Chronicles: Retelling the Story of Israel
More than Just a List of Names: 1 Chronicles 1-9
(this post is the second in an series on 1-2 Chronicles, the first found here: http://www.ttschmidt.com/blog/chronicles-an-introduction)
Chronicles begins with nine chapters of genealogies, a fact which causes many modern readers to consider the book to be boring, irrelevant, and worthy of skipping over. Such a view is mistaken. These chapters served a key function in the Chronicler’s work, as he retold the story of Israel to his generation. The ESV study Bible notes are helpful here: “The genealogies of chs. 1–9 are intended to show the Chronicler’s own generation, now existing as the small province of Yehud (Judah) in the Persian Empire, that they are still God’s people Israel and retain their central place in God’s purposes for humanity.” By beginning with these genealogies, the author reminds the Israelites of their place in redemptive history—they are connected with the first human being (Adam) and the fallen human race, part of the genealogies of the fathers of the faith (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and heirs to the promises made to them (Gen 12), and inheritors of a rich history of God redeeming, punishing, and restoring His people for His glory (Moses and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, Joshua and the possession of the land of Canaan, David [and Solomon] and the unity of Israel, the exile of the people under Nebuchadnezzar, and the prompting of the king’s heart by God to send the Israelites back to their own land).
Taking a closer look at the details in these chapters, one finds a myriad of theological truths in line with the rest of the Bible:
1:1, 4, 19—Adam and Noah are considered a historical figures and the Tower of Babel is considered a historical event (not allegory)
2:3—Actions can be considered evil (by God’s standards) and will be punished by God
4:10—God is merciful and hears and answers the prayers of those who call on Him
5:20-22—God works in historical events to save His people (victory in war), and it is right to trust in Him
5:25-26—It is evil to worship other gods; the God of Israel is superior to any false god; God punishes sin; God uses secular leaders, nations, and events to accomplish His purposes (in this case, to punish/discipline Israel)
6:15—God sent His people into exile because of their sins and did this through Nebuchadnezzar, the pagan king of Babylon
6:49—God graciously makes a way for His people to have their sins punished and forgiven (atonement), thus providing a way for reconciliation
9:19-20—God dwells/resides with His people
I want to encourage you to take another look at 1 Chronicles 1-9. Examine the details, revel at the way that God has worked in the past, and believe the truths these chapters communicate about who God is (He is holy, answers prayers, powerful, gracious, just, and close to His people). The story of redemption in 1 Chronicles 1-9 points us to Jesus, who—along with the Father and the Holy Spirit—is the God of Israel.