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Introduction to 1 Chronicles

INTRODUCTION TO

1 CHRONICLES

The word Chronicles in Hebrew has the meaning of an ongoing account, almost like a journal or diary or minutes taken at a meeting. They are the first and second books of a four-book series that includes Ezra and Nehemiah. Together these four books provide a priestly history of Israel from the time of Adam to the rebuilding of the house of God and the walls of Jerusalem. At one time the book of Chronicles was probably one single scroll, which was divided later for convenience by those who translated the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint, aka LXX).

The Golden Gate is situated on the eastern side of Jerusalem just below the Temple Mount.  It has been sealed since medieval times.

The Golden Gate is situated on the eastern side of Jerusalem just below the Temple Mount. It has been sealed since medieval times.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF WRITING

AUTHOR: An ancient tradition ascribes the authorship of Chronicles to Ezra. The author must have lived sometime after the return of the Jews to Israel from the Babylonian exile. He also had a strong interest in the reimplementation of the law and the temple, and he must have had access to historical records. All of these criteria suit Ezra, and this identification is corroborated by the fact that the last verses of Chronicles are the first verses of the book of Ezra. However, since the book does not explicitly claim Ezra for its author, in these notes we will refer to him simply as the “Chronicler.”

BACKGROUND: The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles include extensive genealogies from the time of Adam and take the reader up to the period of the nation’s exile and restoration. First Chronicles gives us the genealogies and focuses on the reign of King David. Second Chronicles focuses on all the kings who followed David up to the exile and restoration. It covers the same time period as 1 and 2 Kings, but 2 Chronicles focuses exclusively on the kings of Judah. The content of the books necessitates that they were written sometime after the return from the exile, perhaps the middle of the fifth century BC.

MESSAGE AND PURPOSE

Having resettled in Jerusalem after the exile, the people needed to reconnect with their identity as the people of God. Chronicles met this purpose by reminding them of their heritage and by directing them back to God’s presence in their midst as symbolized by the temple. The important ideas that 1 and 2 Chronicles emphasize are (1) a direct connection to God’s people in the past; (2) the continuity of the line of David on the throne of Judah; (3) the centrality of the temple and its rituals in focusing on God; (4) the importance of music in worshiping God; (5) the invincibility of God’s people when they obey him; and (6) the inevitability of punishment when God’s people disobey him.

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles convey several key themes. These include:

GOD’S CONTROL OF HISTORY: God desires to dwell among his people in a perfect relationship of holiness in which he is God and the redeemed live as his people. The tabernacle and the temple symbolize that desire, a desire that was ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ—the Son of David. Chronicles shows how God worked from the time of Adam but particularly in the time of David through Ezra and Nehemiah to accomplish his desire to dwell in holiness with his people.

THE COVENANT WITH DAVID: God chose David and his lineage to build his house. The final ruler in this lineage is the Son of David—the Messiah. Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, but it is Jesus who is building and shall build to completion God’s true house. Christ is the one who will reign forever. His people are those of Israel and indeed of all nations who will put their trust in him.

THE HOLY GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPED PROPERLY: The two books of Chronicles show us that the God who dwells in holiness must be approached according to the law that God gave to Moses. David, in seeking to unite his people around the presence of God, learned that God must be sought in the proper way. Worship by way of the altar of sacrifice as ministered by the Levitical priesthood was important, and the place of the altar of sacrifice was to be in Jerusalem at the threshing floor of Ornan (aka Araunah). There David erected the altar and Solomon built the temple according to God’s directions.

THE HOUSE OF GOD: The books of Chronicles intended to encourage God’s people to work together with God and with one another to build God’s house. The people were challenged through these books to go up to Jerusalem to build God’s house. Chronicles reminds the people of God’s history of faithfulness to his people and to his house. God promised that he would bless their obedience to this challenge.

CONTRIBUTION TO THE BIBLE

Chronicles brings together many dimensions of biblical revelation, such as historical events (as recounted in Genesis through Kings), temple ritual (as prescribed in Leviticus), sin and judgment (as preached by the prophets), and even some psalms. Because a recurring theme is that God will always accept people who return to him no matter how wicked they may have been, it has been called, perhaps a little whimsically, “The Gospel According to Ezra.” The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles give us the big picture of OT history, capturing the Davidic covenant in light of Israel’s history back to Adam and pointing to the eternal continuation of that covenant through the reign of the Messiah.

STRUCTURE

The Hebrew Bible divides its books into three categories: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. In this arrangement, the books of Samuel and Kings are counted among the Prophets, whereas Chronicles belongs to the Writings. This classification may be partially due to the fact that Chronicles repeats information, such as the genealogies of Genesis and the histories of the kings of Judah from the books of Samuel and Kings. Still the Chronicler uses this repeated content to support his own point, and he also adds a lot of information that we find in Chronicles alone. He limits his discussion of the various kings almost entirely to those of Judah, the southern kingdom.

OUTLINE

I.The Genealogies (1:1-9:44)

A.Genealogies of the human race (1:1-54)

B.Genealogies of the twelve tribes (2:1-9:44)

II.The Reign of David (10:1-29:30)

A.Fall of Saul’s house and rise of David (10:1-14:17)

B.Removal of the ark to Jerusalem (15:1-16:43)

C.David’s desire to build God a house (17:1-27)

D.David’s victories over Israel’s enemies (18:1-21:30)

E.David’s preparations for building the temple (22:1-19)

F.Arrangements for the service of the Levites (23:1-26:32)

G.David’s final days (27:1-29:30)

1010-900 BC

David 1010-970

With the death of Saul, David becomes king of Judah. 1010

David becomes king over all Israel. 1003

David moves the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. 1000

God’s covenant with David 995

Solomon becomes Israel’s third king. 970

Construction of the temple begins. 966

Solomon dedicates the temple. 959

900-825 BC

Asa 911-870

Notched flute is developed in Peru and Chile. 900

First temple repair and reform under Asa 897

Jehoshaphat 872-848

Jehoram 853-841

Ahaziah 841

Etruscans settle in central Italy. 850-800

Athaliah 841-835

825-715 BC

Joash 835-796

Second temple reform under Joash 812

Amaziah 796-767

Uzziah 792-740

First Olympiad in Greece 776

Traditional date for the founding of Rome 753

Jotham 750-732

Ahaz 735-716

715-600 BC

Hezekiah 715-687 Josiah 641-609

Third temple reform under Hezekiah 715

Manasseh 697-643

Amon 643-641

Fourth temple reform under Josiah 622

Jehoahaz 609

Jehoiakim 609-598

600-425 BC

Zedekiah 597-586

Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar II becomes the largest city on earth. 600

Jehoiachin 598-597

The temple in Jerusalem is destroyed under Zedekiah. 586

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, third of seven wonders of the ancient world 550

Statue of Zeus at Olympia, fourth of seven wonders of the ancient world 466-456

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