Lists Are More Than Family Trees and History

TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 1-2

What do we read in 1 Chronicles chapters one and two? Lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of fathers and sons with names none of us can pronounce.

It is tempting to not bother reading these two chapters (and chapters three and four, which continue with more lists). It is easy to think that’s a nice bit of history, but it has nothing to do with me. And, I can skip it because it won’t teach me anything about Jesus.

But, as I have said in a number of previous posts, there is wonderful inspiration of the Spirit in these lists that reveal God, his plan, and his purpose.

ADAM TO NOAH AND HIS SONS

1 Chronicles 1:1-4 says, “Adam, Seth, Enosh; Kenan; Mahalel, Jared; Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth.”

How do we learn from lists like this? How does the Spirit inspire lists?

I think there are two primary ways: the meaning of names and numbers.

Let’s look at the numbers of this list.

  1. Adam
  2. Seth
  3. Enosh
  4. Kenan
  5. Mahalel
  6. Jared
  7. Enoch
  8. Methusaleh
  9. Lamech
  10. Noah

Adam was the first man. Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, “This it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Adam was the first living being, the natural, the man of the earth, the man of dust. However, Paul shows by inspiration of the Spirit that the second was not Seth but Jesus was the first, the only, life-giving spirit, the spiritual, the man from heaven.

Enoch was the seventh man. The number seven symbolizes perfection and completion. Genesis 5:24 says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The Hebrew for took also means accepted. Enoch was the seventh man who walked with God perfectly and completely. Therefore, God accepted him.

Noah was the tenth man. Among other things, the number 10 symbolizes testimony. Noah testified of Jesus by building the ark, which was a type of Jesus. I touched on one aspect of Noah’s testimony through the ark in The Believer and Jesus -Connected by 130, 17, and 110.

This list gets really interesting because the first ten people mentioned are father and son, one to one. But, Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are listed. This brings the total number of people to 13.

Why is 13 significant?

The number 13 is rebellion to the law and commandments of God. Abram had a son, Ishmael, when he 86 years old in his rebellion to God’s command and promise. Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God made a covenant with Abram. God changed his name to Abraham and said that every male among his household must be circumcised. Abraham’s rebellion lasted 13 years until God changed his name, in effect breathing God’s spirit into him, and commanded him to circumcise his the flesh of his foreskin, or die to him self. Therefore, after 13 years, Abraham’s rebellion was over.

More evidence of 13 as rebellion is found in the genealogies of Genesis. Noah was the tenth man, the man of the law and commandments. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generations.” Who was the 13th man?

  1. Adam begat Seth
  2. Seth begat Enosh
  3. Enosh begat Kenan
  4. Kenan begat Mahalalel
  5. Mahalalel begat Jared
  6. Jared begat Enoch
  7. Enoch begat Methuselah
  8. Methuselah begat Lamech
  9. Lamech begat Noah
  10. Noah begat Ham
  11. Ham begat Cush
  12. Cush begat Nimrod
  13. Nimrod

Nimrod was the 13th man. Genesis 10:10-12 says, “The beginning of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that is the great city.” Nimrod was the founder of man’s first kingdom Bablyon, which is the city pictured throughout the Bible, not just in Genesis 11, in complete rebellion to God.

Additionally, Genesis 36 tells us that there were 13 chiefs of the sons of Esau. Esau is a type of the natural man, the man in rebellion to God. And the Greek word drakon, which means dragon, is found 13 times in the New Testament, all in the book of Revelation. Of course, the dragon is Satan, from whom all rebellion comes.

So, the first of the many lists in 1 Chronicles shows that all men have rebelled against God, even within the line that the Messiah would come from. Romans 3:22-23 says, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

SHEM TO ABRAM AND HIS SONS

1 Chronicles 1:24-28 says, “Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah; Eber, Peleg, Reu; Serug, Nahor, Terah; Abram, that is, Abraham. The sons of Abraham: Isaac and Ishmael.”

Let’s look at the numbers of this list.

  1. Shem
  2. Arpachshad
  3. Shelah
  4. Eber
  5. Peleg
  6. Reu
  7. Serug
  8. Nahor
  9. Terah
  10. Abram

Here again, the first ten people mentioned are father and son, one to one. Abram as the tenth man was a man of testimony. Abram, or Abraham, was a man of testimony too. Galatians 3:8 says, “And Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.'”

Abram’s testimony was the gospel. Abram’s knowledge of the gospel is revealed in Genesis chapters 15 and 22. I wrote about this in God Provides Himself the Lamb.

But, just like in the first list, it ends with the tenth man’s sons. In this case, Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, are listed. This brings the total number in this list to 12.

Why 12?

The number 12 symbolizes God’s power and authority. There were 12 sons of Israel and 12 disciples of Jesus who Jesus gave his authority to. And, in Revelation, the number 12 figures prominently in God’s people and the New Jerusalem.

Ultimately, Abraham’s testimony was about the Jesus, the true child of promise, symbolized by Isaac who was the literal 12th in this list even though he is listed before Ishmael. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS

Luke 3:23-38 lists the genealogy of Jesus. Because the gospel of Luke is about the son of man, Luke takes Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam and God. In addition to the inspiration of the lists mentioned above, we are given the lists in 1 Chronicles to confirm what Luke writes about Jesus’ genealogy.

But, even in the Luke’s list, the inspiration of a number is found.

How?

Count of the sons of God. Jesus was the 77th son of God. Often times, when a number is doubled or tripled in scripture it intensifies the meaning of the single number. As I mentioned above, the number symbolizes perfection, completion, and rest. What a subtle but inspired testimony of Jesus by the Spirit.

But, the number 77 has further inspired meaning.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Peter thought forgiving seven times was perfect. He thought that was complete forgiveness.

But, Jesus told Peter to forgive 77 times. I have heard it preached that this is because no one could count forgiving someone 77 times. We would lose track after awhile. And, I have heard it preached that 77 times is just a lot of forgiveness.

But, I think the inspired meaning is that because was the 77th son of God. Jesus was the perfect and complete son of God who was unjustly executed. Jesus, the 77th son of God, laid down his life for our sins. And, even though we murdered Jesus, the 77th son of God, he forgave us. Jesus was telling Peter to forgives as he forgave him. And, how perfect that Jesus told Peter this since before Jesus ascended to the Father he told Peter that he would die by like Jesus died so he would need to forgive as Jesus forgave.

The inspiration of lists in scripture is truly marvelous.

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