OT: I Chronicles 2:18-4:4
Okay, I read closely enough today that I had a question.
In yesterday's reading, a verse said, "The sons born to Hezron were: Jerahmeel, Ram and Caleb" (2:9).
Today, our reading started off with the genealogy of "Caleb son of Hezron" (2:18). Verses 18-19 list all of his wives and sons. Or do they?
In verse 42-48, we get an alternate genealogy of Caleb. Well, maybe it is a different Caleb, right? Nope...the verse clearly says, "Caleb the brother of Jerahmel" (42). According to 2:9, Caleb the son of Hezron, and Caleb the brother of Jerahmel are one and the same man.
And yet Caleb the son of Hezron had the following wives: Azubah, Jerioth, and Ephrath. And he had the following sons: Jesher, Shobab, Ardon, and Hur.
But Caleb the brother of Jerahmel had these concubines: Ephah and Maacah. And he had these sons: Mesha (his firstborn), Haran, Moza, Gaze, Sheber, Tirhanah, Shaaph, and Sheva (and a daughter, Acsah).
Okay, it definitely took me tying all of that out, but I think one list is of the sons of his wives, and one list is of the sons of his concubines. Got it.
Good grief! This genealogy is definitely arranged in a confusing way to me.
NT: Acts 24:1-27
Paul is so smart! I really am impressed by this man's way with words, not to mention his composure and presence of mind. In today's reading, the Sanhedrin's lawyer brings an official charge against Paul before Felix, the governor. They are probably disappointed to have to do things in such a diplomatic way, now that their assassination plan has been thwarted. However, the lawyer's charge was pretty daunting to me, and I was eager to read, once again, how Paul responded.
And yet again, Paul proves that he is a great public speaker.* Even though I would be so intimidated to have so many people standing against me, he speaks confidently: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation, so I gladly make my defense. You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago..."
I love that opening. So diplomatic. So calm. So reasonable. Maybe I'm biased, but to me, he pretty much dismantles the Sanhedrin's case in that one speech. It seems that Felix seems to agree, b/c he feels no real need to continue after Paul speaks. However, he also does not decide the case, but postpones it instead, until "Lysias the commander" comes (22). It would appear from the rest of the chapter that Felix postponed the case so that he would have a chance to talk to Paul personally about his beliefs. His reaction is interesting. The text says, "He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you'" (24b-25). Felix's reaction is a powerful example of how, for some people, the Gospel is not Good News. They might like the idea of Jesus and all that, but they don't like it that they have to change. The Gospel tells them that they are lost, and they don't like that. And the Gospel tells them that they must live a righteous life and exercise self-control, and they don't like that. And if that weren't enough, the Gospel then informs them that there will be an eternal judgment based on their actions on earth (and specifically, on whether or not they accepted Christ). It seems that Felix did not like hearing all of that today.
And as a result, he kept Paul locked up for two more years. Nice.
*Even though Paul is good with words, perhaps I should give credit where credit is due: I have a strong feeling that God's Spirit was with him powerfully during these proceedings.
I absolutely LOVED verse 4:
"In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent."
So many times when I am angry, if I actually take the time to stop and honestly search my heart, I find all sorts of unsavory things. Most often, my anger stems directly from my own pride, selfishness, and immaturity. And the fact that I often ponder such things in bed at night makes this verse even more pertinent to me:). Usually when I do this type of introspection, the end result is that I am silent. I decide not to speak up and voice my complaint b/c I realize that the real problem is with me.
I also love verses 6-8:
"Many are asking, 'Who can show us any good?'
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety."
I love this picture of reliance on God. Clearly, the situation described by David is grim. People are wondering if there is any good left. They definitely do not have an abundance of grain or new wine. And yet, even in the midst of this hardship, David has greater joy than others are able to have in the "good" times! And he is also able to have peace. I love joy and peace, and I love the idea that we get those things from God alone, and not from our circumstances.
Proverbs 18: 16-18
Each of these three verses seem more to state facts than to give direct advice. The first could be reworded into the adage, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." (Actually, is that how the adage goes? Who tries to catch flies with honey or vinegar? Why catch flies at all?) Anyhow, the third proverb extols the virtues of casting lots. But its the second proverb to which I relate.
Sometimes I feel like such a reed, blown and tossed by the wind. Like the proverb says, I will here one side of the story and be all for it. Then, I'll hear the other side and will be swayed by that. The end result is that I'm totally confused on what I believe about the situation!