Old Testament books contain spectacular messages, enticing us to diligently search for them. As our church has lately studied through First and Second Chronicles, we have noticed the strong Temple Theme exposed in those books. The author of Chronicles wrote after Israel had returned from Babylonian captivity, and in this history he focused his efforts on the nation and kings of Judah, paying little attention to the norther kingdom of Israel, which God had scattered among the nations by this time. He also focused on the Levitical line, the tribe of priests. Jesus, of course, was both King and Priest, so Chronicles points strongly and definitely towards the coming Son of David and High Priest who fulfills all.
The first nine chapters of Chronicles often bore us to death with copious genealogies, lists of names we mostly don’t recognize and cannot now place. But notice the heavy emphasis even in the genealogies to the bloodlines of Judah (2-3; 9.3-9) and Levi (6; 9.10-34). In these introductory genealogical chapters, we discover the first mentions of the temple, the “house of the LORD” in 6.31-32:
“Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they served in their office according to their order.”
David did the preparing and Solomon did the building. Chronicles fleshes out this history.
- David Prepares for the Temple (1 Chronicles)
- Solomon Builds the Temple (2 Chronicles 1-9)
- Kings of Judah Live with Reference to the Temple (2 Chronicles 10.1-36.14
- Nebuchadnezzar Destroys the Temple (2 Chronicles 36.15-21)
- God Promises the Temple’s Rebuilding (2 Chronicles 36.22-23)
I plan to flesh this out more over the next few posts. But what is the point? To the Jewish readers in the 5th-4th Century BC, this history must have inspired great hope but also served as a sobering warning. Although they were God’s special and chosen people among all the nations of the earth and although they had been allowed to build God’s house in their capital city, their idolatry still provoked God to anger and caused Him to withdraw His favor.
When I read this today, I stand in awe of the LORD’s brilliant plan as He worked through human history to prepare the way for Jesus! Jesus did not enter the world unannounced, but the world had centuries of advance teaching. And if God cast Israel away from His sight because they defiled His house, how much more will He cast us from His presence if we defile the temple of His Son?
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2.1-4)
Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10.28-31)