1 Chronicles 23
by Pastor David Groendyk
Chronicles is full of lists of people. By my count, at least half of the chapters so far in this book have primarily consisted of genealogies and lists, and chapter 23 is one of them. On a practical and historical level, this chapter describes the roles and responsibilities for the Levites (who were assistants to the Aaronic priests) which were now changing slightly since the permanent temple building was being built. Previously, they had ministered in the portable and impermanent tabernacle tent, and one of their primary responsibilities had been simply to de-construct, move, and re-construct the tent as the nation wandered through the wilderness. With a new building comes different responsibilities. Interesting, but not terribly exciting. It’s tempting, therefore, to think of these chapters as irrelevant and good for nothing more than a bit of trivia. But that would be selling short the inerrancy, inspiration, and profitability of all Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16–17). What use are these next few chapters in 1 Chronicles for us, including chapter 23?
First, these chapters underline the importance and centrality of worshiping Yahweh in the lives of the Israelites and in our lives. Remember that the previous genealogies in the book focused heavily on Judah and Levi. By focusing on Judah, readers of 1–2 Chronicles should see the importance of having the Lord as their King. By focusing on Levi, we’re meant to see the importance of worship. For all of history, the purpose of humanity’s existence has been to worship the Lord. That’s why the Old Testament spends so much time and ink explaining and describing the tabernacle, temple, sacrifices, feasts, festivals, and priests. Worshiping the Lord is the most important thing you can do in your life. In all of the busyness of life, how much time do you spend praising him, thinking about him, speaking to him, and speaking about him? What would it take for you to do so more?
Second, these chapters also point us forward to a better worship. Re-read verses 25–26. One of the reasons for David’s work here is that an old form of worship had ended, the Lord had given rest to his people, and the Lord was dwelling with them. The temple symbolized a permanent dwelling for the Lord among his people, and its extravagance was meant to mirror the glory of God dwelling there. This was one of the awesome fulfillments of God’s promises to Israel. They were able to end their wilderness wandering, they were given a home, they were given rest, and they were given a greater and more permanent place of worship. Similarly for us, we long for a kind of temple worship which will replace our current tabernacle worship. I know Tyrone is looking forward to a new building addition, but it’s worth remembering that one day our current building will be no more. There is a greater gathering place in heaven. Moreover, one day, God’s presence will no longer be scattered among his individual children or distinct church gatherings, but he will dwell at the center of the new heavens and new earth permanently and far more gloriously. As Israel had longed for and were then experiencing a fulfillment of God’s promises to dwell with them, so we can take courage in his promises to us that he will dwell with us in glory.