A chronicle is an historical record, usually of someone very important like a king. 1 and 2 Chronicles are a rich, complex, and long a record of the King. As is the case with most of God’s living Word, there are many key points we could highlight to understand the flow of the book. Because the books, which were probably one original whole later divided for practical use, start with a ton of genealogies, repeat much that the reader may already know from 1 Samuel through 2 Kings, and adds even more histories about dead people, it could be easy to to plod dutifully through without any real reflection on deeper themes or to skip straight to Ezra. To do either, however, would miss much about the good King, Christ Jesus.
In this brief series, I will focus on three themes that may help us to see a “3D” view of God’s reign of love: time, worship, and influence.
When a book is as complex and long as the Chronicles, it can be helpful to step back and note some themes that run throughout. Chronicles, for example, makes consistent references to time. Its first word is “Adam”, and its last record is Cyrus’ decree to allow any of God’s exiled people to return to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Both allude to the Lord’s eternal relationship with His people: Eden, where there was originally no death, and the temple, the picture of how God would overcome death through the sacrifice and mediation of His Priest, the Lord Jesus. And everything in between reflects God’s gracious pursuit to fulfill His eternal covenant (Isaiah 54:1ff, Jeremiah 33:14ff, Hebrews 9:15 and 13:20, etc.).
It’s been rightly said that Chronicles leaves out many of the sins of God’s kings recorded in 1 Samuel through 2 Kings to show God’s forgiveness of those individuals, and this is true. We’ll cover more of that next week. But it’s also something even greater than His love for each person at that time: it’s love for His people together over time.
Individuals’ lives in Christ are linked not only to fellow believers around them but also those who were before them and those who will be after them.
This view of God’s corporate eternal love can be easy to miss if we live in a culture that emphasizes individualism, personal satisfaction, and the experience of “here and now”. Think about that. The Lord has always shown us that love is selfless, not self-satisfying. And while love in Christ is certainly satisfying, when any of us emphasizes, expects, or even demands warm-fuzzies, we will often be confused, quickly depressed or bitter, and eventually turn away from the true God who uses all things to grow our faith, service, and joy in Him, not merely our personal experience. Similarly, love is about active pursuit of relationships, not merely receiving love on our end. Every good parent sacrifices their time, energy, sleep, and even food to care for their children. True love is not 50/50. Love in Christ is not even 100/100. Jesus gave His all when we did not and could not give anything, for we were spiritually dead to Him, loving our slavery to sins. And He calls us to take up our cross, too. And love is commitment over time, not just isolated experiences in the moment. If I may use a crude analogy, biblical love is like investing in the stock market for your children’s children. You know it will be a personal sacrifice, and you may not see many of the benefits. But you do it because you know that some of their future is built on your present, and you are family. From before the beginning of creation, the Lord has been “saving” for His family (John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:20, Jude 25, Revelation 13:8, etc.).
Consider how often Chronicles references God’s eternal reign of love. There are too many to list here, but it’s an easy internet search.
“Forever” is referenced 19 times in 1 Chronicles and 15 times in 2 Chronicles regarding God’s care for His people.
Most of the genealogies in the first nine chapters seem to be there to provide an historical record for individual Israelites returning from exile to validate their right to be part of the restored nation. The genealogies of the twelve tribes are listed out of order from their birth; Rueben’s descendants are listed, though their inheritance was given to Joseph’s children Manasseh and Ephraim, because of Rueben disrespected his father (Genesis 49:3-4); and the descendants of Dan and Zebulun are not given at all. This seems intentional to cause us to question the meaning and significance of the tribes and the other genealogies. For a few receive unusually detailed attention for specific emphases: God’s rule over time from Eden to the Promised Land (chapter 1); God’s rule over time through His King through David and Judah (chapters 2-4); and God’s rule over time through His Priesthood, at the time represented by the Levites (chapter 6), whose tribe is placed as central among the other genealogies.
Again, God’s rule for eternal forgiveness and relationship with Him is pictured in His temple, which receives 14 chapters or more than 20% of the Chronicles as a whole (1 Chronicles 22-26, 28-29, and 2 Chronicles 1-7).
Chronicles’ 233 references to David prompts every follower of Christ to note that Jesus is the Son of David (Matthew 1:1, 9:27, 12:23, Mark 12:35, Luke 1:32, Acts 13:22-23, etc.), for He eternally fulfills God’s reign of love that was foreshadowed in the son of Jesse.
There are so many praises we can name and describe about God’s Word, so I always struggle to keep these articles relatively brief. We’ll stop today with two last observations related to the comments above: 1) the list of David’s military divisions in 1 Chronicles 27 seems out of place among the lengthy and explicit chapters describing the temple and the associated worship of the Lord, yet 2) the only sin of David mentioned in Chronicles is his census of those same military forces. Again, anomalies in God’s Word are always to draw our attention.
King David’s military might was an historical fact, so it certainly fits in the Chronicles . . . for the very same reason that David’s census fits in this holy record of the King.
And we’ll start with that next time.
If you’re interested in reading other posts from this series, “Satisfaction Sundays”, you can refer to the menu above. You can also click on the following links for Understanding and Applying the Bible, inductive Bible studies on Philippians, or devotional videos on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.