Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Chapter 5

It would appear that Esther’s fears are allayed – and her expectation of victory is sweetly met.  She touched the tip of the scepter of Ahasuerus, a scepter of power (v.2).  Paul Blackham states in Book by Book guide on Esther:

“John Preston (1587-1628) produced a book called “The Golden Sceptre” held forth to the Humble”.  The title is derived from this scene in Esther.  Preston powerfully describes our Heavenly Father as a Great King into whose presence we cannot safely go.  In fact, it is fatal for any sinner to be in the presence of the Living God.  However, Preston portrays the gospel as the golden sceptre that is held out to the sinner to give them safe welcome into the presence of the Living God.”

Her request is that Haman is brought to the feast she has prepared for the king (v.4); and after having such a feast she requested Haman join them again (v.8).  Paul Blackham states:

“The joy of [verse 5] is seeing it in stark contrast to what happened in chapter 1.  [Quoting Tull, page 26:]

 

(Xerxes) calls for Haman saying, ‘Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires‘ (5.5).  Literally the Hebrew says, ‘so we may do the word of Esther‘.  This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands.  Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call.  The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is now obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well.  And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew – a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts a lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness.

Such is Esther’s plan that Haman would appear to be exalted temporarily only for Haman, the type of Satan, to pride and boast in his self-praises and unwarranted accolades (Ezekiel 18) – the same Haman whose sole wish is still to destroy the ancient promised church of God (v.8-13) as one would if one was the son of the devil (John 8:44).  Yet, this is all in Esther’s plan as Haman is dancing in her palm.  The irony that the Satan should wish to use the same tool of death to destroy the Christ, and yet this tool of death has become the iconic symbol in Christianity of Christ’s victory (v.14).  Again, although the ESV states “gallow”, it is more likely a stake for impalement – the Hebrew word ates simply means tree.  From a biblical and prophetic perspective, the clearer comparison between Haman and Satan is shown when Haman is seen to have set up a 75 foot tree for Mordecai to be killed on.

Chapter 6

By the LORD’s providence, the king’s inability to sleep allowed him to read the chronicles of Mordecai the Jew who saved the king (v.1-2).  By Mordecai’s faithfulness to the king as stipulated under Romans 13, he receives the royal robes of righteousness and honour (v.7-11) – suggested by Haman himself since he thought such honour would be given to him (v.6-9).  What ironic mockery! Such theology of divine reversals is saturated throughout Scripture.  As Paul Blackham states:

“An important biblical theme, very much related to Haman’s highs and lows, is the theme of reversal, of divine justice turning power upside down.  This theme is so pervasive in the Bible, and so commonplace in Christian discourse, that its radical implications can sometimes be forgotten.  Explicit reversals characterize many Proverbs, such as 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Reversals also permeate narratives, such as the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-50), the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 1-15), and the poem of Isaiah’s suffering servant who will be exalted (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).  The narrative of reversal best known to Christians, of course, is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection (quoting Tull, 30-31).”

Note how beautifully this was done before Haman’s sins were exposed – just as Satan was never in power, nor was he ever honoured, and he certainly had no leverage to offer Christ anything (Luke 4) for Christ was the only Honoured One of the Father.  This status of matters was already the case before Satan was nailed to the cross – just as Haman is shamed by handing over all honour (which only appeared to be his) over to Christ.  What prophetic words of Zeresh (v.13):

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him”.

Indeed – if Christ, before whom Satan has begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, Satan will not overcome him but will surely fall before Him!  Clearly even Zeresh has heard of the prophecy of the Offspring of Adam, and that the LORD protects the Jewish people.  What ridicule that Haman could think he could uproot the promise that the LORD has made to Israel!  Immediately after Zeresh’s statement of judgment, the impending demise of Haman comes to his doorsteps (v.14).

Chapter 7

There is an eery sense of parallel between the death of John the Baptist and the death of Haman here.  Where Herod also offered the same vow (c.f. Mark 6:22-23) as Ahasuerus, Herodias’s daughter was no Esther.  Esther, the type of Christ, sought to protect the Jews; and where Herod and Ahasuerus were cut from the same cloth, the role of the mediator plays a large role.  If Esther was like Vashti (who did not appear to have Israel’s interests at heart) – what would have happened?  Yet it was Mordecai’s plan to place Esther into the courts of Ahasuerus, the same Mordecai and Esther who obeyed the LORD despite their imminent deaths at the hands of Haman and Ahasuerus.  What is your wish, Queen Esther?  The Head of Mordecai, or the Head of Haman?  The latter.

The parallel is more astounding here – the last time the king was recorded to be drunken with wine was in chapters 1-2, when Vashti was banished from his sight; yet here, Esther uses the situation to remove Haman upon pleading the truth to Ahasuerus (v.1-6).  Yet this is the gospel story summarised – the king who was jealous for his wife; the king who is angry against the Satan as personified by Haman; the king who hung Satan by his own devices, nailing him to the same cross that he planned to destroy the Christ with.  As the Father cries “Will he even assault the Bride in my presence, in my own house?” in parallel to Ahasuerus’ words (v.8), His jealous love for us covers us in his righteousness and holiness whilst he never ceases to destroy the enemy whose only plan is to destroy us, rape us, annihilate our heritage, and kill our future (v.4; c.f. Psalm 73 for a summary of the LORD’s view of Haman’s types of actions).

Chapter 8

This is a chapter of victory.  Esther, the type of Christ, inherited the heritage of Haman (v.1; Henrietta Mears subtitles her chapter on this book: “Esther portrays Jesus Christ, Our Advocate”) – the enemy (Satan) of the Jews.  Esther, before the king as a type (albeit a flawed type) of the Father, recognises Mordecai here as the church and community under which Esther was nurtured.  Thus, the signet ring, as a seal and sign of the deposit of the Holy Spirit and of His election (c.f. Song of Solomon 8:6; Haggai 2:23; Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14, 2:19) was given from the Father to the Son (i.e. Esther), and from Esther to the church (i.e. Mordecai) to rule over the house of Haman, just as we rule over the enemy by His power.

In v.3-8 we see Esther mediating on behalf of the Jews – how can she bear to see the destruction of her kindred (v.6)?  Indeed, she cannot.  Yet, this is a picture of Christ pleading on our behalf – and with the Father’s seal (v.8), spiritual Israel shall not be harmed.  The elect body of Christ shall not be harmed.  The kindred of Esther shall not be harmed.  So we are similarly sealed by the Father by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and wrath is diverted onto the enemy.  And as we are given His power by the Spirit, His signet ring, whatever we command in His name (John 20:23) is released in this creation (v.10-12).  This is the great exchange – although it appears harsh that the Jews are allowed to gather and defend their lives, the retribution is exactly matching to the edict of Haman (Esther 3:13).  Note however that this is but the Jews’ response and only to armed forces – on the condition that the Israelites could defend, and attack only if they were attacked (symbolically on the same day that the Jews would have been destroyed – v.12; c.f. Esther 9:1).  Such is the beauty of our redemption, that we – like Mordecai – by the work of the true Esther Jesus Christ could wear the LORD’s righteous robes of salvation (Isaiah 61:11; c.f. v.15), the restoration of the Israelite traditions occurring not only in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah’s hands – but also in the kingdom of Persia.  This glory is felt not only by the Jews but also by the Gentiles, leading to mass conversion (v.17).

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Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

It is typical to see Esther simply as a book about a woman coming out of her young shell of faith to stand firm and risk death at the hands of her otherwise tyrannical husband.  However, it is also one of the core books which firmly portray by contrast the relationship between the true husband and the Church, as well as a rare example of Christ being portrayed typologically by a woman.

These events take place approximately in the 5th century BC, a number of years prior to the events in Nehemiah after the events of Ezra.

Chapter 1

Note the immediate contrast between the struggle of the Israelites in Ezra and Nehemiah and the lavishness of the kingdom of Ahasuerus in the first chapter of Esther.  V.1-5 is almost a mockery of the state of Israel and its traditions – a seven day feast (held in the court of the garden and the king’s palace – v.5) which is comparable to the Feast of Booths described in Leviticus 23:34-39, except that it is not bookended by solemnity in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ; rather, Ahasuerus’ pomposity is very much summarised in v.7-8 – “There is no compulsion” and each man can do as each man desired.  Note also the distinction between the feast which was for men (v.1-8) and the one versed description of the feast for women held by Queen Vashti (meaning “beautiful“) in v.9 where the women only celebrated in the palace that “belonged” to King Ahasuerus.  This verb “belonged” will be a common refrain throughout these chapters, as is the undermining of women a common theme.

Noticeably v.10 begins with “on the seventh day”, which is a repeat of Genesis where the LORD rested on the seventh day to enjoy His creation.  Yet, the opening chapters of Esther 1 is a direct mockery of Genesis 1; where the LORD spent seven days to provide a beautiful creation for man and woman’s joint enjoyment, the king’s feast culminated in bringing Queen Vashti to “show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at”.  Paul Blackham states in his Book by Book guide on Esther:

“The Garden of Eden is called the Garden of God in the Bible (Ezekiel 28:13; 31:8-9), so Xerxes holds his seven day celebration in the Garden of Xerxes for everybody in the capital Susa!  Xerxes seems to position himself as (at the very least) the mirror of the Living God on earth.

The pride of Xerxes is also shown by the way he decorated his ‘garden’.  His blue and purple linen seems to echo the courtyard of the tabernacle of the LORD described in Exodus 38.  The temple of Solomon in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians about 150 years earlier, so there must have been records of the architecture and furnishings of the temple.  His use of the pillars with silver rings also indicates this kind of knowledge and symbolism.  He formed a pavement of precious metals and jewels (v.6).  If we remember the banquet with God in Exodus 24:9-11 or the throne room of heaven in Revelation 4:1-6 we get an insight into the way that Xerxes viewed himself.  If we remember that the book of Daniel had been written 100 years before we can understand how Xerxes got so much knowledge of heavenly realities.  A book of such literary and theological significance, written by such a high official in the empire, would certainly have been in the royal library.  Daniel’s work included a vision of the throne room of heaven (Daniel 7:9-14), so it is not too much to imagine that Xerxes saw himself as a Son of Man figure over all the nations.”

Such objectification of Vashti, though beautiful, is a far cry from the personal intimacy of the LORD who not only looks on us but embraces us and exalts us.  The LORD does not require Eve, nor does he require His ancient church Adam and Eve, to celebrate in a room separate from the garden and the king’s palace.  Contrarily, He celebrates with us in His garden of Eden, the ancient prototypical Temple.  Unsurprisingly, the king’s anger and drunkenness (c.f. Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35) is atypical of and a direct contrast to the LORD’s patience and steadfast love.

As if this were not enough, these “wise men” (v.13) who were versed in law and judgment decided to brand Vashti as a poor example of how women should behave towards their husbands and immediately replace her with someone else.  It is heavily implied that their edict is unreasonable, and given that Vashti had upheld her duty towards the king and was an upright queen by way of the brief mention in v.9, their method of stifling her voice is most concerning when compared with the LORD’s edict in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Rather than love and die for her wife, Ahasuerus decided to oppress her and drive her away.

Further, this oppressive edict serves as a background and platform for Esther when she enters the scene.  Will she be like Vashti, beautiful but unloved and ultimately rebellious – in many ways similar to the old Israel (save that the king here is atypical of the LORD)?  Or will she be a new example for the women of Persia and Medes as a follower of Jesus?

Chapter 2

What nonsense that the king should listen to his advisors to replace the queen (v.1-4) – and what contrast it is that the LORD should never forsake His firstborn Israel in spite of His love for the Gentiles (Romans 11:11).  Yet, it is also this foolish plan (c.f. 2 Timothy 4:3) that the LORD used to further His glory, by introducing Mordecai (meaning “little man“), the uncle of Esther (meaning “a star“, the Persian name of Hadassah, meaning “myrtle” – a type of flowering plant, a family of trees and shrubs that are usually evergreen; myrtle plants often produce aromatic oils and are used in spices (e.g. cloves), and seems to indicate fertility and usefulness in Scripture – c.f. Isaiah 41:19; 55:13, Nehemiah 8:15, Zechariah 1:8, growing on the hills about Jerusalem).  Here is the little man of Israel, taken into captivity and living in Persia to bring up his cousin Esther (v.5-7) – a man who is godly, mindful of the rebuilding of Israel and was mentioned once in Ezra 2:2.  The first description of Esther is that she is immediately contrasted with Vashti – where Vashti is a beautiful queen who hosted a banquet for fellow women, Esther is a star who is also beautiful to look at but with a torn past of deceased parents (v.7).  Although Mordecai commanded Esther to not make known her people or kindred (v.10, repeated at v.20), this is firmly distinguished from his later rebuke in Esther 4:12-14 where she is to no longer remain silent.  This is often seen as an example of Mordecai commanding Esther to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16), allowing Esther to enter into the realms of Ahasuerus and be the example that Vashti was not, securing the safety of the future of the Israelites.  Mordecai had a very firm understanding of his position under Ahasuerus’ rule, and did not seek to destroy his kingdom; rather, through His understanding of Romans 13, he upholds Ahasuerus (v.21-23) – though the king’s two eunuchs were angry with the king. Notice how Mordecai was “sitting at the king’s gate” (v.19, 21), the gate being a place of public government and judgment in Scripture (c.f. Genesis 23:10-20, 34:20-24; Deuteronomy 21:19, 22:15, 25:7; Ruth 4:11; Job 29:7; Lamentations 5:14).  This may indicate that Mordecai was appointed as a judge or government official, possibly due to Esther’s coronation, another example of the LORD’s care and love for Mordecai and his and Esther’s house – enabling him to continue to preserve Esther’s interests.  Although Esther is the one who reveals the plot, she does so “in the name of Mordecai” (v.22) – clarifying that glory is due to Mordecai and not Esther.  These men were hanged on the gallows (v.23) – or more accurately, as the Hebrew puts it, “hanged on a tree” (see King James’ translation) – akin to the Hebrew curse under Deuteronomy 21.

Mordecai also seems to have harboured, in his own heart, the possibility that Esther is the rescuer of the Israelites should anything detrimental arise (c.f. Esther 4:14). Perhaps the Septuagint version of Esther, which provides several additions (including a prologue which describes Mordecai receiving a vision of a potential clash between the Israelites and its enemies), prompted Mordecai to prepare for such detriment.  The prologue is as follows:

“In the second year when Artaxerxes the Great was king, on the first day of Nisa, Mar- dochaios the son of Iairos son of Semeias son of Kisaios, from the tribe of Beniamin, saw a dream. 2He was a Judean man dwelling in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the court of the king. 3Now he was of the group of exiles which Nabou- chodonosor, king of Babylon, took captive from Ie- rousalem with Iechonias, the king of Judea. 4And this was his dream: Look! Shouts and confusion! Thunder and earthquake! Chaos upon the earth! 5Look! Two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and a great noise arose from them! 6And at their sound every nation prepared for war, to fight against a nation of righteous people. 7Look! A day of darkness and gloom! Affliction and anguish! Oppression and great chaos upon the earth! 8And the whole righteous nation was in chaos, fearing the evils that threatened themselves, and they were ready to perish. 9Then they cried out to God, and from their cry, as though from a small spring, there came a great river, abundant water; 10light, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalt- ed and devoured those held in esteem. 11Then when Mardochaios, who had seen this dream and what God had determined to do, awoke, he had it on his heart and sought until nightfall to under-stand it in every detail.

12 And Mardochaios took his rest in the court- yard with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king who guarded the courtyard. 13He both overheard their deliberations and inquired into their ambitions, and learned that they were prepar- ing to lay hands on Artaxerxes the king, and he told the king about them. 14Then the king interro- gated the two eunuchs, and when they confessed, they were led away. 15And the king wrote these things in the record, and Mardochaios wrote con- cerning these things. 16And the king ordered Mar- dochaios to serve in the court and gave to him gifts for these things. 17But Haman son of Hama- dathos, a Bougean, was highly esteemed by the king, and he sought to harm Mardochaios and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.”

Separately, it helps to compare her with Daniel (c.f. chapters 6-7 of Daniel) as Daniel and his friends were in a position where they could get on with obeying the law of the LORD, but Esther’s situation was directly forbidden (c.f. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 – marriage to a pagan man), and would make her a difficult witness.

It is peculiar that the 12 months of beautifying included six months of myrrh (one of the ingredients of the oil of holy ointment – Exodus 30:23, used also for embalming and preparation of the body either for love – Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 1:13, 3:6, 4:6, 14, 5:1, 5, 13, or for burial – Matthew 2:11, John 19:39) and six months of spices and ointments – as if purifying the women for a holy act of divine marriage.  Esther’s charm is not lost on the king as she plays the game safely under the direction of Hegai the king’s eunuch, and is finally elected as the new queen (v.15-18).  Strangely, v.17 describes the king as loving Esther more than all the women – a verb not often associated with the king, given his failure to understand how marriage should work like Ephesians 5:22-33.  Yet, by contrast, the verbs associated to Esther do not fare much better – she is a woman often the object of other people’s initiations (she was adopted (v.7), she was taken into the king’s palace (v.8), she did not make knkown her people (v.10), she asked for nothing except whatever was advised to her (v.15), she was taken to the king (v.16)).  Her actions, so far, are mostly passive – indicating her vulnerability to the circumstances around her.  It is not until a later stage that Esther begins to take her own initiative to stand firm as a type of Christ the Mediator.

Chapter 3

Yet, in spite of Mordecai’s actions to protect the king, Haman the Agagite (perhaps one of the Amalekites – c.f. Numbers 24:7, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, 1 Samuel 15) gets promoted.  Saul’s failure to remove the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15) certainly laid the groundwork for Agag, the king of the Amaelkites, to live and prosper against the LORD’s command, the consequences of his sin creating this tricky situation for Mordecai to confront.  It is certainly peculiar that Mordecai should wish to protect the king (perhaps to lay the groundwork for Esther’s influence, since Mordecai warned the king through Esther) yet does not wish to bow down and pay homage to Haman – despite the king’s decree (v.1-3).  This is not taken lightly (v.3), filling Haman (the “magnificent“) with fury.  By Mordecai’s firmness in his faith, he was seen as an example of the Israelites – in many ways his act of rebellion being comparable to that of ex-Queen Vashti’s act of rebellion seen as an example of the women of Persia and Medes.  However, unlike Vashti who was eventually replaced, the LORD will continue to preserve the remnant of the Israelites despite the ridiculous genocidal decree (v.7-11) that Haman conjured (Genesis 45:7).  It is significant that the king grants Haman the signet ring (v.10, 13) – for without this ring, Haman could not act on behalf of the king.  Yet, it is more significant that Haman’s plot does not come to pass until the 12th month (rather than the first month upon casting lots), providing the Israelites one year to prepare for this incoming persecution (c.f. Proverbs 16:33).  What irony that Haman sets out to destroy the very man who uncovered the plot to destroy the king (v.9), such confusion which is lost on Haman and the king as they ironically sit down and enjoy their drink whilst the city of Susa was simply bewildered (v.15).

Chapter 4

Such a ridiculous edict is met with an appropriate response of the Israelites’ weeping and covering of sackcloth and ashes (v.3; c.f. Genesis 37:34, 42:35; 2 Samuel 3:31 – Matthew 11:21, and Jonah 3:8 – as a sign of repentance; Mordecai’s actions especially modeled after Daniel’s – see Daniel 9:3-19).  Yet, note the queen’s response is quite different.  Hers is an emotion of distress (v.4) – but she is far removed from Mordecai and the other Israelites’ scene and demise, as she had not voiced her heritage openly in the courts of Ahasuerus.  Even when Mordecai pleaded for the queen to beg his favour – this same Mordecai who had brought up Esther and who Esther owes her life to; the same Mordecai who disclosed to Hathach that Esther is of the same people who are being persecuted (v.8); the same Mordecai who would be murdered relentlessly by Haman’s edict, meeting the same end as the other Israelites in Ahasuerus’ reign – Esther’s response is cold (v.11):

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

In other words – either the Israelites, including Mordecai, dies or Esther dies!  Mordecai immediately salvages this by rebuking Esther (v.12-14) and reminding her that even if Esther were to stay silent, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but [Esther] and [Esther’s house] will perish.”  What faith and trust that the LORD will indeed continue to rescue Israel His remnant (c.f. 2 Kings 19:4-31; Ezra 9; Isaiah 10:20-22, 37:4-32) through various possibilities not fatalistically predetermined through Esther.  Paul Blackham quotes Derek Prime’s “Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God” (Evangelical Press, Darlington, 2001) pg. 20-21 which states:

“…crucial to the background of the book of Esther is the conflict described in God’s words to the serpent, the devil’s instrument, in Genesis 3:15… Satan’s activity is traceable throughout the Bible.  His tracks may be discerned, together with the aliases he employs – in this case, that of Haman.  Satan, the enemy of souls, was endeavouring to destroy the Jews, the people through whose seed the Messiah was to be born into the world, in order to make null and void God’s promise of a Redeemer… God was committed to preserving the Jewish people so that from them salvation might go out into the ends of the earth… God’s protection of his people was the protection of the Offspring of the woman though which he preserved and carried on his plan of redemption.”

Mordecai simply trusted in this Promised Seed, and knew clearly that whatever Satan’s plan was, the prophesied Offspring of Adam will protect His church of all times.

Esther’s response is finally one of initiation (v.15-17) – for the first time in these chapters, she proactively acted for God’s kingdom, commanding Mordecai to gather the Jews and hold a fast on Esther’s behalf (including her young women (v.16) which indicates that Esther’s quiet faith has also evangelised to others in Ahasuerus’ court to join the Ancient Church), for Esther may perish (v.16), although she is expecting a victorious outcome as a type of Christ the One who – to Esther – will be victorious from his mighty feat of resurrection by the third day (v.16).

Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

Nehemiah 1-3: Gates to the Gospel

Chapter 1

In Ezra, we see the heart of man being circumcised as the law is written on the hearts of those who now return from the long exile. Nehemiah builds on this rebirth by looking at Ezra’s work from the outside, the cupbearer who identified with the Church – weeping and mourning for days, fasting and praying before the LORD (v.4), repeating the refrain (c.f. 2 Chronicles 7) that the LORD is the one who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. Nehemiah immediately is the mediator, the intercessor on behalf of the church, understanding the work of the Mediator – the Christ who is also the Comforter, the name which “Nehemiah” matches. He recognises that even in Egypt, it is the LORD who saved first before we became His servants (v.10 – they are your servants and your people, who you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand). So Nehemiah, the Comforting Intercessor and type of Christ the Mediator, stands before the king whilst his heart yearns for the church whom he is very much part of despite the geographical limitations.

Chapter 2

Nehemiah begins immediately with the sickness of his heart – sickness for the rebuilding and the reformation of the Ancient Church. Yet, the LORD’s hand was with him (v.8), that even Artaxerxes should provide materials for the meek to inherit (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5) and to build the gates of the fortress of the temple and for the wall of the city and for the house that he shall occupy. Such timber is not provided by the Israelites themselves, but through Artaxerxes’ resources by the grace of God. From hearing the news of the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem where the laws are being written on the hearts of tender souls young in their rebirth upon returning from decades of exile, Nehemiah was there three days to rebuild the walls (c.f. symbolism of the third day when Christ resurrected). This is a very different story to Ezra who built the heart mind and soul of the Israelite; whereas Nehemiah built the foundation and the armour protecting the Israelites’ from external onslaught, the spiritual warfare realised on a national level (c.f. Ephesians 6:10-20).

V.11-16 is quite peculiar as it appears that on the evening of the third day, Nehemiah enters Jerusalem in the stillness of the night to:

(i) the Valley Gate, then (ii) to the Dragon Spring, then (iii) to the Dung Gate, then (iv) inspected the walls of Jerusalem (v.13). This is followed by (v) the Fountain Gate and (vi) to the King’s Pool (where there was no room for the animal to pass and (viii) inspected the wall and (ix) turned back and entered by the Valley Gate. These various steps are meaningless to the officials, yet v.17-20 reveals all: Nehemiah intends to remove Jerusalem of its derision and that the LORD will make the Ancient Church prosper (v.20) in face of difficult persecution. Yet, for all who jeer at the work the Lord has tasked us (v.19), they would have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem (v.20). Are you rebelling against the earthly king? Or are you fulfilling the command of the One King, the Lord of Lords, to plead the protection of your heart?

Note however have Nehemiah only visits the southern part of the wall – the furthest part from the Temple. Incidentally the area he visits is where the brook Kidron is, commonly associated to weeping and cleansing throughout Scripture (see 2 Samuel 15:23; 1 Kings 2:37; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 23:4-12; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 29:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14; Jeremiah 31:40 and finally John 18:1, where Christ was betrayed). It is here that Nehemiah recalls the pain and suffering Israel had undergone as a refinery of the nation’s faith in Christ, that through this brook are our sins cleansed entirely and completely renewed as represented by the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. To this, we turn to chapter 3 where the rebuilding begins and portrays with even more clarity how such cleansing is brought about through Nehemiah’s plan which is but a shadow of God’s plan of global redemption.

Chapter 3

1. Sheep Gate (v.1) – this reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; it is the only gate without “locks or bars”, and the only gate that was specifically sanctified as it was repaired and edified by the High Priest and other priests – the door through which the saved walk (see John 10);

2. Fish Gate (v.3) – fishers of men, who are akin to lost souls (i.e. fish; see Habakkuk 1:14 and Mark 1:17);

3. Gate of Yeshanah (Gate of the old city) (v.6) – old wine replaced by new wine; old wineskin replaced by new wineskin; Jerusalem replaced by New Jerusalem (Luke 5:37-38);

4. Valley Gate (v.13) – for we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the affliction through which we experience our life here and yet have a taste of new creation (Psalm 23:4)

5. Dung Gate (v.14) – where the dung of our lives are cleansed (Jeremiah 9:22);

6. Fountain Gate (v.15) – followed by the filling of the Holy Spirit, the true fountain of life (John 7; 14)

7. Water Gate (v.26) – following on from the Fountain Gate, the water of life the Word of God (Revelation 22:1), the seventh gate indicating the rest found in Christ alone and the only gate that required no repair;

8. Horse Gate (v.28) – reminder of the white rider on the horse in Revelation (Revelation 19:11), the return of Christ;

9. East Gate (v.29) – this return is symbolised by God’s glory returning “from the way of the east” (see Ezekiel 10:16-22, 11:22-25, 43:1-5);

10. Muster Gate (Gate of Judgment; Hammiphkad Gate) (v.31) – the word “miphkad” (קד ְפ ִּמַה) represents “appointment, account, census, mustering”, not so different from the “census” in the book of Revelation on the Day of Judgment (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-20; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15);

Then finally returning to the Sheep Gate (v.32) – as the Lamb is the Alpha (the first gate), so also the completion of the Muster Gate returns to the Omega – which is also the Sheep Gate, the Passover Lamb.

Nehemiah 1-3: Gates to the Gospel

2 Chronicles 16-18: Man’s Religion

Chapter 16

Unfortunately, the covenant of salt described in chapter 13 is ignored by Asa in the latter years of his life.  For fear of Baasha, king of Israel (and in spite of the various victories won by Asa against the Ethiopians and the people who did not agree with the oath to love the LORD with all their heart), he sacrificed the silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the LORD and the king’s house (v.2) to re-affirm the heretical covenant (v.3) with Ben-hadad king of Syria.  Instead of remembering the covenant of salt, the oath and covenant that he re-affirmed with the LORD with Azariah’s help, he would rather break Baasha’s sinful covenant with Ben-hadad with another Christless covenant.  As Hanani said to Asa – “Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen?” – and Asa’s victories still came from the LORD.  Yet, Asa forgot the steadfast love of the LORD; he lost his first love (v.11-14), just as we do when we face current troubles and forget how He has not ceased to faithfully rescue us in our walks with Him.

Chapter 17

However, the son of Asa, Jehoshaphat, walked with the LORD as in the earlier ways of David (v.3).  Unlike the spontaneous reforms and oaths of Asa, Jehoshaphat laid the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of the Israelites as led by the Levites (v.8), teaching throughout Judah the book of the Law of the LORD and to Whom the law points towards (v.9-10).  In their understanding of the gospel witnessed in the Mosaic law, they chose not to rebel against their lord Jehoshaphat, fully understanding the true significance of the covenant between the LORD and the house of David.  Unsurprisingly, the evangelistic and missional effect of clinging closely to Jesus is truly felt once the law has been intentionally preached throughout Israel, that gospel peace is once again attained when the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah (v.10).

Chapter 18

Even in Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab, one of the first pictures of unity between Israel and Judah since the days of Solomon, Jehoshaphat does not cease to remind Ahab the importance of inquiring first for the word of the LORD (v.4).  Unlike the four hundred “prophets” which Ahab surrounded himself with (v.9-11), Jehoshaphat knew that the true word of the LORD could only come from a true prophet (v.6) – that being Micaiah the son of Imlah who does not fear the king of Israel and therefore does not speak words of empty flattery (v.7, 13, 17).  The clear irony which the narrator is trying to portray is the juxtaposition of the image of Ahab and Jehoshaphat sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes (v.9) surrounded by ridiculous prophets; and that of the glorious LORD sitting on his throne (v.18) and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left, clarifying that one of the LORD’s spirit has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all of Ahab’s prophets (v.21-22) to entice Ahab and lead him to disaster.  Yet, is this picture not all too familiar of that of the Sanhedrin’s inquisition of our LORD Jesus Christ?  The false teachers, Pharisees and Sadducees weighing the substance of Christ and instead of taking His word seriously would rather question His authenticity and His Spirit?  Thus Ahab’s false religion and prophets go to the grave with him (v.28-34) just as the modern religion of Judaism is but a remnant and not even more than a shadow of the Messianic Judaism of the Old Testament as preached by Jehoshaphat.  Jehoshaphat’s naked and childlike cry (v.13) is enough to warrant the LORD’s protection; Ahab’s thick clothing of a false priesthood and disguise are but useless before the the LORD’s throne.

 

 

2 Chronicles 16-18: Man’s Religion

1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

Chapter 16 begins with David’s song of thanks to the LORD, an ode which bears the following elements:

1.  Calling upon the LORD’s name (v.8, 10, 29, 35)

2.  Make known his deeds of salvation (v.8, 9, 12, 21-24, 35)

3.  Remember His covenant (v.15-18, 35)

4.  Ascribing to Him glory in our rejoicing (v. 10, 24, 27-35).

Note especially the last part of David’s song of thanksgiving which combines the four elements together:

Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.  Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” (v.35-36)

After this act of worship, the blessing and glory of the LORD does not stay there in one place; rather, He continues to be with them in their households (v.43; c.f. John 17):

“The meaning of glory is offered most fully in John 17—where Jesus spoke aloud to the Father before going to his death.  Jesus received glory from the Father, and he reciprocated that glory to the Father.  As the linkage of glory to sacrificial death in the analogy of the planted-wheat of John 12 made clear, glory was displayed in the Son’s willingness to die for all who would believe

Glory is what Jesus shared with the Father and the Spirit even before there was a creation (17:5).  And what was the eternal motive for this whole exchange?  Love!  The Son’s real mission on earth wasn’t to gain glory but to give access to that eternal Father-Son-Spirit glory which the Father had given him “because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (17:24).  So it is that God is not a glory-monger but a glory-sharer.  And when the Spirit coaches us to glorify God—as in 1 Corinthians 10:31—it must be understood in light of 1 Corinthians 13, “the greatest of these is love” so that we love him, and out of that love our own celebration of his goodness—our own giving of glory—is poured out.” – Ron Frost on “Glorifying Glory

Chapter 17 is commonly associated with Solomon, as David looks to continue thanking the LORD by creating a house for the ark of the covenant.  However much David is like the Son, he is not the Son Whom the LORD has anointed (c.f. Isaiah 42:1).  The words, too, do not apply specifically to Solomon; although Solomon eventually built the temple to house the ark of the covenant, his throne did not reign forever either.  Chapter 17 therefore should only truly and firstly apply to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whose Name shall indeed reign forever unlike Solomon whose kingdom has vanished for thousands of years already.  Let us now turn to the Father’s prophecy of His Son in (v.8-15):

V.8 – the Father will make for David a “name”;

v.9 – the Father will appoint a place for His people Israel and “be disturbed no more”.  This was clearly not fulfilled in the days of Solomon; and the indication here is that the place is not Canaan, for Canaan was already given to Israel at this stage (despite the intermittent invasions by neighbouring pagan nations);

v.10-11 – the LORD will build a house (not Solomon); and He will establish the kingdom of one of David’s offspring.

v.12-14 – the offspring (Jesus) will build a house for the Father (John 14:2; preparing a place for us), and He will establish the Son’s throne forever.  He will not take his steadfast love from His Son, as He had done so with Saul – and the Son’s throne shall be established forever (Hebrews 1:8 Revelation 22:3).  He will be to him a Father as he will be to him a Son (v.13; quoted in Hebrews 1:5).

Much of these truths are reflected also in Psalm 1-2 and in the book of Hebrews, as prophesied by the vision of Nathan.  David thus went into the tent and sat before the LORD (note, not before the ark!) and again re-counted his thankfulness to the LORD – such recognition of his need to be humble before the One who saves!  There is indeed none like the LORD (v.20), and none like Israel – the one united nation to have been chosen to be redeemed (v.21; note the Hebrew word “echad” used to describe Israel; it is not so much that Israel was the only people chosen to be redeemed, but rather, the only nation as a whole chosen to be redeemed.  This explains the ready salvation of the Gentiles in the Old Testament, such as in Exodus 12:38, although not to the same extent or focus on these nations compared to Israel, the chosen priesthood – c.f. Exodus 19:6).  David thus speaks of Christ as the Servant (v.23) through Whom the Father’s Name shall be established forever (v.24), though at the same time referring to himself as the servant before the LORD, looking forward to the work of the incarnate Servant (Isaiah 42:1).  As Matthew Henry comments:

“That which is there expressed by way of question (Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?) is here an acknowledgment: “Thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree. Thou hast made me a great man, and then treated me accordingly.” God, by the covenant-relations into which he admits believers, the titles he gives them, the favours he bestows on them, and the preparations he has made for them, regards them according to the estate of men of high degree, though they are mean and vile. Having himself distinguished them, he treats them as persons of distinction, according to the quality he has been pleased to put upon them. Some give these words here another reading: “Thou hast looked upon me in the form of a man who art in the highest, the Lord God; or, Thou hast made me to see according to the form of a man the majesty of the Lord God.” And so it points at the Messiah; for, as Abraham, so David, saw his day and was glad, saw it by faith, saw it in fashion as a man, the Word made flesh, and yet saw his glory as that of the only-begotten of the Father. And this was that which God spoke concerning his house for a great while to come, the foresight of which affected him more than any thing. And let it not be thought strange that David should speak so plainly of the two natures of Christ who in spirit called him Lord, though he knew he was to be his Son (Ps. cx. 1), and foresaw him lower than the angels for a little while, but afterwards crowned with glory and honour, Heb. ii. 6, 7.”

Immediately thereafter, chapters 18 and 19 once again covers the victories of David after his dialogue and worship of God, just as chapter 14 had done after the narrative in chapter 13.  It seems to be the narrator’s intention to portray the need for the king of Israel to seek the face and Name of the true King of kings before any victory can be achieved, just as Christ sought the Father’s warm embrace (c.f. Matthew 26) before being nailed on the cross to achieve the Victory of victories.

1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

1 Chronicles 1-3: The Genealogy of the Messiah, the Son of God

We now come to the books of Chronicles, recording the history of mankind from Genesis 1 to the return from the exile in Assyria and Babylon.  The books bear a cohesive tone compared to that taken by the various authors such as Moses and the narrators of the subsequent books from Joshua up to 2 Kings, being more priestly than the Deuteronomist style taken in the books of Kings.  As such, we find many gems here which reveal much of what was not spoken of in the previous Old Testament books, taking us closer to understanding the Messianic plan of God imprinted in creation (Genesis 1-2) and prophesied verbally in Genesis 3:15.

 

So 1 Chronicles 1 can be listed as such (categorized by Adam Clarke):

 

  • The genealogy of Adam to Noah, v.1-3.
  • Of Noah to Abraham, v.4-27.
  • The sons of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, v.28.
  • The sons of Ishmael, v.29-31.
  • The sons of Keturah, v.32, 33.
  • The sons of Esau, v.34-42.
  • A list of the kings of Edom, v.43-50.
  • A list of the dukes of Edom, v.51-54.

 

It is quite interesting why the Chronicler decided to categorise chapter 1 into the genealogy from the son of God, Adam (c.f. Luke 3:23-38), to the son of the blood covenant, Noah (c.f. Genesis 6-8), from Noah to his three sons, the three fathers of the nations of the world (c.f. Genesis 9), and then from Japheth first, then to Ham, then to Shem.  It is not coincidental that the purpose of the Chronicler is to talk first about those outside of Israel, before moving to the ancestor of Israel through Abraham, up to Shem – the last of the sons of Noah to be described.  We are thus reminded of the important gospel truth of the world before Israel, the world before the law through Moses, when the Gentiles either called upon the Name of the Lord or reigned as kings and chiefs in idolatry (Genesis 4:26; c.f. v.43) long before Israel was established as a Christian nation, as a nation with its own anointed king – the people of Seir (Genesis 36), who take no part in the promised Messiah and are not mentioned in any significant respect in the rest of Scripture.

 

Instead, Israel is only spoken of in chapter 2 (c.f. Galatians 3, the promise of God made to Abraham before the era of the law marking Israel apart from other nations), a reminder once again that Adam is the first son of God; Israel came but after Adam (c.f. Exodus 4:22, Israel as firstborn like Adam), but Israel as a nation was never the second Adam.  Christ was (1 Corinthians 15:45).  Israel, in fact, never stood outside of the shadow of Adam (c.f. Hebrews 7:10) for only Christ stood outside as the new Adam under whom we reign as co-heirs.

 

Thus, we turn from individuals in chapter 1, to fathers of the anointed nation Israel, in chapter 2 – as categorized by Adam Clarke:

 

 

 

 

  • The twelve sons of Jacob, v.1, 2.
  • The posterity of Judah down to David, v.3-15.
  • The posterity of the children of Jesse and Caleb, v.16-55.

 

 

As was clear in 1 and 2 Kings, so it is also clear that the Chronicler is moving from Adam to David – from the first son of God, to the son of God after His own heart.  This is the David who slew Goliath, hailing from the prince of the sons of Judah Nahshon, the 7th son of Jesse.  Thus we see the list of children born to him in Hebron (v.1-4), and those born to him in Jerusalem (v.5-9), Solomon being one of those born in the promised city of peace, making the natural logical step to describe the regal line of Solomon in v.10-24.

 

After the description of Jesse and Caleb’s descendants, we go through the list of kings (in particular chapter 3:10-17, which describes all the kings in 1 and 2 Kings).  Note, in particular, Adam Clarke’s commentary on the final king Anani in 1 Chronicles 3:24:

 

“This is the King Messiah who is to be revealed.”-T. Jarchi says the same, and refers to Da 7:13: Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds (ananey) of heaven. For this application of the word he gives a fanciful reason, not worthy to be repeated. The Syriac and Arabic omit several names in this table, and make only twenty-three verses in the chapter: but such differences are frequent in the books of Chronicles.”

 

And as commented on by Matthew Henry:

 

“The last person named in this chapter is Anani, of whom bishop Patrick says that the Targum adds these words, He is the king Messiah, who is to be revealed, and some of the Jewish writers give this reason, because it is said (Dan. vii. 13), the son of man came gnim gnanani–with the clouds of heaven. The reason indeed is very foreign and far-fetched; but that learned man thinks it may be made use of as an evidence that their minds were always full of the thoughts of the Messiah and that they expected it would not be very long after the days of Zerubbabel before the set time of his approach would come.”

 

Indeed, Matthew Henry marks an important focus of these Old Testament writers, that they should have “minds… always full of the thoughts of the Messiah”.  Thus ends our foci on chapters 1 to 3 of 1 Chronicles, which speaks of individuals moving to the appointed nation and king; and the subsequent times to turn us to specific tribes under the leadership of such a king, modeling the gospel truth of the salvation of Gentiles before Israelites (Galatians 3).  This is also the position taken by the synoptic gospel authors Matthew and Luke, focusing on the genealogy of the promised seed, from Adam to Japheth (1 Chronicles 1:1-4), from Shem, the promised line of the Semites to Abraham (1 Chronicles 1:17-24), from Abraham to Jacob (1 Chronicles 1:28-34), from Jacob to David (1 Chronicles 2:1-15), and from David to Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:1-10), and finally from Solomon to Shealtiel (1 Chronicles 3:10-17), after which the genealogy is covered by Matthew and Luke to bring us to the promised Messiah.  So also, the author of Chronicles framed the opening of the books in the same manner as the synoptic gospels, to show that the promised line shall come through those especially highlighted, at the beginning and end of each of these three opening chapters.

 

 

1 Chronicles 1-3: The Genealogy of the Messiah, the Son of God