Philippe R. Sterling
1 and 2 Chronicles presents a history of Israel designed to arouse support for the temple and theocracy after the return to the land.
The name of Chronicles is an English translation of Jerome’s title for the text in the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Chronicler may be Ezra who might have written it between 450 and 425 BC. Ezra had led some of the exiles to Jerusalem in 457 BC. He covers human history from the time of Adam through the decree of Cyrus. The temple is central to the theocracy. He presents David’s reign as a preparation for the building of the temple, Solomon’s reign as the process of building the temple, and the reigns of the southern kingdom as mainly deviations away from the temple with four short lived periods of reform. He uses the history of Judah as a rallying cry for the returned exiles to get back to temple worship since that is central to their covenant and fellowship with God. The temple is the unifying theme of the book. The book omits much of the material from the books of Samuel and Kings since they do not develop this theme.
Analogy: We rally ‘round the flag. We sing the Star Spangled Banner at special events. The picture of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima is an iconic moment for our nation as is the making of a flag by Betsy Ross. The flag represents the nation -- when we rally ‘round the flag we identify with the nation and serve and support it. Our enemies burn the flag.
Literary Structure and Content
Chronicles divides into four parts.
1. The Genealogies reveal who the people of God are (1 Chronicles 1—9).
2. The Reign of David focuses on preparation for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 10—29).
3. The Reign of Solomon focuses on the building of the temple (2 Chronicles 1—9).
4. The Failure of the Kings of Judah results from deviation from temple worship and the judgment from God (2
I. The Genealogies (1 Chronicles 1—9)
The Jewish community of the post-exilic period for whom the Chronicler wrote lies within the history of the nation and the creative and redemptive purpose of God. The Chronicler directs us from the creation of the first man to the tribes of the one nation to the community from these tribes which fell under judgment. The history reveals the grace of God through promise and failure and restoration.
A. Early History from Adam to Israel for Whom the Nation is Named (1)
B. Genealogies from the Twelve Tribes of Israel with the Focus on Judah Down to David (2)
C. The Line from David (3) – David’s Immediate Family, Kingly Line to Zedekiah, and the Line in the Exilic and
D. Genealogies of the Twelve Tribes (4—8)
Chapter 6 deals wholly with the line of Levi. This reflects the importance of their role in temple worship. Chapter 8 deals wholly with the tribe of Benjamin. Only Benjamin along with Judah remained true to the line of David. The city of Jerusalem lies within the territory of Benjamin.
E. The Record of the Remnant Back in the Land (9)
Judah was carried away into exile to Babylon for unfaithfulness (9:1). The Chronicler lists the important people who inhabit Jerusalem in the post-exilic period (9:2-34). They fall into four groups: Israel (the people), the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants. The mention of the ancestry and descendants of Saul functions as a bridge to the next section (9:35-44).
II. The Reign of David (1 Chronicles 10—29)
A. Saul falls from the kingship (10).
B. David comes to the throne of Israel (11-12).
David is crowned king at Hebron (11:1-3). He captures Jerusalem (11:4-9). Many people are attracted to his reign (11:10—12:40).
C. David brings the Ark of God into Jerusalem (13—16).
D. David prepares for the building of the temple (17—22).
God tells David that his son will build the temple (17). David makes Israel a strong power in the area (18—20). When David sins God disciplines the nation but God stays his judgment when David builds an altar on the threshing floor of Onan and David names that spot as the future place of the temple (21:1—22:1). David makes preparations for the building of the temple (22:2-19).
Keynote Passage: “He [Solomon” shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever” (1 Chronicles 17:12). Note the focus on the building of the temple and the establishment of the Davidic Dynasty.
E. David prepares for future temple worship by making Solomon king, organizing the Levites, priests, singers,
temple servants, and the army (23—27).
F. David charges Solomon and the people to keep the covenant and build the temple and David and the people
worship God with their offerings, prayers and sacrifices (28—29:22a).
G. Solomon rules in place of David when David dies after a full reign (29:22b-30).
III. The Reign of Solomon (2 Chronicles 1—9)
A. Solomon worships God and receives wisdom for a prosperous reign (1).
B. Solomon builds and dedicates the temple (2—7).
Solomon prepares for the building of the temple (2). Solomon builds the temple (3—4). Solomon dedicates the temple (5—7). When the temple is finished, the ark is brought into the temple and the glory of God fills the temple. God promises to bless the nation if they follow him, and punish the nation if they turn away from him.
The temple was not only a central place of worship but the place of the actual localized presence of God. Its building began in 966 BC, 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt. It took seven years to complete. God gave the pattern for the building to David who then gave it to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:19, 11-12).
Keynote Passage: “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). The temple was to be a place of worship and answered prayer, especially a prayer of repentance.
C. Solomon has a great reign (8—9).
IV. The Reigns of the Kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 10—36)
A. The Emergence of the Kingdom of Judah (10—13)
The northern kingdom revolts from Judah. Rehoboam acts as the king of Judah. He is unfaithful and God brings judgment upon the kingdom. When Rehoboam humbles himself before God, God delivers the nation. Abijah succeeds Rehoboam and becomes powerful and subdues much of the northern kingdom.
B. Reform and Degeneracy of the Kingdom of Judah (14—36)
1. Asa and Jehoshaphat reform the kingdom of Judah (14—20).
Asa is a reforming king devoted to God. Towards the end of his reign he no longer seeks God but becomes self-sufficient. Jehoshaphat is a reforming and just king. He unwisely allies himself with the northern kingdom but even then God delivers him.
2. Jehoram and Athaliah lead the nation into degeneracy (21—23).
Jehoram’s evil rule results in warfare for Judah on every side. Athaliah’s usurpation of the throne puts the nation into great peril. She tries to kill all of the Davidic line. The priests led by Jehoiada thwart her plan and put a Davidic heir back on the throne.
3. Joash partially reforms the nation (24).
Joash is a partial reformer until Jehoida dies. In his last days he departs from the reforms of his youth.
4. Amaziah, Uzziah and Jotham lead the nation into degeneracy (25—27).
Amaziah is a partial reformer but falls into idolatry. Uzziah is prosperous and becomes proud. Jotham is a partial reformer but he does not cause the people to change their ways.
5. Ahaz leads the nation into idolatry and rebellion against God (28).
6. Hezekiah reforms the nation (29—32).
Hezekiah reestablishes temple worship and promotes obedience to the covenant. God rewards Hezekiah’s faith. The Chronicler devotes much space to this since he is trying to do the same thing in his day.
7. Manasseh and Amon lead the nation into degeneracy (33).
Although Manasseh is extremely wicked, he does repent later in life. Amon has a very wicked reign.
8. Josiah reforms the nation (34—35).
Josiah repairs the temple and reestablishes temple worship according to the Law of God. He is killed in battle when he does not follow what God tells him to do.
9. The final kings lead the nation into degeneracy (36:1-14).
Babylon takes away the treasures and some of the people. Under Zedekiah’s rule the priests and temple officials defile the temple.
10. Babylon takes the kingdom of Judah into captivity (36:15-21).
11. Cyrus of Persia issues an edict to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (36:22-23).
The end of Chronicles expresses hope for the temple. The end of Kings expressed hope for the Davidic line.
Keynote Passage: Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah—the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!’” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23)
The Chronicler traced the history of Judah and Benjamin with an emphasis on the erection and use of the temple through the Davidic line to encourage the returned exiles to get back to temple worship and national unity. In doing this they would be faithful to the covenant with God and be able to demonstrate their special position before God.
Ezra places Judah first in the genealogies of the nation because the monarchy and Messiah come from this tribe (Genesis 49:1). Chronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Bible and its genealogies are introductory to the genealogy of Christ in the New Testament.
The Temple – God with Us through the Ages
1. Eden – God Walks with Man
2. The Tabernacle – God’s Glory in the Midst of His Chosen Nation
3. The First Temple – Solomon – God’s Glory in the Midst of His Chosen Nation
4. The Second Temple – Post-Exilic and Herodian – “My Father’s house” (John 2:16)
5. Christ – Tabernacles among Us (John 1:14) – He is God with us (Matthew 1:23) – His body is a temple (John
6. The Church – Temple of God in this Age – Do you rally ‘round the Church? – Identify with the Church in baptism,
service and support. We live in a time when the visible corporate church is deemphasized even by many
7. The Tribulation Temple
8. The Millennial Temple – Christ rules from Jerusalem
9. The New Heaven and the New Earth – God and the Lamb is its Temple (Revelation 21:3, 22).
Rally ‘round the temple!