You may be tempted to say that this is boring reading ( I might agree) but remember the purpose of the Priest Ezra who is writing. This is written after the exile in Babylonia and is intended to remind Israel that they have always and continue to be a part of the family of God. Just as it is important in our families to know our story.....it is important to know our spiritual heritage as well. Ezra begins at the beginning (Adam and Eve) and tells the story of God creating a people that will be blessed to be a blessing and despite their spiritual failings, God does not abandon them. He links the returning exiles back through the lineage of David, citing those who failed as well as those who honored God. He names the 12 tribes and reminds the exiles of times when failures became curses as in the case of Reuben who lost his birthright as the 1st born. Remember at the time that the tribes entered into the promised land, the tribe of Reuben was among the largest, but they decreased in population and importance as they failed to measure up to God's standards.
The story of Jabez has been written about (the prayer of Jabez) and been used as an illustration of how we should seek to serve. Jabez's story is just a little footnote in the annals of the Old Testament, but is thought to be an illustration of what God intended as the tribes took the land that had been assigned to them by God. "O, Lord, bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain (sin)!" Jabez was among the early settlers and he was commanded by God to force out the pagan influences. That is our charge as Christians as well. Our prayer should be that God would increase our influence and keep us from sin that we might glorify him and increase the borders of Faith farther and farther as we influence the world for Christ!
At the close of Chapter 5 the names of the heads of the tribe of Manasseh are named and recognized as brave warriors and famous men. But they failed to pass their faith down to those who followed and they became unfaithful. The result was that God could not bless the evil that became integral to their lives.
Do you see what Ezra is recording for the people of his day and for us? God is always present, but day by day we chose, as did the people of Israel, will we be a blessing or a curse? God promised that the blessings would be present for many generations and the sins would be a curse to the 3rd and 4th generation. I want my children and my children's children to be blessed by God because I have walked faithfully. What do you want your legacy to be? In this season of Easter, let us pray that the generations that follow us will have faithful footsteps to follow.
God bless you this weekend. I hope that you will have an opportunity to come to one of Sunday's services. The choir has worked hard on their Easter presentation. I am praying right now that their voices will be a blessing to you and to all who will hear the joyful noise of praises be sung to almighty God.