Saturday, November 17, 2012
1 Chronicles 7-10 Understanding History God's Way
1 Chron 9:1-2 All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel. The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.
1 Chron 10:11-14 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard of everything the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days. Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. The genealogies of the various tribes of Israel and Judah end in chapter with the records of the names of those who returned from the Babylonian exile, especially the Levites and their various roles in the upkeep of the restored temple ministries and the gates. The priests were in charge of the temple service, while the other Levites were responsible for the worship and music and providing guards at the entrances to the temple.
1 Chronicle 10 starts the recounting of Israel's history with the events leading to the death of King Saul's and his sons in their battle against the Philistines: "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse" (1 Chron 10:13-14). 1 Chronicles focuses on the reign of David, and Saul's end was the prelude to the recounting the events of David's reign.
Chronicles is strictly not a historical work--its focus is not on keeping detailed records of events of the kings of Israel and Judah. In fact, the author (Ezra) recommends that those who are interested in the historical details of the kings of Israel and Judah should consult his sources, first mentioned here in chapter 9, verse 1 as the "book of the kings of Israel" and elsewhere as the "books of the kings of Judah and Israel" (2 Chronicles 16:11; 25:26; 27:7; 28:26; 32:32; 35:27; 36:8). Besides these historical archives, Ezra also consulted the records of the prophets Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicle 29:29).
In other words, Chronicles is strictly not a history of the kings of Israel and Judah but a prophetic interpretation of that history. In fact, all histories (even secular ones) are interpreted history, not simply a record of events. The difference between biblical history and secular history is that biblical history gives us the prophetic interpretation, viz., how God sees and interprets events in history. Not everything about the kings of Israel and Judah are recorded in 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Some kings who have achieved much in terms of economic development were mentioned only incidentally (e.g. Omri).
As Ezra noted about Saul: "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord". For this reason, the details of his reign has little prophetic value, except as a negative demonstration of what not to do.
All scripture is prophetic, not in the sense of foretelling the future but as a record of God's view of human actions: "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21). The genealogies selected for mentioned in the first 9 chapters are not complete and exhaustive--those who seek the complete genealogies can consult Ezra sources. But what is selected and mentioned in Scriptures is what the Holy Spirit wants to say about these events. It is prophecy only because it is not Ezra's interpretation of the historical events but the Holy Spirit's, as Ezra was "carried along by the Holy Spirit."
When studying Scriptures, we should not focus our attention on trying to establish the historical veracity of events mentioned but on understanding what the Holy Spirit is trying to say about these events. We want to hear the voice of God, and should not become distracted by historical details and minutiae.
Father, thank You that You have given us the Scriptures in order that we might know You and understand how You see human events and history. Thank You that we can hear what the Spirit is saying when we are focused on hearing Your voice, rather than getting stumbled by the historical and literary minutiae. Amen.