bible.cod: 2 Chronicles
Worship: The Exclusive Responsibility of God’s People!
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
The fourth major unit within the seventeen Historical Books is referred to as the Divided Kingdom Period. The Books of Kings record the reigns of kings of Israel and Judah following David. The United Kingdom of Israel reached the zenith of its power and influence early in Solomon’s 40-year reign (1 Kings 1-11). It began to decline because of Solomon’s divided heart for God.
The books of Kings cover the 431 years of Israel’s history from Solomon’s coronation (973 B.C.) to Jehoiachin’s release from Babylonian exile (561 B.C.). The focus is on the 387 years from Solomon’s coronation to the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. It begins with the Temple being built and ends with the Temple burnt. I believe it was written primarily by the prophet Jeremiah and finished by Ezra or Ezekiel with some final editing by unknown editors. It was written to the remaining kingdom of Judah before and after its Babylonian exile. It is at once an explanation for the Babylonian captivity and a warning to learn the lessons of history. “…1, 2 Kings present Israel’s history as a series of events that describe how and why the nation fell from the heights of national prosperity to the depths of conquest and exile. More specifically, [these books] explain how and why Israel lost the land it fought so hard to win in Joshua and worked so hard to organize in Judges, and 1, 2 Samuel.” (Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, pp 15, 28) 2 Chronicles provides the divine commentary on the Divided Kingdom era. Written to the remnant returning to the Promise Land from Babylonia under Ezra and Nehemiah before 500 B.C., the Chronicler (Ezra, Nehemiah or a contemporary) focuses on God’s faithfulness to His promises to Israel in electing and preserving His people (Judah) and His kingly line (David’s descendants). This selective and theological history is designed “to rally the returned remnant to hopeful temple worship…by demonstrating their link with the enduring Davidic promise.” (Jeffrey Townsend, “The Purpose of 1 and 2 Chronicles,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145:575 (July-September 1987): 99-126. Though the Second Temple would never measure up to Solomon’s, they were still God’s people. The Davidic line, Temple worship, and the priesthood were still theirs. The Chronicler reminds the returning remnant of their place in God’s plan to redeem Creation and begins to thrust their thoughts toward a coming King:
1 and 2 Chronicles cover a broader period of history than any other Old Testament book. 2 Chronicles gives a priestly perspective on the history of God’s people from Solomon’s reign through Cyrus’s edict to rebuild the Temple more than 400 years later. The emphasis on the Temple exhorts them to reestablish worship as guided by the Mosaic Law.
I. SOLOMON’S GLORY: Israel’s golden age of peace, prosperity and Temple worship. David’s dream to build a majestic Temple for Israel’s worship becomes Solomon’s reality. However, in the midst of rejoicing there is a stern warning—this type of worship flows from hearts loyal to God. If the nation fails to remain true to God, He will uproot them from their homeland and destroy this magnificent place of worship. Six of these first nine chapters center on the construction and dedication of the Temple. (1-9)
Messiah: The Temple was designed to point God’s people to Christ, but most missed the point! Jesus tried to tell them that He was greater than the Temple (Matthew 12:6). He claimed to be the One who replaces the Temple. The glory of God that used to reside in the Temple now resides in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son (John 1:14).
II. JUDAH’S DECLINE: Israel’s glory declines as true worship of her God declines. Solomon’s death quickly divides the nation and both kingdoms eventually choose to worship other gods. Sinful lifestyles in the palaces and neighborhoods of Israel and Judah cause the nation to forsake pure Temple worship. A few of Judah’s kings bring revival, but it never lasts more than one generation. (10-36)
A. 30% DEDICATION TO TWELVE EVIL KINGS: Chronicles virtually ignores the northern twelve tribes and barely mentions the evil kings of Judah. The emphasis is on Judah as God’s sovereign choice to glorify Him through Temple worship. This never happens in the northern kingdom and ceases during the reign of the idolatrous kings of the south.
B. 70% DEDICATED TO EIGHT RIGHTEOUS KINGS: The Chronicler offers a detailed account of the deep spiritual commitment, courage and integrity of the rulers who walked in the ways of David. Five of these kings—Jehosaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah bring revival and restore Temple worship.
C. THE HOPE OF WORSHIP: 2 Chronicles concludes with hope. The Persian King Cyrus decrees that the Jerusalem Temple will be rebuilt.
III. 2 Chronicles and You: 2 Chronicles is a fascinating study of God’s perspective on history. The events of the Divided Kingdom era seem secondary to God’s primary concern—authentic worship of Him in this world.
A. In the key New Testament passage on worship Paul teaches us that true worshipers of Christ give their lives to God in response to His mercies (Romans 12:1-2).
1. Paul devotes eleven chapters to carefully detailing how the righteousness of God is demonstrated in His mercies to believers. Worshipers should never be ashamed of the delivering power of the Gospel that reveals the righteousness of God in everyone who believes (1:16-17).
The Gospel delivers believers from the penalty of sin. Justification by faith—every believer is declared righteous the moment they believe (Chapters 1-4). The Gospel delivers believers from the power of sin. Sanctified by faith—every believer who relies on God’s Spirit will live righteously (Chapters 5-8). The Gospel’s promises are the promises of a covenant-keeping God (God’s faithfulness to Israel, Chapters 9-11).
2. Paul devotes four chapters to carefully detailing how believers should respond to His mercies. Worshipers should give their lives to God as a sacrifice of worship (12:1-2).
In a decisive act of the will we present our lives to God to transform to do His will (12:1-2). This decision counts the cost of living selflessly in the church and the world (12:3-21).
B. God is looking for authentic worshipers who gather together in authentic worshiping communities to glorify Him in this fallen world.
1. An authentic worshiper is a Christian who has given his or her life to God in response to the mercies of God. Worship is a lifestyle, not an event!
2. An authentic worshiping community that “has good worship” according to God’s definition is a gathering of believers who are serving Christ together in response to His mercies. The event of good worship is the expression of the collective worshipful lifestyles of the community.
“It is in the process of being worshipped
that God communicates His presence to men.” C.S. Lewis