By Henry Jaegers
The books of the first and second Chronicles are to be understood as one volume. First Chronicles cover the life of David, emphasizing his heart for God. We find him first, rescuing the tabernacle from the hands of the Philistines and placing it back where it belongs among the people of God. The book of first Chronicles is taken up with David's desire to please God in all things that he did. He desired to build beyond the tabernacle and to give God a temple in its place. But it was not God's time for David to undertake such a project. God told David that it was through his son Solomon that the house would be built. So, we end I Chronicles with the desire of David to bring God's people into harmony with God's kingdom.
But as we come to second Chronicles, we see instead of the desire for the temple, we find the realization and actual building of it. As we progress to second Chronicles, the desire for the temple progresses to the point of its deterioration. Instead, the temple becomes useless and eventually destroyed. The destruction of the temple ushers in a period of 70 years for God's people as they were led into Babylonian captivity.
The book of second Chronicles ends with the edict given by Cyrus commanding the people to go forth to Jerusalem and rebuild the house of God. This edict corresponds perfectly with the first chapter of Ezra, where that same edict is given a reference. All of this gives us the timing for the writing of first and second Chronicles. It was written sometime after the edict given by Cyrus, probably during the time of Ezra. It is historical in this content by the fact it is written from the viewpoint of something already having taken place.
The book of second Chronicles can be divided into two parts. The first section of the book encompasses the first seven chapters where Solomon started out right in his dedication to reign over the people. His unselfish request brought the promised blessing of God upon him. After the temple was built, we find Solomon’s prayer and dedication along with God’s response. Chapter 7: 14 has been the classic passage used by many present-day evangelist’s in their messages on Revival (used often regardless of its original intent to Solomon in his request). In his prayer, in chapter six, we see that he started out right. But in chapter 8, we see something happening to Solomon when he first married the daughter of the king of Egypt and built her a house. He recognized that she had no part with the people of God but it appears that Solomon began a drift away from his covenant with God.
In chapter 9, we are told about the visit from the Queen of Sheba and there appears at this time that he soaked up her praises of his greatness and began his drift away from God. Looking back in the book of second Kings, we see that he began to live on the fringes and took to himself many strange wives of the heathen nations around him and their influence upon him caused him to drift away from God and break his covenant promise.
As we continue our study in the book, we discover that the people became enamored with the greatness of the temple's interior and began to forget about the God of the temple. The temple became their pride and joy along with its ceremonies. The falling away took place when the temple itself became more important than the God who dwelt within. That is always the problem with formalism. And in case we think that we may be immune to such a thing, consider this: Sometimes the doctrine and the orthodoxy take the place of God and we tend to find comfort in these and the security that keeps us from going any further in our relationship to God. That is a great message we must learn from Second Chronicles. When the presence of God is replaced by doctrine and outward forms of worship, they become our gods and we drift along in our orthodoxy seeing no need to make any changes in our life.
As we trace to the book of second Chronicles and view the actions of the good Kings, we notice that they were always restoring that which was broken down by those kings who preceded them. Every time a new king arose, some restoration took place. Eventually, during the reign of Josiah, the people discovered the law of God which had been forsaken for so long and upon reading of the contents, a new Reformation began under the hand of King Josiah.
There is a lesson we can learn from second Chronicles. Sometimes during the time of success and prosperity, there is a tendency to relax and let down our guard and be content with what has happened in the past. By doing so, we are on dangerous ground. Eventually, the Christian life becomes nothing more than a formal activity and the presence of God and its power is removed. Sometimes during a time of deterioration God raises up his servants to make us aware of what is happening and if we, like the nation of Israel, do not take to heart the message of God from his servants, we are bound to repeat the failures and go on in a backslidden condition. The message to the church today is a message to the church at Sardis (The dead church) and that is "strengthen the things that remain".
Questions for Discussion
1. In II Chronicles 1:1, what evaluation did God place upon Solomon at the beginning of his reign? Does starting well mean that we will end well? What makes the difference? (See Proverbs 1: 1-7)
2. In Chapter 1: 7-12, discuss this important event in the life of Solomon. What do these verses tell us about the character of Solomon and what God thought of his request?
3. In chapter 2:1m what next venture did Solomon take?
4. In Chapter 5: 12-14, consider what happened in the temple that day? Compare this verse to Acts 2:1-4, to determine a New Testament counterpart.
5. Take time to consider all of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6, and God’s response in chapter 7: 14-22. What promise and warnings are given in chapter 7:14-22?
6. Read chapter nine to discover a shift in Solomon’s focus as he related to the queen of Sheba and what happened after her visit?
7. Read I Kings chapter 12, to discover the fall of Solomon and the effect that it had upon the future of the kingdom of which he was chosen to serve.
8. In II Chronidles10-32, trace to the good kings mentioned and determine the good things that they contributed to their reign.
9. From chapter 32-35, discuss the important events that took place during the reign of Josiah.
10. From Chapter 36, what happened after Josiah Died? What happened to Judah? How does Chapter 36: 20-33, give hope in discovering God’s purposes to be fulfilled in these fallen people?