2 Chronicles

Theme: Religious Continuity and the House of God – Israel’s Temple; Key Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14-16

2 Chronicles Brief
Religious Continuity and the House of God—Israel’s Temple

 14 “and [then] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16 “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

2 Chronicles: 7.14-16.

2 Chronicles Overview History. See the 1 Chronicles study for that overview history.

  • First Chronicles ended with David’s death. Second Chronicles is the continuation of the history. The story begins with the start of Solomon’s reign in 970 BC and the construction of the house of God—the temple. The author will carry the story from Solomon down to Cyrus’ decree of 539 BC.
  • Solomon’s temple was to be the center of Israel’s national life. After his death, spiritual apostasy set in: kings turned away from God, idolatry became common place, the temple fell into disrepair, God’s word—the law—was lost for many years (likely during Manasseh’s reign, 695-642 BC) until found during Josiah’s reign (640-609 BC).
  • Remember that at Solomon’s death civil war developed. Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s valiant men, took the northern tribes, Israel, and Rehoboam, the rebellious son of Solomon, took Judah and Benjamin.
  • During this time of apostasy several kings, most notably Hezekiah (715-686 BC) and Josiah (640-609 BC), made a determined effort to reform the spiritual or religious life of the nation; none had lasting results.
  • In 2 Chronicles the author chronicles the reigns of the kings of Judah from Solomon through Zedekiah. There were 20 kings after Solomon; 8 were relatively good kings and 12 were evil kings.
  • Zedekiah, son of Josiah, was Judah’s last king. He was the king when Nebuchadnezzar’s army in 586 BC destroyed Solomon’s temple, Jerusalem, and exiled the inhabitants of the land.
  • At the time of writing the Jewish people have returned to their land after the Babylonian exile (605-536 BC, Jeremiah 25.1-14; Daniel 9.1-2. See John Whitcomb).
  • God used Cyrus the Great to send the Jews back to their homeland. Cyrus came to the Persian throne in 559 BC. He conquered Media in 549 BC, Lydia in 546, and Babylon in 539. Daniel wrote that his conquest of Babylon happened while Belshazzar was celebrating with a thousand of his nobles (Daniel 5; Isaiah 47.1-5).
  • On that night Cyrus’ Persian army, led by General Ugbaru, diverted the Euphrates, entered the city, and conquered it. The date was October 12, 539 BC.
  • In his first year after conquering Babylon Cyrus allowed exiles to return to their homelands. His decree to allow Jews to return was in 539/538 BC (2 Chronicles 36.22-23; Ezra 1.2-3).
  • The Jews then began to return to their land. Over the course of many years Israel would rebuild her temple and Jerusalem, though Persia would dominate Israel for the next 200 years.
  • Zerubbabel led the first return in 538 BC; Ezra led the second return in 458 BC; and Nehemiah led the third group back in 444 BC.
  • Note that 2 Chronicles opens with Solomon building the first temple and ends with Cyrus’ proclamation that allowed the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple. While David was the central figure of 1 Chronicles, Solomon and the temple were central to 2 Chronicles.
  • The Jewish tradition says that Ezra wrote or edited Chronicles, probably between 460-425 BC. The emphasis on the temple, the priesthood, and David’s spiritual leadership indicates a priestly authorship—most likely Ezra. The record of 2 Chronicles was written during the period of the second and third returns to the land (458-444 BC).
  • Both 1 and 2 Chronicles answered their questions about identity and purpose by providing the religious or spiritual continuity or connections from God’s early promises and provision for the nation to the present generations of Jews.
  • Both 1 and 2 Chronicles were written to inspire and challenge the Jews now back in their homeland to live as God’s people and to serve him through the law, the temple, and the priesthood.

Theme of 2 Chronicles:

  • Religious continuity and the House of God. The temple in Jerusalem was the center of Israel’s national life. After Solomon built the temple, the following kings were to maintain the temple’s centrality, and therefore relationship with God, in the life of the people. Most failed. Because some attempted reforms, God blessed and withheld judgment. He was most interested in their heart attitude toward Him. The spiritual failure of the kings eventually resulted in the complete destruction of the temple in 586 BC and the exile of the people. Once the people returned to the land, plans were made to rebuild the temple and again give it the central place in the nation for God’s word, worship, and national life.

 Key Verse of 2 Chronicles:

  • 14-16. 14 and [then] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16 “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

Overview Outline

  • Solomon’s reign, temple, fame, and wealth (2 Chronicles 1-9).
  • The twenty kings of Judah, spiritual failure, and the resultant destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, and national exile (2 Chronicles 10-36).

Chapter Titles

  • Solomon’s reign, temple, fame, and wealth (2 Chronicles 1-9).
    • Chapter 1: Wisdom and Knowledge
    • Chapter 2: Plans and materials for temple
    • Chapter 3: Builds the temple
    • Chapter 4: Temple utensils and furniture
    • Chapter 5: Ark into the temple
    • Chapter 6: Blessing and prayer
    • Chapter 7: Dedicating the house of God
    • Chapter 8: Built cities, organized officers and Levites
    • Chapter 9: Queen of Sheba. Death
  • The twenty kings of Judah, spiritual failure, and the resultant destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, and national exile (2 Chronicles 10-36).
    • Chapter 10: Rehoboam rebels and divides the kingdom
    • Chapter 11: Rehoboam’s 3 good years
    • Chapter 12: Rehoboam forsakes the Lord
    • Chapter 13: Abijah blamed Jeroboam
    • Chapter 14: Asa did good and right
    • Chapter 15: Asa’s partial reform
    • Chapter 16: Asa’s spiritual regression
    • Chapter 17: Jehoshaphat’s reforms
    • Chapter 18: Jehoshaphat allies with Ahab
    • Chapter 19: Jehoshaphat seeks God
    • Chapter 20: Jehoshaphat did right and some wrong
    • Chapter 21: Jehoram did evil
    • Chapter 22: Ahaziah did evil. Athaliah
    • Chapter 23: Jehoida anoints Joash king
    • Chapter 24: Joash good and evil
    • Chapter 25: Amaziah would not listen
    • Chapter 26: Uzziah smitten with leprosy
    • Chapter 27: Jotham did right
    • Chapter 28: Ahaz unfaithful to the Lord
    • Chapter 29: Hezekiah cleanses temple
    • Chapter 30: Hezekiah celebrates national Passover
    • Chapter 31: Hezekiah destroys idols and restores contributions
    • Chapter 32: Hezekiah, Sennacherib, the water tunnel
    • Chapter 33: Manasseh’s great evil, partial repentance
    • Chapter 34: Josiah removed idols, repaired temple, found the law
    • Chapter 35: Josiah celebrates national Passover
    • Chapter 36: Last kings, Jerusalem destroyed, Cyrus’

Trace the theme of 2 Chronicles

  • The chronicler begins with the new king, Solomon. He established his rule, sacrificed at the tabernacle which was at Gibeon, and asked the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. God not only gave him wisdom and knowledge, but also riches, wealth, and honor. Solomon soon amassed a great fortune and a powerful army (1).
  • Solomon next built the temple and all the utensils and furniture (2-4).
  • When he had completed the temple he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the holy of holies and then the glory of the Lord filled the temple (5).
  • Solomon next blessed the assembled people and blessed God. He asked God to remember his covenant to David, to forgive the people when they turn back from sin to God, and to reside in the house of God, (6). When he finished the glory of the Lord filled the house (7.1). At this point Solomon dedicated the house of God, after which the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said that He has chosen the house for Himself. He will discipline the nation if they forsake Him, but if they humble themselves and turn He will forgive their sin and heal their land (7.12-22).
  • Solomon increased his business, fame, and wealth, so that even the queen of Sheba marveled at Solomon. He “became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (9.22). He reigned 40 years in Jerusalem and then he died (8-9).
  • After Solomon died his son Rehoboam rejected the advise of his wise counselors to rule kindly over Israel. If he did the entire nation would submit to his rule. Instead, he took the advice of his young and arrogant friends who told him to rule more strictly than his father had. The result was that Israel, except for Judah and Benjamin, turned from Rehoboam’s rule and separated. Jeroboam became the king over the remaining tribes (10).
  • The chronicler now traces the history of Judah’s 20 kings after Solomon to the exile into Babylon (Rehoboam to Zedekiah). This is a history of failure, sin, apostasy, along with spiritual reform by Asa (14-16), Jehoshaphat (17-20), Joash (23-24), Hezekiah (29-32), and Josiah (34-35).
  • The final chapter (36) carries the history from the death of Josiah through the last kings of Judah (Joahaz (609 BC) and Jehoiakim (609-597 BC), sons of Josiah; Jehoiachin (597 BC), son of Jehoiakim; and Zedekiah (597-586 BC), son of Josiah. All were evil kings. Pharaoh Neco of Egypt placed the first two on the throne. Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiakim and replaced him with Jehoiakim’s son, Jechoiachin, and 11 years later replaced him with Zedekiah. Not mentioned in Chronicles, but noted in 2 Kings 25.22-26, is Governor Gedaliah, whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed in 586 BC. Ishmael and his band of rebels went against God’s word and assassinated Gedaliah within the year. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and took the people into exile. Jeremiah writes of this in Lamentations.
  • In 538 BC, God caused Cyrus King of Persia to decree that the Jews may return to Jerusalem and rebuilt God’s house. The record that began with building the temple now ends with the permission to rebuilt the temple.

Key People

  • Solomon, 1-9
  • Rehoboam, 10-12
  • Asa, 14-16
  • Jehoshaphat, 17-20
  • Joash, 23-24
  • Ahaz, 28
  • Hezekiah, 29-32. See the doctrine of Hezekiah.
  • Josiah, 34-35. See doctrine of Josiah.
  • Cyrus, 36

Key Words and Ideas

  •  House of God, 23x, (3.3; 4.19; 5.14; 7.5; 24.13; 31.21; 36.18-19).
  • House of the Lord, 74x, (2.1; 3.1; 5.1; 8.16; 24.4; 24.18; 29.16; 33.15; 34.15; 36.7).
  • Evil, 16x (12.14; 21.6; 22.4; 33.9; 36.5, 12)
  • Did right, 5x, (25.2; 26.4; 27.2; 29.2; 34.2)
  • Seek, 18x (7.14; 9.23; 11.16; 12.14; 14.4; 15.2, 12, 13; 16.12; 17.3; 19.3; 20.3,4; 26.5; 30.19; 31.21; 34.2).

Key Doctrines

  • God’s grace toward his people: He does not demand sinlessness. He does desire an attitude of seeking the Him (Asa, 14.2; 15.17; 16.7-14. Jehoshaphat, 17.3-4; 20.3, 32-33. Hezekiah 29-32; Josiah 34-35).
  • House of God, House of the Lord, the temple (2.1; 5.14; 7.5; 24.13; 31.21; 33.15; 34.15; 36.18-19).
  • Fifth Cycle of Divine Discipline or national exile (2 Chronicles 34.14-28 with Leviticus 26.27-39).
  • National repentance (2 Chronicles 5.12-16)
  • Reliance upon the Lord (2 Chronicles 16.7-8 and others)
  • Spiritual and national strength prevents aggression (2 Chronicles 17.1-10).
  • Strength of the Davidic Covenant (2 Chronicles 21.7)
  • Evil kings and good kings

Lessons for Us Today

  • God is most interested in our heart attitude toward Him. He does not demand sinlessness. He does desire an attitude of seeking Him.
  • God’s word stresses the importance to a nation of worship of God, morality, national defense, international relations, and leadership.
  • Our Christian heritage is very important for each of us. It connects us with the great biblical heroes, with the great heroes of church history, and with our biblical doctrine heritage. We learn who we are and what our present purpose is from our past Christian heritage.
  • National leaders set the course and attitude of the nation. We in the USA are fortunate to have had founders who took the Bible seriously—some were believers in Christ and some were simply attracted to the biblical ethic. They gave us a strong foundation like Moses and the prophets gave Israel. We should follow their lead and pray for our present leaders, and all the more since we have a Christian president who desires to follow the biblical worldview.
  • Evil leadership does great harm to a nation and its people.