What’s In A Name?
1 Chronicles 1-2, Ephesians 4
…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
For nearly nine whole chapters, the chronicler provides list after list of virtually unrecognizable and unpronounceable names. These genealogies tend to make no sense to us as modern readers. They seem to serve no purpose. But to the chronicler’s audience they provided a lifeline back to their heritage as God’s chosen people. They had returned to the land of promise after 70 years of exile in Babylon. Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah they had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and the temple itself. But they were a ragtag remnant living in a city that still showed the signs of the Babylonian destruction and years of neglect as the people languished in captivity. They were worshiping in a temple that was a mere shadow of its former glory. So the chronicler takes nine chapters to remind them of who they were. He takes them all the way back to Adam. They were descendants of the first man, who had been created by God Himself. But more than that, they shared a heritage with David, the great king of Israel, to whom God had promised to give a long-lasting dynasty. One of David’s descendants was to sit on the throne of Israel again. But at the time of the writing of 1 Chronicles, the people of God were living in Jerusalem and worshiping at the temple, but they had no king. They were weak, defenseless, and surrounded by enemies who were less-than-ecstatic that they had returned to the land. The chronicler wanted to remind his readers of their heritage. He wanted them to understand their unique status as God’s chosen people. Much of what he wrote in this book was designed to show God’s people who they were, how they got to be in the state they were in, and what they were going to need to do to see their circumstances change. Their current circumstances were the direct result of their own unfaithfulness and disobedience. They were reaping the results of their failure to seek God. So the chronicler wants them to understand that, as God’s people, they must return to Him, and live as the true heirs of Israel.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God’s hand had been on Israel from the very beginning. The lists of genealogies start with Adam and clearly reveals God’s sovereign choice of Abraham and His divine selection of David. He had been active all the along the way, orchestrating events in such a way so that the nation of Israel would be His chosen people. And in spite of what would be a lengthy track record of disobedience and rebellion against His will and authority, God would eventually restore His disobedient children to the land He had promised to give them as their inheritance. While they had failed to live up to His expectations and commands, He had kept His promises to them. He had miraculously provided the means by which the temple could be rebuilt and the sacrificial system restored. He used a pagan king to make possible the return of His people to the land and the funding of the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the temple itself. The temple was a symbol of God’s divine presence. It was a reminder of God’s willingness to provide forgiveness for sin and restoration to a right relationship to Him through the sacrificial system. But as the people of God, they would have to live in obedience to His commands, faithfully seeking His face and worshiping according to His standards, not their own.
What does this passage reveal about man?
After 70 years in exile, it would have been easy for the people of God to forget who they were. Most of those who returned to the land of Israel had probably been born in Babylon, and were seeing the land of promise for the first time. They had no real recollection of how things used to be. They had no concept of the former glory of Jerusalem or the magnificence of the original temple. They had long forgotten their unique status as the children of God. Theirs had been a life of slavery, servitude, and suffering. Even though they were now living back in the land, they were doing so as a weakened, impoverished, powerless people who had no king, no army, and no apparent hope for the future. But the chronicler takes time to remind them of their heritage. He wants them to understand the significance of who they are and the reality of their relationship as God’s chosen people. Paul does a similar thing when writing to the believers in Ephesus. He reminds them, “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV). And then we read those powerful two words, “But God…” In the midst of our former position as sin-ravaged, spiritually lifeless, flesh-driven dead men, God showered us with His mercy and grace, providing us with salvation through Christ “even when we were dead in our trespasses” (Ephesians 2:4 ESV). He gave us new life. He provided us with new hope. As a result, Paul exhorts his readers to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV). He challenges them to live up to their new status as God’s chosen people. Their lives are to be marked by humility, gentleness, patience, forebearance, love, unity, and a mutual commitment to spiritual growth and maturity. Their conduct and speech were to be different. Their lifestyle was to emulate that of Christ. They bore the name of Christ and shared His status as a child of God. So they were to live accordingly, putting off their old nature and putting on the new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
As a child of God, I am to live differently. I must recognize my position as His son and walk in a manner worthy of my calling as His adopted child. My unique status should be apparent in my behavior. Paul told his readers to put away falsehood, speak the truth, not to let their anger turn to sin, to resist Satan, stop stealing, work honestly, talk righteously, extend grace, and stop grieving the Holy Spirit. He was very specific and it was likely because his readers had been used to living in such a way that their lives had been marked by behavior that was un-Christlike and unflattering to their role as God’s chosen people. As God’s sons and daughters, our behavior must reflect our beliefs. Our comportment must match our confession. We must live or walk in a manner worthy of our calling and in honor of the name of Christ.
Father, I want to live differently. I want my speech and conduct to honor Your Son’s name. I confess that too often, my claim to be a Christian is not matched by my behavior, thought life and the words that come out of my mouth. Help me understand that my life must reflect my status as Your child. My conduct must bring glory and honor to Your name. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men