1st and 2nd Chronicles – A People Preserved
Key Verse: 2nd Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
As with Samuel and Kings, Chronicles also forms one complete book in the Hebrew scriptures. The original title of these books was divere hayyamim or “the words of the days”, which is translated “chronicles” in 1 Chronicles 27:24. The Septuagint interpreted this title using the Greek word Paraleipomonea meaning “things omitted or passed over”. Therefore we learn that the word Chronicles really has no relation to the long genealogy found in the first English book , but rather means historical records. As the Hebrew title infers, these books contained records that were passed over in other histories. It was not until Jerome’s Latin Vulgate that the word Chronicle began to be used for this section of the Bible. He called it “A Chronicle of the Entire Divine History”. Incidentally, this is the final book in the Hebrew Bible. It was placed in the section known as “The Writings” and in a sub-section of Historical Books where it was included with Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah. Therefore the Jews treated Chronicles differently from Samuel and Kings which were regarded as Prophetic Books. These distinctions are important to grasp if we are to appreciate the lessons from Chronicles.
The Jewish Rabbi’s believed that Ezra wrote the Chronicles. There is evidence within the books which indicate that the words were written in the period after the Babylonian Exile, which is consistent with the times of Ezra. In 1st Chronicles 3:19-21 the sons and grandsons of Zerubbabel are mentioned. Zerubbabel was the first man to lead the Jews out of Babylon. Ezra arrived in Judea approximately eighty years later and would have been in a position to record the names of his sons. Also 2nd Chronicles 36:22-23 records the decree which allowed for the resettlement of the Jews in Judea. Therefore these words had to be written in the years after the exile. It is true, however, that as this decree was made eighty years before Ezra’s rise to prominence it could potentially have been written earlier than the great scribe. It is interesting to note, however, that there is strong similarity between Ezra 1:1-2 and the close of Chronicles. There is certainly strong circumstantial evidence at the very least, linking Ezra to Chronicles.
It is the historical setting in which these books were written which gives us the ultimate key to unlocking the purpose of Chronicles. Historians write with a purpose in view. No historian can write a complete history of a period or he becomes bogged down in meaningless facts and his work is a bore. The historian assembles the relevant facts which enable him to communicate the past to the present generation. Chronicles was written for the benefit of Jews who had come out of seventy years of exile in Babylon. The returning captives for the most part neither knew nor remembered this homeland. It was the land of their fathers, yet it was new to them. Therefore the writer related the history of this land so that the people might know that they were God’s unique people serving Him in the land that He had given. The writer even traced the family histories of the Jewish people right back through Abraham, Shem, Noah, Seth and Adam. The pedigree of the Jew was good. The proof was conclusive. They were God’s people. They had to know this because they had come through a period of great national uncertainty. As we have observed, the writer of this history traced the lineage of individual families to show them that their heritage could not be questioned. The returning exiles were rebuilding a nation and a way of life. In particular they were re-establishing a theocratic kingdom, a nation governed by God. Therefore the writer retold the history of Judah and the Kings which sprang from David’s lineage to show them the principles of true worship. Built into this history is the warning against apostasy which had brought this once proud people to ruin. The writer of this history passes over the history of Israel during the days of the divided kingdom because they were not governed by the seed of David nor did they as a nation worship aright at any time. The focus is upon the Kings of Judah and Jerusalem, the Holy City.
Historical Study; Chronicles is the study of history with a spiritual as opposed to an academic end in view. The principle is therefore laid down that the present generation can be taught valuable spiritual lessons through an understanding of God’s grace in the past. In particular we should acquaint ourselves with Church History, especially the Reformation period and the great revivals with which God blessed his people. History teaches us that we we have a heritage. Chronicles taught the Jews that they were part of a continuous line. Our beliefs and teachings are not new. They have been dearly held since apostolic times and the line of truth can be clearly identified.
Messianic Line; The underlying message in Chronicles is that God had not merely preserved the Jewish people for their sake. He had done so for his own glory, that the line out of which the Jesus Christ would be born, would be preserved. Therefore the first three chapters lead us from Adam, through the Patriarchs to Judah, David and Zerubbabel, whom the Jews in captivity were familiar with. The Messianic line had been preserved. Therefore Judah’s family is delineated before the other sons of Jacob and David’s family is given prominence. Matthew 1 completes this genealogy.
Regulated Worship; Public worship is neither governed by convention nor tradition. Worship in its entirety ought to be regulated by the Word of God. This was important for the returning exiles as they had a spiritual responsibility to rebuild the temple and reinstitute the true worship of Jehovah. Therefore new detail is given regarding the removal of The Ark of the Covenant to Kirjath-jearim with the full text of David’s song of thanksgiving (1st Chronicles 13,15-16). More information is also forthcoming in relation to the plans which David made for the erection of the the temple, the building of the same under Solomon with the dedication. The returning exiles faced challenges from the Samaritans, at this time, who practiced a religion which was a form of Judaism mingled with paganism. Therefore it was vital that returning Jews knew why they needed to keep their worship pure. Today we base our worship upon the Word of God. The singing of Psalms and Hymns with priority given to the Ministry of the Word has been the practice of the reformed church since reformation period and is grounded in the scriptures. To tamper with the structure of our worship is to throw the church into uncertainty and is highly dangerous.
Spiritual Reform; In this history emphasis is placed on the great reforming Kings who recovered Judah from apostasy. Chronicles is a history of revival in Judah with details given which are not available in the books of Kings.
Abijah – His preaching, his praying and praises are all set forth on the day that he defeated Jeroboam in battle (2nd Chronicles 13).
Asa – The altar of God rebuilt (2st Chronicles 14-15)
Jehoshaphat – He began well in the ways of David (2st Chronicles 17:4-6) but after his backsliding and compromise with Ahab he had to recommence the work of reform which had slipped back (2 Chronicles 19).
Joash – Under the influence of Jehoiada the High Priest, Joash, only seven years of age when he began to reign, the temple was repaired (2nd Chronicles 24).
Uzziah – A king who did much good while under the influence of Zechariah the prophet (2nd Chronicles 26).
Hezekiah – After along period of declension Hezekiah led a sudden revival, the most thorough work of reform to date, when the Passover was revived (2nd Chronicles 29-31).
Manasseh – While he was the most wicked King who presided over Judah, Chronicles relates his miraculous conversion (2nd Chronicles 33).
Josiah – The last and the greatest of the reforming Kings. The Passover, which was the climax of this revival was the greatest spiritual feast since the days of Samuel (2nd Chronicles 35:18). In his days the Law was recovered from the temple and it became apparent that judgement was coming to Judah for her sins, particularly those under Manasseh (2nd Chronicles 24). Jeremiah’s lamentation when the godly King Josiah died in battle is therefore most significant (2nd Chronicles 35:25). God removed His servant paving the way for judgement.
Apostasy; Throughout all of these reforms and revivals an undercurrent of apostasy lingered in the nation. This was at times evident in the people who refused to follow the faith of their king, therefore reforms could easily be overthrown. At other times, however, the weakness of men who for a time served well is apparent. Uzziah’s usurping of the priest (2nd Chronicles 26:16-23), Jehoshaphat’s compromises and Joash’s U-turn are examples of these tendencies. No revival is perfect and every spiritual reform can within a few years be swept aside. All of this warns us to be vigilant and look out for the seeds of failure which exist in every denomination and local assembly of believers.
Divine Providence; God’s oversight is in view throughout the Chronicles. The preservation of the seed royal under the stewardship of Jehoiada (2nd Chronicles 23) and the proclamation at the close of 2nd Chronicles are striking examples of this principle.
1st Chronicles 1:1-9
The Genealogy of the Preserved People
1st Chronicles 10 – 28
The Reign of David
2nd Chronicles 1-8
The Reign of Solomon
2nd Chronicles 10-12
2nd Chronicles 13
2nd Chronicles 14-16
2nd Chronicles 17-20
2nd Chronicles 21
2nd Chronicles 22
Ahaziah and Athaliah
2nd Chronicles 23-24
2nd Chronicles 25
2nd Chronicles 26
2nd Chronicles 27
2nd Chronicles 28
2nd Chronicles 29-32
2nd Chronicles 33:1-20
2nd Chronicles 33:21-25
2nd Chronicles 34 -35
2nd Chronicles 34-35
2nd Chronicles 36
Destruction and Captivity