July 7

1 Chronicles 4:5–5:17

The Chronicler simply lists the significant names in the various families. In this section of reading we have the family of Judah (1 Chronicles 4:1-23).  The family of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:24-43).  The family of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:10). The family of Gad (1 Chronicles 5:11-22).

The reason for the list in this order is explained in:

1 Chronicles 5:1–2 (NKJV) “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; 2 yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s.”

When Reuben was younger he slept with his father’s concubine. The Scriptures don’t tell us if his father Jacob said or did anything to him at the time, only that he’d heard what happened. At the end of his life, however, Jacob issued this punishment upon his son – the loss of his birthright as firstborn because of what he had done years earlier (Genesis 35:22; 49:4). 

You may have noticed tucked away in the midst of all those names, an amazing testimony in a man named Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). His name means “pain.” Apparently his mother named him that because he caused her pain (but what child doesn’t?).  Imagine going around, living life with a name like that! It followed him. Sometimes those names people call us stick with us, next thing you know Jabez IS causing people pain…so he prayed. He asked four things of God:

1. That God would bless him indeed.

2. That God would enlarge his territory.

3. That God’s hand would be with him.

4. That God would keep him from evil, SO THAT HE WOULD NOT CAUSE PAIN.

We should all pray for God’s true blessings upon our lives. An enlargement of our territory may be physical land, but it also may be interpreted as the grace to reach more people with His glorious Gospel. What can we do without God’s hand upon us? But what can’t we do if His hand is with us? (see Acts 4:30; 11:21). O that God would keep us from evil! Why would we ask such a thing? So that we would not grieve the LORD or cause pain to others. It’s a great prayer that some have been led to pray (it’s always good to pray Bible). But don’t pray it as a mantra, pray it from the heart.

God granted him that request, so much so, that Jabez became more honorable than his brothers (1 Chronicles 4:9). You may have noticed that an entire territory in Israel bears his name (1 Chronicles 2:55). 

The story of Jabez is a testimony of how God can intervene and change anyone’s life – but we must pray and seek the Lord as Jabez did. Many years ago I read a book by Bruce Wilkinson entitled, “The Prayer of Jabez.” It was a good read – we just need to be careful of the marketing of the prayer.

Acts 25:1-27

Festus, the Governor of Judea, went up to Jerusalem, no doubt a typical political visit. While he’s there the Jews petition him to summon Paul to Jerusalem. They may have told him it was to conduct a trial, but their real reasoning was to kill Paul on the way.

Festus decided to have them come down to Caesarea instead, that they might accuse him there, to see if there was any fault in him.

When the Jews came down, Paul defended himself against his accusers. Festus knew the charges against Paul were weak, but “wanting to do the Jews a favor,” (Acts 25:9) he asked Paul if he was willing to go up to Jerusalem and be judged there.

Paul was 100% sure that he wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Jerusalem, and that’s all he was asking for – justice among men. Paul even said in:

Acts 25:11 (NKJV) “…if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying…”

But because he knew justice wasn’t possible in Jerusalem (he probably wouldn’t even make it there alive) he asked for something that he’d probably been praying about the past 2 years – he appealed to Caesar Augustus the Emperor of Rome. Paul was a Roman citizen, and he had that right. Governor Festus was bound by he law and therefore agreed.

After some days King Agrippa II (King of the Jews from 53-100 AD) came to Caesarea to greet Festus. While there, Festus asked King Agrippa about Paul’s situation, filling him in on the whole story. Festus was a bit concerned, because he was unable to specify the charges against Paul and yet he was sending him to Caesar.

Agrippa wanted to hear Paul, so they set up a great hearing, with grand pomp and pageantry, the king, his sister Bernice, and other dignitaries were there, most likely in the massive Amphitheater in Caesarea.

What a great opportunity for Paul to preach…all made possible through the actual trials of life. This chapter is Paul’s Arraignment, Paul’s Appeal, and Paul’s Audience. 

Warren Wiersbe comments, “Being a prisoner and enduring the hearings were difficult for Paul, but he used his opportunities wisely. He believed Jesus’ words: ‘But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony’’ (Luke 21:13).”

Below is the family tree of Herod the Great from the Bible Knowledge Commentary. You’ll notice that the King Herod in Acts 25 is actually his great grandson, and Bernice is his great granddaughter. They were having an incestuous relationship.

The story of Bernice is heart-breaking. She was the great-granddaughter of the ruthless, and mentally unstable King Herod the Great. She was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, a shrewd man and a close friend of the Roman emperor Claudius. She married well three times and seemed to have inherited her father’s shrewd intellect. She had an incestuous relationship with her brother Agrippa II – it was public and very scandalous. According to history, she had an affair with, and probably hoped to marry, the Roman emperor Titus. The Romans feared she would be another Cleopatra, and none-too-gently persuaded Titus to send her home when he became Emperor in 79AD.

Psalm 5:1-12

David experienced severe Spiritual warfare! I have a hunch the enemy saw his potential and worked overtime in his attempt to prevent David from fulfilling his destiny. Maybe you’re going through it as well.

We’re encouraged by David’s prayers, and struggles, and declarations of faith.

In Psalms 5:1-2 we hear David’s heart, in that he begged God to hear his prayers, to answer his cries which he would be lifting up loudly every morning. It teaches me to pray in such a way! That God would hear me, lead me, defend me and deal with my enemies who come against me. David gives reasons for God to judge the wicked. He then ends the Psalm/song/prayer with a jubilant declaration of faith.

Psalm 5:11–12 (NKJV) “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. 12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Proverbs 18:19

The point to ponder here is that it can be terribly difficult to win a brother or sister back into your life, to truly patch things up and make amends…if you’ve offended them. We must be extremely careful and wise NOT to create that chasm between brethren, carelessly.

Imagine how hard it would be to conquer a protected city. Well, according to the Scriptures, that would be easier than truly winning a person back into your life. It’s hard to break through those iron bars.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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