Accompanying Ray Stedman sermon: The Ways God Works
The list of descendants from Judah focus on Perez (conceived through Judah and his daughter-in-law). In the book of Judges we see the sordid descent of the tribe of Benjamin, but two important men come from this tribe - King Saul (who turns out to be a disappointment in the end) and the Apostle Saul/Paul.
What is all this teaching us? I think it illustrates what the New Testament often tells us, that God is no respecter of persons. He does not care how you started out in life. You do not wreck your chances for success in his eyes by beginning at a very low level. God can cleanse people and use them in mighty and wonderful ways. He chooses, we are told, the obscure, the once tainted, the rejects of life. He loves to pick up those kinds of people and do wonderful things with them....
Verses 10-24 is a rather lengthy section with many names. It is a picture of God's provision for ministry within the city of Jerusalem. If you have a capital city filled with people, then you need a ministry within it to maintain the spiritual strength of those people. This is what we read here.
This ministry consisted of a group of priests who ministered to the spiritual needs of the people, a group of priests who had a ministry of counselling families, and a group of priests who were warriors.
When we carry this over to the parallel of the church today, we find that God has also provided a "ministry within the ministry," a group of men and women who are gifted in helping people to understand the meaning of the great sacrifice of Jesus. They teach the doctrines of redemption and forgiveness of sin and help people to understand how to become and what it is to be, a new creature in Christ. Then there are others among us who are especially gifted in helping families understand the difficulties they are passing through and what answers there may be. Finally, there are some who especially serve as warriors -- prayer warriors -- and in guarding the flock from the invasion of wrong doctrines, or wrong practices that infiltrate the church from outside. So God still works the same way among us today. The whole congregation are priests, but there are some set aside to the spiritual strengthening of the others.
The Levites were divided into groups as well. One group was in charge of the outside work of the house of God - similar to deacons today. Another group was musicians (note that Asaph and Jeduthun wrote many of the Psalms) - obviously correlating to our church musicians today. Another group was gatekeepers - similar to ushers today.
There are more ministries listed in the last part of our passage - including temple servants, chief officers, singers, and "troubleshooters".
Then there are many cities listed - all of whom were to be a support to Jerusalem, just like we, as different churches or different bodies of believers, should be a support to each other.
Love learning interesting things from apparently "dry" chapters!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Nehemiah 12