1:1-54 - What are we to make of this long list of names? – A waste of space? Are we wasting our time looking for God’s Word here? No! God has a very important message for us! Do you ever feel insignificant – just one among so many? Here`s God’s Word for you – You are important. A lot of people are named here – God considered every single one of them important enough to be included in this list! Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? To every believer, Jesus says, ‘Rejoice’ – ‘Your name is written in heaven’ (Luke 10:20). ‘Rejoice’ – Your name is included in ‘the Lamb`s book of life’ (Revelation 21:27). Jesus calls us ‘by name’, He gives us His Name – ‘the Name above every name’, the Name of our salvation. ‘Believing in His Name’, we become ‘sons of the living God’ (John 10:3; 20:31; Philippians 2:9; Acts 4:12; Romans 9:26).
2:1-55 - More names – lots of them! It’s great to have a name! You have a name. You’re not just a nameless person of unknown identity. It’s even greater to have the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, given to us for our salvation. In His Name, we have God`s promise of salvation – ‘every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). God calls us to have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not speak to us of salvation without calling us to have faith in Christ. He does not say, ‘Everyone will be saved’. That’s what we might like to hear, but it’s not what God has said. This is what His Word says to us, ‘every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved’. Call upon the Name of the Lord. Let Him fulfil His promise: ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe’ (Proverbs 18:10).
3:1-4:23 - God answers prayer – ‘Jabez called upon the God of Israel, “Oh that You would bless me…”. And God granted his request’ (4:10). Behind the name, ‘Israel’, there are many other names, many faces, many people, many prayers rising up to the God of Israel, many believers calling upon the Name of the Lord, looking to Him for His blessing. The story of ‘Israel’ is a story of ‘disobedience’ and ‘mercy’ (Romans 11:25-32). This is the story of our life. We have been disobedient to God. He has been merciful to us. How are we to receive the blessing of God? Pray to God for His mercy: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). Come to Him with this earnest prayer: ‘Oh that You would bless me…’. How much does the blessing of God matter to you? How much do you really want to be blessed by the Lord? Make it the most important thing: ‘Oh that You would bless me…’.
4:24-5:26 - God wants to lead us in the way of victory (5:22). We dare not take His victory for granted if we are not willing to walk in the pathway of discipleship. As well as the promise of victory, there is also the warning against disobedience. If we are disobedient, we will be defeated (5:25-26). God doesn’t want us to be disobedient and defeated. He wants us to be obedient and victorious. With the promise of victory – ‘From victory to victory His army He shall lead’ – comes the call to discipleship – ‘Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross!’ (Church Hymnary, 481). God is calling us to be faithful. He is warning us – ‘Do not love the world…If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him’. The Lord`s way is better than the world’s way – ‘Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (1 John 2:15; Romans 12:2).
6:1-60 - The names tell a story – the story of what God is doing among His people. They speak of the faithfulness of God. He loves every one of these people. He loves every one of us. We forget the names. God doesn’t. Everyone is important to Him. We rejoice in ‘the great love of God’. We rejoice in Christ ‘who came to this earth to redeem every one’. In the many names, forgotten by us yet remembered by God, we hear the message, ‘God is love’. Among the many names, we read of those who ‘ministered with song’. We read of ‘the service of song in the house of the Lord’. God is calling us to worship Him: ‘Sing aloud, loud, loud! Sing aloud, loud, loud! God is good! God is truth! God is beauty! Praise Him!’ (31-32; Church Hymnary, 415-416).
6:61-7:40 - Is there no end of names? – The more names we read, the more we wonder at the amazing scope of God’s love: ‘God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16). We read of ‘the cities of refuge’ (67-70). We take refuge in the Lord. He is ‘our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). We have Christ as our Saviour: ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16). When ‘evil’ threatens to overwhelm us (23), we must come to God with this confidence: ‘the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’. We must ask God to strengthen our faith in Christ: ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ (1 John 1:7; 4:4-5).
8:1-40 - How sad it is to find the name of Baal, the god worshipped by the Canaanites, appearing in this list of those who professed to be the people of God! The name ‘Esh-Baal’ (33) means ‘man of Baal’ or ‘man of shame’. It is a ‘shameful thing’ that those who are called to be the people of God should lose sight of their high calling and become servants of Baal. The name ‘Merib-Baal’ (34) highlights the sadness of those who lose their way in life. Originally meaning ‘opponent of Baal’, this name came to mean ‘loved by Baal’ or ‘my lord is Baal’. God’s Word warns us against the danger of becoming a ‘double-minded man’ (James 1:8). Trying to live with one eye on the Lord and the other eye on the world is a sure recipe for disaster. Satan will be be quick to welcome us if we take our eyes off Jesus. ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:2).
9:1-44 - In verse 13, we read of ‘very able men for the work of the service of the house of God’. Some have been called by God to preach His Gospel and teach His Word. All of us have been called to serve the Lord. It may not be preaching and teaching. It will be something you can do for Him. In this chapter, we read of some who were ‘chosen to be gatekeepers’, some who were ‘assigned to take care of the furnishings and all the other articles of the sanctuary…’, some who were ‘entrusted with the responsibility for baking…’ and others who were ‘singers’ or ‘musicians’ (22,29,31,33). There’s something for everybody: ‘There`s a work for Jesus ready at your hand, `Tis a task the Master just for you has planned. Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true; There`s a work for Jesus none but you can do’ (Redemption Hymnal, 570).