Numbering Our Days

1 Chronicles 1 and 2
The descendants of Adam were Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,  Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The descendants of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim. The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The descendants of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. Mizraim was the ancestor of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,  Pathrusites, Casluhites, and the Caphtorites, from whom the Philistines came. Canaan’s oldest son was Sidon, the ancestor of the Sidonians. Canaan was also the ancestor of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites,  Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. The descendants of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. The descendants of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arphaxad was the father of Shelah. Shelah was the father of Eber. Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg (which means “division”), for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups. His brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan was the ancestor of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan. So this is the family line descended from Shem: Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Abram, later known as Abraham. The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael. These are their genealogical records: The sons of Ishmael were Nebaioth (the oldest), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael. The sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Abraham through his concubine Keturah. Abraham was the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, Kenaz, and Amalek, who was born to Timna.  The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. The sons of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. The sons of Lotan were Hori and Heman. Lotan’s sister was named Timna. The sons of Shobal were Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. The sons of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah. The son of Anah was Dishon. The sons of Dishon were Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Keran. The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran. These are the kings who ruled in Edom before there were kings in Israel: Bela son of Beor, who ruled from his city of Dinhabah. When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah became king. When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites became king. When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad became king and ruled from the city of Avith. He was the one who destroyed the Midianite army in the land of Moab. When Hadad died, Samlah from the city of Masrekah became king. When Samlah died, Shaul from the city of Rehoboth on the river became king. When Shaul died, Baal-hanan son of Acbor became king. When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king and ruled from the city of Pau. His wife was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred and granddaughter of Me-zahab. Then Hadad died. The clan leaders of Edom were Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, Magdiel, and Iram. These were the clan leaders of Edom.
The sons of Israel were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Judah had three sons from Bathshua, a Canaanite woman. Their names were Er, Onan, and Shelah. But the LORD saw that the oldest son, Er, was a wicked man, so he killed him. Later Judah had twin sons from Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law. Their names were Perez and Zerah. So Judah had five sons in all. The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Darda– five in all. The son of Carmi (a descendant of Zimri) was Achan, who brought disaster on Israel by taking plunder that had been set apart for the LORD. The son of Ethan was Azariah. The sons of Hezron were Jerahmeel, Ram, and Caleb. Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, a leader of Judah. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse. 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. Their sisters were named Zeruiah and Abigail. Zeruiah had three sons named Abishai, Joab, and Asahel. Abigail married a man named Jether, an Ishmaelite, and they had a son named Amasa. Hezron’s son Caleb had sons from his wife Azubah and from Jerioth. Her sons were named Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. After Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrathah, and they had a son named Hur. Hur was the father of Uri. Uri was the father of Bezalel. When Hezron was sixty years old, he married Gilead’s sister, the daughter of Makir. They had a son named Segub. Segub was the father of Jair, who ruled twenty-three towns in the land of Gilead. (But Geshur and Aram captured the Towns of Jair and also took Kenath and its sixty surrounding villages.) All these were descendants of Makir, the father of Gilead. Soon after Hezron died in the town of Caleb-ephrathah, his wife Abijah gave birth to a son named Ashhur (the father of Tekoa). The sons of Jerahmeel, the oldest son of Hezron, were Ram (the firstborn), Bunah, Oren, Ozem, and Ahijah. Jerahmeel had a second wife named Atarah. She was the mother of Onam. The sons of Ram, the oldest son of Jerahmeel, were Maaz, Jamin, and Eker. The sons of Onam were Shammai and Jada. The sons of Shammai were Nadab and Abishur. The sons of Abishur and his wife Abihail were Ahban and Molid. The sons of Nadab were Seled and Appaim. Seled died without children, but Appaim had a son named Ishi. The son of Ishi was Sheshan. Sheshan had a descendant named Ahlai. The sons of Jada, Shammai’s brother, were Jether and Jonathan. Jether died without children, but Jonathan had two sons named Peleth and Zaza. These were all descendants of Jerahmeel. Sheshan had no sons, though he did have daughters. He also had an Egyptian servant named Jarha. Sheshan gave one of his daughters to be the wife of Jarha, and they had a son named Attai. Attai was the father of Nathan. Nathan was the father of Zabad. Zabad was the father of Ephlal. Ephlal was the father of Obed. Obed was the father of Jehu. Jehu was the father of Azariah. Azariah was the father of Helez. Helez was the father of Eleasah. Eleasah was the father of Sismai. Sismai was the father of Shallum. Shallum was the father of Jekamiah. Jekamiah was the father of Elishama. The descendants of Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel, included Mesha (the firstborn), who became the father of Ziph. Caleb’s descendants also included the sons of Mareshah, the father of Hebron. The sons of Hebron were Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema. Shema was the father of Raham. Raham was the father of Jorkeam. Rekem was the father of Shammai. The son of Shammai was Maon. Maon was the father of Beth-zur. Caleb’s concubine Ephah gave birth to Haran, Moza, and Gazez. Haran was the father of Gazez. The sons of Jahdai were Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah, and Shaaph. Another of Caleb’s concubines, Maacah, gave birth to Sheber and Tirhanah. She also gave birth to Shaaph (the father of Madmannah) and Sheva (the father of Macbenah and Gibea). Caleb also had a daughter named Acsah. These were all descendants of Caleb. The sons of Hur, the oldest son of Caleb’s wife Ephrathah, were Shobal (the founder of Kiriath-jearim), Salma (the founder of Bethlehem), and Hareph (the founder of Beth-gader). The descendants of Shobal (the founder of Kiriath-jearim) were Haroeh, half the Manahathites, and the families of Kiriath-jearim– the Ithrites, Puthites, Shumathites, and Mishraites, from whom came the people of Zorah and Eshtaol. The descendants of Salma were the people of Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth-beth-joab, the other half of the Manahathites, the Zorites, and the families of scribes living at Jabez– the Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sucathites. All these were Kenites who descended from Hammath, the father of the family of Recab.

I Chronicles 1 and 2 read like a county record book. Or maybe a baby name book, if you’re seeking the unusual. Or even still, like a fairy tale. Once upon a time lived all these people. They were born. And then they died.

What do we make of these genealogies? We gloss over them as lists, as if reading these names is just something to be checked off our list.

But these were real people. They laughed at jokes. They worked so hard their muscles hurt. They had good moments in which their words streamed encouragement. And they had bad moments in which impatience overtook them and they scolded loved ones.

They were like you and me. Human.

People with dreams and a hope for the future. People plagued by failures from their past.

As I make my way through these lists, wondering who these strange-named ancestors of my faith were, I am reminded of Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (New Living Translation). Many of us know the version, “Teach us to number our days….”

What is man? His days are like a breath, like dew that the sun dries up.

Psalm 103, 15, 16

The world and all its glory is here today and gone ______________ (you know the saying). This fleeting time on earth is powerless to promise us anything lasting. We can fix our eyes on this temporary existence and become discouraged.

Or we can fix our eyes on the unseen, the eternal, the Creator, whose promises never fail or disappoint.

These people had successes, moments of victory and amazing innovation. Yet those moments passed and left behind nothing but a yearning for more. It’s that More that brings us to our knees in worship. The More of Christ and his eternal purpose. The More of God the Almighty and eternity is what infuses the today with goodness and enjoyment.

Because this life is good, and we are meant to enjoy it. However fleeting, God reflects his goodness in it.

Let us because not to mistake the good pleasures of this life as the bottom line. The satisfaction. Period. Let us look instead to what is beyond: the Giver of Life, the Creator of all things.

In what ways is the world tempting you to find satisfaction in the passing moments? In what ways are the fleeting things distracting you? Set aside the chasing after the wind (Solomon’s term from Ecclesiastes) and pursue treasures that are stored up in heaven where moths cannot eat them and rust cannot destroy them.

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