God tells us in His word that:

16ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

And I choose to believe that…Then I come to long passages like the beginning chapters of 1 Chronicles. How are we to read and love Scriptures when for the past week it seems all I’m doing is reading names, names and more names. Most of which aren’t pronounceable and most of which I can’t relate to one another. Yes, I suppose it’s nice to know that…

10The descendants of Solomon were Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, 11Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, 12Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, 13Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, 14Amon, and . If you’re reading the additional reading Josiah.
1 Chronicles 3:10-14 (NLT)

And I might even be able to remember some things about some of those people (although without research I can’t be sure if what I remember about Jehoshaphat is really about this Jehoshaphat or some other Jehoshaphat), but…inspired by God and useful for equipping me for the works God has prepared for me? OK, that’s a bit of a stretch in my faith sometimes!

Yet it is God’s Word, so I choose to believe it. So I choose to read those passages. But let me be honest with you – because perhaps you’re a bit like me and wondering…why? And beyond the “why”, I want to address the “how” – how do I read those kinds of chapters.

First the “Why”
Why should I read chapters that seem to have no impact on my faith and practice? The answer to that one is simple – because God has told us that ALL scripture is God-breathed and has value for us. OK. I don’t get it. But then I also don’t get why He had to make more than 35,000 different types of spiders. This falls into the category of obedience for me. God said it would be profitable. I choose to believe God. I choose to do things that I wouldn’t normally do because I believe God.

Then the “How”
How do I approach chapters of names upon names? All of the above not withstanding, I usually don’t read these passages with the same deliberateness that I read other passages. Let me say that occasionally I do read them carefully, focusing on each name, or even reading them aloud forcing myself to concentrate on each name. Occasionally. Because I take God at His Word and believe there’s value in it for me. But most times, I approach the passages in one of two ways:

From a “Why did God include this” perspective –
I ask the bigger “why” question – “Why did God choose to have them included in the Bible?” Considering this question when reading passages that seem irrelevant to us will help us begin to appreciate them and find value in them. It’s often where I find the lessons in these passages. In the case of names, for example, I learn that God cares about individuals enough to have their names recorded. I learn that He is a God of detail and precision. I learn about the importance of genealogy to God. I can take any of those lessons into more depth (through study or meditation and prayer) to learn more about the heart of God and the ways of God.

From a “what catches my attention” perspective –
I skim the passages, letting my eyes touch each paragraph to find anything that is different about the paragraph or any name that jumps off the page at me. If there is, I will carefully read that passage and then study it if God leads.

It’s this kind of reading that will cause passages like this to jump out at you:

9There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NLT)

These two verses about Jabez fall in the midst of 37 verses of names upon names. All other verses simply tell us who was the father of whom. Names, names and more names. Except these two verses devoted to a man named Jabez. When reading long passages like 1 Chronicles, I look for anomalies – things that are different and stand out. Jabez stands out.

I’ll leave the discussion of these two verses for another time – or you can check out one of the many books on the verses the book here one of the many books on the verses the book here. For now, let me encourage you to keep reading! It’s OK to skim sometimes, but keep reading!

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