It may seem today that you are repeating yourself and you wonder why in the world we would be reading something so similar to something written before. Why would the Holy Spirit consider the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles to be included in the Bible if they are duplicates? Let’s look closer at what is going on.
The books of Chronicles are uniquely special. They possess a richness of texture and and interpretative challenges that surpasses that of most OT historical books. Much of the richness is due to the close parallel to the four books previous to them. Fifty percent of Chronicles is the same material found in Samuel and Kings. Yet in actuality, the remaining 50% which is not found in the previous four books, contains the rich theological and spiritual material so important to its hearers and us today.
Kings was written directly on the heels of the last of the two kingdoms falling to foreign kings during exile. The full complement of Israelites wonder why it all went wrong. Why did this happen to us? Why were so many kings so vile? Why didn’t Father step in and save us? Much like many of the questions we ask ourselves today. When one is having to reap consequences they feel they don’t deserve, there is a disconnect between them and Father. If one knows Father, those kinds of questions are out of the question, so to speak. When one knows Father, one understands the nature of humanity just a bit more keenly.
The books of Chronicles are written from the period way after the exile, after the return, and during the rebuilding phase of Jerusalem. They are reminiscing. Putting all the pieces together. They are now looking at their history from a telescopic perspective saying, “Ah, now we see why this happened. Oh, this was important then, but we didn’t quite understand why.” Both good and bad are shared as highlights of significant historical and spiritual importance. The chronicler demonstrates that the most important defining quality of the kingdom is not political (dependent on a king’s presence), but spiritual (dependent on Father’s presence). Kings unleashes a barrage of kings names, length of reign, mothers name, the book they are found in, what each did, etc. with little room to breath. We stopped occasionally to get details into some of their lives, but by and large we blasted through the lineage. Chronicles doesn’t do that. Chronicles looks at the important pieces along the way which brought the nation where they were to that day. They looked at the important theological issues which should have been emphasized. Rather than focus on all the failure, they look on the hope in God’s plan.
We find a transformed Israel. A people who have finally gotten beyond their inclination to worship other gods, and we see the achievement of the monotheistic ideals represented in the law. They have a firm commitment to the centrality of worship and to maintaining the holiness of the temple– led in both by the Levites. Get through the lengthy genealogies at the beginning of the book and embrace the fascinating repetitive nature of the book looking at it with a different paradigm. It is a look back at the lessons to be learned and the ‘ah-ha’ moments they so missed as they were occurring. Kind of like us. Have you ever said, “Hind sight is 20/20?” Kind of like that.
As a side note, in the Hebrew Bible, the books of Chronicles are found last. After all is said and done, “this is a summary of what we have learned.” This is why Jesus is correct in Luke 11:51 when he says “from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah.” Not only would he have been correct poetically, but literarily. Abel the first one listed as killed in Genesis and Zecariah the last on killed in 2 Chronicles. Our book order doesn’t jive with his statement, but the Hebrew Bible does, which would have been fixed and ordered in Jesus’ day.
One more point and I will be done- the remarkable hymn sung on the day of dedication of the ark (1 Chron. 8-36) is composed of several sections found verbatim in the book of Psalms.
1 Chronicles 16: 8-22 = Psalm 105: 1-15
1 Chronicles 16: 23-33 = Psalm 96: 1-13
1 Chronicles 16: 34 = Psalm 106:1
1 Chronicles 16: 35-36 = Psalm 47-48
The point is that specific religious material was already written, circulated, and authoritative. Verse seven of 1 Chronicles 16 credited the song to David and his associates as a psalm of thanks to the Lord. I bet they sang it more than eleven times.
Saints~ Keep at it. Don’t quit now. If you have fallen behind, just jump back in. Pick up the pace a bit. Get up an hour earlier in the morning and start your day with Father’s story to us. You can do just about anything for 60 more days. We are a third of the way through.
This has been so good for me. Thanks so much for your encouragement. Pastor Mark
I forgot to mention that some of the material above I gleaned from the book referenced yesterday and David M. Howard Jr. An Introduction to the Old Teastament Historical Books. (Chicago, Moody Press: 1993), 231ff.