Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 26, Mar 2019
1 Chronicles 4:1-23
The sons of Judah; Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal. And Reaiah the son of Shobal begat Jahath; and Jahath begat Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites. And these were of the father of Etam; Jezreel, and Ishma, and Idbash: and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi: And Penuel the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah. These are the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah, the father of Bethlehem. And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah. And Naarah bare him Ahuzam, and Hepher, and Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. And the sons of Helah were, Zereth, and Jezoar, and Ethnan. And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum. And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the father of Eshton. And Eshton begat Bethrapha, and Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Irnahash. These are the men of Rechah. And the sons of Kenaz; Othniel, and Seraiah: and the sons of Othniel; Hathath. And Meonothai begat Ophrah: and Seraiah begat Joab, the father of the valley of Charashim; for they were craftsmen. And the sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and Naam: and the sons of Elah, even Kenaz. And the sons of Jehaleleel; Ziph, and Ziphah, Tiria, and Asareel. And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. And his wife Jehudijah bare Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Socho, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took. And the sons of his wife Hodiah the sister of Naham, the father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite. And the sons of Shimon were, Amnon, and Rinnah, Benhanan, and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were, Zoheth, and Benzoheth. The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea, And Jokim, and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem. And these are ancient things. These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.
What I have just read to you is the genealogies of Judah. Genealogies do teach us that the bible is the story of real people and God’s actual intervention in time and space and His revelation of truth concerning them; for here it is the tribe of Judah.
I put some names in red because I will be referring to them in this message.
Perez is the twin son of Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law
The Zorathities are prominent families
Hezelelponi is a sister/a woman
The father of Tekoa is also a famous village known for a wise woman
Then we know Jabez
Irnahash is another known city
Othniel is the son in law of Caleb
Caleb is himself famous
Shelah is the third son of Judah after Er, Onan
I shared two weeks ago that the number 4 represents being chosen by God. I gave the example of Judah being the fourth son of Israel and Solomon being the fourth son of David. More correctly Solomon was the fourth son of David born in Jerusalem. I also say that 4 is the number for the trials of life, the thorns and thistles of life on earth (40 being related to 4 is also number for one life’s span). Because Judah was specifically chosen by God and not by man and was willing to walk in obedience to God in spite of the trials of life on earth, the tribe of Judah rose to prominence eventually. I also said that in the wilderness of life and this wondering life, when you are chosen you just need to be in obedience and walk in submission to God and things will go well. Let’s study the chosen by God through the tribe of Judah.
1. The Rise to Prominence
I Chronicles 5:2. It says, ‘For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph’s’. 1 Chronicles 4:1-22 gives such a lengthily treatment of the tribe of Judah. They are given so much prominence in the Bible. While listing the lineage of all the children of Israel the first tribe to be mentioned is Judah, not Reuben, not even Joseph. I mean Reuben is firstborn. Yet Judah is mentioned first. Firstborn means belong to God. But even when Reuben belongs to God, he did not rise above Judah. It is not enough to be a Christian; to belong to God, you have to be chosen by God. Matthew 22:14 says, ‘Many are called but few are chosen.’ It is special to be chosen by God. Are you like Reuben; belong to God but outshone by a man chosen by God? Or are you like Dan and Zebulun that you are not even mentioned even though you are children of God. ‘Not mentioned’ means you did not rise to significance. For the tribe of Judah, we are given clear, distinct lineage with strong connection to the line of Judah. Somehow, they started to excel and became known throughout. If you are still not convinced by what I say, then read I Chronicles 5:2. It says, ‘For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph’s’. Judah triumphs over his brethren. Of him came the chief ruler. ‘Chief Ruler’ means Judah became a leader. Another word for ‘chief ruler’ is a prince. Wherever you go you become a ruler. Judah was not the next in line (for he was fourth) as far as birth right is concerned, yet he became the leader of the family of Israel through which line David and the Messiah would come. There is something that is mentioned I Chronicles 5:2 that is interesting. It says that ‘but the birthright was Joseph.’ It means that the firstborn birthright goes to Joseph and not to Judah. The firstborn was Reuben but his birthright goes to Joseph. In Biblical Israel, there are three ways that the head of the family is designated.
1. By First Birth – that was Reuben
2. By choice – that was Joseph
3. By strength, number and power – Judah.
Joseph took the birthright of Reuben by the choice of Jacob. You must not despise your birthright as a child of God as was Reuben and Esau because it can be taken from you. How do we despise our birthright? By living carelessly and shown no interest in the things of God. Treasure your privilege as a child of God. Birthright means double portion and double inheritance. Pastor Lily and I always felt that we have the double portion and the double inheritance: being the first born of the founding of this church under JECPP and also the first missionaries of the ex-church. The first church under JECPP is Etab. This church was founded in 1986. Look at Joseph. It is so clear that he took the birthright of Reuben from that verse. Look at the history of Israel. Ephraim forms the Northern Kingdom (much bigger than Judah in inheritance wise) and Judah forms the Southern Kingdom; became known as Judah. Pronouncement by your parents are something that is powerful and important especially in biblical Israel. And the results cannot be denied. Especially when your father is a godly man. Take for instance Abraham’s pronouncement of birthright to Isaac and Isaac’s pronouncement of birthright to Jacob and finally Jacob’s pronouncement of birthright to Joseph. Human has favorite son. Abraham preferred Isaac to Ismael. Jacob is preferred over Esau. And Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob is preferred over the whole 11 brothers. Joseph became a family name in Israel seen in the name of Ephraim. All the 10 tribes of Israel in Northern Kingdom is known as Ephraim. I mean name is powerful. Like the Garin, the Tupas. I am quite sure they will win this coming election as long as they use the name of Garin or Tupas. Theologically and legally birthright goes to the firstborn. Pastor Lily in the early years will let my two children be known that the birthright of the firstborn goes to Joy. Pastor Lily, for instance will inform them that when two of us passed away; for our property, Joy will get two third and Jan one third. How does Jan react to such truth? Well Jan says, that she knows this truth and that is why she is working harder than anybody not to lose out. So theologically and legally the birthright goes to the firstborn. But then God showed me something that I have not seen before. Somehow, I notice that in the Kingdom of God there is something that is more powerful than birthright and that is being chosen by God. I mean Leah was not loved and her sister Rachel is preferred over her. Yet God’s choice was Judah, the son of Leah. Many of us are like Judah. We made mistakes like Judah. Judah married a Canaanite woman that bored him the first three children; Er, Ornan and Shelah. And Judah even was seduced by his daughter in law who acted as a prostitute and bore two sons; twins; Perez and Zerah. So altogether Judah had 5 sons. Man’s life many a time is a messed-up life. Yet somehow God comes in. The bible says while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God told me very specially in the early years of my life that I have not chosen him but he has chosen me and I will go and bring forth much fruit. Did I do something to earn being chosen? No. If there is one thing I did, it was I reached out to God in a moment of desperation. What I am trying to tell you is that you may not be firstborn but there is still this powerful truth of being chosen by God. The proof of you being chosen by God is that you will eventually rise up by strength, number and power. I said the third designation that you are the head of a family is by strength, number and power. You will rise to prominence and it will show that you are the head and that you are chosen. How many of you know that you have been chosen by YHWH, put up your hands? It is very important to be chosen by God. It is more powerful than birthright. You will even excel above that that has double portion. I mean Judah get stronger and stronger in strength, number and power.
I Chronicles 4:2 lists the 5 descendants of Judah: Pharez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur and Shobal. This is the second list of Judah’s male children. The first list is in 1 Chronicles 2:3 where the sons of Judah by a Canaanite woman are named; Er, Onan and Shelah borne to him by Bathshua, the Canaanitess. The sons listed here starts with Pharez who was borne by Tamar (Tamar had twins, Perez and Zerah), his daughter-in-law. Judah had 5 sons in all. Yet Pharez by Tamar was the progenitor (forerunner) of David. The focus of this Hebrew structure would be the lineage of Hezron. Do you think you have any hope if you are the son of a prostitute whose mum slept with her father in law? Do you think you have any future if you are born out of adultery? Well in the language of YHWH, there is hope. So please don’t say there is no hope for anyone of you here. The only problem is are you connected to YHWH and cooperate with YHWH and walk in submission to YHWH.
2. The Achievements of the Tribes of Judah
Let’s study the descendants of Judah. I Chronicles 4:1 The sons of Judah; Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal.
“The first descendant of Judah is Perez by Tamar.”
Perez means ‘to burst forth’ immediately after Judah was chosen the tribe begins to burst forth.
I Chronicles 4:2 says, ‘And Reaiah the son of Shobal begat Jahath; and Jahath begat Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.’ The families of the Zorathities are prominent families. The Zorathities are better known as the families from which Samson came. Out of Judah comes forth prominent families. In 1 Chronicles 4:4 it includes place names, and the phrase ‘father of’ can also be construed as ‘founder of’. They became founder of cities. They will get stronger and stronger. I was always amazed that children of missionaries are founder of many ivy league school in the United States. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth all owe their origins to the Gospel.
I Chronicles 4:3 says, ‘And these were the father of Etam, Jezreel, and Ishma, and Idbash: and the name of their sister was Hezeleponi.’ Usually, only sons are listed but often daughters or sisters are named if they were known or honored. Bible commentator says that Hezeleponi is quite a prominent woman and she is prominent by her own right. If someone is successful or respected in their own right, it is because of their own efforts and talents rather than of people they are associated or connected with. So even the daughters of Judah are well known. Actually, the next verse mentioned the Ashhurites who were the clan which produced Tekoa, known as ‘the village of a wise woman’. Are you honored and known as a wise woman because you are chosen by God? Remember Caleb, the descendant of Judah. Caleb’s daughters ask for the upper spring and the lower spring. They are wise. Even the daughters of Caleb are well known. Even the weak(women are considered weak) are well known. I Chronicles 12:14 says, ‘one of the least was over a hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.’ The weakest of Judah will rule over one hundred and the greatest over a thousand. I thank God for the lives of Pastor Edgar and Pastor Rowena. I am not trying to belittle them. But one time they were part of our staff and their region was among the weakest. But when they were sent by us to Cambodia, they are so treasured by Poh Ching, the principal of GTIS. Pastor Lily would say to Pastor Rowena, ‘I know you are famous in Kampung Speu but…..’. Rowena is here for a surgery and she had a successful surgery. Poh Ching wants Edgar to take over the teaching of Pastor Rowena in GTIS and Poh Ching made this statement. ‘I know that Edgar can teach.’ Wow; what a statement of confidence in Pastor Edgar. Even the weakest are strong. I don’t have sons but daughters. In the Chinese culture and belief, sons are favored (the same term as birthright) but God told me that my daughter shall become mighty in the land. That is how powerful it is to be chosen. When I came to this part in my devotion. I just prayed;’ YHWH let joy and Jan be known and be honored.’
3. Their Prayer Will Be Heard
Not only the descendant will be well known; even their prayer will be well known. I Chronicles 4:9-10 says, ‘And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called him Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.’ These two verses are unusual in that no other place in the genealogies is a person’s personal prayer recorded. When you are recording a genealogy why would you put someone’s personal prayer and included it in the genealogy. I mean why would in the genealogy of Israel, a person’s personal prayer is recorded. It is stylistically distinct from the surrounding context. This is also one of the few places a value judgment is given to a person. YHWH passed value and worth to this person. This is a personal prayer. Jabez is more honorable than the rest. The Hebrew word for honorable is ‘kaved’ which denotes weightiness, both literal as the weight of a physical object and metaphorical as honor, glory or wealth. It seems to indicate the Jabez physically was heavier than his brothers. Probably Jabez is bigger in size than his brethren. But it also denotes weightiness as in honor, glory and wealth. Jabez’ name is a word play on ‘pain’. It is also the name of a city of scribes. This city which is named after Jabez is celebrated as the home of the scribes. In the bible, three groups of people will constantly present themselves to the king (a representation of God); priest, prophet and scribe. Jabez most likely is a scribe. He is a doctor of the Law of the Torah. You may not be a Priest like a pastor is. You may not be a prophet like Pastor James Singh. But you can be a scribe, one learned in the word of God and YHWH will hear your personal prayer. Pastor Lily was sharing recently that we just be consistent, constant and continual in our prayer to God and God will answer it. We that are chosen need to come before God and pray. When I come to this part in my personal devotion, I implored, ‘YHWH, I ask that you will bless me. I ask that you will bless my wife Lily. I ask that Joy will have a breakthrough in her research. I ask that you would cause a turnaround for Joy in her mice colony. I ask that you would give Mei a boyfriend that she is attracted to. I ask that you will give her a spiritual boyfriend. I ask that you will enlarge her coast. YHWH enlarge my coast. YHWH enlarge Etab. Keep Etab and me from evil. Let me not fall into temptation. Because as a result of temptation it causes grief. The bible says, YHWH granted that which Jabez requested. Because Jabez prayer was a prayer of faith. Let my prayer be a prayer of faith. Let my prayer be a prayer of request. Let my prayer be a prayer of blessing. Jabez as I say mean pain or grief. Jabez’ prayer is to be free from pain and grief. Are you praying to be free from pain and grief? The bible says God granted him that which he requested. Jabez is known as a man of faith with powerful prayer. And YHWH honored that faith and prayer. God answers prayer and is able to bring blessing instead of pain.
When we pray how did we get answer from YHWH. The bible says at one time when David was newly installed as King over all Israel, the Philippines came to war against him; twice actually. And David enquired of the LORD?
How did David inquire of the LORD? How did David pray?
1. By the use of the Priest’s Urim and Thummim
2. By a Prophet
3. By a physical sign
4. By a dream and vision.
This is how YHWH would answer you. Through a priest, prophet, physical sign and dreams or vision. What happened to Jabez prayer and David’s prayer. For David it says in I Chronicles 14:11 ‘So they(the Philistines) came up to Baal-perazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters; therefore, they called the name of that place Baal-perazim.’ God hath broken in’ is translated as ‘God has broken through’. It has the same meaning as YHWH parting of the Red Sea and the parting of the Jordan river. It also means that David’s troops broke through like a flood. The phrase ‘God has broken through’ is a idiom for quick and complete victory. It means God burst forth for Jabez and David. That is why Jabez became more honorable than his brethren and that is why it is said of David in I Chronicles 14:17, ‘And the fame of David went out into all the lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations. When you are chosen and when you prayed in your personal prayer, YHWH will breakthrough for you. YHWH will burst forth for you; like parting the Red Sea, parting the Jordan river if He has to.
4. Skilled People
1 Chronicles 4:12 says, ‘And Eshton begat Bethrapha, and Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Irnahash. These are the men of Rechah. 1 Chronicles 4:14 says, ‘And Meonothai begat Ophrah; and Seraiah begat Joab, the father of the valley of Charashim; for they were craftsmen. I Chronicles 4:21, 23 says, ‘The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen. These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.’
Irnahash is broken up into two words: Ir and Nahash. ‘Ir’ means ‘city’ and Nahash comes from the Hebrew root word which means ‘copper’. There, it is a city of coppersmiths. The third sons of Judah, after Er and Onan is Shelah who was actually promised to Tamar. Well Shelah’s descendants were busy in linen manufacturing and ceramics. It was said that the fine linen was of fine texture, costly, and used as the clothing of kings, priests and of the very wealthy. The Hebrew words for plants and hedges are better taken as place names: Netaim and Gederah. These were potters and they dwelt with the king. Archeology has demonstrated that existence of hereditary guilds of potters during the divided kingdom. It was also commented that Shelah’s descendants were linen workers, potters and royal servants. This would fix the context of skill workers mentioned in the verses I just read. There are craftsmen, linen workers, potters and the guild of scribes. In 1 Chronicles 4:14 ‘charashim’ is translated as the ‘valley of craftsmen. This would have been an ancient guild of artisans. They became known craftsmen.
5. The Legacy of Great Leaders
1 Chronicles 5:2. It says, ‘For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph’s’.
1 Chronicles 4:13: 15 says, ‘And the sons of Kenaz; Othniel, and Seraiah: and the sons of Othniel; Hathath.’ And the sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and Naam: and the sons of Elah, even Kenaz.’
Othniel is Israel’s first judge. The tribe of Judah is the first of the Judge. Wow. The first, not the second and definitely not the last. And Othniel’s father-in-law is Caleb. Othniel is also the nephew of Caleb. So, it is clear that Othniel had married his own first cousin, a practice common in the Old Testament. Caleb is the only member of his generation to enter the Promised Land, besides Joahua. All the rest of the Israelites his age never entered the Promised Land, except Joshua. When you are chosen, you are always the head and not the tail. You will be a trailblazer of some industries and institutions, projects and activities.