READ: 1 Chronicles 4-6
THINK: A lot more names. A lot. But there is something here that is worth noting beyond the fact that Hezelelponi is a ridiculously awesome name and if I ever have another daughter that’s what I’m naming her. The stream throughout all of this is God’s provision for his people – his covenant faithfulness to generation after generation after generation. These list were incredibly important to the ancient Hebrew culture for whom this text was originally written. And that wasn’t just because ancestry.com wasn’t around to equip them to trace their roots back then. The genealogies were important because it reminded the people of Israel of God’s continual love and provision and presence and faithfulness to them.
So, why does that matter to us thousands of years later? What difference does God’s covenant faithfulness to ancient Israel make to 21st century Americans? The answer: a ton!
God’s covenant faithfulness to his people matters because we are his people – everyone who has chosen to put their faith in Christ and follow him – and being faithful and loving and kind and ever-present is who God is. It matters because sometimes – amidst all of the storms and the difficulties of life in this sin-stained world – we need to be reminded that God wants to bless us and that he works things out for our good. We know that life isn’t easy and that God promises his people there will be trials along the way. But that is not the end of the promise. He never abandons us there. The promise is that despite the trials we endure because of the brokenness of humanity God is there and God cares and God meets us where we are and uses every situation to draw us – and those around us – to himself.
This section of Scripture contains the prayer of Jabez. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. – 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 This prayer was the focus of a best-selling book a few years ago. And it has often been used by those who preach a prosperity gospel to encourage people to name it and claim it, so to speak. There are some who read it and say, “See! All you have to do is pray for God’s blessings and he’ll give you all the desires of your heart. Name it and claim it!” Others reject it entirely and say, “God is a God of suffering. Christ suffered and so we must. We have no business praying for blessings.” So what’s the truth? What’s the right answer? The answer lies in-between. This prayer is clearly in the Bible. And God answered it! But God also says that things won’t be easy and we’ll suffer for his name.
The balance is found in understanding the prayer of Jabez in it’s context. God is faithful. There is brokenness in our world because of sin. That is inevitable. Suffering and pain are inevitable. And God is not some magic genie in the business of granting all of our wishes and removing us from the world that we are a part of. But he is in the business of blessing the world. He is in the business of saving the world. He is in the business of making all things new! Believe – be absolutely convinced at the very core of your being – that God is a God of blessing who is present with you and who is fighting for you and who is richly giving you what you need – if not what you want – at every moment for his glory and your benefit. If all these silly names are of any benefit to you whatsoever, let them be a reminder that God is lovingly faithful.
PRAY: Thank God for being faithful. Thank him for his love. Thank him for blessing you in countless ways despite the fact that your sin doesn’t deserve it. Worship God today.