How Chronicles Points to Jesus
The books of Chronicles points to Jesus in many ways. Here I will discuss three main themes in Chronicles and how they point to Jesus.
In contrast to the books of Kings (which describes events in the northern and southern kingdoms), Chronicles focuses attention on the Davidic kings (southern kingdom). This line of kings is founded on God’s covenant with David, which is one of the major covenants in the Old Testament. It builds on the covenants with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22) and Israel (Exodus 19–24; aka the Mosaic/Sinaitic covenant). It echoes elements from the previous covenants, including promises of land, offspring and blessing. We see some fulfilment of these promises in Chronicles. David completes the conquest of the land, and through David Israel is given rest from its enemies. The people of God continue to grow in number and the nation of Israel is established in the land. King Solomon prays that non-Israelites who come to the temple may know Yahweh (2 Chronicles 6:32–33), and the Queen of Sheba is blessed when she comes to Jerusalem to visit Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:1–12).
The Davidic covenant also builds on God’s covenants with Abraham and Israel. God promises a king forever on the throne from David’s line (1 Chronicles 17:12–14). God also promises to dwell with his people in Jerusalem in the temple built by David’s son.
The Davidic covenant is only partially fulfilled in Chronicles. In many ways, Chronicles presents an idealised version of David. There is no mention of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, and there is no description of the downward spiral of his household after this incident. Yet, among other faults, Chronicles says that David is a man of violence. He fights God’s legitimate wars, but because of bloodshed he is not able to build the temple (1 Chronicles 22:8). Solomon is a man of peace, and as such, he is the one who builds the temple (1 Chronicles 22:9-10). But by the end of Chronicles, there is no king on the throne in Israel, let alone one from David’s line.
The partial fulfilment of the Davidic covenant in Chronicles looks forward to its complete fulfilment in Jesus. Jesus is in the line of David (Matthew 1:1–17). He is the perfect king, without fault, and so he reigns eternally on the throne, as promised by God. He wins the victory, not over military enemies, but over Satan, sin and death (e.g., Colossians 2:13–15; Hebrews 2:14–15). He wins not by violence and military might but through shedding his own blood on the cross. He is the greatest Son of David.
Temple and worship
The temple symbolises God’s presence with his people. It is the place for God’s people to meet with him, to sacrifice to be right with him after sinning, and to enjoy his presence. It is a major thematic focus of the books of Chronicles, which details the preparation for its construction (1 Chronicles 22–29), its construction and dedication (2 Chronicles 3–6). Chronicles also details what takes place there, especially emphasising worship and singing.
Singing, especially in response to God’s deliverance, is occasionally found in the OT. The song of Moses is a well-known response to God’s redemption of his people in the Exodus (Exodus 15:1–21). Deborah and Barak sing in response to God’s deliverance of his people from Jabin, king of Canaan (Judges 5:1–31). But in Chronicles singing swells in importance, becoming a central aspect of the worship of God. Levitical musicians and singers lead God’s people in delighting in giving thanks and praise to God for his wonderful gifts, including salvation. There is even a prophetic element to singing (1 Chronicles 25:2–3).
The temple and worship were a disappointment for many of the original audience of Chronicles in the post-exilic period. The temple was a modest structure compared to Solomon’s temple (Ezra 3:12–13; Hagai 2:3) and tithing and support for the priests was patchy at best (Malachi 3:6–10). Chronicles probably reflects a call for the rejuvenation of worship. Disappointment surrounding temple and worship anticipates a greater fulfilment in the NT. Jesus is the presence of God in human form; one who “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). In him we meet God; he is the sacrifice that makes us right with God. The temple in Chronicles was destroyed, but the temple of Jesus’s body was rebuilt after three days (John 2:19–22). And Jesus giving the Holy Spirit enables us to enjoy God’s eternal presence not just with us but within us.
So in response to God’s deliverance in Jesus, we have so much more reason to delight in singing. We especially sing songs that help the word of Christ dwell richly in us (Colossians 3:16). These Spirit-inspired songs help build us up as God’s holy temple (e.g. Ephesians 2:19–22). And as we sing God’s word to one another, there is also a prophetic element as we inspire one another to heartfelt worship of God in all of life (Romans 12:1).
Retribution and inter-generational sin
Some parts of the Bible describe how individual sin can have intergenerational effects. God says that sin can be visited on the third and the fourth generation of those who hate him (Exodus 20:5). Achan’s sin affected his whole household (Joshua 7:10–26). The books of Kings describe how the sins of one generation led to the exile and destruction of the whole northern kingdom of Israel. King Jeroboam drove Israel from following Yahweh; they continued in the sinful trajectory Jeroboam set; they walked in all the sins he committed (2 Kings 17:7–23).
The books of Chronicles highlight the other side of the coin. Each person has the chance and responsibility to repent and find blessing from God. God’s sovereign grace is bigger than individual sin. I will outline three examples from Chronicles. First, King David sins by ordering a military census of Israel. He realises his sin and repents, but God still punishes Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1–17). However, the punishment is limited, and God uses the incident to lead to the purchase of the future site of the temple (1 Chronicles 21:18–22:1). Second, the portrayal of King Manasseh in Kings is as unrelentingly wicked, so much so that he is cited as the reason for the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem and Judah (2 Kings 24:1–4). In Chronicles he is also wicked (2 Chronicles 33:1–9) but he humbles himself before God and seeks his favour. God restores him to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon and he repents from idolatry (2 Chronicles 33:10–20). Third, in keeping with his covenant promises, God returns the whole nation of Israel to the land after the exile. Underlying Israel’s sin and God’s retribution is the tension of human responsibility and God’s sovereignty.
Sometimes we think we are bound to suffer the consequences of our forebear’s sins. But Chronicles reminds us that we are not necessarily caught in sinful patterns and punishments. If God’s people humble themselves, seek him and turn from sin, God will hear and forgive (2 Chronicles 7:14). Each person is to be judged for their own sin, and each person can turn from sin and its punishment (e.g., 2 Chronicles 7:14; 15:2; cf. Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20). God can break the downward spiral of sin in our lives and in our families. He forgives us when we repent and his Spirit opens our hearts and minds, thus drawing us to Christ (Acts 16:14; Luke 24:45; John 6:44). Anyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:43). So no one is trapped in sin—their own or those of their ancestors. Praise God for his sovereign glorious grace, ultimately shown in his Son, King Jesus (Ephesians 1:6)!
Dr Peter Lau first trained as a medical doctor before getting a MDiv from Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Australia, and a PhD in Old Testament from the University of Sydney. He teaches Old Testament for Equip in the Equip-MBS Diploma and Degree program. He has also authored books on Ruth, Ezekiel and Psalms and serves as the Old Testament Review Editor for Themelios.
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