Why Do We Need the Genealogies of 1 Chronicles?

I was recently asked the following question about the genealogies of 1 Chronicles (which are not typical for a verse-of-the-day reflection):

“I am going through a devotion to read the Bible in a year. A part of that means reading the Chronicles. I’ve read up to chapter 8, but I still don’t get why they are there. The only thing I can think of is that it demonstrates God’s faithfulness with every generation. What role does the Chronicles play in our lives today?”

Here is my reply:

“Great question. Let me offer a couple of thoughts on their inclusion:

1) Like any family tree, the ones who care about it the most are usually those whose family it represents. You will find that you care more about your family history than those not belonging to your family. So these chapters would matter to those families that this records their heritage. It is like the saying you may have heard before “When we are reading the Bible we are reading someone else’s mail”. Yet the Church finds themselves grafted into this family so that this becomes in a certain fashion, our family tree.

2) It traces the families from the beginning (Adam) all the way to the 4-5th century BCE and the exiles who were now returning to the land from exile. This gives a testament to the faithfulness of the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The faithfulness is shown in the continuing generations and in the reported numbers. This deity, Yahweh, was faithful to judge the rebellion of the people, but better yet…this God was faithful to his Name (Yahweh) and was gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love to a thousand generations. His mercy is not like his justice. He is a good God.

3) It includes testimonies of both faithfulness and unfaithfulness in the genealogical records which serves to offer an honest appraisal and point the readers toward lives committed to faithfulness to the God of Israel and living faithfully in the land.

4) It provides some sense of a record (in those later chapters of the genealogies) of those who could trace their inheritance back to the promised land. This was paramount in determining who had a right to the various pieces of land as they were returning. It functioned in some sense as a book of life (to borrow the NT idea that seems to draw on these chapters in some fashion) where whoever’s names were in it (technically only the various family heads) were to receive their inheritance. You did not want your name excluded or questioned.

I trust this helps. I know it does not make these chapters any easier to read
per se, but it should at least offer some sense of why they belong here. Hope this helps. Blessings in your readings (and obedience to the readings).”

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