I-II Chronicles has a lot of information about the kings of Judah (especially the righteous ones) that is not in Kings, and I wonder if the author included it to support what I saw as the primary storyline in all five of these books, which is that God used godly leaders to preserve a faithful remnant of His people. These leaders took active steps to disseminate God’s word, call the people to repentance, organize God-honoring worship, provide for the needs of those called into full-time ministry, and literally protect the lives of God’s people. Most of all, they modeled what they encouraged in the people: repentance, obedience and trust in God. A personal application for me is that when God gives me leadership or influence (even if it’s unexpected, as it surely was for Esther), I must actively promote and model faith and obedience. A second thing I noticed in all the books except Esther was the abundance of genealogies, with a couple of them repeated. Even though I find them boring, I can see how they would be incredibly important to the Jewish remnant as a means of establishing their identity as the people of God.
I enjoyed listening to some of my favorite OT stories: David & Goliath, Jonathan & David’s friendship, Elijah at Mt.Carmel, God’s defeat of the Assyrians after Hezekiah’s prayer. Overall, I could see the rise and slow fall of the nation politically and how it was tied to the spiritual leadership (good or bad) of the kings. I noticed for the first time that I-II Kings seem to spend a lot more time describing the apostate northern kingdom, with its assassinations and coups, than the southern kingdom, which actually had a few godly kings. I also noticed that the opposition of Israel’s kings to God’s prophets is a recurring theme. It’s as if the point of Kings is to show why God was justified in judging both nations.
I listened to the audio of these books and was struck by the repeated contrast between obedience and disobedience and their results. The Israelites must have thought Joshua’s instructions were insane at Jericho, yet they obeyed and experienced victory; then one seemingly small instance of disobedience by one man brought the entire community to defeat at Ai. In Judges, Israel went through repeated cycles of idolatry resulting in defeat and foreign oppression, followed by repentance bringing victory and freedom. The disgusting behavior of the Levite giving his concubine to the rapists resulted in a war that practically annihilated one of the tribes; in contrast, the kindness, loyalty and love shown by Ruth (a Moabitess, no less!) resulted in her receiving the same from Boaz and ultimately becoming an ancestor of both David and Christ. These all show me that both sin and godliness have a snowball effect; if I lose a small battle with sin, I will open myself up to “foreign oppression” from Satan resulting in further defeat, but if I faithfully follow God He will bring blessing and provision beyond my expectation.
(A seminary class assignment originally dated September 24, 2006.)
I saw God’s repeated faithfulness in the face of Israel’s repeated rebellion as He continually provided means for their restoration to fellowship with Him through things like the animal sacrifices and the bronze serpent. Moses’ speeches in Deuteronomy show God’s deep longing for them (and us) to experience the blessings of obedience and fellowship with Him. I also saw His faithfulness in His provision of Moses for the nation. Who but someone reared in Egypt’s royal court would have the skills to write such a detailed legal code, govern a large community, cast vision for the future, administer a judicial system, and even lead the military? I see a big leadership lesson here: God had Moses organize Israel into a nation before taking them to conquer the land, showing the wisdom of planning and creating an infrastructure to sustain future action and growth. There was no attitude of “let’s get moving and leave the picky details for later” or “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” God made sure Israel was spiritually, governmentally and militarily prepared in advance for what He called them to do.