THE slide clicks, and our eyes focus on the image flashed onto the screen in the darkened sanctuary. “This idol,” explains the missionary, “is made of stone and is worshipped daily. The natives believe that this will guarantee good crops and healthy children.” With condescending smiles, we wonder at their ignorance. How could anyone worship an object? Idols are for the naïve and the superstitious! But after the presentation we return home to our idols of wealth, prestige, or self-fulfilment. If we put anything in God’s place, we worship it, despite what we profess with our lips.
Our experience parallels Israel’s. They were chosen by God to represent him on earth. But too often they forgot the truth and their calling, stumbling blindly after idols as the neighbouring nations did. Then prophets, priests, and judgment would push them abruptly back to God, the one true God. The book of 2 Chronicles relates this sordid history of Judah’s corrupt and idolatrous kings. Here and there a good king would arise in Judah, and for a time there would be revival, but the downward spiral would continue – ending in chaos, destruction, and captivity.
The chronicler writes this volume to bring the nation back to God by reminding them of their past. Only by following God would they prosper! As you read 2 Chronicles you will catch a vivid glimpse of Judah’s history (the history of Israel, the northern kingdom, is virtually ignored), and you will see the tragic results of idolatry. Learn the lessons of the past; determine to get rid of any idols in your life and to worship God alone.
This account continues the history of 1 Chronicles. David’s son, Solomon, was inaugurated as king. Solomon built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem, thus fulfilling his father’s wish and last request (chapters 2-5). Solomon enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous reign of 40 years that made him world famous. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam assumed the throne, and his immaturity divided the kingdom.
In Judah, there were a few good kings and many evil ones. The writer of Chronicles faithfully records their achievements and failures, noting how each king measured up to God’s standard for success. Clearly a good king obeyed God’s laws, eliminated the places of idol worship, and made no alliances with other nations. Judah’s good kings include Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah (Azariah), Hexekiah, and Josiah. Of its many evil ones, Ahaz and Manasseh were perhaps the worst. Eventually the nation was conquered and taken captive, and the temple was destroyed.
The writer’s purpose was to reunite the nation around the true worship of God after the captivity. In these pages, he reminds the people of their past. He clearly broadcasts his message through one of the best-known verses in Scripture, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (7:14). As you read 2 Chronicles, listen to God’s voice and obey him; and receive his redemptive, healing touch.
PURPOSE: To unify the nations around true worship of God by showing his standard for judging kings. The righteous kings of Judah and the religious revivals under their rule are highlighted, and the sins of the evil kings are exposed.
AUTHOR: Ezra, according to Jewish tradition
TO WHOM WRITTEN: All Israel
DATE WRITTEN: Approximately 430 B.C., recording events from the beginning of Solomon’s reign (970 B.C.) to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.)
SETTING: 2 Chronicles parallels 1 and 2 Kings and serves as their commentary. Originally 1 and 2 Chronicles were one book. It was written after the exile from a priestly perspective, highlighting the importance of the temple and the religious revivals in Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, is virtually ignored in this history.
KEY VERSE: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (7:14).
KEY PEOPLE: Solomon, the queen of Sheba, Rehoboam, Asa, Johoshaphat, Jehoram, Joash, Uzziah (Azariah), Ahaz, Hexekiah, Manasseh, Josiah
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, the temple
SPECIAL FEATURES: Includes a detailed record of the temple’s construction
The Reign of Solomon (1:1-9-31): Solomon achieved much in business and government, but most important, he was the man of God used to build the glorious temple. This beautiful building was the religious centre of the nation. It symbolised the unity of all the tribes, the presence of God among them, and the nation’s high calling. We may achieve great things in life, but we must not neglect any effort that will help nurture God’s people or bring others into God’s kingdom. It is easy for us to get the wrong perspective on what’s really important in life.
- Solomon asks for wisdom
- Solomon builds the temple
- Solomon dedicates the temple
- Solomon’s riches and wisdom
The Kingdom of Judah (10:1-36:23): Throughout the reigns of 20 kings, the nation of Judah wavered between obedience to God and apostasy. The reigning king’s response to God determined the spiritual climate of the nation and whether or not God would send judgment upon his people. Our personal history is shaped by our response to God. Just as Judah’s failure to repent brought them captivity in Babylon, so the abuse of our high calling by sinful living will ultimately bring us catastrophe and destruction.
- The northern tribes revolt
- History of apostasy and reform
- Judah is exiled to Babylon
EXPLANATION: The temple was the symbol of God’s presence and the place set aside for worship and prayer. Built by Solomon from the plans God gave to David, the temple was the spiritual centre of the nation.
IMPORTANCE: As Christians meet together to worship God, they experience the presence of God in a way that no individual believer could. For the dwelling place of God is the people of God. The body of Christ is God’s temple.
EXPLANATION: As Solomon and his descendants were faithful to God, they experienced victory in battle, success in government, and peace with other nations. Peace was the result of the people being unified and loyal to God and his law.
IMPORTANCE: Only God can bring us true peace. God is greater than any enemy, army, or nation. Just as Israel’s faithful response was the key to her peace and survival as a nation, so our obedience to God as individuals and nations is vital to peace today.
EXPLANATION: After Solomon died, David’s kingdom was divided. When a king led the Israelites into idolatry, the nation suffered. When the king and his people prayed to God for deliverance and they turned from their sinful ways, God delivered them.
IMPORTANCE: God still answers prayer today. We have God’s promise that if we humble ourselves, seek him, turn from our sin, and pray, God will hear, heal, and forgive us. If we are alert, we can pray for God’s guidance before we get into trouble.
EXPLANATION: Although idolatry and injustice were common, some kings turned to God and led the people in spiritual revival – renewing their commitment to God and reforming their society. Revival included the destruction of idols, obedience to the law, and the restoration of the priesthood.
IMPORTANCE: We must constantly commit ourselves to obeying God. We are never secure in what others have done before us. Each generation of believers must rededicate themselves to the task of carrying out God’s will in their own lives as well as in society.
EXPLANATION: In 586 B.C. the Babylonians completely destroyed Solomon’s beautiful temple. The formal worship of God was ended. The Israelites had abandoned God. As a result, God brought judgment upon his people and they were carried off into captivity.
IMPORTANCE: Although our disobedience may not be as blatant as Israel’s, quite often our commitment to God is insincere and casual. When we forget that all our power, wisdom, and wealth come from God and not ourselves, we are in danger of the same spiritual and moral collapse that Israel experienced.
©Kingsway International Church, 1973.