With Today’s reading we’re mostly back on schedule with Chronicles, Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah; and Psalms 88-105 make up a rather sizable chunk of reading but once you hit a strident pace with Chronicles you’ll find that reading them together in one sitting is rewarding.
Do it again! Do it again! That’s what children shout when they’re having fun. And Chronicles doubles up on the fun of Samuel and Kings, hey it even doubles up on the fun of Numbers. We get line after line to the sum of nine chapters of generational family tree goodness in the first book of Chronicles. Enjoy with two caveats.
- Don’t get bogged down in the litany of names if you’re just here to read.
- Don’t jump off the deep end and pull out rare deviations like Jabez and make an entire theology out of them. Call Heretics Anonymous and move on.
Reading Chronicles as a whole you may see some deviation after the genealogical section but First Chronicles is primarily written as a almost entirely about David’s kingship and that for good reason he is the prefigurement of the Messiah and the penultimate Old Testament King. Second Chronicles records the horrendous crash of the nations of Israel and Judah as they obstinately refuse to listen to the prophets God sends them. After hundreds of years of warnings God finally took action an suddenly the people who call themselves God’s people were taken by surprise when God finally took action. Read the books with a comprehension of both ancient history and modern society and you’ll feel like you’re reading the newspaper. All the more reason to pay attention to what you’re reading because Just like way back then when God finally does act, I suspect many will be taken off guard.
Finally, Chronicles needs to be read with an eye on the restoration of Israel which is where second Chronicles ends. God’s plan for Israel and the universe is not it’s destruction but the reversal of the curse. The destruction of Israel by Assyria and Judah by Babylon may be a part of the saga but it is not the climax.
The primary focus of Chronicles is on good examples. As a case in point the entire affair with Bathsheba is left out of David’s story even though it serves as a watershed moment for David’s kingdom. Obviously for a great many of the kings – the majority in fact – there is little positive to say, they serve as the negative explanations for the deportment of the nation(s) of Israel and Judah. When the books of Chronicles finally come to an end the preceding generations of kings, most of them evil, lay in ruins. By comparison the kingdom is resurrected as Cyrus opens a new chapter by re-establishing the nation of Israel by rebuilding first of all things the temple..
Ezra & Nehemiah
To put it succinctly Ezra tells the story of the Spiritual restoration of Israel from her captivity. Nehemiah by contrast reveals the physical restoration of Israel by securing it’s capital city. 70 years pass between Chronicles and Ezra in which the land was able to rest it’s Sabbath rests.
The lessons of Ezra are many but chief among them is that revival is never easy. Spiritual revival will without doubt encounter conflict. The story of Nehemiah’s Spiritual struggles while rebuilding the city of Jerusalem tell the same story. God’s kingdom will grow when God’s people submit to him but even the kingdom will not grow without conflict. Neither will it grow without exposure on a grand scale to the very words of God as well as obedience to that revealed word.
One of the Bible’s most notable heroins became such reluctantly. Haman the criminal plays the part of the fool so completely that he eventually lays a trap for his own life while subsequently forming a backdrop for God’s glorification among his own people as well as the pagan nation among whom they live. Truly the book of Esther stands as evidence that God frustrates the plans of the wicked and causes the deeds of the righteous to flourish.