This article is part of the Why Study the Book? series.
A Rebooted Truth
Sometimes we are tempted to skip over Chronicles in our Bible reading. After all, doesn’t it mostly just cover the same material as Kings? Been there, done that. But if you have seen both the classic 1966 Batman movie, as well as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, then you know: sometimes the reboot is worth watching.
Chronicles is a reboot. It is not just the same old material; it has a new tone, a new message, new truth about God to communicate. And if you skip this part of the Bible, you will miss out on that.
What makes Chronicles special? Here are three of my favorite things about the book:
Chronicles teaches us the centrality of worship.
It is not military skill or political prowess that makes Israel successful, rather it is the worship of God that brings the people together as one community, worshipping God in the way that he has chosen, at the place that he has chosen. Chronicles has a soundtrack—the Levitical musicians keep showing up at key points in history, where Kings had not mentioned them. The author wants to remind you what brings true unity. True success to God’s people is the joy of delighting in God. So Chronicles is a timely reminder that our church programs, our formal theology, and our efforts for social justice are nothing if they don’t flow from a community centered around worshipping and enjoying God.
Chronicles can be a constant reminder of the unstoppable power of God’s forgiveness.
Chronicles teaches us that God is bigger than our past.
Whereas Kings teaches us that sin tends to be passed down from generation to generation—and this is of course true—Chronicles focuses us on the fact that God rescues us from these deadly patterns. Each generation has the opportunity—and the responsibility—to repent and turn to God for blessing. And even our own personal history of sin is not enough to stop God’s grace. The Chronicler shows us the repentance of David and Hezekiah, and even the worst king of all, Manasseh, turns to God and is forgiven. And the biggest reverse of all is that even the tragedy of the exile to Babylon is not the end of God’s plans for his people. God forgives his people and brings them back to the land. If you are someone who is tempted to think that your past will make God give up on you, Chronicles can be a constant reminder of the unstoppable power of God’s forgiveness.
Chronicles also has some things to say about the controversial issue of our free will and God’s sovereignty.
It doesn’t shortchange human responsibility one bit. Again and again, the author emphasizes the fact that everyone is called to repent and throw in their lot with God’s kingdom. At the same time, though, Chronicles points us to a deeper reality. After listing all of the humans who came to help David, 1 Chronicles 12:18 points us to the fact that ultimately, David succeeds because God is the one who helps him. And in 1 Chronicles 29, as the congregation of the people freely brings their wealth and gives it to God, David is quick to point out that anything they have to give, God has already given to them (v.16), and asks God to "keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people” (v.18). All of us are called to freely and joyfully choose God, but we cannot do this unless God first works new life in our hearts. What Chronicles calls us to, then, is a participation in God’s work, a free giving of ourselves to his kingdom, which flows from a recognition that victory does not depend on us and our strength, but upon him.
A Signpost of Jesus
Finally, I should mention that in teaching us these three things, Chronicles also teaches us about Jesus. In Jesus, God comes near to us, and the church is united into a temple of which Jesus is the cornerstone. Jesus’s perfect life and death on the cross sets us free from the curse of Adam’s sin, and through repentance and faith in Christ, we are freed from the past and become a new creation. And Jesus is both the man who perfectly and freely chooses God in our place, as well as the God who gives new life to our cold hearts. In teaching us about these themes, Chronicles points us forward to the one greater than David and Solomon, to the greater temple, God’s only-begotten Son come in the flesh for our salvation, Jesus Christ.