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II Chronicles

Author: Unknown

Date Written: 517-400 BC

Date of Narrative: 970-538 BC

 

2 Chronicles continues the story of Israel begun in 1 Chronicles.  It offers an interpretation of the history of Judah's kings from Solomon to Zedekiah.  Significantly, the book does not narrate the history of the northern kingdom of Israel.

 

The book begins with the reign of Solomon and the building of the Temple (1-9).  Solomon and his workmen construct the Temple out of the richest materials and they spend seven years on the project.  The Chronicler highlights the dedication of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant and all the Temple furnishings.  At the dedication, the Lord sends fire from heaven and he fills the Temple with a cloud of glory.  Solomon's reign is marked by fame, riches and wisdom.  2 Chronicles does not focus on Solomon's sins like 1 Kings does.

 

After Solomon's reign, the kingdom splits under Rehoboam (10).  The line of kings in Judah goes back and forth between faithfulness and unfaithfulness to the covenant with the Lord.  At one point, the line of David is almost completely wiped out by the evil Queen Athaliah, but a priest saves the young heir, Joash (22).  Several kings are extremely wicked.  For example, Jehoram murders all his brothers and he is even cursed by the prophet Elijah (21).

 

Again and again, the Chronicler directs our attention to the Temple.  Solomon constructs it in response to David's orders.  Asa, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah repair it.  Uzziah desecrates it by trying to offer incense (26).  Manasseh sets up pagan idols in it (33).  The Temple represents the whole covenant.  It is the sign of the nation, the symbol of the Lord's relationship with his people.  The Temple's final destruction by the Babylonians represents the collapse of the covenant.

 

Two kings stand out in the story of 2 Chronicles: Hezekiah and Josiah.  Hezekiah tears down pagan places of worship (29-32).  He rebuilds the Temple, offers sacrifices and reinstitutes the Passover feast.  The prophet Isaiah assists and advises King Hezekiah.  The two pray for Judah at the time of the Assyrian invasion and the Lord saves Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, Hezekiah's pride causes him to die of illness.  Josiah also destroys pagan places of worship, repairs the Temple and reinstitutes the Passover (34-35).  Under his reign, the priests find the Book of the Law (probably Deuteronomy) in the Temple.  The prophet Jeremiah advises King Josiah.  Jeremiah prophesies that the people will be sent into exile for 70 years, which they are (36:21).

 

When the Babylonians take over the Assyrian empire, they proceed to conquer Judah during the reign of Jehoiachin (36).  The king and many important persons are exiled to Babylon.  The Babylonians place Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, on the throne of Judah.  When he rebels against the empire, the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and drag him into exile.

 

Yet 2 Chronicles ends on a hopeful note.  Cyrus, king of Persia, takes over the Babylonian empire and decides to send the Jewish people back to Judah: the exile ends.  Yet we are left wondering how the Lord will fulfill his promise to David of an everlasting dynasty.  Only in Jesus, the Son of David, is the promise finally fulfilled.

 

By Mark Giszczak

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April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

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