that the Bible uses to document the lives of these men. The Bible is clear to show that one king ruled, but soon died. Another king then took rule, and then they died too. Then yet another king ruled, and then they ultimately died as well. The genealogy of Edom’s kings is clear to show the mortality and frailty of authority. These men governed over the lives of many people, but like all people, their time came to an end at a certain point. The Book of Ecclesiastes says this:
“What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? [One] generation passes away, and [another] generation comes; but the earth abides forever.” – Ecclesiastes 1:3-4
In other words, what good does our labor really do if our labor fades with our lives. Life goes on without us in the end. Since that is true, what do we work for? Even the kings of the world die and their influence is taken away while the world keeps spinning. We are either going to invest our lives into something that transcends this life and this world as God commands, or we will live as the kings of Edom – enjoy our season of “success” only to leave it behind for the manipulation of another person that remains behind us. The genealogies of Esau show that death visited all eight kings. Who then will escape if even men of influence, power, and resources are forced to meet their end just like everyone else? The Book of Hebrews explains that it is appointed for a person to die once, and then the judgment. How then will we face that judgment if death makes everyone equal?
The second point to notice of this genealogy, and the most important, is the grace of God that is clearly exemplified through the names. The genealogy of the Edomites lists forty-five men that extended the heritage of Esau. It is impossible to digest this reality without also considering the following verse:
“As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." – Romans 9:13
The Bible shows that the excerpt of Romans 9:13 is a quotation from Old Testament scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote that God hated Esau, but he was quoting scripture from Malachi 1:2-3. The testimony of Esau is not a favorable one. The Book of Hebrews provides a commentary of the life of Esau and explains the reason that God “hated” Esau. According to the Bible, Esau denied and rejected his birthright and the blessing that was supposed to be given to him from his father. Recall that Esau’s father was Isaac – the heir of Abraham and the promises that God made to Abraham. Thus, Esau despised and rejected the promises of God. He did not care about inheriting the promises of God. Hebrews 12:14-17 explains that Esau found more affection in the things of this world than the eternally unconditional promises of God. He sold his birthright and despised his blessing on account of a bowl of soup. Though God’s purpose was always for Jacob to be the heir of His promises, Esau didn’t care until he realized that his life pursuits were unsatisfying. The Book of Hebrews explains that Esau sought repentance with tears but found no place for it. In other words, Esau felt guilty about what he did to despise his birthright and blessing but never had a change of mind and heart unto repentance. The situation of Esau is like the person who feels bad they got caught for doing something wrong but doesn’t really regret doing wrong.
This is why God hated Esau. God despises those who despise Him. The original language explains that God really detested Esau. The Lord made His eternally unconditional promises available, but Esau rejected and denied them. Yet the Bible never says that God destroyed Esau. The Bible actually shows the opposite. When Esau saw that his brother Jacob received the blessing he felt he was entitled to in Genesis Chapter 27, Esau vowed to kill his brother. Therefore, Jacob fled from his brother and only saw him once more ever in his life, which is documented in Genesis Chapter 33. When Jacob saw Esau he was afraid, but the Bible explains that Jacob and Esau were able to resolve their issues to a certain degree. Where this becomes relevant to the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:35-54 is that Jacob saw that Esau was blessed. God despised Esau because he rejected God and His promises, yet Esau was rich with resources when he met Jacob.
Esau was content with his living circumstances. The genealogy of Esau shows that God allowed Esau to flourish in his own life and grow in number through his descendants. The people of Esau were a mighty kingdom for a long time. They had kings and a large portion of land that they ruled over for quite some time. Though the people of Edom learned to hate and despise the children of Israel (Ezekiel 35:5), God allowed them to continue on. Though the people of Edom became enemies of God’s “special treasure,” God allowed them to keep living. God despised Esau but did not immediately judge and destroy him. The descendants of Esau learned to further hate the children of God, but God didn’t immediately judge and destroy them. The genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1:35-54 show that God was gracious to allow Esau life and growth in his family. God was patient with people that developed an “ancient hatred” for the people of God. The Lord was merciful towards men who grew in power only to use that power against God’s own people. The Lord was long suffering through the generations of forty-five men, giving them ample opportunities to receive the revelation of God’s righteousness unto repentance. God was not swift to destroy. God was not rushed to purge. God does judge, but the genealogies of Edom show that He won’t do so until He has given people a chance to receive His grace and respond the appropriate way. Since even kings have their time to die, all people should spend this life thanking the Lord for the abundance of mercy, grace, and patience that the Lord shows to us all!
The faithfulness of God can be seen all over the Bible. It is not necessary to look for the word “faithful” or “faithfulness” in the Bible in order to see God being faithful. To see God’s faithfulness in the Bible it is necessary to know God’s promises. How can we know God is truthful and faithful if we don’t know what He’s sworn to do? This means that we need to approach the Bible looking for specific things. First, we have to read the Bible in order to know who God is. When we learn about the character and nature of God through the revelation of His attributes, we can learn to understand about the types of promises that God might make and learn to recognize them. When we know God’s character according to His revelation, we don’t have to rely on the words, “God promised” to see God’s promises. Second, when we begin to know the character of God, we can look to the scriptures to identify His promises. What is God working towards? If people say God is faithful, what has He said He promises to do that He is working towards the fulfillment of those things to manifest His faithfulness? Third, once we know God’s promises, we can look for evidences of God performing works to fulfill those promises. This approach to the Word is helpful throughout the Bible.
An example of this truth can be seen through the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34. This portion of scripture mentions thirty-two names. This is important to understand based on God’s promises. The mention of thirty-two names coming from one man is evidence of God’s faithfulness. The genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34 documents the descendants of Abraham. In Genesis 12:1-3 the Lord God Almighty promised Abraham that he would receive a land inheritance, would be a great nation, and that all of the families of the earth would be blessed through him. God swore to do these things on the basis of grace. The Bible never documents anything or any merits that Abraham performed to please God in order to earn His favor. God made these promises, and then later ratified and swore upon Himself to fulfill them for His own namesake. In other words, God made these promises to Abraham and then vowed unto Himself to fulfill them because He wanted to express certain things about Himself through the work He did to fulfill this promise.
Part of God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be a “great nation.” This was a reference to Abraham having many descendants. The Bible explains that when God made this promise, Abraham was seventy-five years old. He was well past the years of sexual vitality. Nevertheless, God made His promise. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34 proves that God was faithful to fulfill His promises, even though the circumstances of Abraham’s life made it seem impossible (or at least unlikely) for those things to be done. The Bible explains that Abraham had a total of eight sons! Abraham had two sons between the time God first made the promise and the time he turned one hundred years old – Isaac and Ishmael. The Bible also shows that Abraham had more children with his concubine named Keturah after he was one hundred years old! Though eight children would not normally constitute as a “great nation,” God proved that He was able to transcend physical circumstances to work towards the fulfillment of His promises. God enabled Abraham to have the son that He promised, and then some even though it seemed impossible!
It is interesting to note that the bulk of the testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34 documents the children of Ishmael, Abraham’s first son. Of the thirty-two names listed in this portion of genealogy, twelve of them are the sons of Ishmael. God promised that Abraham would be a great nation, but Ishmael had four more sons than Abraham did. This is because God made a promise concerning Ishmael as well. Many people feel that because Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to have an heir, that God dismissed Ishmael as a mistake altogether. This is not true at all! Many people feel that Ishmael was representative Abraham’s mistake in unbelief so God wasn’t concerned with Ishmael. This is far from true. In fact, it is the circumstances surrounding Ishmael’s birth where Jesus Christ first appears in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. In Genesis Chapter 16, Hagar (Ishmael’s mother) fled from her master Sarai (Abraham’s wife). Since God had not given Abraham the heir that He promised, Sarai and Abram (later Sarah and Abraham) took it upon themselves to formulate a terrible plan. Sarai suggested that Abram take Hagar as a concubine to try and have a son with her. Hagar conceived and Ishmael was the outcome. However, when Sarai saw that Hagar was pregnant, she became jealous in her heart, that the circumstances became too much for Hagar to bear. She fled into the wilderness to escape her troubles.
While in the wilderness, Genesis 16:7 explains that “the Angel of the Lord” appeared to Hagar and encouraged her. He commanded her to return to Sarai and Abram’s home, and left her with a promise. In Genesis 16:10-12 the Bible explains that the Lord encouraged and prophesied about the child she was pregnant with. The Lord assured Hagar would be a great nation also. Though Ishmael would not be the heir of Abraham, God made a separate set of promises meant for Ishmael specifically. God commanded Hagar to name the baby Ishmael and swore that he would be a powerful man and would also be the father of a great nation. He would be wild and would make many enemies, but he would also multiply greatly in the world. In Genesis 17:20 God informed Abraham of this promise. When Abraham was confused about God’s promise for an heir and thought that Ishmael would be the heir, God corrected him. God swore that Abraham would have a child with Sarah his actual wife; but that Ishmael would be the heir of a different set of promises. God told elaborated on the promises He communicated to Hagar many years before. God swore that Ishmael would be blessed and would be fruitful and would be multiplied. God swore that Ishmael would give birth to “twelve princes” and that they would be a great nation. The genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34 explains that God fulfilled that promise.
Next, the genealogy mentions the son/heir that God promised to Abraham – Isaac. The genealogy does some interesting things with Isaac. The genealogy mentions Isaac first even though he was the younger between him and Ishmael. This is unusual for a genealogy. Usually the genealogy will mention the descendants in the order of age, with the oldest being first. Isaac was not the oldest, yet he was mentioned first. This shows that while Isaac wasn’t the first son in man’s eyes, he was the first in God’s eyes based on the things God would do with him. Then, the genealogy briefly mentions that Isaac had two sons. One son was named Esau and the other son was named Jacob. However, the genealogy refers to Jacob as “Israel.” Isaac didn’t name his son Israel; God named Jacob “Israel.” This event happened in Genesis Chapter 32. In Genesis 32:24 the Bible testifies that Jacob “wrestled with a man.” The Bible later identifies that man as none other than Jesus Christ. Jacob sought to live life by his own means and methods, and while wrestling with the Lord, learned that he need to trust in God rather than himself. Jacob would not be the means by which God’s promises would be fulfilled. God would be the means by which God’s promises would be fulfilled. As a result of his encounter with the Lord, Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life but learned the lesson that he needed to. The testimony ends by explaining that Jacob held onto the feet of the Lord after their wrestling match, refusing to let go until the Lord blessed him. Jacob desperately desired the provision and blessing of the Lord though he struggled to understand how the Lord would bless.
It was at this time that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. The modern Hebrew language translates Israel as “God prevails.” The overall essence of the name change speaks to the type of relationship that God would have with His people forever. Jacob/Israel was the man from which God’s “special treasure” would be born. The “twelve tribes of Israel” would come from Jacob. The nation of Israel would come from Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel as a reminder as to the way that His relationship with His people started. As Jacob strived with the Lord to do things his way rather than God’s, God’s people would strive against God the same way. As the Lord wrestled with Jacob until he submitted, the Lord will wrestle with His people until they submit. As the Lord was willing to endure the stubbornness of Jacob and wounded him in order to preserve his life, God will endure the stubbornness of His people and wound them in the ways that are necessary to preserve their souls. As the work of the Lord was effective to humble Jacob and cause him to desire the Lord’s blessings above all things, the work of the Lord will be effective towards His people to humble them and cause them to desire the Lord’s blessings above all things. Thus, the name “Israel” is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and willingness to do what it takes to fulfill His promises no matter the difficulties that His people present. The mention of Jacob’s name as “Israel” in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:28-34 is a reminder of that truth. Through these three men, God POWERFULLY proved that He is faithful to do what He says no matter the circumstances His people endure.
The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and has providential care over all of His creation, including people. The scriptures prove that God interceded into the lives of people so that He could order and arrange certain things and people, thus progressing towards the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises. The Bible explains that God has had a plan to reveal His character, nature, attributes, purposes and promises to His creation. The scriptures show that God reveals a large part of His character, purposes and promises through people. Though some feel that the Bible is a book of myths and fables made up or exaggerated about people, history confirms that the people of the Bible are real. God injected Himself into the lives of certain people throughout history so that His essence could be known through their testimonies! This is always how God has gotten things done, and so it becomes a critical point to know who the people of the Bible are and what God did with those people to reveal Himself.
This makes genealogies especially important! The Bible is focused on the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ explains the narrative that God took the form of flesh in order to die for the sins of the world. There are two genealogies that are associated with Jesus to prove His humanity, His Jewish heritage, and His Messianic identity. The genealogy mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew documents the genealogy of Jesus through His step-father Joseph. This genealogy focuses on Jesus’ legal right to the throne of Israel through the kings but is rooted in His identity as a descendant of Abraham. Abraham is not the origin of Jesus’ human DNA but the Bible makes Abraham a focus because of the promises that God the Father proclaimed to Him. It is true that God’s promises to King David would account for an eternal king to administrate righteousness and justice through the Jews, but make no mistake about, God’s promises to the world would be fulfilled through the descendants of Abraham. Thus, the lineage of Abraham becomes very important in the Bible.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:5-27 documents seventy-six names. These names all reference the descendants of Noah, and the point of these names is to show two primary things. The first and simplest point of these names is to show the work that God did to fill the planet after the flood of Noah. The testimony of that flood explains that God flooded the entire earth and all people died in that flood. Only Noah and his immediate family were preserved in the ark that God commanded Noah to build. Many people find the concept of God’s global judgment hard to believe because they cannot process how the world was repopulated by just one family. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:5-27 documents that exact issue. The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The Bible documents the sons of Japheth first. He gave birth to at least seven sons. Recall that these genealogies are incomplete, meaning that they do not account for every person born, including daughters since no women are mentioned. Thus, God has specific purpose for the mention of the names listed. The sons of Japheth are mentioned because those people were responsible for the human migration into the north eastern part of the world including: Turkey, Georgia, Russia, and Persia. These people also moved far westward; some believe eventually as far as Greece and Spain! The sons of Japheth were the first people to inhabit these areas after the flood, and it was their descendants that ultimately became natives of these countries as the fathers of these nations.
The Bible documents the sons of Ham next, which was Noah’s middle son. When the flood waters receded, the Bible explains that Noah and his family took up residence for a while by the mountains of Ararat, which is in northern Turkey. Japheth took his family and moved east from there, while Ham took his family and moved south. The scriptures show that Ham had at least four sons, and these four men eventually became the fathers of the nations of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Libya. Ham also fathered a man named Canaan. This man is the father of the Canaanites, which were the native inhabitants of the Promised Land. These people, including the Jebusites (Jerusalem natives), Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hemathites were the people that Joshua fought against when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River to inhabit the land that God promised them. The relatives of Ham also ended up moving eastward and inhabited the region now known as Saudi Arabia. Thus, the descendants of Ham were the group that largely populated the Middle East, especially the region of Mesopotamia, which was predominantly modern day Iraq, also referred to as Babylon in the Bible. Nimrod, the man who built the “Tower of Babel” was a descendant Ha. He was the son of Cush (eventually the people of Ethiopia), but built a nation that rebelled against the commands of God in Genesis Chapter 11. He did so in the “land of Shinar,” which is modern day Iraq, in the region historically known as “the Fertile Crescent.”
Lastly, the testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:5-27 documents the movement of the descendants of Shem. The Hebrew translation for “Shem” is “name.” Thus, the descendants of Shem are referred to as “children of the Name” by the Jews since Abraham is a direct descendant of Shem, is the father of our faith, and is the lineage that God the Father used to provide the Name above all names – Jesus Christ! The scriptures explain that Shem fathered at least nine sons. One of those sons was named Arphaxad. The genealogy of 1 Chronicles agrees with the genealogies of both Matthew and Luke’s gospels to show that Arphaxad fathered a son named Eber, who then fathered a son named Peleg, who then fathered a son named Reu, then Serug, then Nahor, and then Abram, who became Abraham, the father of the Jews.
These details make it clear as to why God put these names in the Bible and why genealogies in the Bible are important. Fundamentally, the genealogies show what happened after the flood of Noah. People ask how the earth was repopulated, and clearly the Lord felt this was a valid question. That’s why He answered it through the genealogies. The names of the people can be traced as the people who settled in certain regions of the world, and over time, their ancestors became the nations that we now know, though they have different names. God’s original plan for His creation was for people to fill the earth, multiply, and subdue the earth according to His goodness. The distribution and spreading of people through these genealogies shows that God is able to fulfill His will, and exercise His sovereignty to move people in order to do so.
Secondly, the genealogy shows that, since the section resolves at the name Abraham, that God’s focus is on a particular group. This is not to say that God neglects other people. The mention of the world’s nations in the Bible is evidence of this. Instead, the focus on Abraham shows that God will use this particular group of people to reveal His character, nature, attributes, purposes, and promises. As previously mentioned, the name Shem resolves to Abraham, but then to the name above all names, Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of God! The genealogy of 1 Chronicles shows that God’s plans and His ability to fulfill those plans, transcends generations, human involvement, and human folly. No matter how many people exist to foil the plans and purposes of God, His plans can and never will be affected. When following the details of the lives of many of these people, their circumstances often makes it seem as if their lives presents problems for God’s plans. The life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promise of Jesus’ return shows that God is in control at all times!
The Bible is not like any other book. The Bible cannot be compared to any other book ever written in human history. It cannot be read as a simple narrative. It cannot be approached as the mere statements of men. The Bible itself does not claim to be a simple matter. The Bible claims to be the literal Word of God. Many people falsely believe that the Bible is the result of oral tradition and testimony that was finally documented much later. The Bible makes it clear that this is not so. When the prophets wrote, they documented phrases like, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “The Lord’s declaration.” When the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, he explained that he was supernaturally pulled into the spirit realm and was commanded by the Lord to write what he saw while under the influence and possession of the Holy Spirit. The Bible explains that the Holy Spirit is the true author of scripture. The Bible explains that “all scripture” was given by “inspiration” of God, which refers to the breath of God – the Holy Spirit. God possessed men throughout various parts of human history to document His work and reveal His attributes, character, nature, purposes, and promises through the course of His work. This is why the Bible contains so many prophetic statements that history confirms 100% of the time. This is why the Bible is candid to speak of the motives and intents of the human heart in a historical fashion, unlike any other book of antiquity. This is why the Bible must be considered “holy” indeed, as it is clearly the revelation of the One True Living God.
This means that the details of the Bible are not present for trivial purposes. Every jot, tittle, punctuation mark, matter of grammar and syntax are there with specific purpose. If we believe that the Bible is truly God’s holy Word to reveal His character, nature, purposes, and promises, then we must understand that EVERY facet of the Bible is supernatural and spiritual in nature and MUST be handled with care. We can’t just blow through portions of scripture without regard. We can’t just breeze through the Bible without considering what God would seek to reveal of Himself through EVERY testimony found in the Bible. This is true even of some difficult parts of the Bible like genealogies. If the Bible is truly fictional as some people foolishly suppose, why does it contain so many references to confirmed history through narratives that document things like genealogies? What fictional book spends so much time documenting the names of people that are difficult to read? More importantly, if the Bible is God’s Word, why does He include so many names in the orders that He does? What is God trying to reveal through these genealogies?
These are important concepts to understand because as we being the testimony of 1 Chronicles, the first nine chapters are made up of various genealogies. The first four hundred and seven verses of this book are made up of the names of men and women to document genealogies. There are twenty-nine chapters in the testimony of 1 Chronicles. This means that thirty percent of the chapters in this book document the existence of certain people. Clearly this book intends to be historical in nature – not fiction. Clearly God has a purpose for listing these names, many of which are hard to know and pronounce. Nevertheless, God had good purpose to mention these people in the orders that He did. Thus, it is up to God’s people to take time to know God’s purposes, not skip past details that seem to have no value, cultural significance, or helpful application. The details of the Bible are profitable for teaching the identity, character, nature, purposes, and promises of God. The details of the Bible are profitable for convicting the people of God concerning the eternal purposes and promises of God. The details of scripture are helpful for correction when we learn who God is, see what is good in His eyes according to His nature, and find that we are not in line. The scriptures are helpful to show us what is right and wrong according to God’s holy standards. The genealogies of the Bible are just as profitable as any other portion of scripture to identify God and His purposes in this way.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:1-4 lists thirteen people. The text organizes these names to stand out from the rest of the names in the chapter. The thirteen names mentioned are: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This first batch of names is separated from the rest since the rest of the chapter documents the bloodlines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth in order to document the descendants of Abraham. Taking this into consideration, we can examine the mention of the first thirteen names to know that they are significant in God’s work that will eventually lead to Abraham. These thirteen men are not just central figures in terms of the origins of mankind, but also concerning God’s eternally unconditional promises that lead to Abraham, the father of faith.
Adam was the first man. He was the man that God appointed to keep charge over the Garden of Eden. God gave Adam authority over all of His creation to serve Him through worship. Worship was identified by stewardship. God created everything and considered it to be “good.” God then placed Adam in the midst of His creation and expected Adam to keep His creation in a “good” condition. This required faith from Adam. Adam had to trust in God’s declaration of “good” and perform works in order to maintain the integrity of that which God created and declared. Adam was given charge and authority but was ultimately a servant. As a servant, he was blessed to exercise the authority of God by faith to enjoy that which God declared “good.” Here, it is clear to see God’s purpose for ALL people. So, while Adam sinned, God’s purposes and intentions don’t change. Adam didn’t trust in the superiority of God’s Word. Adam didn’t trust that God’s declaration of “good” were supremely good, which was why he partook of the fruit of the knowledge of “good” and evil. He not only desired to know evil, but didn’t trust that the declarations God made concerning “good” were true, so Adam sought another form of “good” that also brought forth evil. Adam changed the circumstances, but God never changed His plans and intentions.
In Romans Chapter 5 the Apostle Paul mentioned Adam as an example of all people. Since Adam sinned, all people sin. Sin became a transferable element of human DNA. This is why Adam’s kids sinned and why Cain killed Abel. However, the testimony of 1 Chronicles 1:1-4 doesn’t list Abel as one of Adam’s sons. This shows that the genealogies of the Bible aren’t always complete. They are true, but some names are excluded because they are not critical to God’s purpose. This means that the names that are mentioned are listed for specific reason. Why skip Abel and mention Seth, the third son of Adam? The name Seth literally translates into the English word “compensation.” When Seth was born Adam said, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed (Genesis 4:25).”
This is an important statement to consider. In Genesis 3:15 God made CRITICAL declarations concerning how He would deal with sin on mankind’s behalf and judge the devil. God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." This was one of God’s first Messianic promises. He swore that the “Seed” of the woman would destroy the works of the devil through judgment. The Apostle Paul later identified the promise of this “Seed” as none other than Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). Cain was cursed by God for his sin against his brother Abel. Cain was cast out of the land and sent to separate from his family. How could God fulfill His promise for a “Seed” through Cain under these circumstances? Thus, Adam was thankful to God for another “seed” and considered it as “payment” from God to honor His promise! Seth was a sign of God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise concerning sin, darkness, and the devil.
Seth’s son was Enosh. The Bible explains that during the life of Enosh, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). This testimony explains that the work God does to fulfill His promises is sufficient to turn the hearts of people to Himself. As people that are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) we do not pursue God naturally. The Bible teaches, “none seek after God (Romans 3:11).” The genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1:1-4 show that people started to follow God during the days of Enosh, but only on account of the work God first did to move towards the fulfillment of His promises. This is what it means when the Apostle John wrote, “We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).”
The next three generations lead up to the testimony of Enoch. The testimony of Enoch is interesting and has boggled the minds of many since the testimony was documented. Genesis 5:22 explains that Enoch walked with God after the time that he had his son named Methuselah; the son also mentioned in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1-4. Enoch’s walk with God was so unusual that in Genesis 5:24 the Bible says that suddenly he “was not” because “God took him.” According to the Bible, Enoch never died! The testimonies and genealogies of Genesis clearly show that each man lived and then died. Enoch is unique from all of the rest. He did not die. God made it so that he suddenly “was not” because he became God’s possession when God “took him.” Many have looked at this testimony as a prophetic picture of the rapture of the church. Many have looked at this testimony as a prophetic picture of God’s promises for eternal life; that those who believe in the Son of God will never die. The life of Enoch is proof that God can fulfill that promise!
The mentions of Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah, lead up to the descendants of Noah. These men are the men that lived up to the point of the flood and then how God addressed the restoration of the human race through Noah and his sons. The genealogies suddenly grow thin at the point of Noah since God judged the entire world by the flood. God saw the sins of the world and judged all people according to His righteousness. However, God promised redemption and destruction against sin, darkness and the devil through a “Seed” so He could not destroy the whole world until that promise was complete. Therefore, to show His faithfulness to His promises, God preserved Noah and his family – eight people out of the whole world. God preserved the lives of these people through an ark – the vessel that God appointed by the declaration of His Word so that His remnant could abide in it and escape the judgment of God. The testimony of Noah and his sons is a prophetic picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises.
Clearly, when examining the names of these people there is purpose. The lives and testimonies of these people reveal how God transcends human folly in order to faithfully restore that which He originally determined as “good.” This isn’t to say that God was not involved in the lives of other people. Instead, this shows that God will do all that needs to be done through anyone in order to progress towards the fulfillment of His promises. Since these first thirteen names resolve in the sons of Noah, it is clear to see that, while God will pour out His wrath against sin, He has the ability to separate the righteous from the wicked and preserve their lives as originally promised. He is indeed the Savior and Restorer and is able to work on a global scale as well as an individual basis to do that which He swore upon Himself.
It is impossible to examine the work that the Lord does and understand it all. The Bible teaches that God’s ways are not like our ways. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. God’s ways and thoughts are as far from our as the heavens are from the earth! This is why a lot of people look at the circumstances of life with confusion. People see bad things happen to “good people” and frequently question God. People see unjust and crooked people flourish in this life and question God. People see bad people catch breaks and then question God. All the while, the answer to these difficulties lies within one fundamental truth – none are righteous, no not one. Bad things don’t happen to “good people” because there’s no such thing as a “good person” in the eyes of God. No one complains about bad things happening to bad people, which means that the problem is not God, it’s our understanding of His perspective. When people criticize or question God when good things happen to “bad people,” the problem there is that we think there are varying degrees of bad as if God examines sin on a curved grading scale. This is not how it works. This means that when difficulties and tragedies happen for ANYONE, it is merely the consequence of sin. Things could, and should be much worse, but God actually shows mercy in those difficulties so that the full brunt of consequence is not experienced. Additionally, when God provides benefits for ANYONE it is on the premise of grace since no one is deserving of God’s favor.
The natural question then is, why does God do that? While no one will ever figure out God’s every move, the scriptures do shed some light on that question. In 2 Kings 25:27-30 the book concludes by documenting the testimony of Jehoiachin. Recall that Jehoiachin was also called “Coniah” and “Jeconiah” in the Book of Jeremiah. Recall that this king was the son of Josiah and was an evil king that did wicked things in the sight of the Lord. Jehoiachin’s reign was not very long. The testimony of 2 Kings 24:8 explains that he only reigned for three months before the Babylonians took him and ten thousand others captive from Judah and carried them off to Babylon in their first siege against Judah. The testimony of 2 Kings 25:27-30 explains that Jehoiachin was later released and was able to live the rest of his life peacefully. This is the way the book of 2 Kings ends. The book of 2 Kings is a difficult book that recounts so much sin and disobedience of the children of Israel and Judah. The book documents the history of the rebellion of God’s people as well as the terrible and deadly consequences associated with that rebellion. Yet the book ends with the testimony of a cursed king getting released from the bondage of the Babylonians and living comfortably in the end. Why does the book end this way?
The scriptures state that Jehoiachin was set free from his bondage and captivity in the thirty-seventh year of Babylonian rule over the Israelites. The Bible explains that God used the Babylonians to rule over the children of Israel for seventy years, so the release of Jehoiachin came about half way through God’s disciplinary action against the Jews. Consider the truths that go along with these details. The timeline provided explains that Jehoiachin was in his fifties when he was set free from his bondage. He was eighteen when he became king and three months into his kingship he was taken captive. This would have made Jehoiachin fifty-five years old when he was made a free man. He had spent more than half of his life as a prisoner in Babylon under the terrible rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Then, out of nowhere, he was released and made a free man; half way through Judah’s captivity.
Did Jehoiachin know he was going to be released? Did Jehoiachin expect at any time that he would be set free? Recall that some of the last words that Jehoiachin heard from the prophet Jeremiah were, “Count this man as childless and cursed.” God was clearly angry with Jehoiachin. There is no way Jehoiachin expected to be set free. Yet, in the middle of Judah’s suffering on account of the disciplinary work God was doing through the Babylonians, a cursed man was set free. This goes to show that God is able and even willing to do the unexpected, even for cursed people. Jehoiachin didn’t do anything to merit a release. The Bible explains that Jehoiachin was released by Nebuchadnezzar’s son named Evil-Merodach, but the Bible does not provide a specific reason. Jewish tradition speculates two possibilities. The first deals with a friendship that was forged between the two men in prison. Some believe that when Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by the Lord and forced to live in the wilderness for seven years (Daniel 4:28-37) that his son took rule and was later put in prison when Nebuchadnezzar returned because of some misconduct. It is possible that during this time, Evil-Merodach and Jehoiachin became acquaintances and friends; and when Nebuchadnezzar died, Evil-Merodach set Jehoiachin free to spite his father’s previous actions. Another possibility is that Evil-Merodach was positively influenced by the good ministry that was taking place in Babylon through the prophet Daniel and his peers. It is possible that Evil-Merodach learned to fear the Lord to a certain degree and sought the favor of God by setting Judah’s king free.
Neither of these traditional speculations credit Jehoiachin in any way. No matter which position a person might take concerning the release of Jehoiachin, there isn’t anything in history’s traditions or the Bible that show Jehoiachin did something noble to warrant a release. Thus, Jehoiachin, a king cursed by God, was given grace. This is important to recognize concerning the character and nature of God. The Bible makes it a point to teach over and over again that when God blesses someone, He does it in spite of them. It is true that God promises blessings when His people obey His commands, but the problem is that God’s people don’t obey. Nevertheless, God still blesses! Jehoiachin is a perfect example of this truth. He was “blessed” to be released so late in his life after so much bondage and suffering. He did nothing to please God and scripture never shows that he was repentant – not even after his release. Yet God blessed him. What is God trying to say in this work?
Recall the eternally unconditional promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. God promised that Israel would be a great nation, dwelling safely in the land He gave to them, and that they would be a blessing to all of the families of the earth as “the Blessing” of the world would sit upon the throne of David for all of eternity. Though it is true that Jehoiachin was cursed and God swore that no more kings would come from his loins, God was still obligated to fulfill His promises to the patriarchs if He was to remain faithful according to His nature. The release of Jehoiachin was a PROFOUND illustration of God’s faithfulness if there ever was one! This is the point that God was trying to make: If He is willing to set a cursed man free, how much more the faithful who receive His promises by faith and obey His commands?
The scriptures go on to say that Jehoiachin was treated well by Evil-Merodach. In fact, Jehoiachin was treated better than even the Babylonian authorities. Jehoiachin was released and given the most prominent seat among the influential people of Babylon, was given new clothes and his prison clothes were taken away. Jehoiachin was given good food and an allowance of some kind. He ate well and ate regularly sitting in the prominent position of a king for the rest of his life in Babylon. There are two things to recognize in this situation. First, it is important to recognize the intensity of God’s mercy and grace. Those who treat people the way Jehoiachin treated God never receive this kind of favor from those who were mistreated. The natural person is not merciful, let alone gracious to the extent described in scripture. God poured out His grace upon Jehoiachin in this manner to prove to Israel that He would be faithful to them. Having spent thirty-seven years in captivity, God provided a compelling illustration to the people to give them hope. He would continue to fulfill His promises, but not on the basis of merit. God would fulfill His promises to Israel on account of His grace. If God provides favor to “the cursed,” He will certainly do so, and even more, to those who are justified by faith! Then, when we consider the extent of favor that the Lord allowed, how much more favor will God show to those who trust in Him? This favor came out of nowhere, unexpectedly, and in a profound manner. We just never know what God is going to do, how He’s going to do it, but can trust that He will provide any and all favor in spite of us.
Secondly, it is important to consider the perspective of Jehoiachin. The Bible never shows that Jehoiachin repented or even thanked God for his change of circumstance. God proved Himself faithful and gracious through Jehoiachin, and because of Jehoiachin’s continued indifference to God, the Lord also proved Himself blameless come judgment time. Make no mistake – the change in circumstances was NOT a testimony of Jehoiachin’s curse being removed. Jehoiachin is never referred to as faithful or righteous. His change in circumstances did not mean he would escape eternal condemnation as an enemy of God. In fact, it was Jehoiachin’s attitude towards the change in circumstances that God caused that actually validate the condemnation Jehoiachin would later receive. A cursed man was cursed because he found greater affection in the things of the flesh and the world instead of the things of God. When this cursed man was set free from his bondage, he leveraged his freedom to bask in the affections of Babylon without any consideration of God. He went right back to the things that caused him to be in bondage to begin with. God provided grace but Jehoiachin desired the world more. Additionally, it is interesting to note that, while this man was cursed of God, it was the people of the world that embraced, exalted, and supported him. God permitted it, but the people of the world enabled he who was cursed by God.
It is common knowledge that all people make mistakes. Whether a person takes a Biblical perspective about this or not, most people would admit that no one is perfect. The Bible teaches that all people fall short of the glory of God. We are imperfect because we are sinners at heart. We don’t become sinners because of sin. We sin because we are sinners. Thankfully, God is merciful. The Lord knows how to rescue the wicked from the pits of hell, but we as people need to let God do His work. The Bible teaches that God is willing to transform people from corrupt into the image of His perfection, but the work required to do so is difficult. Jesus described the way to the kingdom as being “narrow” and “difficult.” The words that Jesus used to describe the journey to the kingdom of God were words commonly used to describe the process of making wine. In order to make wine, a grape must be squished and pulverized. That is what God does to the corrupted “exterior” of the flesh in order to extract the soul that He conforms unto His own Spirit and likeness. God purges sin. God refines His people in the manner of precious metals having impurities burnt off of them. If God’s people desire to receive the benefits that God desires to give, we must submit to the work of sanctification that God desires to do.
The Bible explains that there are few people willing to endure the difficulty of God’s purification processes. The Bible explains that God is like a loving Father and desires to correct His people when mistakes are made in order to protect and preserve their spiritual integrity. Many people are not willing to endure God’s disciplinary actions. The Bible explains that God will refine the hearts and motives of His people by purging them as with fire. Many people are unwilling to endure this work. The Bible explains that God’s people must be willing to lose their lives in order to gain eternal life, allowing God to change one’s thinking, worldview, and personal motives. There are not many people willing to endure this difficulty. In Acts 14:22 the Bible teaches that it is necessary to endure many trials on the way to the kingdom. Many people feel that they can avoid these difficulties and trials and still enjoy the benefits of God’s mercy and grace. The history of Israel and Judah proves this thinking as wrong. Those who seek to avoid the correction, discipline, and sanctification of God only make matters much worse in life.
The testimony of 2 Kings 25:22-26 explains the events that took place after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar sent the captain of his army, Nebuzaradan, into Jerusalem to level and burn the place to the ground. After Nebuzaradan accomplished his mission, he rounded up over four thousand people of Judah, put them in chains, and began to take them back to Babylon with him as prisoners. The scriptures testify that he only left the poorest of the poor back in Judah. Before he left, Nebuzaradan appointed a man named Gedaliah to be governor over the people in Judah. Gedaliah was supposed to be a man that kept the poor people in order and endured they paid their tributes to Babylon. As Nebuzaradan ventured back to Babylon, he approached the prophet Jeremiah whom was taken as one the exiles. The Lord put it on Nebuzaradan’s heart to set Jeremiah free and let him go where he pleased. Nebuzaradan ultimately sent Jeremiah back to Jerusalem to help Gedaliah. When Jeremiah went back, he found that the condition of Jerusalem was worse than when he left.
The testimony of 2 Kings 25:22-26 explains that when Gedaliah was made governor over the people that he took an oath before the people and set out to do things the best way possible. Previously, God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to explain why God was bringing such harsh judgments against the people of Judah. He wanted them to celebrate the Sabbaths as a sign of the covenant He made with them, and they rebelled against God instead. God stated that He would judge the people of Judah for dishonoring the Sabbath by sending Babylon to rule over the children of Israel for seventy years. God promised to discipline His people for their disobedience, but He would put a limit on the amount of discipline He would administer. The content of Jeremiah Chapter 27 explains that God expected His people to submit to their discipline. They were not supposed to fight against Babylon. They were not supposed to rebel against Babylon in any sort of way. God wanted His people to submit to Babylon as though they were submitting to Him. The Lord wanted the people to trust that the Babylonian oppression was God’s disciplinary action and that they would receive pain but be restored according to God’s promises. The children of Israel were supposed to submit to the Babylonians as a way to confess their sin and receive their correction unto sanctification.
When Gedaliah became the governor, he did will to tell the people to submit to the Babylonians. When he took his oath before the people, Gedaliah encouraged the people not to be afraid of the Babylonians, but instead to serve them. Gedaliah repeated the words of Jeremiah the prophet by ensuring that the submission of the people would ensure their peace and restoration according to God’s schedule. The testimony of Jeremiah Chapter 40 shows that God was faithful to protect the poor people that were left in Jerusalem. The people were able to grow their crops and live peacefully even though the Babylonians had conquered them. However, there were some men that were discontent to submit to God’s punishment. There were some that didn’t want to give into God’s disciplinary work and rebelled against the lessons that God sought to teach. These men were led by a man named Ishmael. Not long after Gedaliah was mad governor, the Bible explains that Ishmael went to the king of Ammon to find opportunity for a better lifestyle. Ishmael didn’t rebel against the Babylonians, but he didn’t submit to God’s discipline either. Ishmael thought he could find a way to escape the difficulties of God’s correction while improving his life by his own means.
The actions of Ishmael caused much more chaos and destruction for everyone. The testimony of Jeremiah Chapter 40 explains that one of Gedaliah’s servants found out that Ishmael went to the Ammonites and that their king was paying Ishmael to organize an assassination of Gedaliah. Gedaliah didn’t believe the words of his servant even though they were true. Ishmael eventually organized a small group of people and went to Gedaliah’s house to kill him. Ishmael and his band killed Gedaliah, his servants, and some of the Babylonian soldiers that were appointed to protect Gedaliah as governor. When Ishmael learned that some of Judah’s mighty men were going to meet Gedaliah, he went out to meet them, pretending that he walked in to find Gedaliah dead. When he showed the unsuspecting mighty men, he slayed them too and threw all of the bodies into a pit. Ishmael figured that with Gedaliah out of the way, he could lead the people to rebel against the Babylonians with the help of the Ammonites and make his life better. Ishmael figured that his actions were ultimately justifiable because life had the potential to be better. Life never gets better when people rebel against God’s disciplinary work.
The scriptures state that Ishmael was ultimately opposed by his own people. The people he thought would follow him to fight against Babylon ended up leaving him. Ishmael was forced to flee with eight other men back to Ammon and hope life would be better there. When Jeremiah returned to Judah, this is the mess that he found. The people were terrified because of Gedaliah’s death. He was an appointed governor by the Babylonians. The people of Judah were afraid of what the Babylonians might do because men of Judah killed the one they appointed to rule. Therefore, the people came up with the idea to flee Judah again. The testimony of 2 Kings 25:22-26 explains that the people of Judah left and made their way to Egypt out of fear of the Babylonians. They didn’t trust the word of the Lord. Though God promised that the people would be able to endure their discipline peacefully, the people tried to escape God’s discipline, only to compound the problem. Judah was still occupied by the Babylonians, but as a result of fear and rebellion, the people weren’t even in their land. The people were in Egypt again, the place of their original bondage. The attempt to escape the difficulties associated with obeying God only worsened the circumstances of the people, taking them deeper into bondage and suffering.
The judgments of God documented in the Bible can seem harsh. Many people have read through the scriptures and looked at what the Bible says about God’s judgments and felt that God overreacts to the errors of His people. Those who think this way are those who do not consider the holiness of God and the full context of scripture to know why God does what He does. It is true that God’s judgments are harsh and severe. Yet the Bible never shows that God immediately responds to that which offends Him in harsh and severe ways. God is patient and merciful. The bulk of the Old Testament is made up of books written by God’s prophets. These men were sent as extensions of God’s mercy and grace. They were sent to warn God’s people of their wickedness. The prophets were sent to tell the people to seek the Lord for forgiveness. God does bring judgment, but always gives His people an opportunity to escape His judgment. He always provides a chance to receive forgiveness. Therefore, those who die as victims of God’s judgments are those who consciously and purposefully deny God’s grace, accepting judgment instead. It is not just that God gets angry when He sees things He doesn’t like. The Bible explains that God “suffers long” while enduring the pride, self-righteousness, and stubbornness of His people so that by the time He is ready to judge, He has had enough – and rightly so.
The testimony of 2 Kings 25:8-21 provides an example of this truth. This portion of scripture documents the miserable destruction of Jerusalem and many of God’s people. The scriptures state Nebuchadnezzar orchestrated a massive offensive attack against the people of Judah on the seventeenth day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of his reign. He sent his chief military captain named Nebuzaradan with many men to level the city of Jerusalem. This was done to fulfill the prophetic warnings of God. Nebuzaradan went into Jerusalem and burned everything to the ground. The Babylonians went into the temple of the Lord and stripped it of all of the gold, silver, and bronze. It is interesting to note that the testimony of 2 Kings 25:8-21 emphasizes the amount of bronze that was taken from the temple. The bronze utensils were taken. The bronze washbasin of the priests was stripped and taken. The bronze columns were also taken from the temple.
The Bible often uses bronze as a symbol of God’s judgment. The reason that God told the children of Israel to construct so many things of bronze inside of the temple was to remind the children of Israel of His judgment. All sacrifices (sin, burnt, and fellowship offerings) were supposed to be consumed on the “bronze” altar. Thus, the means by which sin and fellowship would be dealt with was by judgment. The washbasin for the priests was made of bronze because the priests had to recognize that the means by which they would be cleansed and prepared for their service would be by judgment. God sought to teach important lessons about His plans for salvation through the Messiah, but the Babylonians stripped and took all of these things away. God desired to use judgment in a constructive way – to draw His people unto Himself through sanctification from sin. However, since the people despised God’s ways, God used destructive judgments to take away the constructive parts of His work from His people.
The Babylonians also rounded up the influential people of Judah in order to put them to death. The scriptures testify that Nebuzaradan captured the chief priest, the second priest, and several of the doorkeepers of the temple. These men were captured and killed because these men were appointed to ensure the holy integrity of the temple of the Lord. They failed and instead, adopted many abominations into the temple of the Lord. The Babylonians captured city officers, recruiting officers, and the king’s closest associates to put them to death as well. Recall that King Zedekiah was a wicked king that took advantage of the people to build up his own wealth. This king rebelled against God’s righteousness and ignored the warnings of the Lord concerning judgment. This king was indifferent to God and took advantage of His people. The men that the Babylonians captured were men that Zedekiah leveraged to do his evil work. Zedekiah was not the only one to hear the repeated warnings of Jeremiah the prophet. These men had an equal chance to repent as well, but forfeited their opportunity. The Babylonians then took sixty “men of the people,” referring to royal representatives and people of influence. They were killed as well and then Nebuzaradan sent a large population of Judah out of the country into Babylonian territory according to the promise of God. Everything, including the temple of the Lord and the king’s house was burned to the ground.
Why would God do this to His own people? How could God do this and still fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? These questions are easily answered when taking the full context of the Word into consideration. First, God had given the children of Israel PLENTY of opportunities to repent and change their ways. God gave the people of Judah sufficient time to recognize their error and seek God for forgiveness. God provided prophets and good leaders like Hezekiah and Josiah to lead the people according to His righteousness. The people were indifferent to all of that. The people of Judah watched the people of the northern kingdom of Israel go through the same thing with the Assyrians in 722 BC. God warned the people of Judah from that point on through Isaiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. God provided good leadership for the people of Judah through Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah, but the people refused to seek the Lord with their hearts. The Bible explains that Nebuzaradan completed the judgment that God warned about on August 28th 587 BC – 135 years after Judah watched the northern kingdom go through the same thing. The people of Judah fought against the will of God for 135 years before God fulfilled His promise to judge.
The Bible explains that God was patient with the people of Judah for 135 years, but the later kings of Judah really tested God’s patience. God’s judgment was harsh, but the people’s attitude against God was much harsher. God intended good things for His people, but the Bible testifies that Zedekiah “despised God’s covenant” (Ezekiel 17:17). The prophet Jeremiah warned the children of Israel that God wanted the people of Judah to honor the Sabbath days as commanded in the Law. This was one of the chief areas of Judah’s fault. They were not honoring the Sabbath, but instead were seeking to build up their own wealth and honoring other gods in other ways on the Lord’s day. The reason that this was such an offense to God was because the Sabbath was supposed to be the sign of God’s covenant with Israel according to His Law. The Sabbath was the means by which Israel would state their agreement to God’s righteousness. The Sabbath was unique to Israel because God wanted to use the Sabbath as a sign to show that Israel was indeed His people that He intended to do great things with. When the people dishonored the Sabbath, they took the sign that God ordained and rejected it. Their denial and indifference to the Sabbath was a sign that the people didn’t care about God’s promises, God’s covenant, or God Himself. The people only were interested in doing things their way and despised the goodness of God.
How long should God bear such treatment from the people He desires to build up? How long should God endure such rejection and blasphemy from the people He desires to be one with? How many times should God let His people spit in His face by cheapening His covenants and the value of them? God allowed that to go on for a long time. According to the full context of the Bible, the people of Judah deserved far worse than what they got. According to Psalm 103:10, God does not punish us to the full extent we deserve. Judah should have been cut off from the eternally unconditional promises of God since they worked so hard to show how much they hated them. Nevertheless, God, even in His judgment, showed restraint so that a faithful remnant of His people were preserved and God would continue to reveal His goodness and faithfulness to the small population that would faithfully receive His revelation. God’s punishments are harsh, but well deserved. Thankfully, they are not as harsh as they could be, or should be…
The Bible teaches that the Word of God will be fulfilled. There is not one jot or one tittle of God’s Word that will remain unfulfilled. The scriptures provide PLENTY of proof to show that the things God says will always come to pass. They may not necessarily come to pass right away, but they will come to pass in the time that God appoints. Many people have been skeptical about the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ. People often state that because it has been two thousand years since His promise that His promise is bunk. Interestingly enough, the Word of God explains that people would grow in skepticism regarding the 2nd Coming as the days draw near to His return. Therefore, the increasing trash-talking only validates the certainty of His return. The increasing disbelief in the fulfillment of God’s Word is only proof that God’s Word is true since God predicted that those things would happen just as we witness today.
This is not the first time we are seeing this. The scriptures teach that the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ will be for a different purpose than His first coming. When Jesus first incarnate, He came to die for the sins of the world as the Lamb of God. When He comes back, He will come on a great white horse to make war with those who oppose and rebel against Him. Jesus will come in a white robe with power and authority, and by the time He’s done with His work to punish unbelief and rebellion, His robe will be crimson red from the blood splatter! History explains that people often doubt the judgment of God. People clearly hear God’s declarations and warnings about sin, but fail to respond to God’s pleas for repentance. God offers forgiveness freely but people doubt God’s power and authority to judge, so they ignore God’s warnings and suffer the consequences. This is tragic and unnecessary. The testimony of King Zedekiah, the last king in Judah, proves this as true.
The testimony of 2 Kings 25:1-7 explains that the promises of God’s judgment against Zedekiah and Judah came to pass EXACTLY as God previously proclaimed. God warned the people of Judah many times over that they were in danger of severe consequences because of their unbelief, rebellion, and idolatry. Their greed had turned their hearts away from God. Their self-righteousness had caused them to despise God’s promises. The Lord gave the people of Judah hundreds of years to change their course. Several generations had a chance to repent. The reign of Josiah made it seem as if the people were responding to God’s mercy, but soon after Josiah died, the people showed their hearts were never really turned to the Lord. Therefore, the Lord was forced to go through with the judgement that He previously proclaimed.
The Bible explains that in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar leveraged all of his military resources against Judah. Nebuchadnezzar encamped around the city to cut off the resources just as God predicted. Decades before Zedekiah became king, God was speaking through the prophet Jeremiah. God warned the people of Judah to learn from the wicked example of Israel who was previously overthrown by the Assyrians. Judah did not heed God’s warning and so He proclaimed that Babylon would lay siege against Judah, choke out their resources, and run many people through with the sword. God warned the people of Judah that Nebuchadnezzar would surround Judah, especially Jerusalem, and then destroy everything in sight, taking all of the resources from the people, and burning everything to the ground, including the temple. Jeremiah prophesied these things in Jeremiah 6:6 AND Jeremiah 34:2. The testimony of 2 Kings 25:1-7 proves that God’s Word was fulfilled EXACTLY as it was proclaimed many years before.
Nebuchadnezzar began his siege in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, but the siege did not end until the eleventh and final year of Zedekiah’s reign. Babylon suffocated the people of Judah for two years according to the Word of the Lord. The people wanted to test the Lord and raised up false prophets and teachers from among themselves that said they could overcome the hardships and that God would bless their suffering on account of “love and grace.” They were wrong. These men and women did not consider the holy justice of God. They ignored the clear warnings of God’s declarations. The false prophets and teachers spoke contrary to the Word that God had previously declared as if God was going to change His mind. They convinced people to become skeptical about God’s judgments and so the people lived in a manner that continually tested the patience of God. They wanted to live life without the breath and blessings of God, and so they were suffocated of His essence for two years, dying a slow and miserable death.
The Word of God was fulfilled perfectly. Nebuchadnezzar penetrated Jerusalem and chased out all of the mighty men of Judah. The king and his army fled by night into the plains of Jericho, but his attempt to flee was for nothing. The prophet Jeremiah had previously warned Zedekiah that he would not be able to escape God’s judgments because he refused to repent. Though God prophesied that he would die “peacefully,” God assured Zedekiah that he would still be captured and see the horror of Nebuchadnezzar against the people of Judah. The testimony of 2 Kings 25:1-7 shows that Zedekiah thought he was clever to escape Nebuchadnezzar’s grasp, but he was later captured just as God said he would be in Jeremiah 39:2. The people of the land could not escape and could not fight because they were weakened by the two-year siege of Babylon AND the results of intense pestilence that God levied against the people in judgment as well. The pestilence was also previously declared by God as judgment in Jeremiah 34:17. Zedekiah had to watch all of it just as God declared.
When Zedekiah was captured, he was not killed. God previously promised that He would show mercy to a certain extent towards Zedekiah. God promised that Zedekiah would not die by the sword, but instead die “peacefully” and rest with his fathers. This simply means that Zedekiah would die of natural causes, not in battle or from torture. Nevertheless, Zedekiah suffered greatly for his rebellion against God. Zedekiah had to watch the destruction of his city and his people. Additionally, the testimony of 2 Kings 25:1-7 explains that the Babylonians took Zedekiah’s son and killed him in front of the eyes of Zedekiah. God prophesied that Zedekiah would be captured, see Nebuchadnezzar face to face, and then see the destruction of his people. God specifically said that, “your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon” in Jeremiah 34:3. The Word of God was fulfilled perfectly and literally! After Zedekiah watched the Babylonians kill his son, they plucked out his eyes and then put him in bronze shackles. Zedekiah not only saw Nebuchadnezzar “face-to-face,” but also had his eyes seen by the king of Babylon as the king of Babylon took literal possession of Zedekiah’s eyes.
When the Babylonians removed Zedekiah’s eyes, they didn’t kill him so that the Word of the Lord could be fulfilled. Several prophecies of Jeremiah were fulfilled in this two-year period. Though many people were skeptical of the proclamations of the prophets, and though many false teachers and prophets spoke contrary to God’s Word, the declarations and prophecies of the Lord God Almighty were eventually fulfilled exactly as they were declared and written. Zedekiah was taken hostage without eyes and he later died in Babylon just as God declared in Jeremiah 34:5. The testimony of Zedekiah shows that, many people have doubted God’s judgments and the severity of them throughout the ages. Nevertheless, history verifies that God’s Word is true. God promised that if His people didn’t repent, they would pay. They most certainly did. The children of Israel not only paid, but paid the exact amount in the exact manner that God said they would – even at the exact time! The Word of God is not a joke. The Word of God is serious and will be fulfilled. God’s people today would be wise to learn from the mistakes of foolish men and women that doubted God in the past. Thankfully, God’s discipline and judgment NEVER compromises His ability to remain faithful to His promises to Israel and others. Yet still, God is just as faithful to judge as He is to bless.
The Bible is FILLED with testimonies of historical figures and is candid to show that they were imperfect and made many mistakes. Some of these mistakes weren’t small matters. Some of these mistakes were outright evil. This isn’t to say that there are varying degrees of evil in God’s eyes, but most human beings would admit that we as people perceive a difference between a bad decision and premeditated murder. Even God’s Law calls for stricter judgments for such occasions. The Bible doesn’t hide the truth about human nature. The Bible’s greatest heroes made MAJOR mistakes, and often times those mistakes were accidental. Yet, that’s not the total point of the Bible. One of the purposes of the Bible is to show that none are righteous and that all fall short of the glory of God. That’s not the main point though. The main point of the Bible is to reveal the glorious righteousness of the One True Living God. Consider this: with so many people failing so miserably throughout history, God has remained patient and merciful. When God’s people fail, He disciplines and His discipline is swift and severe. At the same time however, God expresses TREMENDOUS mercy in order that He can remain faithful to His promises that He swore upon Himself. Sometimes, God’s mercy is difficult to understand, which is why the Bible is helpful to provide so many examples of God showing mercy.
In Psalm 103:10 the Bible proclaims this profound truth: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” This means that, though God does punish sins and disciplines those He loves, He does not deliver the full extent of punishment that we deserve. Consider the flood of Noah. God destroyed everyone on the earth in the flood except for eight people. Only one of those people was considered righteous on account of faith. Noah was not perfect. The testimony of Noah right after the flood shows that he was just as unrighteous as the people who had died. The faith and fear of the Lord that Noah had was the only difference. This shows that Noah was equally deserving of death like everyone else, but God restrained the full measure of punishment that His creation deserved and gave mercy. The same can be seen in the testimony of Lot when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as well. The same could be said of King David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murder against Uriah the Hittite. David suffered great consequence for those sins, but not the full extent of what he deserved. He is still considered a great man of faith, a man after God’s own heart, and an heir of God’s eternal blessings. It is only the mercy and grace of God that makes this possible.
The mercy of God can be powerfully seen in the life of Zedekiah as well. Zedekiah was Judah’s last king before Babylon burned Jerusalem to the ground according to God’s promises. The testimony of Zedekiah in 2 Kings 24:17-20 is short but to the point. The testimony there simply explains that Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah king when he took Jeconiah off to Babylon. Zedekiah was Jeconiah’s uncle, which means he was Jehoiakim’s brother. Thus, the curse of God against Jeconiah was fulfilled. God promised that Jeconiah would not have any of his children or direct descendants sit on the throne in Israel. Since Zedekiah was Jeconiah’s uncle, that prophecy was fulfilled. The testimony of 2 Kings 24:17-20 explains that Zedekiah ruled for eleven years and did great evil in the sight of the Lord. The people of Judah had not seen a righteous king since Josiah, who ruled nearly twelve years before. By the end of Zedekiah’s reign, Judah hadn’t had a righteous king in over twenty years!
The scriptures make some definitive statements against Zedekiah. The Bible candidly states that the Lord responded in anger against the people of Judah during the reign of Zedekiah. In fact, the scriptures suggest that God intensified His judgment against the people of Judah on account of the wicked conduct that Zedekiah was instigating in the land. God had already sworn to judge Judah during the times of Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah. God had sent so many prophets to proclaim the details of God’s disciplinary work against His people. The prophets Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all wrote during the times of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah. The prophet Isaiah also prophesied about the coming judgment through Babylon over one hundred years before. Yet, the details of 2 Kings 24:17-20 state that God didn’t just passively bring discipline against the people of Judah. He was angry with them because Zedekiah rebelled, and so laid on the punishment a little thicker.
The parallel passages of the Bible concerning Zedekiah explain why God was so heated against the king. The Bible explains that Zedekiah followed in the footsteps of “his fathers” referring to idolatry, but more significantly referring to self-righteousness and greed. The testimony of Jeremiah Chapter 34 explains that God was especially displeased with the way that Zedekiah encouraged and allowed the people to treat slaves. During the rule of Zedekiah, he sent out an edict that all the people of Judah should let their slaves go free. He had the people conduct a public oath ceremony to ratify and commemorate the day of liberation for salves in Judah. The testimony of Jeremiah explains that God was pleased with this. According to His law, the Lord instituted the Jubilee year – a year in which slaves were to be set free after service of six years. If a person went into debt and became a slave to pay off the debt, God put a cap on the amount of time that a person should be indebted to another. They were to be released from their debt and from their bondage in the seventh year. Since Zedekiah’s actions resembled obedience to God’s laws, God was pleased.
The Bible testifies however that Zedekiah and the people later went back on their word and oath before the Lord. Though the people released their slaves one day, they later enslaved those people again and put them into the same bondage as before, but by force. God was not pleased with this at all. He was not pleased with the hypocrisy of the people. The Bible explains that this was a major demonstration of the unfaithfulness of the people, not just to one another, but also to the Lord. The people of Judah had broken the oath they made to one another AND to the Lord, and Zedekiah didn’t do anything about it. God was not pleased with Zedekiah’s negligence and indifference to the injustices and evils that were taking place in the land. The scriptures testify that Jeremiah the prophet later went to go speak to Zedekiah and expressed God’s displeasure with his manner of leadership. God explained that it was things like that which drove Him to anger, and that was why He would judge through Babylon. God candidly spoke through Jeremiah to Zedekiah that He was tired of dealing with the selfish and self-righteous evils of His people. God assured Zedekiah that judgment was coming by way of pestilence and then by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.
The testimony of Jeremiah as well as the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 36:17-20 explain that Zedekiah was totally indifferent to the proclamations of God’s judgments. He went on as if Jeremiah was a fraud and the Word of God was not real. Zedekiah fed into the false prophets and priests that dwelt in Judah at the time – men and women that despised the proclamations of God’s judgments by lying. They told the people that God would not judge, and that God was too gracious to do so. Though God proclaimed judgment, the false prophets proclaimed peace and prosperity. Zedekiah ignored the truth from the mouth of Jeremiah and bought into the lies of the false prophets of his day. The testimony of 2 Chronicles explains that God was extremely displeased with this also. Zedekiah didn’t take God’s Word seriously. He thought God’s judgment was a joke. He didn’t care to respect God’s servants. Zedekiah simply went about his own business, building up his own enterprise at the expense of God’s people, and ultimately rebelled against God. Zedekiah’s rule ended when he tried to rebel against Babylon like his brother and his nephew did. Zedekiah failed in the same manner. God was further displeased that when the pestilence hit, Zedekiah didn’t humble himself in fear of God’s judgments that were taking place before his very eyes. God was further displeased when Zedekiah tried to fight against Nebuchadnezzar and would not repent when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the land and burnt Jerusalem to the ground. Zedekiah would not humble himself before the Lord even as he saw God’s judgments happened in front of him.
The prophet Ezekiel explains why Zedekiah was so stubborn against God. In Ezekiel Chapter 17 the Bible explains that Zedekiah “despised” the covenants of God. Zedekiah didn’t like God’s blessings and didn’t care for God’s curses. He wanted to live according to his own standards of righteousness. Zedekiah reviled and hated God’s Word all around, as evidenced by the ways he treated God’s prophets. Zedekiah’s indifference to God’s Word caused him to reject God’s prophets, which caused him to reject God, which caused him to drive God unto anger in His judgment. In simple words, Zedekiah was a terrible king and a hater of God. It is no wonder that he was the last king in Judah. But how did God respond? It is true that God brought the judgment He swore in the manner that He promised. Judah and Jerusalem were utterly destroyed by Babylon. Yet the testimony of Jeremiah Chapter 34 says that God allowed Zedekiah to die in peace. He was captured by Nebuchadnezzar, but didn’t die violently like his brother. He was just as rebellious as Jeroboam, Ahab, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah, but he was afforded a peaceful death whereas those other men died brutally. When comparing Zedekiah’s testimony to the testimonies of other wicked kings, it seems odd that Zedekiah got to die a peaceful death (though he would surely receive severe judgment in eternity). This is the mercy of God. It’s hard to understand. We can’t comprehend how God could show ANY form of favor to those who are so vile. Yet, this is what God does every single day with every single person, who in some way, shape, or form, denies Him and rebels against Him in some capacity. Praise God for His mercy that endures forever!