This evening we will be looking at 1st and 2nd Chronicles together in one week. A quick note as we get started – we recently have looked at 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings. As we will talk about later tonight, there is a lot of shared material with those books, and so as we talk about Chronicles this week, we really are going to focus on what is unique about these books, which may have us skipping around a little bit, or emphasizing some parts more than others.
A moment ago, I said “1st and 2nd Chronicles” because that is how we know them today, yet the Hebrew title originally given to the single book that these two started as “the accounts of the days.”
In about 200 B.C. the one book was divided into two in the Septuagint – which remember was a translation of the Hebrew scriptures to Greek so that the then-modern world could read it – and given the name “the things omitted” referring to the material not found in Samuel and Kings.
We get the English title of “Chronicles” from the Latin Vulgate title “The Chronicles of the Entire Sacred History.”
Jewish tradition favors Ezra the priest (cf. Ezra 7:1-6) as he is referred to as the “Chronicler.” With the Talmud endorsing Ezra as author, given his unique role as the architect of spiritual revival in the post exilic restoration of Israel. Ezra was also a Levite with the incentive to write such a historical survey reminding his generation of the foundations, realization, and heritage of the theocracy under Yahweh and the nation’s subsequent preservation.
Authorship is also one of the first interpretive challenges because while the Talmud identifies Ezra as the author, two schools of thoughts have been advanced for the relationship the Chronicles have to Ezra and Nehemiah. Are they the same author/compiler or were different authors involved in the two texts? It’s impossible to be dogmatic on Ezra’s authorship, but the perspective through which the text is written, its language, structure, and focus suggests shared authorship.
Speaking of which, the book’s structure and outline reflect their purpose. As we open and read our bibles, we are presented with a serialized, organized presentation of 1st and 2nd Samuel, and then 1st and 2nd Kings. And in the Macarthur Study Bible when you finish second Kings on page 556, you don’t even have to turn the page, because on page 557 starts a 1st Chronicles introduction.
For the nations of Israel and Judah, they couldn’t possibly do the same thing.
Chronicles was written after the exile. The genealogical content alone indicates a writing after 450 BC, probably between 450 and 430 BC. For these post-exilic jews, the strength of nations under a godly king was literally hundreds of years in the past. The divided kingdom of Israel in fact was never really re-constituted as a northern kingdom after the dispersion in 722 BC – some 320 years before the Chronicler wrote these books. In Judah, the last of the so-called “good kings” was King Josiah who ended his reign essentially spiritually deaf by 609 BC.
In short, the Israelites had priests yet it had been at least 150 years since the end of the reign of the last king leading the land doing right in the eyes of God. And at least 130 years since the nation of Judah was conquered.
While we are on the subject, 130 years since some of the foundational events of Davidic and Solomon’s kingship creates a question: Ezra wasn’t there. If the Chronicler wasn’t Ezra, there’s no possible way they are 170 years old! Chronicles is recognized in the Canon as inspired scripture AND was way before printing presses and things so…. Where did all this information about things that came before the Exile come from?
God prepares the writers of scripture for the use He has for them. Think about Moses, writing the first 5 books of the bible. In order to do so, He was taken from his family during an order to kill Hebrew infants, providentially brought to the Egyptian palace. Given an education among the best of the children of Egypt – the super power of all the earth at the time. Forced out of Egypt into the arms of a Midian priest. Called supernaturally in the wilderness, and ultimately given the gift of in-person revelation of the presence of God without destroying his fragile human body or mind.
Moses had the benefit of the people of Israel among the people, a history that God had preserved among them about the fathers of Israel AND God used that foundation and the skills to write and everything else that had shaped Moses’ life to bring about His will: both in shepherding people to prepare to take the land of Canaan, and in recording the law and history in the Pentateuch.
Go ahead and grab your bible to follow along with me as we see how The Chronicler gives us internal evidence of his sources, the preservation and preparation that God provided for Chronicles.
Turn with me to 1 Chronicles, chapter 9. In chapter 9, the chronicler just finished a lengthy section on genealogies and the history of peoples. 1 Chronicles Chapter 9, look with me at verse 1:
“So all Israel was enrolled by genealogies; and behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel. And Judah was carried away into exile to Babylon for their unfaithfulness.”
The chronicler had access to the royal court records, including something referred to here as the Book of the Kings of Israel. This book is also referred to in 2 Chronicles 20.
Let’s look at another example, turn with me to 1 Chronicles Chapter 27. Chapter 27. We will talk more of the outline and the events of the Chronicles here in a few moments, but in Chapter 27, we are in the middle of a section where the Chronicler is reminding the people of the organization of King David’s functions, the army, the temple, tribal chiefs and so on. In Chapter 27 when we look at verse 23 and 24, we read:
“But David did not count those twenty years of age and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel as the stars of heaven. Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count them, but did not finish; and because of this, wrath came upon Israel, and the number was not included in the account of the chronicles of King David.”
What’s being talked about here? David’s sinful census, ordering an inventory of the power of his kingdom by army and men rather than by the power of God. The chronicler used another royal court record as a source, this time the Records of the Chronicles of King David.
God’s ordering and preservation of Israel and especially Judah included not only the records of Kings as other nations did but also establishing prophets to speak in His name to His people. Turn with me to Chapter 29 for an example of this. 1 Chronicles, Chapter 29. The very end of the book, by the way. The kingdom was to be a nation of His people for the glory of His name, and he regularly used prophets to speak to the kings and to judge key events. In Chapter 29, we see the end of King David’s reign and Solomon taking over the administration of the nation. Down at verse 29, we read:
“Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Samuel the seer, in the chronicles of Nathan the prophet and in the chronicles of Gad the seer, with all his reign, his power, and the circumstances which came on him, on Israel, and on all the kingdoms of the lands.”
We see specific reference to more written records, this time of the prophet Samuel and the prophet Nathan who were sent to Israel.
God provided the chronicler with education in the land of Babylon, preservation of life among the people, favor from the governments to return to Israel. Unique among all of the conquering in the world, God preserved the identity of the people of Judah among the conquering nations – Babylon and later Persia.
And then God providentially ensured that the Chronicler would have access to ample records to build the foundation of knowledge and history the people would need. Court records. Prophets. For 1st and 2nd Chronicles combined, over a dozen sources are cited in internal evidence which God made available to complete a record as His people were returning from exile.
Which brings us to the purpose: 1st Chronicles, is written to provide a priestly perspective on the provision and rise of the reign of David to Jews who had returned from exile, reminding them of the Davidic covenant and their spiritual heritage, and to exhort them to covenant faithfulness.
The chronicler continues with 2nd Chronicles to provide a priestly perspective of the reigns of the kings in David’s line, reminding Jews who had returned from exile about God’s faithfulness to the Davidic covenant, despite the nation’s disobedience and resulting judgment. It covers the time from the death of David (971 BC) to the return from Babylon (538 BC).
In order to talk about the outline of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, we need to step back and look at a broader arc of scripture in post-exilic history.
In our day, as we turn from Samuel to Kings to Chronicles, we note that page by page as we read Chronicles, it seems aaaawwwfullllyyy familiar. That’s because it is.
In Kings and Chronicles, we see many of the same events addressed.
- For example, Saul’s reign is covered in 1 Kings 9 to 31 and is in 1 Chronicles 10 in brief.
- Some of the chapters on David’s reign in 1 Chronicles chapters 11 to 29 correspond almost exactly with some of the recounting in 2 Samuel 1 to 24.
Kings was written to provide a political history of Israel and Judah written from a prophetic and moral viewpoint. Chronicles highlights some of the same events in David’s life and Solomons life in particular yet focuses on a religious history of the Davidic dynasty, and exclusively with a focus on Judah and the faithfulness of God in the covenant of Judah’s legacy through into the Babylonian times.
If those with microphones wouldn’t mind helping us out now, let me ask a question. What other examples in the bible can you think of where the bible provides us multiple views of the same events? Why did God do that?
Many Possible answers:
- Ezra / Nehemiah
- Most of the Prophets
- Acts/Pauline Epistles/Peter
I mentioned before that it has been hundreds of years since the people of Judah have been under a “good” king. It’s been more than a century and closer to 130 years – probably a couple of generations at least – since the exile that followed Judah’s being conquered by Babylon. To put the people on a solid spiritual grounding that remembers who they are, that they are reminded of who God is, and that they remember that they are His covenant people means covering a LOT of ground.
They need to know that they foundations all the way back to creation.
They need to know that God established the kingdom of Israel, unique from that of any other nation.
They need to know that God established the wisdom and the temple and a priesthood organized in the time of David with a temple in the time of Solomon.
They need to know that God made an everlasting covenant for the Davidic line.
They need to know that God was faithful to His covenant throughout the kings of Judah.
They need to know that God preserved and maintained the priesthood throughout hundreds of years of kings, and into the Exile.
They need to remember that they are the legacy of Israel, the descendants of an everlasting covenant, with genealogical heritage to God’s people and the ordained kingship that will last forever. They did not know about Christ in whom the promise would be fulfilled but the genealogies of Chronicles are included in the line of Christ.
As importantly, the focus as a priestly perspective is selective. Flip with me quickly to 1 Chronicles, Chapter 10. You will need to move fast with me. Chapter 10. Here we see the defeat of Saul, setting up David to be made King. Follow along with me – you’re going to have to go fast – in a super-high-level skim:
Chapter 11, David made king. David’s mighty men.
Chapter 12, supporters of the king.
Chapter 13, the Ark not moved in obedience to God, Chapter 14, David’s wives and children.
Chapter 15, moving the Ark again, this time planning to do it right, treating God as Holy and with worship and reverence for how He said it must be done.
Did you see Bathsheba in there? It’s not there.
It’s not that the chronicler is “covering up” or hiding something, rather the book has an intent in its writing – to prompt the people to obedience and reverence for the Most High, Yahweh who created their nation, made a covenant with David and preserved them throughout the exile. He resided his word in the Ark with them. When they did not treat God as holy and made to move the Ark without due regard to God’s commands, there was a consequence.
This is the priestly perspective, reminding the people of God’s character, commands, and that there are consequences when the nation does not obey them.
Meanwhile, the people have a state and a temple and priesthood to rebuild at the time of the writing of Chronicles which Ezra and Nehemiah would build on as a record of the post-exilic re-establishment of the Hebrew people of God in Palestine.
The outlines of these books are extremely simple, and I’ve provided it in your handout there. First chronicles is broken into two major sections. The Royal Line of David is provided background and established in the first 9 chapters – that is one through nine – of 1st Chronicles. The remainder of the book, chapters 10 to 29, are on the righteous reign of David.
In 2nd Chronicles, the first 9 chapters of the book address the reign of Solomon, a time of about 40 years, and the following chapters, from Chapter 10 to the end of the book in Chapter 36 address the 400 years following throughout the reign of Judah’s kings.
The literary structure is very similar. I have provided for you already a brief harmonization of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. It is not my own work but a table that I found extremely helpful in the MacArthur Study Bible. The literary structure can be clearly seen as you look at that table, tracing God’s provision for, formation of and progression of the kingdom of Israel.
There are essentially 3 major literary blocks: First, the Genealogies, second the Reigns of David and Solomon, and finally the Reigns of the Davidic Kings. I’ll repeat those for those following along in your handout. First – and this is the heading of your first column there – the Genealogies. Second, the reigns of David and Solomon over the united kingdom of Israel. Third, the Reigns of the Davidic Kings. These should be your headings in the literary structure.
In the Genealogies, we cover from 1 Chronicles chapter 1 through to chapter 9. Essentially, this is from creation with Adam through to the Restoration. Judah’s genealogy is starting in Chapter 2, Verse three to chapter 4:23. For those taking notes, Judah is Chapter 2:3 to 4:23.
The genealogy of Levi is starting in Chapter 6, verse 1 through to Chapter 8, verse one. So Levi from 6:1 to 8:1. The priests and Levites begin in Chapter 9 of 1 Chronicles starting in verse 10 and go through verse 44. So, priests and Levites from 9:10 to 9:44.
The reigns of David and Solomon are a considerable portion of the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, starting in in 1 Chronicles 10 through the rest of the book, and in the first 9 chapters of 2nd chronicles. Remember the priestly perspective here. The focus really is on the covenant between Good and David, the building of the temple, and worship at the temple.
The final block we noted was the Reigns of the Davidic kings. A worthwhile note here is that this is exclusively focused on the kingdom of Judah. The priestly perspective of the Chronicler is following the covenant of God through the kingdom, and the temple built by Solomon, with the line of Levites which served God. The reigns of the Davidic kings specifically focus on those kings loyal to God and worshiping Him at the temple.
As with our note earlier about the focus of the Chronicler, it’s not a matter of covering up the bad kings or anything, its about the purpose of this scripture, getting Israel on track, setting up a post-exilic people who follow God in the footsteps of the Davidic covenant as did David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah who followed God.
Flyover (Themes, People)
If you wouldn’t mind, flip your bibles back to Chapter 1 in 1 Chronicles as we start a high-level flyover of the books, focusing on themes, people, and key scriptures.
Rather than reading the first 9 chapters of who begot whom and the sons of whom, lets focus on some highlights. As we noted in the literary structure, the focus of the genealogies is the tribe of Judah, the Levites, and the formation of God’s state and temple.
In fact, as we trace through both books, there will be 6 major themes:
- All Israel – God’s mandate for Israel, a focus on a unified kingdom, and the continuation of God’s promise for “all Israel” through the kingdom of Judah.
- The temple – we see the primacy of God’s presence among the people, including themes like the ark of the covenant, the priests, the levites.
- The Davidic dynasty with a focus on David establishing the kingdom and especially the temple, and Solomon constructing and consecrating the temple.
- The faithful kings of Judah. 17 chapters highlight God’s continued provenance for his people and the legacy of His covenant to David.
- Yahweh is the ultimate cause of all things. This is a key insight to the priestly view of Chronicles, and we will look at this in more depth in a minute.
In these first 9 chapters, the first theme we see emerge is God’s ultimate plan and purpose being realized throughout time. From Adam thousands of years before to the 430s BC when these books were penned, these genealogies – though somewhat difficult to read as a story, line after line – represent the fulfillment of God’s promises. Creation. Preservation in Noah. Establishment of Abraham. A people in Jacob. Restoration and rescue from Egypt. Tribes in Canaan. And that’s just chapter 1 and 2.
Chapter 3 we see the family of David, part of the theme of the Davidic dynasty which would be relevant to the people descended from Judah in captivity.
And then in Chapter 4, we see what to our eyes seems a bit of a disconnect. With chapter 4 and 5, we return to the tribes of Israel. Why is that? Remember the supreme purpose here is a priestly perspective on God’s promises to His people. Turn with me to the end of Chapter 4. Chapter 4. Starting in verse 41. So in Chapter 4 we see the descendants of Simeon, reading starting in verse 41:
“From them, from the sons of Simeon, five hundred men went to Mount Seir, with Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, as their leaders. They destroyed the remnant of the Amalekites who escaped, and have lived there to this day.”
That’s the remnant of the tribe of Simeon who were preserved and still live in a remnant. And at the end of Chapter 5, turn quickly to Chapter 5, verses 23 and following, talking about the sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, the Chronicler summarizes the fate of Israel, Chapter 5, verse 23:
“Now the sons of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land; from Bashan to Baal-hermon and Senir and Mount Hermon they were numerous.
24 These were the heads of their fathers’ households, even Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel, mighty men of valor, famous men, heads of their fathers’ households.
25 But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them.
26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara and to the river of Gozan, to this day.”
We then see the establishment of a focus on the Temple in Chapter 6 as the Levitical line of priests is covered in detail. Lets pause briefly and look at a couple of quick notes, because they highlight the focus that the Chronicler has on worship, the temple, and the holiness and reverence for Yahweh. Look with me at verse 31 and following…
“ Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark rested there.
32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order.
33 These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel…”
The theme and focus on worship even in the recounting of the people, a foundation that would be united specifically with the recounting of Solomon’s reign and the realization of the Temple to God in Jerusalem later in the book. Forwarding down to verse 48 – verse 48 – we see another element of worship and obedience highlighted:
Their kinsmen the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
49 But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.
50 These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son…
And of course, more of the Levitical line of priests continues, with a reminder to the people of the pastures and places set aside to provide for the priests.
1 Chronicles 8 brings us through the tribe of Benjamin to the kingship under Saul. Chapter 9 highlights the view of verse 2 “Now the first who lived in their possessions in their cities were Israel, the priests, the Levites and the temple servants. Saul’s reign is only very briefly recounted – 14 verses. Remember that the focus here is on obedience to the Lord. Establishing the Kingdom, preserving it. Few of Saul’s actions are important to that lens for the post exilic Judah to return to re-establish the nation of “All Israel”.
Chapter 11 is extremely important, lets read the start. Again, if you aren’t there, turn to Chapter 11, verse 1:
1 Then all Israel gathered to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.
2 “In times past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel.’ ”
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.
Remember Samuel had anointed David long before David took the mantle of the King from the people of Israel. In verse 2 here, we see the reference to “You shall shepherd My people Israel…” this is a brief touch on the Davidic covenant which while not repeated in full here, is a central underpinning for the next 20-plus chapters across 1st and 2nd Chronicles as God upholding the kingdom of a united Israel and then the Kingship through Judah is unfolded.
Through the following chapters we see many of the key people highlighted, as God surrounded David with advisors, commanders, sons, and Nathan who was often a source of God’s wisdom and revelation to David.
I want to highlight here that as Chapters 12 and following start to trace the people of Israel and talk about army sizes and remnants and many other matters, there is an imperative challenge: Out of about 200 parallel numbers between Chronicles and Samuel and Kings, 19 of them appear to differentiate somewhat between the books. There are two possible theories offered up.
First, while the original manuscripts of these books are without error in the original plenary inspired scripture, Chronicles is a book which has seen an uncommon number of scribal errors. Without getting too deep into textual criticism, it is a display of the power of modern textual fidelity that comparing the many companies we have has identified and eliminated many of these errors. It’s a far cry from the 1516 Novum Istrumentum Omne of Erasmus to a modern text like the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia or the translations of the Septuagint, which is informed by communication of scholars and bringing together the best evidences from many more sources that would not have been available in the 16th century world.
Lets look at an example. Look in 1 Chronicles, Chapter 11. Verses 10 and 11. In Verses 10 and 11, we read:
10 Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.
11 These constitute the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time.
If we looked at the parallel account in 2 Samuel, Chapter 23, which I will read for you to save on time, we see it begin:
These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was called Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain by him at one time;
399 versus 800. Different enough to be material to the reader and raise the question: “What gives?”
So one option for some of the discrepancies is rooted in the way that ancient Hebrew represented numbers – that is with alphabetic lettering representing numbers. In both Samuel and Kings, as well as Chronicles and other books, this is a common source of scribal errors as these numbers could easily be transcribed incorrectly.
To give you a modern parallel, think about our Arabic derived numerals 3 and 8. It’s not much of a change in the mark to accidentally copy by hand a single letter incorrectly – they weren’t doing this by copy and paste on the keyboard.
When the numbers are closer, we also see estimating at play as some numbers in the manuscripts represent estimation and are “round numbers” in the context of the numbering system then in use.
None of the potential errors are issues of doctrinal import – that is, there are no conclusions being made that represent an issue of unique doctrine from these passages. This issue is more a representation of the historical text for scholars to debate over, a curiosity. We can have full confidence in today’s text, and God’s word being faithful and complete for our needs in our age.
Lets continue looking over the books, skipping around quickly now. I want to highlight the continued focus on the Temple as chapters 13, 15, and 15 of 1 Chronicles deal extensively with the process of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem, first without regard to God’s instruction, and then in obedience, submission, and worship to God. As we near the close of 1 Chronicles, I want to spend a few moments on 1 Chronicles 21 if you will turn there with me.
In 1 Chronicles 21 we see David’s folly ordering a Census of the nation of Israel. God would break out in judgement because David focused on himself, his power, the power of the state, the power of military might, rather than the power of God who had created, preserved, and empowered Israel and David specifically as King.
There is another interpretive challenge here as we read starting in verse 1:
1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
2 So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.”
In the parallel account of 2 Samuel, Chapter 24, we read the same event but colored a bit differently by Samuel:
1 Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
2 The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.”
The key difference here is in the motivating factor behind David. The Chronicler asserts it as Satan standing against Israel and moving David. In 2 Samuel, the decline of David’s reliance in later life is implicated as the Lord burning in anger and God’s judgement being the divine agent of David’s sin with the census.
The likely answer here is that both are true. We are seeing scripture giving us a contrasting view of proximate, intermediate, and ultimate cause for an individual’s sin as part of the providential process of judgement by God.
King David is immediately and proximately the moral agent of the sin of pride, self focus, refusing to rely on God, and breaking God’s command against numbering the people.
The intermediate cause of that is Satan drawing David to temptation.
The ultimate view is that God permissively used Satan – that is, in God’s decretive will that David would be drawn back to relying on God and repent, God’s permitted Satan to tempt David to sin.
David is morally responsible for sinning. Satan tempts David. God uses the incident for His will and His own plan to judge the nation of Israel and David specifically as a corrective to David’s pride.
We need to keep moving forward to highlight the theme of the temple and the priesthood as Solomon takes over in the transition between 1st and 2nd Chronicles.
The very first verse of 2nd Chronicles makes clear where the power and authority for the kingdom lie:
Now Solomon the son of David established himself securely over his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and exalted him greatly.
Chapters 2 to 4 establish the temple.
If those with microphones could be ready. There is a lot of detail in the building of the temple. We see that detail in the bible multiple times, and we see entire chapters of the temple’s construction here. We believe in plenary inspiration of scripture – that God made sure that exactly what is intended to be in the bible is there, through human authors. So why does God want us to have this detail about the temple?
The ark is brought into the temple in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 is an important chapter – as the Chronicler recounts Solomon’s dedication of the temple, noting God’s faithfulness to David and his family, to the whole people of Israel. Verse 14, declaring God’s character to Israel again,
He said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart;
15 who has kept with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.
In the chronicler’s priestly lens, the extensive view of the temple, its dedication, God’s confirmation in Chapter 7 with the Shekinah Glory is with purpose. Remember after the exile, Israel is returning and needs to remember the manifest power of God and how the kings of Israel honored Yahweh before “all Israel”.
In the latter half of 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 7 God’s promise and warning is relayed from appearing to Solomon:
Look with me starting in verse 19 from Chapter 7:
19 “But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them,
20 then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
21 “As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’
22 “And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’
And of course, at the time of this writing – that’s exactly what had happened. 130 years or so before, Judah had been removed for forsaking the Lord. The northern tribes of Israel even before that.
For the remainder of the book of 2nd Chronicles, the chronicler highlights the Good kings of Judah, the lineage descended from Solomon and David.
- Asa (14:1-16:14)
- Removed the high places and altars 14:3, 14:5
- Depended on the Lord 14:11 in prayer rather than in his numbers (v8)
- Warning of faithfulness to Asa from Azariah, 15:1-7
- 16 relies on foreign army rather than God
- Jehoshaphat (17:1-21:3)
- Taught the law of the Lord 17:7-9
- Allies with Ahab
- God warns Jehosephat and yet he goes anyway with Ahab (ch 18)
- Despite reforms and following God, would make the same mistake again allying with Ahaziah of Israel 20:35
- Joash (24:1-27)
- Focus on temple restoration v4-19
- Amaziah (25:1-28)
- Uzziah (26:1-23)
- Jotham (27:1-9)
- Hezekiah (29:1-32:33)
- Brings reform after bad kings 29:5
- Restores temple worship, 29:20
- Reinstitutes the Passover 30:13 – delayed because they had to build back up the priesthood, sanctified to God
- Destroys the idols 31
- Saves Hezekiah from Sennachareb, 32:20
- Hezekiah’s pride and lack of thankfulness after healing v25
- Josiah (34:1-35:27)
- Josiah repairs the temple 34:8
- 34:14 they rediscover the book of the law
Finally, Chapter 36 of 2nd Chronicles is something of an Epitaph. A chapter that is a kind of “and here is how we came to be exiled in the first place” as Jehoahaz, Hoiakim, then Jeoiachin doing evil in the sight of the Lord and entering captivity finally under the governor-king Zedekiah.
I want to highlight however the chronicler’s final verse of 2nd Chronicles. Chapter 36, verse 23:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’ ”
Thus, God’s love and mercy and saving grace was extended to His people. All of Chronicles demonstrates God’s love and provision for His people, making a covenant and then demonstrating through hundreds of years of Kings and even into and through captivity that he is faithful to His own covenant to them.
Meanwhile, the unified kingdom of Israel split in rebellion. Kings turned from the ways of their fathers to their own ways of power. The people of Judah turned to apostasy as we saw in Kings over and over kings who built up the high places where people could worship the god – little g – of the hills or the waters or the rivers, of fertility and excuses for all manner of sins. Yet God was faithful, preserving the line of the kings of Judah, the line of David, as He said he would.
Even as the consequences of the people’s actions became clear. And what an encouraging note to look forward to Ezra and Nehemiah next week. God preserved the nation of His people with a priestly leadership, with a direction pointing to Himself, all the while preserving the line of the ultimate savior, Jesus, the one who would be of the line of David and also before him.
Will you close in prayer with me?