Monday, July 8, 2013

Two Tribes, Two Families, Two Futures

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, July 7, 2013:  I Chronicles 4:5-5:17

24 The sons of Simeon were  38 these mentioned by name were leaders in their families, and their father’s house increased greatly.  39 So they went to the entrance of Gedor, as far as the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks.  40 And they found rich, good pasture, and the land was broad, quiet, and peaceful;  I Chronicles 4:24, 38-40 (NKJV)

Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he wasindeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright;  2 yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s I Chronicles 5:1-2 (NKJV)
In the midst of the seemingly endless genealogies of I Chronicles, we read about two tribes with two very different characteristics.  These two tribes were Simeon and Reuben.  It is written of Simeon that, because of strong family leadership, the tribe found peace and increase.  By contrast, Reuben lost their place as firstborn because of infidelity and treachery.  Reuben lost its birthright and was subservient to the other tribes.  Two tribes, two families, two destinies.
There is a similar story told about two families in American history.  Max Jukes was a contemporary of Jonathan Edwards.  Edwards is the more famous of the two because of his fiery sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  He ignited the Great Awakening that shaped early American history.  Despite the image given by such a dramatic sermon title, Jonathan Edwards was one of the best men of American history.  He was exemplary in every area of life, serving as pastor, teacher, and founding president of Princeton University.  He was perhaps the greatest theologian produced on the American continent and was a consummate intellectual whose writings still inspire thousands today.
By contrast, Max Jukes was a scoundrel, famous for his atheism and debauched lifestyle. 
Years later, a New York sociologist studied these two families: the Jukes and the Edwards.  He gathered information from among 1200 descendants of each patriarch.  Here is what he found:
Jukes.  Among the descendants of Max Jukes were….
310 professional vagrants – died as paupers
150 sent to prison for an average sentence of 13 years each
7 convicted murderers
Over 100 alcoholics
128 prostitutes
Total cost to the State of New York:  $1,308,000

Edwards.  Among the descendants of Jonathan Edwards were…
More than 100 lawyers and 30 judges
60 physicians
100 ministers, missionaries, or theological professors
13 college presidents
60 authors who wrote 135 books
75 Army or Navy officers
80 elected to public office including
            3 mayors
            3 governors
            Several members of Congress
            3 Senators
            And one Vice-President (Aaron Burr)

The difference between these two families is dramatic.  Just like Edwards and Jukes, so Simeon and Reuben speak to us today about the importance of EXAMPLE.  Simeon was blessed with fathers who led their families to green pastures.  Reuben was beset by lust and low-living. 
What kind of example are you setting for your family?  The way we live affects not only our present circumstances; it sets a pattern for future generations. 

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