Category Archives: 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 30-36

These chapters finish up the story of Judah as many are carted off to Babylon because the leaders and the people had become increasingly unfaithful. Good kings Hezekiah and Josiah restore the temple and celebrate the Passover, but it’s too little, too late. Other kings come along and do evil, and everything is ruined. Just prior to the fall of Jerusalem in chapter 36 we read these prophetic words which apply to pre-exile Israel, but point forward to Christ:

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.

They mocked, despised, and scoffed the Lord’s Word, and 600 or so years later they would do this to the Lord himself. Jesus says the following and we can imagine he has these verses in mind when he says it. First in Matthew 23:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

Then in Luke 19:

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

If Jesus was thinking about the fall of Jerusalem and Israel’s exile to Babylon, he would seem to be connecting that to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 and the diaspora. The bottom line is God’s judgement. One day, whoever this refers to, will see Jesus again and proclaim him Messiah. The “Blessed is he” reference in Matthew comes from Psalm 118, a messianic Psalm, and everyone who heard him say that, the day he went into Jerusalem, would have known that. In Psalm 118:

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

In Jesus’ triumphal entry his followers thought he came to be a king, but he came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Israel’s failure led to the world’s salvation.

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2 Chronicles 21-29

I was going to just read through to the end of the book without much comment because the stories told here were covered in more detail in 2 Kings. Basically good kings, bad kings, punishment, repentance, etc. Chapter 29 starts the reign of Hezekiah, one of the best post-Davidic kings of Judah. His father Ahaz was one of the worst, so the contrast is stark. Something stood out to me as Hezekiah commands that the temple be cleaned and purified from the horrible things his father had done to it. He says his parents were unfaithful, they did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and he forsook them:

Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity.10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us.

Maybe it’s an anthropomorphism in some sense, but God’s response to sin is “fierce anger.” Sin and God’s response to it cannot be whitewashed. Wrath is a response his holiness demands.  So the people’s response is what God commands to address his wrath, offerings and sacrifices. As they brought the animals for sacrifice, a word stood out to me. Instead of saying they killed the animals, it says over and over that they “slaughtered” them. I think God communicating through his word wants us to know the ugliness of sin, and what is required to appease his wrath: nothing less than slaughter, which of course all points forward to Christ.

In our day we all but ignore the law and God’s demand for perfect righteousness, and what his justice demands if we’re to commune with him. The gospel isn’t nearly the good news it should be if we ignore or downplay this aspect of God’s nature. And think about God’s wrath being poured out on Christ to “save his people from their sin.” That’s a lot of people and a lot of sin! Perfect holiness demanded it, perfect justice was satisfied, and perfect righteousness and obedience fulfilled it. God doing it all! It is finished.

2 Chronicles 17-20

These four chapters cover the reign of Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat. For the most part he is a good king. There seems to be a contradiction. In 17:6 it says he “removed the high places,” but in 20:33, that although he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, “The High places were not removed.” The first was early in his reign and the second later, and maybe that’s the difference. I also found this:

Moreover he removed the high places and wooden images from Judah: 1 Kings 22:43 says that Jehoshaphat did not remove the high places. Adam Clarke explains: “In 2 Chronicles 17:6, it is expressly said, that he did take way the high places. Allowing that the text is right in 2 Chronicles the two places may be easily recognized. There were two kinds of high places in the land: 1. Those used for idolatrous purposes. 2. Those that were consecrated to God, and were used before the temple was built. The former he did take away, the latter he did not.”

Chapter 20 is an important chapter for understanding the essence of what a relationship with the living God should be. A vast army is coming against Judah, and instead of freaking out they seek the Lord. Jehoshaphat appeals to God’s covenant promise to Abraham, and that he would protect them if they called on his name, which they do before him at the Temple of the Lord. When our enemies, sin and death, attack us, our response should be as his:

12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Exactly; we have no power. Our eyes are on the Lord because of the covenant promise he made to himself, eternally in Christ, and then to us in Abram, and through him to the patriarchs and eventually to David. Our confidence is rooted in him, not our performance or are abilities, or lack thereof, but in him.

A prophet confirms that Lord will indeed deliver them because the battle is not theirs, but God’s; the Lord is with them. And what is the people’s response:

18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

Trust, worship, giving thanks leads to deliverance, victory and joy in the Lord. There could not be any better picture of a people who’s king is the Lord, who do battle in a fallen world, but the battle is not theirs but the Lord’s. And we know that because Jesus rose from the dead the victory is eternally secure.

 

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 his reign with peace and prosperity for the kingdom. But something happens to him, and by his 36th year he’s a different man, rebellious and stiff-necked. 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 ranges 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! “He was so enraged” 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.

In the earlier years of my Christian walk I would have read this completely differently. It would have been a challenge to me to more fully commit my heart to the Lord, and my failure to do that would have created guilt, since this is impossible. Such a moralistic reading only engenders frustration. The irony is that a gospel, Christ-centered reading engenders gratitude and an increasing desire to want to be fully committed to the Lord!

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.