Today’s Passage: 2 Chronicles 36:11ff
You might also want to read: 2 Peter 3, 2 Kings 24-25
This week, we’re continuing our journey through the Old Testament story of God and His people. Two weeks ago, we looked at 1 Samuel 8, where Israel went to the prophet Samuel demanding to have a king like all of the other nations around them. At first glance, it might have seemed sensible for them to want to have a king. But the problem was that Israel already had a king. They were God’s people; God Himself was their leader. What Israel was asking that day, effectively, was for someone other than God to be their ruler.
God gave Israel a king. But that didn’t mean that God abdicated from His rightful place as their King. Israel’s kings ruled under God – and were meant to rule in submission to Him. Good kings, like David or Josiah, led the nation in right worship of God. Good kings loved the Lord – and it showed.
Unfortunately, the trend among Israel’s kings was not towards loving God more. Many of those called to lead God’s people led them away from God and into idolatry and apostasy.
Soon after Solomon’s death, Israel’s kingdom was split into two, with the majority of the nation becoming part of the northern kingdom. This northern kingdom, (known, confusingly, as Israel,) was quick to embrace idol worship. And, as a result of their unfaithfulness to God, they were eventually exiled, never to return. The southern kingdom, (known as Judah,) would, unfortunately, follow them into exile for similar reasons some years later.
The history of God’s people during the time of their kings is long and varied. It’s worth reading about it in the books of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles. The two different books (Samuel-Kings and Chronicles) approach the topic from different perspectives. Chronicles has a strong focus on the temple and the right worship of God. Written after the exile, Chronicles seems to set out to encourage God’s people to not make the same mistake of rejecting God again.
Our passage this morning gives us an anatomy of rebellion. It is not, however, a determinately gloomy piece of scripture. There is judgement in it; that much is true. But it also speaks of God’s grace and patience. And it looks past judgement to the restoration that God promised.
Our circumstances as Australian, 21st century Christians are very different to those of the first readers of Chronicles. For one thing, we are ruled by the best King there ever could be; as Christians, we are ruled by the King of Kings – Jesus, our God. But this passage is one that we – and all in our generation – would do well to pay attention to. Because the events spoken of in this passage give us insight into these last days.