David Pawson - 1 and 2 Chronicles
Thoughtful Thoughts 14.6.2019 Chronicles...
The early church would find it difficult to find their way around the Bible as we now know it, as it has been tampered with by Gentile church leaders so much. The Jewish TaNaKh, (which we now call the Old Testament), places the book we call ‘Chronicles’ as the last book of the Bible for a very good reason. But before we get to that, we need to do some Bible study 101 to catch up with what the early church knew. We don’t, because most of the Old Testament books have been jumbled up by the church. Jesus accepted the original order of the Old Testament, (Luke 24:44), which was firstly “The Law” books, then the “Prophets”, and finally “The Writings”. The Jewish scriptures place “The Book of Kings” in the Prophets section, but they place the book of Chronicles at the very end of the “Writings” section. Why? Well, because the Book of Kings was written mostly by Jeremiah the prophet before the exile, warning the Israelites of imminent exile unless they did an emergency “U Turn”. The message of the book of Kings explains why God had declared war on Israel and what was the only thing left they could do about their situation. We just finished looking at some of that content. Think of it as being more like Britain declaring war on Germany, where Germany was told they had to get out of Poland by 11am - or else.
A message of hope for the future.
However, Chronicles is written by Ezra the priest after the exile, as Jews were returning to Jerusalem. His message was, “You have a hope and a future now”. Ezra is trying to build up refugees after they had been beaten down, and were in desperate need of a pep talk.
Our understanding has been lost because religious leaders thought they knew better than the Jews did with their own book, by lumping together the books that looked like history books, thus changing the order of books. Then they split Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, and divided all the Bible books into chapters and finally into verses, (often in the wrong places). At one point, the church even added their own man made religious books into the Jewish TaNaKh, or Old Testament, called the “Apocrypha”. As a tip for any curious souls wanting to know what to do, I fixed the problem by buying Messianic Jew, David Stern’s “Complete Jewish Bible” English translation, which provides a bridge between the original Old Testament, (the Jewish TaNakh), and the version of the Old Testament we’ve ended up with. That way we can all see just how different our Bible is, from the Divinely inspired version. (There’s nothing inspired about religious leaders trying to improve on what God inspired and created.)
Ezra worked with Nehemiah organising refugees returning from exile. He started Israel’s story earlier, and finished it much later than ‘Kings’, simply because he wrote it down so much later on, he was able to. For the Jews, Ezra traces their roots, showing where they came from. Ezra was re-educating people who were basically refugees, and were mostly a new generation, giving them a sense of where they came from. This is a book bringing a message of hope by promising a future. Chronicles is positive and uplifting for that reason. It’s not a history book listing facts to be learned, as it leaves out all the bad things, (and most of their history had been pretty bad). Ezra is educating the refugees returning from exile what their roots are, by going over who they are in God, and where they came from. That is the reason why there are nine chapters of genealogies at the start; (and Matthew and Luke do the same thing regarding Jesus). Ezra is turning the lights back on in their lives. God’s messenger, Ezra, is sharing with the refugees why they should not be downcast...and why they should look up. They have roots in the land which goes back a thousand years, and they have roots spiritually too. Now they have been rescued by God to give them a future. Ezra is saying they need to take ownership of their land and rebuild their homes, but also to take ownership of the faith of their fathers, which we are coming to. They have a future if only they will seize it. God had kept the property title deed to the land while they were in exile being punished, but now He had returned them to their land. God had Sovereignly overruled events to enable them to return to Israel to rebuild their nation state - (and when enemies tried to thwart that happening, they all came unstuck).
Ezra brings to their attention the importance of their spiritual life. To do that, he ignores all that was bad because this is not a history book - but a pep talk. This divinely inspired message showed that because God cared about them by giving them their land back, they should put God first by worshipping only Him, and to give their spiritual life a priority, as they were still His people.
Now, when it’s all put like that, Chronicles isn’t boring at all, and our Christian faith is rooted in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Lessons for us...
Paul tells us in Romans 9 through 11 that Gentiles may join God’s family too, through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, along with other Jewish believers following Him. Paul makes it clear that we no longer observe the old Jewish covenant regulations as the temple curtain was torn in two, and now we are under the Covenant of Grace, but it’s still God’s family, and we still have the same royal roots to God through Jesus, as pointed out by Matthew and Luke. We too must put God first and worship only Him.
After God tore the temple curtain in two from top to bottom, (when Jesus died on the cross), we don’t come to God through the Old Testament covenant.
However, Peter does tells us (Acts 2:38) that access to God is now via repentance and believer’s “immersion”, (the English word for baptizo). Now to God we may freely come - only because God gave His Son. So, respond to God’s offer to join His family while you can, because anyone who repents, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. That is how you can join God’s family if you haven’t already done so. Coming to God is still on His terms.
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.
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