This morning as I followed my bible plan I read 1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17 and Acts 23:11-35 at a first reading these passages might be considered ‘fillers’ – bits of Scripture that don’t really do anything except join other more important parts together. 1 Chronicles gives us a genealogy and Acts tells of a plot to kill Paul being foiled, a minor step on Paul’s journey to Rome. But Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy
16 All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right
If that is true then there is something we can learn from everything the Holy Spirit caused to be included in the Word. I think these passages can show us that there are no minor steps in God’s plan for us.
The genealogy lists generation after generation of people whom God knew and watched and had plans for. The writer wants his readers to know that God has watched and known every step of the way. He starts with Adam and moves through the chapters of Genesis mentioning names that resound in the history of God’s dealings with humanity.
God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants – Abraham had 2 sons and, even though God’s special people were the descendants of Isaac; Ishmael’s descendants are listed. Again with the sons of Isaac even though God’s main plan went through Jacob, Esau and his children are listed and recognised and revealed as the kings of Edom who would play a part in the future of Israel. Nothing is ever forgotten and nothing happens by chance. We might not always or fully understand God’s plan but the evidence of it is clear.
Paul is told at the beginning of the passage in Acts that God is sending Him to Rome to preach to the people there. Why does God have Paul return to Jerusalem, be beaten almost to death and arrested when he could have gone straight to Rome from anywhere on his journey? In this chapter, a group of Jews plot to assassinate him and the plan is foiled by the eavesdropper who tells all. Paul ends up escorted by 470 men so that he can be delivered to the Governor, Felix. It would make an exciting story if it were a novel but why does God include this for us? Maybe to show the psalm to be true:
5 I lie down at night and fall asleep.
I awake in the morning—healthy, strong, vibrant—because the Eternal supports me.
6 No longer will I fear my tens of thousands of enemies
who have surrounded me!
If Felix and the hundreds of guards had fallen down and been converted then we might see a point in this story but we read later that Felix was afraid and sent Paul on to Rome so we don’t even see a great conversion. But we do see Paul continuing to do his job of preaching the Good News no matter what circumstances he is in.
We can learn from that. God has given us a job to do to – to make disciples and teach what we have learned. We can’t wait for a perfect time or a perfect place but we have to live our lives and believe God has plans and purposes for us right where we are. By looking at the history of God’s dealings with people we can see how He works and take comfort in the knowledge He does have a plan and we are a part of it.