2 Chronicles 14-16

These chapters tell us about the up and down reign of King Asa. In chapter 14 he does what is right in the eyes of the Lord, and God establishes he reign with peace and prosperity for the kingdom. But something happens to him, and by the 36th year of his reign he’s a different man, a rebellious and stiff-necked man. When an enemy sets itself up against Judah, instead of seeking the Lord for protection, he goes to another king. This works, but the Lord is not happy with him:

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen[? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

What a great picture the writer, and thus God, gives us of the human predicament. By nature there is no heart that can be fully committed to the Lord. By nature, Paul says, we are objects of God’s wrath. So as the eye of the Lord range throughout the earth, this commitment is something he will never find, that is, until Jesus of Nazareth is born.

Asa is just one example of the failure of the human heart to do what is required to have a deep and abiding relationship with a holy God. I think the contrast in these chapters makes it even more powerful. Here was one of the great kings of Israel, but he could not sustain his commitment to Yahweh. In fact, his response to being confronted with his infidelity is anger! In fact, “he was so engaged” he put the seer in prison.  The human heart outside of Christ is wicked. His final indignity is an illness in which he also does not seek help from the Lord, “but only from physicians.” He would rather die, which of course he does, than submit himself to the Lord, a perfect picture of the sinful human heart.

Christ came to transform that heart from one of enmity to love, one that is enabled to be found as fully committed because the relationship is now as a father to a child, one of acceptance and love, not judgment and wrath. In effect, because of the work of Christ, we now want to love and follow our God and Father. Yes we fail again and again, but the failure doesn’t destroy us and drive us from him as it did Asa. In fact because of the depth of the mercy and grace in Christ, in the “it is finished,” the penalty paid, the debt canceled, God’s wrath fully satisfied in the perfection of Christ, our gratitude compels us. We can rejoice in the Lord because the relationship has been transformed by Him! We love him, as John says, because he first loved us. The power of the gospel.

2 Chronicles 13

This chapter brings us to the point in Israel’s history when the two kingdoms split because Jeroboam and the 10 tribes rebel against Judah, and their king Abijah. Both kings we learn in 1 Kings are not good, but the chornicler ignores Judah’s king’s sins because even an evil man can trust the Lord at times, but the important focus here is Judah as David’s line, and the “covenant of salt” he made with him. David Guzik says about this:

  1. This promise God made to David was called a covenant of salt, which meant a serious covenant because it was sealed by sacrifice (sacrifices always included salt, Leviticus 2:13). A covenant of salt also had the following associations:
  • A pure covenant (salt stays pure as a chemical compound).
  • An enduring covenant (salt makes things preserve and endure).
  • A valuable covenant (salt was expensive).

This is yet another indication of the story of redemption’s covenental nature. The first covenant, or promise, made to Adam and Eve, was sealed with Abram in Genesis 15, then worked out through Israel’s history and ultimately to Christ. The beauty of the covenant as the ultimate Biblical hermeneutic is that it is utterly God centered. It is always about what HE has done and then his people’s response.

The context of this chapter is a battle, where the rebellious norther tribes, are going to seek to crush Judah because they have superior numbers. In fact, the numbers are two to one. Even worse for Judah, as they are negotiating, evil king Jeroboam sends troops around and behind Judah’s for a surprise attack. But just prior to this, Abijah tell Jeroboam something powerful:

“And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the Lord, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. But didn’t you drive out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.

There are no other gods. They serve a chimera, defined as, “a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve.” As does anyone who refuses to follow and serve Yahweh, or the Lord Jesus Christ. Idols can never deliver because behind them is nothing. We must seek the Lord because there IS nothing else. I love this contrast throughout the OT, and it is so incredibly applicable in our day when people try to find their meaning and fulfillment in any and everything other than the Living God.

2 Chronicles 10-12

These chapters are pared down version of the story of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, which I’ve written about in I Kings. At the beginning of chapter 12:

After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.

Human nature on display. Once we have it all together and feel secure in our material possessions, as opposed to in God alone, we easily abandon the Lord. And this even though it is the Lord’s hand that provides everything for us. We learn later in the chapter why Rehoboam did this, and what the solution is:

14 He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.

That pretty much says it all, and needs no explanation.

Earlier in the chapter, because of Israel’s rebellion, the Lord threatens to send the King of Egypt to destroy them, but he relents because they humble themselves before him. Yet not completely:

When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”

The contrast through Israel’s history is consistent between either serving the Lord or other gods or kings. And there is a huge difference, as we see over and over again. Which of course all points us toward the true King Jesus, who reigns now and will in a new heavens and earth forever.

2 Chronicles 8 & 9

These two chapters basically cover Solomon’s entire reign, and only the positive stuff. Remember that the author is writing to post-exilic Israel to give them hope for a brighter future based on the greatness of their past, and nothing was greater than the reign of Solomon. But what stands out to the post-resurrection Christian is that the Kingdom of Israel pointed beyond itself. That kingdom was not the end game in God’s plan of redemption. Jesus says in Luke 11:31:

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and shall condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

It is amazing that Jesus was always very clear about who he was, and that was why he was eventually killed. You can’t read the gospels and think Jesus was simply a good man or a prophet. He was and is King of kings and lord of lords, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Solomon simply points us forward to him.

2 Chronicles 7

I’m reminded reading about the dedication of the Temple how God throughout redemptive history consistently condescends to give his people evidence of his existence. After Solomon finished praying, “fire comes down from heaven” and consumes the offerings and sacrifices that had been made. Then is says the “glory of the Lord filled the temple,” so much so they couldn’t enter it. It doesn’t say what that glory consisted of, but whatever it was, the people immediately went down to the ground, worshiped and gave thanks.

This God, because he is the one true God, the maker of heaven and earth, reveals himself to his people. Faith is more than belief in his existence; it is trust in his character, in his person, but we need to know that he in fact does exist. The ancients believed the gods existed, that there was another realm they could not see. Atheism would have been inconceivable to them. So the question was whose god was the real God, and Yaweh over and over again showed the Israelites his power, which backed up his authority. I love it that our God is a God of evidence.

And speaking of that, the night after the celebration the Lord appears to Solomon to remind him of the covenant, the covenant of works. Looking back you know this is not going to end well, at least for the Jews before Christ came. Verse 14 is the famous verse that some Christians have wrongly applied to America:

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It is true God can bless or curse pagan countries based on what they do (witness Jonah and Nineveh), but the Lord here is clearly speaking about his people, those called by his name. They obey they will be blessed, they disobey they will be cursed; as he says, he will uproot Israel from “my land, which I have given them.” Bottom line, in order to dwell in the Lord’s land, that is in relationship with him, you must be perfect. Canaan was a type of heaven, where God dwelt, and as Jesus said after the Sermon on the Mount, be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Only one person ever was, and he gave us that perfection that we might dwell with God, forever.

2 Chronicles 6

Solomon prays after the dedication of the temple. Here are a couple versus at the beginning of the prayer:

‘Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over my people Israel. But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’

This is Solomon reciting what the Lord had said. Notice God uses the word “chosen” four times in two sentences. Most people recoil from the idea of a God who chooses, yet it is affirmed throughout Scripture, over and over and over again. God’s plans do not depend on our choosing, which for me is a great comfort. Why would you want to worship a God whose plans and purposes depend on human decisions? The reason people default to this is because of perceived fairness; to them it’s only fair that the ultimate decision is up the person himself. If this isn’t the case, then they conclude people are not truly free, and thus not ultimately responsible for their actions.

But in God choosing one man, Abram, he thereby did not choose every other human being on earth at that time. That alone makes their argument, such as it is, moot. He call Israel, “my people” in verse 5. That means they are his possession, what he owns them, and thus no other people are his people. He did not choose any other people. Is this not unfair? Of course not! He is the sovereign Lord of the universe, good and true and just and holy and wise, etc., and as Moses says, “His works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” When Jesus is named in Matthew, he is given the name because “he will save his people from their sins.”

I prefer a God who chooses, even if I don’t understand how human freedom and accountability coexist with it. The acceptance of this mystery is testified to in my conscious, I know I am free and accountable, and in my trust of the character of God. Charles Hodge explains in his Systematic Theology

An event may be free and yet certain, and therefore that the theory of contingency which supposes that an act to be free must be uncertain, is unscriptural and false. . . . If certainty be compatible with freedom, providence which only secured certainty cannot be inconsistent with is. Who for any metaphysical difficulty–who, because he is not able to comprehend how God can effectually govern free agents without destroying their nature, would give up the doctrine of providence? If God cannot effectually control the acts of free (me: and thus accountable) agents there can be no prophecy, no prayer, no thanksgiving, no promises, no security of salvation, no certainty whether in the end God or Satan is to be triumphant . . .

Indeed! It cannot be said any better. The rest of the prayer is the covenant of works played out through petition.

2 Chronicles 1-5

The book opens with God telling Solomon he can have whatever he wants, and Solomon famously asking for wisdom and knowledge rather than riches and long life, and thus God gives him both. We see all the great wealth he has, and his focus on building the temple. The temple is built on Mount Moriah, which has an important place in redemptive history. It was on this mount that God first pointed us toward what would be required to redeem his people when he told Abraham to take Isaac there and sacrifice him. Remember when Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering, Abraham told him that “God himself will provide it.”

The whole of scripture points to this one thing, that God himself will save his people from their sins, thus the name of Jesus. God is Savior. His sovereign, omnipotent purposes to save his elect will be accomplished. In fact, as Jesus said as he was dying on the cross, it is finished, or accomplished. Wow, does that take all the pressure off of me, or what! I am saved from sin and death, once for all.

I’m reminded here as they put the finishing touches on the temple that they built what is called the “Most Holy Place,” and it was the curtain that separated us from this place that was torn in two when Jesus accomplished his mission. This place where only the high priest could enter, and that only once a year, was opened up to us by Christ’s body. Now we can enter whenever we want! The God of the universe available to us, no longer as judge, but as Father. What a radical transformation in the relationship, with the change all coming from God’s side. We are transformed by his love because his wrath has been satisfied in Christ.

When the temple is finally finished, the ark of the covenant is brought in to the Most Holy Place, and the writer tells us what is in it in chapter 5:

10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

Highlighting the covenant of law, which means blessings for obedience, curses for not. The symbolism of it being put in the Most Holy Place is powerful. At the heart of the Jewish sacrificial system is the law of God, as if he were saying, you can’t keep my law, so you can’t enter a relationship with me unless you guilt is covered by a sacrifice, and thus blood. Jesus kept the law perfectly, which we could not do, and thus when he covered our guilt by his sacrifice, it is forever. As the author to the Hebrews calls it, a more perfect sacrifice.

When they are done I love what they sing, and in unison, “He is good, his love endures forever.” Even to this day, devout Jews believe that, that one day he will send a Messiah to save them. Too bad too may of them can’t see he’s already come.

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