The Scriptorium

Real People

He has called us by name. Isaiah 43.1-7

Gleanealogy: Gleanings (1)

Pray Psalm 106.47, 48.
Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!

Sing slowly and with gratitude Psalm 106.46-48.
(Trust in Jesus: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus)
Save us, Lord, from every nation; gather us from all our ways.
And we to Your Name will offer glorious thanks and endless praise!
Refrain v. 48
Blessèd be our God and Savior, evermore His praise proclaim!
Let all those who know Your favor praise Your holy, glorious Name!

Read Isaiah 43.1-7


Prepare.
1. How has God called us to Himself? Why?

2. What does God promise those He has called?

Meditate.
Pastor Jamie Cupschalk shared the following story with me, which he read from a sermon by David Strain of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, and included in a sermon of his own. It’s an excerpt from the book, Hidden People, by Lynette Oates, telling the story of translators Des and Jenny Oatridge, who worked among a remote tribe in Papua, New Guinea, the Binumariens.

On one evening, Des arrived at a home where an important meeting was about to begin. Quoting now from Jamie’s notes: “The house was packed and overflowing. There was an odd sense of tension in the air that made him nervous. He was led to a seat on the floor right in the center of the room beside the fir, and Sisia [a native assistant] immediately spoke up. ‘I’ve asked Mata’a Des to come and read what we have translated this morning. I can’t tell it to you. I want you to hear it for yourselves.’

“Then the room became extraordinarily still. Des was conscious that every eye was fixed upon him. He cleared his throat and began to read. ‘These are the ancestors of Jesus Messiah, a descendant of King David and of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob, Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah.’

“Des couldn’t look up. His eyes were glued to the text. He was trying to read as naturally as Sisia had spoken the sentences to him earlier that morning, but the tense atmosphere in the room was making it difficult. He did not see Fofondai’s eyes grow wider and rounder, as did Maraa’aro’s and several others near him. He could sense, though, that every word he spoke was being grabbed and critically examined by his listeners.

“He became conscious that Yawo was moving near to him; so were A’aaso and Aaka and Yaa’a. He was aware that Sao watched his lips unblinkingly. As he continued reading more and more, people began pressing. The people from the other rooms were pushing into the central room. Fofo was so close that his beard almost touched the written page. Yawo’s arm was rammed right against Des’.

“Des suddenly felt scared. He had a sense of being crushed. It was not only the pressure of bodies; the uncanny silence. It seemed that not a dog barked, not a baby cried, not a person released his breath. He didn’t know if the list of names had offended some ritual taboo about which he knew nothing. If so, and the people were angry, that it was being so blatantly publicized, he was in an awkward position. There was no way of escape, hemmed in as he was. And with the atmosphere so charged he felt he dared not ask a question. These are volatile people; they could erupt in fury so easily. 

“And so he just kept on reading, ‘Matthan was the father of Jacob, Jacob was the father of Joseph, who was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus the Messiah. There are fourteen generations from Abraham to King David and fourteen from King David’s time to the exile in Babylon and fourteen from the exile to Christ.’  

“They had heard him out. Des raised his eyes to look at those within a breath of his face and saw not anger but incredulity. ‘Why didn’t you tell us all this before?’ Yaa’a demanded. Des recoiled instinctively as if he had been struck. ‘No one bothers to right down the ancestors of spirit beings,’ Fofondai stated. ‘It’s only real people who record the genealogical table,’ A’aaso added. ‘Jesus must be a real person,’ someone else cried, his voice ringing with astonishment. Then everyone seemed to be talking at once. ‘Fourteen generations. That’s two hands and a foot from Abraham to King David. Two more hands and a foot from the time of the calibus, the captivity, and another two hands and a foot until Jesus’ time. That’s a very, very long time. This ancestry goes back further than ours! Yes, none of ours goes back two hands and a foot three times! Jesus must have been a real man on this earth then. This is not just white man’s magic. What the mission has taught us is real. Yes, real.’ 

“Des pondered on that as he made his way home. The ancient list of names, which he’d always found boring and pretty well meaningless, had ratified Jesus as a real person to his unlettered friends. He possessed a genealogy like theirs. To the Binumariens, the truth of the Scriptures was now beyond all doubt.” 

‘Nuff said.

Reflect.
1. Given that the genealogies of Scripture are lists of real people – with all their trials, joys, and shortcomings – how should we read them, to gain the benefit of Jesus from these lists (Jn. 5.39)?

2. The people on those genealogies were called by God, just as you are. Look again at Isaiah 43.1-7. What does God promise you as one He has called by name? How can reading genealogies help to remind us of this?

3. Who is promised in Isaiah 43.5-7? Where are their – your – names recorded? How should we respond to this?

For we are said to have been Christ’s, even before the separation from God that occurred when we as sinners went out of the garden, though by nature we were always God’s. But he has made us once more to be his own through the Holy Spirit making us strong through every trial.
Procopius of Gaza (465-530), Commentary on Isaiah 43.1-13

Thank You, Lord, for calling me by name. I call upon Your Name to help me today as I…

Pray Psalm 106.1-12.
Praise the Lord for including you in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, that they might realize how much they are loved, and how constant is God’s care for them. Pray for those in the Lamb’s Book of Life who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom.

Sing Psalm 106.1-12, 48.
Psalm 106.1-12, 48 (Trust in Jesus: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus)
Praise the Lord!  Give thanks and praise Him!  He is good, His love endures!
More His works than can be spoken; let His praise be ever sure!
Refrain v. 48
Blessèd be our God and Savior, evermore His praise proclaim!
Let all those who know Your favor praise Your holy, glorious Name!

Lord, when You Your people favor, help me, O, remember me,
that I may Your blessings savor and in joy and glory be!
Refrain

We have sinned, just like our fathers; we have done iniquity.
Just like them, our hearts have wandered; we have acted wickedly.
Refrain

For Your love we have forgotten; we rebelled against Your grace.
Yet You save us by Your power, make us stand before Your face.
Refrain

T. M. Moore

The genealogies of Scripture reveal the heart of God in His covenant relationship with His people. To learn more about God’s covenant, order our book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here. You can learn to sing all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes by ordering a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore