May 20 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.” ~1 Chronicles 2:1

Reading the first few chapters of Chronicles is about as interesting as reading the phone book, at least for modern people. The lists, often referred to as genealogies, do not hide deep spiritual meaning nor are they intended to count the age of the earth! (Both misuses are fraught with problems.) They are exactly what they look like, lists of family members particularly important to God’s people, but their obviousness does not make them meaningless.

The Chronicler, probably the prophet Ezra, wrote the book when the worshipping community was in exile. Jerusalem had fallen, and most of the nation’s people had been carried off to Babylon. Puppet kings had been propped up to care for the poor agricultural workers left behind in and around the city, but even that system didn’t last. The utopian experiment ended. The dream of a nation of God-worshippers led by kings devoted to the Lord was dead. Right?

No, the Chronicler seems to say, God has not given up on His dream. While a period of punishment has begun, this story isn’t over. And God has been with His people through every twist and turn along the way. He was there at the creation of Adam and through the chaos that ensued with the fall. From the calling of Abraham to the “exodus” of the worshipping community. From the giving of the Ten Commandments to the governing of the newly formed nation of Israel by judges and then kings. Right up to and then through their exile, God does not forsake them, and He never will. Even as the story unfolds, He is at work in their midst with great plans to restore them.

The Chronicler’s message through this list of names is simple: God has never forgotten about you, Israel. He has been at work in your family since the very beginning. You are part of a much bigger story that opened with the creation of people who would glorify and enjoy Him forever. He has not abandoned that plan; He is on a mission to restore His people and all of creation. During this same period, the prophet Jeremiah penned now famous words, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

For modern Christians, the message is the same. How encouraging to know that our past goes all the way back to the beginning. Here is our ancient God has been at work in our family since the beginning, and we have Ezra’s written record to show it. And His work still hasn’t ended. He walked with Adam in the beginning; He wants to walk with us now. Even in times of difficulty, those moments when we feel exiled from all that is easy and safe, He does not abandon us. God has great plans for you and me.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.