Tuesday, April 24, 2012
BEING AND BEHAVING
"All these were Asher's sons. They were the heads of their ancestral houses, chosen men, warriors, and chiefs among the leaders. The number of men listed in their genealogies for military service was 26,000." (1 Chronicles 7:40 HCSB)
Among the people of God in the Old Covenant, your ancestry shaped your activity. What you did was connected to who you were. Relationship was the root, of which responsibility was the fruit. Being preceded behaving.
So, we see these family archives listed in 1 Chronicles--lists of names--and their duties. Your kinship was of fundamental importance.
It still is. If we are among the people of God in the New Covenant, it is because of our family line. Who is your father?
Now, we are not talking about genetics. Physical DNA has nothing to do with what I am talking about. The New Testament says of the children of God, "But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12, 13 HCSB)
In fact, Jesus would go on to explain to Nicodemus, that his religion was meaningless without regeneration.
"There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.'
Jesus replied, 'I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' " (John 3:1-3 HCSB)
Those were startling words to a man whose life was consumed with doing things for God in the name of God in order to earn right standing with God. It won't work. You can never work enough--the good we seek to do will always be tainted by the bad within us. We must become new people by the activity of God--not man--His grace that reaches us, and our faith that responds to His call. This is how we become the children of God.
You might protest, "But surely we are all the children of God!" Not really; not spiritually. When the religious rulers of Christ's day wanted to flaunt their pedigree and boast of Abrahamic ancestry, Jesus gave them a theological punch in the gut.
" "I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father; therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.'
'Our father is Abraham!' they replied.
'If you were Abraham's children,' Jesus told them, 'you would do what Abraham did. But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! You're doing what your father does.' 'We weren't born of sexual immorality,' they said. 'We have one Father-God.'
Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn't come on My own, but He sent Me. Why don't you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.' " (John 8:38-44 HCSB)
Unless you are born again, you cannot claim God as your Father. To be blunt, apart from regeneration, the Devil is your Daddy!
This is not to say that activity isn't important. Jesus indicated that our performance was proof of our parentage. His enemies rejected the truth and embraced a lie because they were liars by nature--their spiritual father being Satan, the Great Deceiver. They would have Christ's blood on their hands because of the hate in their hearts--their heritage from the Devil, the Great Destroyer.
Those who received the truth about Christ would then confess that truth. Those who opened their hearts to the love of Christ would then exhibit the love of Christ. Being would inspire behaving.
So, we come back to this spiritual principle illustrated in the birth records of 1 Chronicles. The ancestral archives show what activities were assigned to appointed families.
There were WARRIORS. The sons became soldiers. The expressions--or one like it--that emphasize this, are found in 7:4-5, 7, 9, 11, 40 and 8:40, such as, "Their tribesmen who were warriors belonging to all the families of Issachar totaled 87,000 in their genealogies." (1 Chronicles 7:5 HCSB)
In Israel, your ancestry placed you in the army. This is true of the children of God also. By virtue of our spiritual birth, we are called to spiritual battle.
There were also those who were WATCHMEN. Their ancestry put them on alert. We read this,
"The gatekeepers: Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their relatives.
Shallum was their chief; he was previously stationed at the King's Gate on the east side. These were the gatekeepers from the camp of the Levites.
Shallum son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah and his relatives from his ancestral household, the Korahites, were assigned to guard the thresholds of the tent. Their ancestors had been assigned to the Lord's camp as guardians of the entrance. In earlier times Phinehas son of Eleazar had been their leader, and the Lord was with him. Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was the gatekeeper at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
The total number of those chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds was 212. They were registered by genealogy in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted positions." (1 Chronicles 9:17-22 HCSB)
God has called us to be on guard--the virtuous and victorious are the vigilant and valiant. We have the sacred trust of the Gospel. We watch over the souls of men. The significance of such service is underscored in Ezekiel 3. Read it and reflect on your responsibility.
Then, there were WORKERS. Ancestry brought an assignment. Priestly duty was directed according to parental descent. Consider this:
"Some of them were in charge of the utensils used in worship. They would count them when they brought them in and when they took them out. Others were put in charge of the furnishings and all the utensils of the sanctuary, as well as the fine flour, wine, oil, incense, and spices. Some of the priests' sons mixed the spices. A Levite called Mattithiah, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with baking the bread. Some of the Kohathites' relatives were responsible for preparing the rows of the bread [of the Presence] every Sabbath.
The singers, the heads of the Levite families, stayed in the [temple] chambers and were exempt from other tasks because they were on duty day and night. These were the heads of the Levite families, chiefs according to their genealogies, and lived in Jerusalem." (1 Chronicles 9:28-34 HCSB)
As our physical birth brings certain traits, aptitudes and propensities, that can be cultivated--each uniquely woven into the fabric of our being, so a spiritual birth endows us with certain gifts and capacities. I've heard a few spice mixers who tried to be singers--and not very effectively. On the other hand if you are good at washing utensils, you may not be great at baking bread. We have a work to do in the Kingdom of God! We are equipped for that sacred duty. Being shapes behaving.