What’s In A Name?
“Jesse’s first son was Eliab, his second was Abinadab, his third was Shimea, his fourth was Nethanel, his fifth was Raddai, his sixth was Ozem, and his seventh was David.” – 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 NLT
The first nine chapters of the 29 books of 1 Chronicles are genealogies. What’s up with that? Obviously, the author of the book had a reason for dedicating such time and space to these lists of names. Remember that that the book was written to those who had been in exile and were now returning to the land of promise. Many had never been there, but had been born in Babylon while in exile. These seemingly endless lists of genealogies were a reminder to them of their heritage. Dr. Thomas L. Constable, in his Notes on 1 Chronicles, offers this explanation.
“The writer evidently chose, under divine inspiration, to open his book with genealogies to help his readers appreciate their heritage and to tie themselves to Adam, Abraham, and David in particular. Adam was important as the head of the human race. Abraham was important because of the promises God gave him and his descendants in the Abrahamic
Covenant. David was important because of his role as Israel’s model king and because of the promises God gave him in the Davidic Covenant. This section shows Israel’s place among the nations. Both the Old and New Testaments open with genealogies, in Genesis, Matthew, and Luke.
“One of the major themes of Chronicles is that the Davidic dynasty would be the instrument through which God promised that salvation and blessing would come to Israel. It would also come through Israel to the whole world. The final Davidic king, Jesus Christ, was the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) as well as the Person who would fulfill the
Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants completely.”
Can you imagine the sense of loss and confusion the people must have felt as they returned to the land after nearly 70 years in captivity? Many had long ago given up on ever returning. They had seen their fathers and mothers die in the land of Babylon. They had resigned themselves to the fact that they would also die in exile, never living to see their homeland. But now that they had returned, they had to be wondering what the future held. These genealogies provided them a reminder of God’s sovereign plan for their lives and of His faithfulness. He had not abandoned them. He was still going to keep His covenants to Abraham and David. The people of Israel would still be a blessing. David would still have a descendant sit on his throne, even though it had sat vacant for many years. All of this points to the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ would ultimately fulfill the promises of God made to Israel. Through Him all the nations of the world would be blessed. He will someday reign on earth as the rightful and righteous king of Israel.
Imagine the people reading through these lists of names. To us, they mean next to nothing, except for an occasional name like David, Boaz, or Judah. But for the people returning from exile, this would have been like looking at their family tree. They would have scanned the list to find the names of their ancestors. It would have provided a sense of connection. They were part of something much bigger than themselves. And while they may have been in exile, they were still connected to the lineage of God’s chosen people. So they could have hope that God was not done with them yet. The peoples’ sin of rebellion, which led to their exile, would not prevent God from keeping His covenant and completing His plan for His people.
Father, Your story is so much bigger than me. I sometimes think that it all revolves around me and that I am the star of the show. But I am just a bit player in Your play. I am thrilled that I have a part, but help me realize that You have a much larger objective than my happiness and satisfaction. You are fulfilling Your plan for mankind. You are redeeming the world. May I never lose sight of that great redemptive plan. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men