When a book of the law is found in the Temple during a remodeling project, the good king Josiah desperately needs an audience with the Lord. The question is, where can he turn to find someone speaking the very words of God? Who is the prophet that the Lord will provide to be His mouthpiece?
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
When I was younger, it always used to blow my mind how quickly things could turn from one reign to the next in the Bible. At this point in II Chronicles, we have one of the most righteous kings, Hezekiah, who fathered one of the most evil, Manasseh. How does that happen? What of their ancestor Solomon's wise counsel about training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it?
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Many times people "get religion" as soon as trouble comes knocking on their door. A refreshing story from II Chronicles 32 shows us that when trouble arrived in the guise of Assyrian king Sennacherib and his army massing outside the gates of Jerusalem, faith had already found a home there.
Psalm 134 is three verses long and contains three references to blessing, two from the people toward the Lord and one from the Lord toward His people. Verse 1 states, "Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!" These night watchmen are called upon to bless the Lord with their prayers and praises, as verse 2 makes clear: "Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord." Finally, the expected response from God is also one of blessing. "May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion" (vs. 3). That's a whole mess of blessings in one short psalm!
Monday, August 29, 2016
After cleansing the Temple, restoring worship, and celebrating the Passover, Hezekiah continues his program of spiritual reforms by eradicating pagan worship, encouraging offerings to the Lord, and reorganizing the priesthood.
Imagine what it would be like if Christians stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter. The faith would continue, but something would definitely be missing. There would be less joy and celebration to share among family and friends, and valuable aspects of our faith would go unpracticed. As Hezekiah is renewing Judah's spiritual commitment to the Lord, he realizes that an important annual tradition has fallen by the wayside: Passover!
Thursday, August 25, 2016
There is a kind of rhythm to the spiritual life of the nation of Judah. Good king, good king, bad king, bad king, and then restoration with the return of a good king! And with restoration comes a time of ritualistic cleansing, rededication, and renewal.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
When a nation is strong, it can demand tribute from its neighbors as a form of "protection money." When a nation is weak, it usually serves as the one paying tribute to a stronger regional power. There were times in Judah's history where it played both roles.
II Chronicles 26 contains a glimpse of technological progress slowly underway in the kingdom of Judah. Sometimes, as the Bible stories move forward in history, we occasionally spy hints of technological leaps. And, in this chapter, we also find leprosy, as it breaks out upon the forehead of an overly proud king.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
As a good ruler, Jehoshaphat was concerned about the quality of justice in his kingdom. He instituted legal reforms to this end.
How do you decide what is right? Do you simply go with the majority opinion? Do you follow the wisdom of the crowd? II Chronicles 18 reveals that the majority is not always right. Like your mother used to say, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, does that make it right? Would you do it, too?
Monday, August 15, 2016
I have always considered a mark of wisdom to be the ability to learn through the mistakes of others. The epitome of foolishness, then, would be forgetting the lessons you have already been taught through your own experience. Unfortunately for King Asa, he disregarded the lessons of his earlier reign, forgetting that his trust ought to rest in the Lord rather than men.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
The Chronicler takes a decidedly pro-Judah viewpoint in his historical record. This comes through loud and clear in such places as II Chronicles 13 which highlights a stirring speech that King Abijah of Judah makes against King Jeroboam of Israel. In it, he accuses the Israelites of abandoning the Lord and turning to idols, as well as forsaking the covenant instituting the priests and sacrifices. We don't hear this same information in the I Kings 15 account of Abijah, where the king is simply described as a sinner whose heart was not true to the Lord. It is helpful to have another perspective of the conflict between the nations of Judah and Israel to see what each author includes and emphasizes in their report. Certainly it is clear from this chapter that the feud between these countries could be severe at times.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
A theme that runs through the Old Testament is the connection between the Temple erected in Jerusalem and the Lord's commitment to David that one of his sons would always be on the throne. We see both of these promises reflected in Psalm 132 with David and the Lord making vows to one another.
Monday, August 8, 2016
People are fond of talking about "the ten lost tribes" of Israel, as if every trace of their bloodlines have been lost forever. But II Chronicles 11 reveals that many came to Judah from the northern kingdom to support Rehoboam's reign, thus continuing their representation in the southern kingdom. In addition to the Levites, who left their property in the north to come to Judah, we read, "Those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their ancestors" (vs. 16). This brings up another point about II Chronicles from here on out: unlike I and II Kings, this book focuses exclusively on the southern kingdom of Judah and David's descendants.
One of the tensions in Christian theology is that of human free will versus divine sovereignty. When something happens, who is more responsible? God or man? II Chronicles 10 indicates that, in a pivotal moment in Israelite history, God works through human decision-making.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Jesus once referred to Solomon in the Gospels. He said, "And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these" (Matthew 6:28-29). Although as the pre-existing Son of God, Jesus could certainly testify about the appearance of Solomon firsthand, He might also have had in mind II Chronicles 9 which describes Solomon's glory and splendor.
Some of Solomon's wisdom can be seen in the way he governed the kingdom after the passing of his father David. So much of what had been laid up and prepared for him, Solomon put to good use. He faithfully followed the plan.
II Chronicles 7 contains a very famous scripture that is typically invoked around the time of the National Day of Prayer: "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (vs. 14). It's a beautiful verse, but we must always take care to remember the pivotal "if" statement that God uses!
The king kneels in verse 13 and dedicates the house he has built for the Lord. His prayer reveals both the promise and the danger of the Temple.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
If you are reading the Bible straight through, you may wonder why so much time is spent on the construction of the Temple. For instance, II Chronicles 4 goes into great detail concerning the Temple furnishings. Why does the Bible dwell on this topic?
Imagine if this psalm read the opposite of its statements: "O Lord, my heart is lifted up, my eyes are raised too high; I occupy my myself with things too great and too marvelous for me" (inverse of vs. 1). This would be the picture of a spiritually proud person.
Because of our modern maps, we have a tendency to say "up" when we speak of the north, and "down" when we talk about going south. In scripture, however, it is almost always "up to Jerusalem" - even though Jerusalem lies toward the southern end of the Holy Land.
When we give gifts to the Lord, such as tithes and offerings, we often do so under the illusion that God is benefiting by receiving the fruit of our generosity. Yet the reality is that we are the ones who received God's generosity in the first place. We can only ever give back to God.
Monday, August 1, 2016
David makes an impassioned speech in I Chronicles 28 before all of his officials and commanders. He publicly charges his son Solomon to construct the Temple that David has prepared. The king gives precise instructions about how the Temple and its furnishings should look, as directed by God, and makes it clear that the people are to support Solomon in this endeavor. David includes a promise that Solomon will enjoy the favor of God for as long as he faithfully follows the Lord's instructions. He says, "And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever" (vs. 9).
I Chronicles 27 lists those who held important positions of leadership and service in David's kingdom. The chapter begins with the military then continues on through tribal leaders, agricultural overseers, counselors, and the commander of the king'd army. It is clear that it takes a lot of organized people to be able to manage a kingdom - no less three thousand years ago than today!
I Chronicles 26 continues the look at David's organization of jobs and duties at the temple. There were to be gatekeepers and treasurers for the house of God, along with officers and judges for the people. Everything was detailed for the affairs of the temple to flow smoothly.
Think worship bands are a recent innovation? Think again! Those churches which employ bands are really harking back to an ancient tradition. The organization of musical teams for worship is found in I Chronicles 25. "David and the officers of the army also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals" (vs. 1). As you can see from the rest of this chapter, the organization was very detailed!