REUBEN THE FIRSTBORN OF ISRAEL

Today's devotion from 1 Chronicles 5.

Remembering the past can be great when it causes you to recall great moments. On the other hand, it can be heartbreaking when it forces you to call to mind those painful aspects that linger. As the chronicler addresses the family of Reuben, he feels compelled to mention the reason Reuben lost his birthright. In short, he lay with his father's concubine (Genesis 35:22) and brought disgrace to the whole family.

The result is recorded in Genesis 49. Reuben was cursed. His role in the redemptive plan of God was altered. In a sense, none of his family was never of real and significant importance in all the workings of God. Yet while we read of his failure again in 1 Chronicles, we need to recognize a simple but powerful truth: we are still reading about the Reubenites. They are still mentioned, spoken of, and counted among the people of God.

In fact, we read in verses 18-22 that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and Manasseh joined in battle against the Hagrites. What does the chronicler write? "And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him...For many fell, because the war was of God. And they lived in their place until the exile. (vss. 20 & 22)

There were profound consequences for Reuben's actions that affect his family. However, they were not cut off. Instead, they were used by God to defend and protect themselves and their brothers. Exile would eventually come, but it would be due to their own sins, not Reuben's.

Every person reading this devotion has a past. You should know that the one writing this has a past also. The past has consequences, but the mistakes that lie there do not have to define us today. The chronicler records these events in a way that causes us to see that even though Reuben failed, God was still with these people. There may not be anything we can do about the past, but in this moment we can set a new course. A course that reveals a dependence and trust in God.