1 Adam, Seth, Enosh; 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared; 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; 4 Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (1 Chronicles 1:1-4)
Walking through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem is a gut wrenching, soul crushing experience. It’s hard to put into words the horror of coming face to face with such evil. As I walked from room to room, I began to feel like one of those people you see on the news the day after a tornado or wildfire has destroyed their town. They look shell shocked. They can’t wrap their minds around what happened. So they sort through the rubble, looking for something familiar to help them regain their balance.
That was me, winding my way through the exhibits at the Holocaust Museum. It was disorienting. I felt like I couldn’t catch my balance in a world that had been knocked so far off its axis.
But then, I rounded a corner to a display of Schindler’s List. The actual list of Polish Jews Oskar Schindler employed at his enamel works factory, thereby saving them from the gas chamber.
Each name on the list represents a person who lived and didn’t die. Who had a chance at a family following the war.
Steven Spielberg’s brilliant film Schindler’s List ends with footage of the surviving Schindler Jews; many of them walking side by side with the actors that portrayed them in the film, placing a memorial stone on Schindler’s grave. As the shot widens, you see a line of people stretching out into the distance. Two messages appear on the screen. The first:
There are fewer than four thousand Jews left alive in Poland today.
Then, the second:
There are more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler Jews.
Today, we started 1 Chronicles. And as Tara-Leigh said in the recap, finding a God shot in a list of names can be difficult. But here it was for me. In the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles comes last. Which means that it comes after the story of the Exodus. After the story of the Hebrew midwives who refused to throw baby boys into the Nile, thus saving them from annihilation. After the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria. After the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. After the deportation of the Jews to Babylon. After the events of Esther, (the second time the Jews were saved from the brink of genocide). After seventy years of exile.
I can imagine a young Jewish boy, reading the Tanakh for the first time. He’s read all the stories of his people throughout the centuries. He’s read about the anarchy of the time of the Judges. The collapse of the United Kingdom after Solomon. The four hundred years of the divided kingdom and civil war.
Like a survivor after a tornado, I can imagine him looking for something familiar.
And then, he unrolls the scroll to the first words of the last book:
Adam, Seth, Enosh. Kenan, Mehalalel, Jared. Enoch, Methusaleh, Lamech.
Just names. But so much more than names. Ancestors. Patriarchs. Survivors.
One more scene from Schindler’s List. Schindler and his assistant Stern are compiling the list. The list of Jews that would survive. The camera zooms in on an extreme close-up of each letter of each name being typed. Why? Because every name matters. When it is finished, Stern holds the list up to Schindler and says, The list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.
Beloved, remember. As you go through the genealogies of Chronicles, remember: Each name on the list has survived for thousands of years. We are reading the family history of the people God preserved for Himself.
And much more. We are reading the family tree of our Redeemer. Our Savior. The One who rescued us.
The list is life.
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