I recently came across an article giving readers advice on how to get through the “boring” books of the Bible. You might guess that 1 and 2 Chronicles made the list. After all, they’re just a repeat from the books of Samuel and Kings, and then there’s all those names, right? If it’s been a while since you’ve studied through the Chronicles, let me encourage you to take another look, because that’s exactly what it offers us for this time-period of Old Testament history – another look from a different perspective. Chronicles was written to the remnant of Jews returning from Babylonian captivity, but well after they had already done so. Unlike Kings which gives a historical/political view and details the failures that led to exile, Chronicles is written from a priestly perspective and is filled with a message of hope! As you read, take note of the ways that God is giving His people what they so desperately need – hope!
Gems in the Genealogies
Yes, the first nine chapters are a list of genealogies, but don’t miss some important reasons for them being there. Confidence for those returning from exile that they were still God’s chosen people. Anticipation of the coming Messiah through detailing the entire lineage of David. Excitement for a new temple seeing the names of those qualified to serve in it. In a word, hope!
Praise of the Positive
As you read through the next 29 chapters describing David and Solomon’s reign, you’ll notice some important details missing – the negative ones. Both kings are portrayed in a very favorable light as David’s sin with Bathsheba and Solomon’s Idolatry are not included. The abysmal failures of the kings of Israel are also noticeably absent. The primary focus remains on Judah, whose kings were not perfect, but their humility (2 Ch. 20:1-34) and repentance (2 Ch. 33:15-19) is emphasized. Was the writer of Chronicles trying to whitewash history? Certainly not, rather it speaks to the overall purpose of the book was not to browbeat an already disheartened Israel, but to lift them up, point them back to God, and give them hope!
Restoration of Religion
It’s not all repetitive! In fact, scholars agree that about 50% of I and 2 Chronicles is new material. Much of that unique information centers around the priesthood, worship, and the temple (note 1 Ch. 22-29). The remnant needed much encouragement and instruction to do things the right way once again. God wanted what He wants for every person that’s gone astray – to return to Him. In these key verses He gives them hope than they can be successful!
“The couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his princes, even according to the command of the king, saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see. Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the Lord and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him” (2 Chronicles 30:6-9).
God knew their success would require not only a change of action, but a change of heart. The word heart is the challenge word for this month. It’s used over 45 times in the book and is often associated with the success or failure of individuals. Look for those whose hearts were described as loyal, seeking, generous, upright, joyful, courageous, and repentant. Does that describe your heart? Ultimately our Father wants not just the individual characteristics, but our whole heart!
We live in a world that is adept at beating us down, reminding us of our failures, and pulling our hearts toward the ungodly. Hope is often found in unlikely places, and Chronicles is a great reminder that through very dark times in history God has never left His people without hope for the future. For the Christian, that hope is even better (Heb. 7:19)! And one thing is for sure, hope is certainly not boring!