Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Second Book of Chronicles

In 2nd Chronicles we're seeing an emphasis on the sub-kingdom of Judah, with an especial emphasis on the temple of God. The book starts with Solomon's ascension to the throne of Israel. God gives him tremendous wisdom and Solomon also possesses and distributes so much wealth that he "made silver and gold in Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance" (1:15). In his day, abundant silver and cedar was like having diamond-studded swimming pools--Solomon's country was seriously rich. And one of the big thing Solomon decides to do with this God-given wherewithal is to build a temple as a permanent house of worship for him.

Chapters 2 through 6 are all about building the temple, and we see why the temple is such a big deal. God pays special attention to prayers said in the temple, but beyond that, the temple is a place where the people can focus their attention when they need to repent of their sins. God says in 7: 14-15 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." Notice though, that just praying in the temple isn't enough to get God's forgiveness--his people have to give up the evil things they do and then they can be forgiven. Actively seeking the Lord is a key part of this whole deal.

Chapters 8 and 9 talk more about Solomon's accomplishments and the visit he received from the Queen of Sheba. And it's interesting that 2nd Chronicles completely glosses over Solomon's downfall into idolatry by worshipping with his wives--1st Kings chapter 11 tells the uglier side of the Solomon story. Again, I'm stuck by how much brighter the books of Chronicles are than the books of Kings. They're both true versions of the Israelite history, but Kings more accurately shows the destructiveness of sin, and Chronicles emphasizes the blessings that come from holiness. They're two sides to the same coin, and it's really helpful to look at both.

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