May 14

Read 1 Chronicles 8 -- 10

In Today's Reading:

Descendants of Benjamin; priests and Levites in Jerusalem and their responsibilities; genealogy of Saul; tragic deaths of Saul and his sons.

Verse for Today:

So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the Word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it (1 Chronicles 10:13).

The Israelites were carried away to Babylon for their transgression (1 Chronicles 9:1), to serve as slaves in a heathen land. Jeremiah foretold that after 70 years . . . [in] Babylon, God would make it possible for them to return to their land (Jeremiah 29:10). More than 100 years before it took place, Isaiah the prophet foretold that King Cyrus would defeat the Babylonians and offer freedom to the descendants of Judah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of God (Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 29:10-14). However, when this took place, most of them had been born in Babylon or were too young to remember Jerusalem. Under the new ruler, they were free to return or to remain and pursue financial opportunities and securities. To return to Jerusalem would be a dangerous journey of 600-900 miles and would take at least four months on foot. At the end of the long journey, they could only anticipate an uncertain means of survival. Volunteer physical labor would be required to rebuild the Temple out of the ruins left by the Babylonian destruction. With such dismal prospects, only a small group was willing to leave the comforts of Persia and fulfill the will of God.

The first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities (around Jerusalem) were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims. And in Jerusalem dwelt the children of Judah . . . of Benjamin . . . of Ephraim, and Manasseh (1 Chronicles 9:2-3; Nehemiah 11:3). The work of the Nethinims (Temple servants) may seem rather insignificant, but it was essential work done for the Lord. Loyalty to their Heavenly King made them willing to work and to serve wherever needed. Of the Levites, some had the charge of the ministering (serving) vessels (1 Chronicles 9:28), which appears to be of little importance; others were overseers of the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, and the spices (9:29), which perhaps required a little more skill; and some were responsible for the things that were made in the pans (baking the bread) (9:31). All were ordinary laborers and may seem hardly worth mentioning. But God esteemed each responsibility as indispensable and worthy of recording.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit . . . dividing to every [one] . . . as He (the Spirit) will, and not necessarily as we prefer (1 Corinthians 12:4). Regardless of the seeming prominence or insignificance of our abilities, they are a sacred trust from God. Although some are given higher positions, by human standards, than others, the Lord does not expect the person who is given one talent to fulfill the responsibility of the person who has been given five talents (Matthew 25:24-28). The person who is faithful and responds to his opportunities shares in glorifying the Lord; but the person who fails to fulfill what he can accomplish will hear on Judgment Day: [You] wicked and slothful servant (25:26).

Awards will be given, not according to the prominence of the position, but according to how faithfully we performed it. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).

Christ Revealed:

By Jerusalem, which means "foundation of peace" (1 Chronicles 9:3). Christ is the only foundation of peace upon which man can stand before God (see John 14:27; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:14).

Word Studies:

8:31 Zacher = Zechariah; 8:33 Esh-baal is another name for Ish-bosheth; 9:21 porter = gatekeeper of the entrance way; 9:22 set = trustworthy position; 9:23 by wards = as guards; 9:28 bring them in and out by tale = count them when they bring them in and take them out; 10:2 followed hard after = closely pursued and overtook; 10:3 went sore = fiercely attacked; 10:4 uncircumcised = those without a covenant with God.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Sen. Byron Dorgan (ND) and Rep. Alan Mollohan (WV) · Pray for the President · Country: Ecuador (13 million) in South America, crossed by the equator · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 91% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and rejoice in the Lord for all His spiritual blessings (Isaiah 61:10).

Optional Reading: 1 Corinthians 1

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 3:16