2 Chronicles is another one of those books I have never read before and it’s definitely up there as one of my favorites, along with 1&2 Samuel. It focuses on worship and urges the reader to follow after God wholeheartedly.
Although some of the stories seem like a repeat of 1&2 Kings, there are actually major differences in the stories that the author adds to point toward the benefit of being fully devoted to God and His ways for worship.
This book was most likely written for the returnees from captivity in Babylon, so 1 Chronicles mainly talks about the genealogies and priestly assignments to reaffirm their identity as God’s people. God had stuck by their side all the way up to their return from exile and wasn’t planning on leaving them now. Plus, He still expected them to follow His ways, especially His regulations for worship that David had set up before his Solomon built the temple.
The descendants of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, were the ones expected to perform all the temple services. They acted as accountability for the king, pointed toward the holiness of God, made atonement for the Israelites, led them in worship, and a whole list of other duties revolving worship.
Therefore the author of Chronicles (who may have been Ezra) wanted the returnees and the priests to take worship seriously, according to God’s ways:
Josiah kept a passover…He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord. He said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the Lord, “Put the holy ark in the house that Solomon son of David, king of Israel, built…Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel…Slaughter the passover lamb, sanctify yourselves, and on behalf of your kindred make preparations, acting according to the word of the Lord by Moses.”
2 Chronicles 35:1-6
Something amazing that I noticed in 2 Chronicles was Ezra’s emphasis on seeking God with courage, with a whole heart:
Moreover in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed certain Levites and priests…to give judgment for the Lord and to decide disputed cases…He charged them: “This is how you shall act: in the fear of the Lord, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart…
2 Chronicles 19:8-9
But in the seventh year Jehoiada took courage…went around through Judah and gathered the Levites from all the towns of Judah, and the heads of families of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 23:2
Amaziah took courage, and led out his people; he went to the Valley of Salt, and struck down ten thousand men of Seir…
2 Chronicles 25:11
Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him…
2 Chronicles 32:7
According to the Hebrew Lexicon, “courage” or “courageous” means: to be determined, to make oneself alert, strengthen oneself, confirm oneself, persist in, prove superior to, to strengthen, secure (for oneself), harden (heart), make firm, make obstinate, assure
If the kings and priests of Israel didn’t act with courage, then they would have been sure to compromise in some area, which would have stopped them from reaching their full potential as an individual and for their people. Instead, as leaders of the nation of Judah, the kings and priests needed to ‘harden their hearts’ for God and His ways alone so that nothing could make them back down from doing all that God wanted them to do.
Although no king was perfect in the period of Judah, each one disobeying God in at least one area of their life, whenever they acted boldly for God and were determined to carry out His will, great success came as a result.
King Hezekiah’s life gives one of the greatest examples of what happens when someone decides to go against the cultural norm and follow God wholeheartedly:
For a multitude of the people…had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the passover otherwise than as prescribed. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “The good Lord pardon all who set their hearts to seek God, the Lord the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” The Lord heard Hezekiah, and healed the people. The people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the festival of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, accompanied by loud instruments for the Lord. Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord…The whole assembly of Judah, the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the resident aliens who came out of the land of Israel, and the resident aliens who lived in Judah, rejoiced. There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon son of King David of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. Then the priests and the Levites stood up and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; their prayer came to his holy dwelling in heaven.
2 Chronicles 30:18-27
What a beautiful picture showing what it looks like when God’s people work together with fully devoted hearts! The entire nation, including the foreigners who came to the Lord and the exiles from the northern kingdom, came together to celebrate the Lord for the Passover. God healed them of their uncleanness.They weren’t perfect, but because they set their hearts fully on the Lord, that’s all that mattered to Him. It was a time of great rejoicing and gladness that was unheard of since the time of King David!
Hezekiah’s time as king wasn’t free from trial and persecution. His faithfulness and wholeheartedness to God was tested. Even though Hezekiah could have easily given up trusting in God because of how hard his situation was, he was faithful to Him:
After these things and these acts of faithfulness, King Sennacherib of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.
He (Hezekiah) appointed combat commanders over the people, and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.
2 Chronicles 32:1,6
The Assyrians, who were greatly feared and known for their vicious war tactics (and who had also taken the northern kingdom of Israel into exile at this point) were pressing up hard against King Hezekiah. The nation was in great distress, but King Hezekiah’s faith in God helped them. In the end, God delivered them because of their unwillingness to lose hope in God:
Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed because of this and cried to heaven. And the Lord sent an angel who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria.
2 Chronicles 32:20,21
King Hezekiah didn’t lose one of his men in this battle for He trusted God to fight the battle for them, which led to the best possible outcome.
This story was so encouraging for me because although my enemy isn’t against a physical army, I do have to fight off temptation and fear each day so that I come closer to living in the fullness of God, which is my greatest desire in life.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it gets any easier and I’m tempted to trust in something else other than God to boost my mood and calm my restlessness. But I’m coming to accept the fact that if I really want to live the life Christ died to give me, then perseverance and faith in God is my only option – not a change in circumstances, whether in the big or small.
This is courage – doing what is challenging with a conviction that it is God’s will. And I’m learning that living up to my fullest potential will always require relying on His strength and not my own. His grace truly is sufficient and His reward is great!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. …for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.