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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 1:2 The shadow of great men

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, August 29, 2023

2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,

What is it like for a man to stand in the shadow of great men? Some men do not do well in this position, an illustration here might be the servant with one talent in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 25), the one who hid his gift away and never did anything with it. Others are like the other servants in the parable, who turned two or five talents into many more. A man can either rebel against the gifts that are passed to him, or he can use them to the best of his abilities. These three men stood in the shadow of very great men, but we know that they passed along their gifts, especially the gift of faith, to the generations who came after them. All three of them are in the line of the Savior and are listed in Luke 3:37.

Kenan is a name related to Cain; both names can mean smith or craftsman, but sometimes the name is thought to indicate “settlement” or “civilization.” When Kenan was born, Adam was still hale in his prime at 325 years old.

Mahalalel’s name means “Praise of God;” it’s the first name in the Bible to contain a reference to God (the -el suffix). It isn’t hard to recognize the “praise” element in his name, which sounds very similar to the word hallelujah. Mahalalel’s mother gave birth to him when his father Kenan was just 70, and Adam was 395; still as strong as ever.

The name Jared means “descend” or “descent.” By the time he was born (his dad was 65), Adam was 460. Seth was now over 300.

While Adam’s descendants were settling down and praising God, Cain’s line (unmentioned in Chronicles) was also at work. About the time Jared was born, Cain’s family produced its own Lamech (Genesis 4:18), a man filled with venom and hatred, whose terrible “sword song” spit in the face of God and rejected God’s will about marriage (he has married more than one woman). Wicked Lamech promised to take justice into his own hands and be eleven times more vengeful than God.

  Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
  wives of Lamech, hear my words.
  I have killed a man for wounding me,
  a young man for injuring me.
  If Cain is avenged seven times,
  then Lamech seventy-seven times. (Genesis 4:23-24)

The three good men in our text carried God’s promise of a Savior from sin from one generation to the next. Their families put their trust in God, and waited for the time when one man would provide the one sacrifice for all mankind’s sin. That sacrifice would wait until the advent of Jesus Christ.

These three men were not remarkable in the history of God’s people. There was no sudden trouble for them to tackle; no grievous upheaval for them to receive. What do ordinary men do in the generations between the great achievers, the famous ones? They do what you and I do today as we stand in the long and glorious shadows of our fathers. They were faithful. They carried the gospel to their families. They were honest, hardworking men, and like Kenan’s father Enosh, it is certain that they took it on themselves as the fathers of their families to call upon the name of the Lord, proclaiming God’s message of repentance and forgiveness.

Repentance is “a living practice of law and gospel,” the certain belief and terror that our sins condemn us. For repentance is mostly that: that you acknowledge that God is right and that you confess that his judgment of you is true when he says you are a sinner and that you are condemned. When this happens in the heart, repentance has begun. That isn’t all, however, since we need the gospel every bit as much as we need the law. So when we bow down acknowledging that we are sinful and condemned sinners, he offers us his gospel of forgiveness. And there in our hearts is faith that we are forgiven for Jesus’ sake and not on account of anything deserving that we have done.

Luther says in the first of his Ninety-Five Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ orders us to repent, he wants the entire Christian life to be constant repentance.” For Jesus teaches, “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Luke 13:3,5).

Jared became the father of a man who would call the whole world to repentance, and remind the world that there is more to God’s creation than this one world, this one universe, and this one brief lifetime.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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