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First Chronicles Series: An Overview on 1st Chronicles

Ezra wrote First Chronicles after Israel’s devastating exile from the Promised Land. First Chronicles emphasizes that God still has a beautiful plan for his people and his King in Jerusalem. First Chronicles reviews the importance of universal redemption through a Davidic King. Chronicles is a two-book series that goes through Israel’s history from Adam to the restoration. Ezra in First Chronicles focused on the theme of True Worship. The Themes of First Chronicles is summed up great in 1 Chronicle 29:10-19. Ezra highlighted three themes in First Chronicles: the theme of the preeminence of God, the provision of God, and the Promises of God.

First, Ezra highlighted the theme of the preeminence of God in First Chronicles 29:10-19. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 gives a glimpse of the glory of God and how the Israelites should attribute all their praise to God. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 states:

“Therefore, David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the Assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule overall. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand, it is to make great and give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.[1]

These verses are powerful. It is calling on the Israelites to glorify God in everything that they do. 1 Chronicles is written to show that the Israelites primary obligation is to glorify God by pursuing true temple worship. Therefore, the theme is to worship God by praising His glorious name.

Second, Ezra stressed the theme of the provision of God in First Chronicles 29:10-19.1 Chronicles 29:14-16 shows how even though the Israelites were strangers in the land, God will always provide for them. 1 Chronicles 29:14-16 states,

But who am I, and what are my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you, for we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.[2]

According to First Chronicles 29:14-16, Ezra found that all the things on earth and heaven are granted and provided by God. This verse also shows the Israelites that Yahweh Elohim is a sovereign God. The implications of this line of reasoning is to show the sovereignty of God. God is in control of everything, so this should give the Israelites hope and give them a reason to pursue God. This does mean that God even gives and provide the evil things on earth like disease and murder because evil exists on the Earth.

Third, Ezra stressed the theme of the promises of God in First Chronicles 29:10-19. God always keeps his promises to the Israelites. First Chronicles 29:17-19 states:

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart, I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”[3]

Ezra is reminding the Israelites that their ultimate purpose as a nation is to glorify God through authentic worship. God kept the promise to David and allowed Solomon to build the Holy Temple for God. First Chronicles Temple has symbolism to the fact that the Holy Spirit embodies the believers. Therefore, after Christ comes, our bodies are the temple of God. Thereby, God ultimately keeps his promises by remaining faithful to the Israelites. God also shows the Israelites that he is a promise keeper through the keeping the Davidic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant despite the Israelites’ continually missteps. Thus, Ezra stressed the final theme of the First Chronicles, which is the theme of God’s promises.

Fifth, Ezra is also stressing the theme of the Perception of God. Ezra is calling on the Israelites to have the correct perception of God to understand God. For the Israelites to have the accurate perception of God, they need to recognize God. Dr. Thomas Constable states,

“The message of this book is still a timeless one for us today. The recognition of God is still extremely important in life, both nationally and individually. Just as God governs all individuals, He also governs all nations, not just Israel. Amos stressed the fact that God governs all nations, not just Israel. All nations are accountable to Him (cf. Deut. 32). Even today, one of the Jews’ favorite names for God is “King of the universe.”[4]

Dr. Thomas Constable is shedding the light that Ezra wanted the Israelites to recognize God. Recognizing the God of the Universe is the first step on the path of a relationship with a loving and caring God. Therefore, the perception of God is vital to walk in step with God.

The Chronicles used to be one unified book. Now, modern, and traditional scholars alike, changed the Chronicles to be two separate books. Kevin D. Zuber confirms this. Kevin D. Zuber states, “The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, were given the title Chronicles by Jerome in the fourth century A.D. because it seemed to him to be more descriptive title than the Greek (LXX) title Paraleipomena, ‘The things omitted.’”[5] Zuber makes an interesting point that First and 2nd Chronicles used to be one book—a unified text. Some scholars attest that the First and 2nd Chronicles was divided to make it easier to read and memorize. The purpose of dividing First Chronicles is to help people memorize and understand First and Second Chronicles.

Author

The Author is Anonymous. The Chronicles were written in 450 B.C. by Ezra. The Most likely candidate is Ezra. Jeffery L. Townsend concludes,

“Although 1 and 2 Chronicles have been dated as late as the Maccabean period, manuscript evidence from Qumran points to a date as early as around 400 B.C. Thus, it is best to conclude that the Chronicles were written (perhaps by Ezra) sometime during the century following the rebuilding of the temple (i.e., 500-400 B.C.).”[6]

This quote indicates that the most likely candidate to write the book of First Chronicles is Ezra. Ezra is the best candidate because he lived after the Babylonian captivity. Also, he lived during the century following the rebuilding of the temple. This is the defense to prove the fact that Ezra wrote First Chronicles. Despite that argument that many people fit this criterion, Ezra is the best candidate for writing first Chronicles because Ezra is a Levitical Priest. Levitical priests are hard to come by, so Ezra is the best candidate. This is significant because First Chronicles is written from Levitical Priesthood perspective.

Ezra pointed out elegantly that the purpose of First Chronicles was to show that God will still bless them and keep the Davidic Covenant even despite the Israelites’ immense persecution under the Babylonian Captivity.

First, Ezra demonstrated that the Chronicles’ purpose was to rekindle The Israelites’ relationship with the God of the Universe. According to Hindson and Yates, Ezra wrote this book “in order to exhort the Jewish returnees to unite and resume temple worship.”[7] Hindson and Yates continues, “The writer reminds them of their genealogical connection with God’s past purposes in general and with the Davidic covenant in particular (1 Chronicles 1-9). To this end, the writer also features David’s priority of pursuing temple worship (1 Chronicles 10-29).”[8] Hindson and Yates were correct in saying that Ezra’s purpose in writing the chronicles is to show the Israelites the importance of Temple Worship. Therefore, Ezra wrote First Chronicles to rekindle the Israelites’ relationship with the God of the Universe by pursuing Temple Worship.

Second, Ezra demonstrates that the Chronicles’ purpose is to show that the Chronicles were not a repeat of Samuel through the Kings, but a rekindling of hope to the Israelites.This rekindling of hope helped boost the Israelites’ morale since they were in a different environment in the Babylonian Empire. The Chronicler, most likely Ezra, wrote Chronicles not to rewrite history but to give the postexilic Israelites a rekindling of hope. Kevin D. Zuber states, “As noted above, Chronicles was written using the Deuteronomistic history as a source and a guide for the pure history of the nation. That is, the Chronicler was not trying to rewrite history but to give his generation a perspective and sustain them in difficult times.”[9] Zuber is shedding the light that Ezra is writing to the Israelites to rekindle their hope.

The Phrase “Rekindle their hope” is to help the Israelites feel connected and have a personal relationship with God of the universe. Rekindling the hope of the Israelites meaning to help their weary souls feel better. Their weary souls will feel better when they experience true Temple worship. It is only by God’s power that the Israelites can rekindle their hope in God. Ezra is calling on the Israelites to

Third, Ezra highlights the purpose of all of Israel’s inclusiveness in the restoration of the nation. Ezra was calling on Israel’s government to seek God so that they could receive the blessing and a relationship with the Lord. Zuber states,

“The Chronicler was concerned to include “all Israel” in the restoration of the nation after the exile. All who will “seek the LORD” and who will acknowledge the temple as the only legitimate locus of worship is included in the blessing of the national relationship with the LORD.”[10]

Zuber is indicating that the Christians and Israelites alike should seek the Lord in everything they do. However, some reject the LORD and forsake Him. There are mighty consequences to this action of abandoning and leaving the LORD. Zuber wrote,

“The Chronicler was concerned about the issue of faithfulness (‘Seeking the LORD”) and apostasy (“forsaking the LORD”). These expressions appear regularly in his narrative—Ideal Davidic kings “seek the LORD,” and apostates “forsake the LORD.” Failure to do the former while pursuing the latter brought the chastisement of the LORD.”[11]

Ezra was indicating that “abandoning the Lord” should be a crucial lesson that the Israelites needed to be aware of because “abandoning the Lord” creates undue hardships and consequences.

In Modern days after the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, apostates still exist. These Apostates venomously forsake God and forsake their entire Christian faith. The Apostates face the doctrine of Hell and say that due to the existence of Hell, they reject the whole Christian faith. Due to this line of thinking and a personal experience with an Apostate, they harden their hearts so much that they never hear the Gospel again and accept it. Christians who do not harden their hearts daily are more likely to experience the Gospel Message than those who harden their hearts daily. This is a critical lesson that can be applied today. The Christians need to become followers of Jesus Christ and Yahweh Elohim, not Apostates of Jesus Christ and Yahweh Elohim. In the Chronicler History, Ezra is pointing out that the Israelites need to follow God to yield greater reward and not give in to the apostasy they face. The Apostasy they face is the rejection of the Living God and continually forsaking the Lord. Continually forsaking the Lord Jesus Christ can lead to a harden heart that could never hear the Gospel Truth again. The Apostates, only by the divine being’s power, can soften their heart to listen to the Gospel message again.

Ezra highlighted the next purpose, which was the indication that God will never leave nor forsake the Israelites through the Davidic Covenant. 1 Chronicles 17 records the Davidic promise. 1 Chronicles 17:20-24 are some of the critical verses in First Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 17:20-24 states:

“There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God. And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, “The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.”[12]

This is the Davidic Promise that there come a time where a future King where He will establish a kingdom that will never fade away. This coming King is none other than Jesus Christ. The Chronicler reminds the Israelites about this great promise to help boost their morale and remind them that the best is yet to come. The best is the future reign of Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of First Chronicles. Ezra wrote 1st Chronicles to the postexilic Israelites who were just coming out of the Babylonian captivity.

Ezra highlights another purpose of First Chronicles is to show that obedience to God yields greater rewards, and disobedience causes immediate and sometimes harmful consequences. The International Bible Society reports,

“In writing his (perhaps Ezra’s) accounts of individual reigns, he never tires of demonstrating how sin always brings judgment in the form of disaster (usually either illness or defeat in war), whereas repentance, obedience, and trust yield peace, victory, and prosperity.”[13]

The writer of this article is demonstrating that obedience and repentance yield more rewards than living in your sins. This is found in First Chronicles 28:9:

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

Ezra indicates that when Israelites live in wholehearted devotion of God, God will be found by the Israelites. God was not lost. God will be found spiritually. The Israelites lost the personal relationship with God. To find the personal relationship with God, the Israelites must seek after God. However, when the Israelites sin, great harm will come upon them physically, psychologically, and personally. If they do sin, Ezra is calling on the Israelites to repent of their sin, or else great destruction will come upon them. If they do not repent of their sin, they are eternally separated from God. Therefore, Ezra highlighted another purpose of First Chronicles is to show the Israelites that repentance and obedience yield greater rewards than disobedience. Disobedience brings judgment and destruction, both outwardly and inwardly.

The final purpose of First Chronicles is to show the power of prayer. The Chronicler, who is most likely Ezra, is calling on the Israelites to pray. One of the most surprising figures who prayed is Jabez. Ezra included Jabez because Jabez prayed to the God even despite the label his name put on him. This the reason why it is so surprising that Jabez prayed to God and called for God’s blessing on his life. When everything was up against him, Jabez sat and prayed for God’s blessing and protection against the Evil One (1 Chronicles 4:8-10). Zuber reports:

“The Chronicler believed in prayer. Those who pray—from Jabez (1Ch. 4:10) to David (17:1) and Solomon (2Ch. 1:8; 6:12), to Rehoboam (12:6), Asa (14:11), Abijah (13:14), Jehoshaphat (18:31; 20:6-12), Hezekiah (32:20-21; 32:24), and even Manasseh (33:12-13, 18)—find that God hears and answers with blessing and forgiveness. The Chronicler was urging his generation to pray for God’s blessing. This emphasis on prayer is a part of the general theme, noted several times, of ‘seeking the LORD.”[14]

Zuber indicates that the Chronicler was urging the Israelites to follow God by praying. Prayer is a powerful weapon.

Most scholars hold to the traditional view that First Chronicles was written to the Israelites to boost morale after the Babylonian captivity. However, some scholars have the belief that the book’s audience was the Achaemenids (the Persian Empire). The Persian Empire compiled these records to keep account of the Judeans. However, The Traditional view is more accurate because Ezra wrote this book to boost the morale of the Israelites after the Babylonian captivity. The Traditional idea is the view that First Chronicles was reported to the Israelites to boost their confidence. It was written to the restored community of Israel. So, the audience was the post-exile Israelites.

Genealogies are significant to the whole Bible. The Significance of genealogies points the people to God’s faithfulness in the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant. The Genealogies in First Chronicles details the stories that are found before First chronicles were written. One scholar noted that the genealogies are annotated stories of the Patriarchs’ lives. These annotated stories include David, Samuel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and several other predominant figures in the Bible. The Genealogies in First Chronicles went through the creation all the way up to the restoration. Some scholars believe the origins, reported in First Chronicles 1-10, is the annotated version of the Biblical account from Creation to David’s family and lineage.

One of the figures that were listed in the Genealogy is Jabez. Jabez lived a life that was more honorable than the rest of his brothers. However, this was not the case all his life. When his mother bore him, it caused great birth pain on the mother. Therefore, she called her son Jabez because he brought great distress upon her during the childbirth of Jabez. Jabez rose above the occasion and called on God, which helped him to be more honorable than his brothers. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 states, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So, God granted him what he requested.”

According to 1 Chronicle 4:9-10, Jabez wanted to glorify God and be blessed by God. The Story of Jabez is quite impressive in 1 Chronicles 4:8-10. It is short but so impactful. Jabez broke through his label to honor and glorify God. God granted Jabez his request to be blessed by Him because he wanted to celebrate and praise God all the days of his life. This is one of the most impactful stories in First Chronicles that is quite often overlooked. Jabez is an unappreciated guy that needs to be talked about. Jabez was the figure that popped out at me while reading First Chronicles.

If Christians never read genealogies, the story of Jabez would never be discovered and a sought-after story. So, this is the significance of Genealogies in First Chronicles 1-10. Another fact to the genealogies is that it gives Ezra the legitimacy of telling them about the Davidic Covenant. Kevin D. Zuber wrote, “The Genealogies were meant broadly to ensure the legitimacy of his generation’s claim to the covenant promises (to Abraham and David) and specifically the legitimacy of the Levitical institutions that had been revived in his day.”[15] So, the Genealogies in First Chronicles were significant because it proves how Ezra’s generation has claims to the covenant promises.

For these reasons, the genealogies are essential because it sheds new light and also gives us insight into how the Israelites have the legitimacy to claim the covenant promises set before them in the pre-exilic days.

Some scholars think that there are variations in First Chronicles that will make the book seem less accurate. This is due to Christian postmodernism. Christian Postmodernism exists to deconstruct the Bible and tell average citizens that it is just full of lies and myth. Christian Postmodernism is a whole movement that is separated from the Bible as well. First Chronicles has variations between different books of the Bible (i.e., Samuel-Kings), but it does not make it less accurate. It makes it more real because of the stylistic choices that the author makes. The Authors are given the divine right to write the biblical books. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.[16]

This verse indicates that variations will occur because “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The Variations would be expected because the word of God was written with the unique perspective of men. It is divinely inspired too. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This verse is indicating that All Scripture is God-breathed. Therefore, the variations of First Chronicles is to be expected since each writer had a unique and different personality.

David was a man after God’s own heart and was tasked to make provision for the Temple. The key theme of First Chronicles is the theme of true worship. True Worship is to dedicate everything to the Lord. King David dedicated everything including the Temple. The Temple is the pinnacle of First Chronicles. Ezra was writing the Israelites to help them return the true temple worship. Dr. Townsend proclaimed that the purpose of Chronicles is to “rally the returned remnant to hopeful temple worship…by demonstrating their link with the enduring Davidic promises.”[17] Dr. Townsend is pointing out something significant. He is pointing out that the pinnacle purpose of First Chronicles is to show that from Davidic lineage, a true remnant will lead the future Kingdom of God. Religion is good, but the main purpose of Temple Worship is to draw closer to the true Living God. Dr. Thomas Constable proclaims that Ezra’s emphasis “on the temple, ark, and worship shows his desire that the returned exiles reestablish worship according to the Mosaic Law.” Ezra desires the returned Israelites from the Babylonian captivity to reestablish worship with the one true God. The Central Subject that Ezra emphasized is the Temple of God, which the writer names at least 188 times. Dr. Thomas Constable reports:

The Central subject of 1 and 2 Chronicles is the Temple of God, which the writer named at least 188 times. Someone evidently wrote these books at the end of the Babylonian exile to encourage the Israelites to reestablish Israel’s national life in the Promised Land… This is the message of the book. The recognition of God is of supreme importance in national life—formally as well as actually. The writer demonstrated this fact in the genealogies, and he illustrated it in David’s life in the rest of 1 Chronicles.[18]

Dr. Thomas Constable is correct when he states that the central subject of 1 and 2 Chronicles is the Temple of God. The Temple of God is truly the pinnacle and peak of 1and 2 Chronicles. The Temple was so important in First and 2nd Chronicles that God called Ezra to rebuild the Temple in Ezra. The Temple is so important because it where the Glory of God dwells. It is to show that God is truly the only God. Temple Worship is significant because the temple worship shows glory and reverence to God.

Conclusion

Ezra wrote this book to rekindle the hope of the Israelites after the Babylonian Captivity. As Ezra wrote in 1 Chronicles, the themes of First Chronicles is the preeminence of God, the provision of God, the promises of God, and the perception of God. Ezra also emphasized the importance of true temple worship in the Solomonic Temple. The main purpose of First Chronicles is to reestablish the true temple worship and also reenergize the Israelites through the promises and the heritage of David. Ezra also emphasized that people should strive to seek God. This book was not written to the American Citizens. However, The American citizens can learn secondary explanation to First Chronicles. Just like the Israelites learned to seek God, American Citizens should seek God instead of forsaking God. We need to truly seek God by joining the Messianic Covenant. This is my perspective on First Chronicles.

[1] 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

[2] 1 Chronicles 29:14-16 (ESV)

[3] First Chronicles 29:17-19

[4] Dr. Thomas Constable. 2020. “1st Chronicles.” Plano Bible Chapel. Date Accessed December 1, 2020. URL: https://planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/1chronicles.pdf. Sonic Light. 8.

[5] Kevin D. Zuber. “First Chronicles.” Moody Bible Commentary. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.

[6] Jeffery L. Townsend. (Jul 1987). “The Purpose of First and 2nd Chronicles.” Bibliotheca Sacra, 144; 575. Date accessed November 30, 2020. Galaxie. Para. 5.

[7] Ed Hindson and Gary Yates. The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2012), 189.

[8] Ibid., 189.

[9] Kevin D. Zuber. “First Chronicles.” Moody Bible Commentary. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.

[10] Ibid., 554.

[11] Ibid., 555.

[12] First Chronicles 17:20-24 (ESV).

[13] The International Bible Society. 2020. “Intro to 1 Chronicles.” Biblica. Date Accessed November 30, 2020. URL: https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-1-chronicles/ 

[14] Kevin D. Zuber. “First Chronicles.” Moody Bible Commentary. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.

[15] Ibid., 555.

[16] 2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)

[17] Jeffery Townsend, “The Purpose of 1 and 2 Chronicles,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145: 575 (July-September 1987): 283.

[18] Dr. Thomas Constable. (2020). “1st Chronicles.” Plano Bible Chapel. Date Accessed December 1, 2020. URL: https://planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/1chronicles.pdf

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