A new way to read 1 Chronicles

When you’re reading through your Bible and get to 1 Chronicles, the first response is to groan at the seemingly endless lists of names. After all, it’s full of ‘…the sons of…’, ‘…the father of…’.

But step back a moment: these are all people, mentioned for a reason.

But how do we give them a little respect?

Imagine along with me…

You’re standing in the third row of a big, open-air stadium. The biggest one you’ve ever been in. And it’s nighttime. You can’t see the other side, it’s that big.

The space is quiet, but not fully silent. The extent of the stadium is felt, rather than seen.

It’s mostly dark, but at that special time of twilight when you can see stars above, but everything in sight has a gentle, warm, velvety glow about it. The row in which you’re standing trails off into darkness on either side.

A pool of light appears, not blindingly bright, but comfortably bright – enough to illuminate a figure stepping into it.

And a man paces confidently into the light.

The man stepping into the light is a great-looking guy, from what you see. Chiseled, muscular; not a single imperfection in his skin or body. Almost, and I say again: almost, god-like in appearance. And then you realize it’s Adam, just before a floating name appears a foot or so in front of him, at about the height of his waist. Adam looks down at the name, then up at you, and smiles.

He gestures to the side, and as he does so, another figure steps into the light, and Adam steps slightly to the side, placing his hand upon this person’s shoulder. The light encompasses the two of the briefly, then Adam steps off to the side, disappearing into the shadows; and you realize this person left in the light is Enosh, who, ignoring the floating name at his waist, nods in greeting, then gestures to a small boy who transforms into the grown Kenan as a floating name appears before him at his waist.

As with Adam, Enosh steps off into the darkness, leaving Kenan to smile at a grown man stepping into the pool of light. It’s Mahalalel; who as Kenan steps off into the darkness, claps his arms around Jared.

Kenan then waves goodbye to Jared, then steps off into the darkness as Jared pulls a reluctant Enoch into the light. Enoch sheepishly waves ‘hello’ as Jared steps off into the darkness, then proudly holds a hand out.

Methuselah steps into the light, looking quite wise and basking in the approval of his father. As he turns to see Lamech stepping into the light, Enoch gently eases into the darkness.

Lamech holds out his hands to receive a well-worn figure, whom we realize to be Noah. They pat each other on the back and step apart.

Noah turns, as if hearing something. Lamech nods and steps out of the light. Meanwhile, running into the light are three small boys, Shem, Ham, and Japeth. Right before our eyes, they transform into men, and each claps their father on the shoulder in a goodbye gesture, as Noah steps out of the light.

Now the pool of light widens, encompassing the three men, then even more as children begin running into the light. The light widens further as Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras come running in to gather around Japeth, their father. The others step aside to allow the children to gather. As we watch, they all transform into grown men: some dressed as public servants, some as businessmen, some as fishermen, some as herders. They remain standing around their father, who has his arms outstretched around them as if gathering his family to him.

Meanwhile, we realize that the group is growing: other children are running in. Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah run in to gather around Gomer. They also transform into men, with yet different clothing: a baker, a mason, and a shipwright.

And so it proceeds, each set of children in prominence, each in turn, as their fathers step back to allow them to take the light for a few moments. Each are different, some bold, some shy, some secretive, some an open book to the world. Each with his own occupation – some following his father, some taking a different path. Each a child of God, each with their own to contribute.

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