Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It’s revision time again, as 2 Chronicles manages to cover the events of both 1 and 2 Kings in such a way as it’s hard to spot much difference. (I know the differences are there, but I sure can’t be bothered checking)

This is King Solomon’s reign again, and the reigns of the many Kings of Judah after him.

I do have four notes though:

1. By 2 Chronicles:8, the tribe of Benjamin, who numbered in the hundreds three or four centuries back at the end of Judges, are now back up to 280,000, and that’s just fighting men. The human race was younger then, and evidently a lot more fertile. No wonder being childless was such a stigma.

Such quickly expanding numbers (common in the Old Testament) give creationism a fairly strong case. I'm not a mathematician, but it figures to me that if you projected such booming birthrates back-through-time for earlier and earlier generations, the world population's exponential decrease wouldn't take too long to come down to a population of two. (same for the birds, fish and so on)

Of course, it wouldn't be that exact, projections of how the natural world behaves never are. (something that I think the evolution argument could acknowledge a bit more too) And then there are all the unknown events along the way, that will always remain unknown. Still, every time I hear that the world's population is continually expanding, to me, creationism does seem to be implied.

2. God’s reconciliation of (dare I say it) karma and forgiveness is on show right throughout this book, including the following super-sentence:

"When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly'; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.

- 2 Chronicles 6:36-39 (NIV)

(I know that’s two sentences, but the second one did naughtilly start with a conjunction)


Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, "This is what the LORD says, 'You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.' "

The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The LORD is just."

When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands."

- 2 Chronicles 12:5-8 (NIV)

He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

- 2 Chronicles 15:2 (NIV)

3. It’s always bugged me a bit that in the OT, God focuses most of his attention on royalty. But silly me, the big organisations were probably the only ones who had the money and resources to keep records down the centuries. If God was pursuing relationships with all the little people too, in general they wouldn’t have kept archives, scrolls, or even written things down in the first place. The royal accounts are just the ones that

a) Were written down,
b) Were archived, and
c) Survived the archiving process.

4. The author's perspective.

It’s easy to perceive the God of the Old Testament as, well, a bit of a human. He gets angry, he has people killed, and war seems to be a great and glorious thing. (maybe I should have said klingon)

Here’s the thing though – these accounts are the perceptions that the writers had of him at the time. From a nation’s point of view, it’s understandable that victories were their most obvious examples of a god in control of events, rewarding and disciplining ‘our’ and ‘their’ nation.

In my opinion, the nation of Israel (or Judah, whatever) certainly counts as a group of people following God. Were they the only group to have a relationship with God at that time? While a ‘special relationship’ is certainly implied, is it right to attribute this solely to God keeping his promises down the years to Abraham, Moses, David et al? Might God have made similar promises to other individuals in foreign lands regarding their descendants? Promises that no record was kept of, and/or which were broken?

Hanani the seer:

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war."

- 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)

It’s clear that God’s promises are subject to us keeping our commitments to God.

It also makes sense to suppose that, before eventually wiping them out, God had spent the history of each of those nations attempting to turn them also back to himself.

Israel and Judah keep returning to their covenant with God again and again, but at the end of the Old Testament they’re in dreadful shape, and God is promising a new King (Jesus) who will restore everything again.

Obviously, that happens around the turn of the calendar, by which time, to me, one of two things has become clear.


a. Trying to save people by nation has not worked, or

b. It was never actually determined by nation.

Did Jesus change the criteria, or explain it?


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