Saturday, August 12, 2017

Reading Through the Book of Chronicles #4 (2 Chron. 1-9)

ChroniclesThis week we move into the second book of Chronicles accompanied by, 1 & 2 Chronicles, The College Press NIV Commentary, Old Testament Series, by John Mark Hicks. In this section of Chronicles the chronicler looks at Solomon as an example of what the nation could be if God (temple, worship, covenant) was the center of national life. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

2 Chronicles begins the story of the reign of Solomon focused on his building of the temple. Solomon is presented as both a new Moses and new Joshua. He brings the ark and tabernacle back together in the temple and brings the nation into an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. Before he begins his work God appears to him and offers him an unbounded granting of his wishes. Solomon passes this test by asking for God to keep His promise to David and to give him the ability to govern and lead the people well. Because Solomon's goals were right, God gives him the resources he needs to represent Him well. This is the same offer Jesus makes to His followers ("whatever you ask in prayer") and we must respond to His offer the same way.  

Typology is the Chronicler’s hermeneutical method for homiletical applications... Redemptive history, then, “is a series of decisive interventions, with each new intervention marked by features comparable with earlier revelations.” Consequently, the postexilic community anticipates renewal and NT writers proclaim its arrival. Christians anticipate a fuller experience of the presence of God in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21). Typology recognizes recurring patterns in redemptive history. 2 Chronicles 1, 257

Solomon’s request is granted because his heart is properly oriented toward God’s goals. Solomon’s interests are communal rather than individualistic. He seeks the welfare of his people rather than his own glory. The result is that God’s blessings overflow beyond the bounds of mere wisdom and knowledge to include wealth, riches and honor. 2 Chronicles 1.7-13, 263–264

Chapters 2-4 record the building of the temple with its elaborate furnishings and materials. The temple is God's palace and is built to reflect the wonder and greatness of God and as a testimony to His provision. It does not contain God, but it is the place where God meets His people, provides for their entrance into His presence and fellowships with them. It is the place where Israel was to draw the Gentile world into contact with God, as Solomon does with Hiram of Tyre. This role was fulfilled in Jesus and is now played out by the followers of Jesus as we live our lives, in the power of the Spirit, as the body of Christ.

This text does not encourage churches to build elaborate buildings. This misreads the typology, and it ignores the NT’s application of this principle. Christians do not seek bodily adornment or material extravagance. Rather, since we are the temple of God, we seek a holiness that reflects God’s glory. We honor God with our bodies and our lives. The Solomonic temple is not paradigmatic for building church buildings, but for building holy lives. 2 Chronicles 2, 268

Theologically, the postexilic community seeks God’s grace on Mount Moriah. There the reality of God’s presence is experienced. The sacrifice of Isaac, the sacrifices of David (1 Chr 21), and the temple sacrifices typologically anticipate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who died in the vicinity of that mount. 2 Chronicles 3, 273

The temple is a copy of the heavenly sanctuary and thus the temple is filled with symbolism as it proclaims God’s presence. The majesty, glory, and strength of the Lord are taught by the greatness and luxury of the building. In Christ we are a building of God, a holy temple in which God dwells by his Spirit (Eph 2:19–22). The majesty, glory, and strength of God are manifested through us as the Spirit transforms us into the image of God. 2 Chronicles 4, 279

Chapters 5-7 describe the great covenant ceremony as Solomon brings up the ark to the newly built temple. This is a critical moment in Israel's history as God shows his commitment to the Davidic promises by coming to the temple in a "glory cloud" as He did with the tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness after the exodus. Solomon calls the people to covenant commitment and prays asking God to be faithful to the covenant. God answers (7.11-22) with a resounding "yes" displaying His openness and willingness to forgive. Chronicles reminds us that God desires real relationship with us and is willing to receive sinners, forgive sin and bring blessing.

The dedication of the temple and the divine response are the theological heart of the narrative. God comes to rest in his temple through atoning sacrifices, the people celebrate and worship, and God responds graciously. The temple is not about a building but about the gracious and redemptive presence of God who sanctifies a people for himself in order to dwell among them. 2 Chronicles 5, 279

Second Chronicles 6:24 locates God’s presence in the temple. The ark is his footstool though he fills the whole earth with his presence. His presence in the temple is a “gracious condescension” which, indeed, is the incarnational character of God himself that culminates in the Incarnate One, Jesus Christ. 2 Chronicles 6, 288

God knows his people need atonement, so he provides a place. God’s intent is openness. His disposition is inviting—my eyes will be open and my ears attentive. The sacrifices and prayers of God’s people are means of mercy, and the temple epitomizes God’s graciousness. God provides forgiveness and healing. God dwells in the temple as a testimony of his intent. 2 Chronicles 7, 295

Chapters 8 and 9 conclude the story of Solomon by recounting his wealth and his influence throughout the ancient near east. The chronicler did not include Solomon's sins in his story because he wants to emphasize the temple and use Solomon's rule as a paradigm for what God wants to do among the nations. The Queen of Sheba serves as an example of how wise living before God can influence the nations. Solomon rules for God and God blesses the nations through Solomon. This is how it was meant to be. Sadly, Solomon's actual reign did not measure up to the ideal.

Theologically, Solomon extends Yahweh’s influence beyond the borders of Israel and blesses the nations surrounding him. Indeed, all wealth and wisdom flow to Jerusalem, and then it flows out again to bless the nations. 2 Chronicles 8, 302–303

Theologically, this wealth praises God, not Solomon. This is God’s kingdom, not Solomon’s. All that Solomon possesses is by grace. Since Solomon sits on God’s throne, his reign must reflect God’s glory. Solomon’s wealth, then, is a testimony to God’s splendor and majesty. Consequently, this is no mere accumulation of luxury, but rather the testimony of heaven on earth. The streets are paved with gold in the new Jerusalem because God lives there (not for our reward). 2 Chronicles 9, 307

The main topic of 2 Chronicles 1–9 is not Solomon but the God of Israel. Chronicles omits the sins of Solomon because the “reign of Solomon” is not the topic. The subject of the narrative is God, not Solomon. Chronicles tells the story of Solomon to bear witness to the glory and grace of Yahweh, the King of Israel. Solomon is his representative. 2 Chronicles 9, 309–310

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