Heavenly Father, thank you for all those who have gathered here, we know that many more are watching by Internet, especially on a cold night like tonight, with a thread of snow and ice, etcetera, but thank you Lord for those who have come out, because it's much more than just hearing words or getting a Bible study or a sermon or a lecture, but it's the fellowship we have. It's the corporate worship we enjoy, as Your name is lifted up in our midst and we fellowship with You in a very unique way when the church gathers. We pray You bless this evening and cause us to flourish in our understanding, not only of Your word but of Your ways. In Jesus name, Amen.
When C.S. Lewis was a little boy, he spent most of his time indoors, especially when the weather was bad, and one of his towns that he grew up in was Belfast, Ireland. When he was six years of age, he developed his own imaginary world, he had quite an imagination, and he wrote hundreds of pages beginning at age six about an imaginary place called animal land. Animal land is where he had these different animal characters and they spoke and they interacted with each other and he developed a storyline in his imaginary world about animals, animal land.
Years later, he met a guy who inspired him in his writing and in his faith, by the name of J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote about 'Middle-earth' and 'Lord of the Rings'. Tolkien was a professed Christian, Lewis was a professed agnostic/atheist, and he opened up new worlds of faith to C.S. Lewis, who published one of his famous works, 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. Some of you have seen even the film if you haven't read the book, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and the second installation is coming out soon.
'The Chronicles of Narnia' were a take-off of what he began when he was six years old with animal land, that's The Chronicles of Narnia. Tonight we read about The Chronicles of Judah, and though it's different than C.S. Lewis, there is a lot of animal like behavior in even some of the leaders of that nation. And this is God's editorial on why the nation fell and why he preserved the kingdom of Judah, the Southern Kingdom for so long.
So some of these stories we have already touched on in First and Second Kings, there is a parallel with some of the history, but it reads differently, it reads differently. If you were to compare the two accounts, one is definitely more of a spiritual historical perspective, and that would be First and Second Chronicles.
The theme of this book is this I believe from quality to captivity, that's what I would sort of call the book, from quality to captivity, from excellence to exile. From the excellence and quality of Solomon's reign, where there was peace and prosperity and border expansion and security, from that to the captivity of Judah by Babylon; they were exiled, as we'll see at the last part of this book.
And yet one of the major themes in the midst of all of that is God's faithfulness in keeping his promise covenant to Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Remember, he made a promise to David, and it was to David and to his house, his progeny, those that would follow him, and we see God's faithfulness to Judah, because they did not fall to the enemy as Israel did to the Assyrians, they were preserved for a long period of time. In fact, 150 years later is when Judah fell to the Babylonians.
I am going to give you the outline of the book, I would like to do that every week so you can sort of divide it up in your mind. The last couple of weeks I have given you the book in two slices. I see Second Chronicles in three slices. There are three distinct sections of the book: Chapters 1 through 9 is the first, Chapters 10, 11, and 12; only three chapters is the second, and then the rest of the book, Chapter 13 to 36 is the third division.
So the first one, Chapters 1 through 9, is the distinction of Solomon's reign. The focus of those chapters is the temple and the great, notable, peaceful, expanded reign of King Solomon, the distinction of Solomon's reign.
And then the second section, Chapters 10, 11, and 12, is the division of the kingdom, dividing it North and South. Again, we've touched on that already so we are going to take it from a different angle tonight.
And then the third section, Chapters 13 to 36 is the declension, the declining of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
So let's begin and look at the distinction of Solomon's reign. By the way, he reigned 40 years as Israel's king, from about 971 B.C. to 931 B.C; if you like writing dates down.
His was the golden age. When Solomon was king, man, life was good in Jerusalem, sort of like postwar America, post-World War II America. Some of you will remember, I wasn't even – well, I was born in 1955, but immediately postwar America, the theme was two cars in every garage and a washer and dryer in every home. That was sort of like Solomon's reign, it was the golden era, except it would be probably two camels in every garage and falafels for all my friends, I don't know some -- life was good at that time.
Chapter 1:1, Now Solomon, the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord, his God, here is the editorial, was with him, and exalted him exceedingly. Notice, God exalted him.
Psalm 75 says, "Promotion or exaltation doesn't come from the east or the west or the south, it comes from the Lord." And Solomon spoke to all of Israel and to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, to every leader, and all Israel, the heads of the Father's houses.
Then Solomon and all his assembly with him went to the high place that was at Gibeons; this about five or six miles Northwest of Jerusalem, for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses, the servant of the Lord, had made in the wilderness. But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim to the place David had prepared for. And he pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
Now, after this the text says that God came to Solomon at night, and we already touched on this when we were going through the Kings and said to Solomon, "Ask, ask, whatever you want and I will give it to you." Remember Solomon said, "Well, I want a wise heart to know how to go out and come in, I want to govern this great people of Yours, so I need Your wisdom."
So Verse 13, Solomon came to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from before the tabernacle of meeting, and he reigned over Israel.
Verse 15, Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made the cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.
Now, the way he did this, we'll discover, is by taxing the people inordinately. Yeah, he made gold and silver common as stones, at least in his house; he got 666 talents of gold per year; that was his salary, and yes, he beautified the temples and he made -- or the palaces and the buildings and made a beautiful temple, but the people were put under an incredible forced labor and tax burden, just to keep that in mind. But God is blessing this man.
Now, Solomon sacrifices to the Lord at Gibeon; that's the town that is mentioned here, but the ark was brought by David to Jerusalem six miles away; and I have been at both places, Gibeon and Jerusalem. The tabernacle was at Gibeon, the ark of the covenant had been moved to Jerusalem, and David made a little special place for it, but there was no central place of worship, which is what the temple is all about. And so the first nine chapters will hone in on Solomon building the temple, it outlines the building of the temple.
Chapter 2:1, Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord and a royal house for himself. So what does he do, he sends a note up North to the King of Tyre; his name is Hiram, and he says, hey buddy, can you help me out, you got the best wood in the land, all the great cedar wood comes from Lebanon, could you provide workers of this wood? Could you provide some supervisors, as well as some of these great materials?"
So Verse 5, And the temple which I build will be great; for our God is greater than all Gods.
There is another way that you could outline Second Chronicles. You could outline the entire book in relationship to the building of the temple, because one of the unifying themes of the entire book of Second Chronicles is the building of the temple. Chapters 1 through 9 focus on the materials, how it was built, what the dimensions were, how Solomon did it, and how God blessed him. And then Chapter 13 through 36 will omit the Northern kings, because they had no relationship with the temple. It will highlight the Southern kings, because they had a relationship with the temple, and it will focus on those kings of Judah who helped to repair it, rebuild it, and reconstitute sacrifices in it. That's something to keep in your mind.
If you looked at the kings of Judah that are mentioned in this book, just on a percentage basis, 70% of the material in the rest of the book highlights the good kings, who brought reform, the passover, the rebuilding of the temple, and only about 30% even mentions the 12 bad kings that were mentioned in this book. So most of it is in relationship to the temple. Also, the book opens with the temple, the first temple being built by Solomon. The book closes with the first temple being destroyed and the encouragement to build the second temple. So one of the themes, if not the major theme, is this central place of unified worship, the building of the temple.
Also, the term House, which is a reference in Second Chronicles to the House of God, ie, the temple in Jerusalem, is written about, mentioned a 150 times in Second Chronicles. So everything is in relationship to the House; The House, The House, God's House at Jerusalem, this king who didn't deal with anything with the House, or the king that brought the passover back into the House of The Lord, that's one of the major themes.
Chapter 3:1, Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. Remember Mount Moriah from Genesis, Chapter 22, Abraham and Isaac. Where the Lord appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the Threshing Floor of Ornan the Jebusite. He began to build on the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.
So he builds a huge altar, and that's mentioned here. He builds a huge washbasin called The Laver, and he makes it enormous, not a little tinny pot or a little tinny basin where the priest could wash, but huge, double, triple, what was in the tabernacle. And at the base of it were 12 oxen that held this huge Laver that could be seen as you entered the court, these 12 oxen that surrounded it on the base. There were also 10 lamp stands, not one, 10 lamp stands in the tabernacle, and 10 tables of showbread, not one. So Solomon's going all out.
Chapter 5:1, "So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the Lord was finished: and Solomon brought the things which his father David had dedicated; the silver, the gold, and all the furnishings, and he put them in the treasuries of the house of God."
"Now, Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief, fathers of the children of Israel in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord up from the city of David which is in Zion."
The temple took Solomon seven-and-a-half years to build, but now its finished, and when it was finished and when it was dedicated after it was finished, it was dedicated in the seventh month, because Solomon wanted to merge that with a very important feast of the seventh month, the Feast of Tabernacles, where the children of Israel were celebrating God's provision in the wilderness. It’s in the fall time of the year and sort of bring the feast together with the dedication; it was dedicated in the seventh month.
And notice it was built on top of Mount Moriah. It's significant, I want you to think of it this way, because Mount Moriah was the place where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac; and remember what God said, take now your son, your only son Isaac to the place that I tell you, which was Mount Moriah.
Well, it wasn't his only son, it was his second son, Ishmael was his first, but in God's mind Isaac was his only son, that was the son of the promise, a miraculous birth. But later on the temple would be built on Mount Moriah. The place that was the central meeting place for worship was built on a place where a father sacrificed his son.
Now, that's significant, because the kind of sacrifices that will be on Mount Moriah are the sacrifices that predict Jesus Christ, and years later Jesus Christ will be sacrificed atop the same mountain, a little bit north, but atop of the same mountain where the temple was built and the temple mount still stands today. If you go a little bit north, where the hill goes a little bit further up in topography and crest. There at a place know as Golgotha, that's where Jesus Christ was crucified. Another father in heaven did sacrifice his only son atop that place, and now a worship, the worship that is central to the land is where a father gave his son in sacrifice.
The temple, as was mentioned previously if you remember, was double the dimensions of the tent, the tabernacle. So it was 90 feet deep, it was 30 feet wide, and it was 45 feet tall. It had a huge courtyard, atrium out front. It had two huge pillars, free standing pillars that didn't hold anything up, that were given names; Jachin and Boaz, in him is strength and God shall establish; that's what the names mean. And they were about as tall as from our floor to the peak of this building, these huge pillars that you would see as you enter the court.
Chapter 5:13 continues, "Indeed it came to pass when the trumpeters and the singers were as one to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with trumpets and symbols and instruments of music, it was just like a whole shindig, saying, For He is good for His mercy endures forever, that the house, the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud."
This is a tangible sign of God showing up in the Old Testament, a sign of his presence, and the people respond with worship. So the priest, it says, Verse 14, could not continue ministering because of the cloud, for the cloud of the Lord filled the house of God.
Now, if you have an old King James, it says, they could not stand to minister, which translated here in the new King James, they couldn't keep doing it, they couldn't continue to minister, but just keep that in you mind for just a moment.
Chapter 6, Solomon prays, in the view of all of the people, he is on a platform similar to this I suppose, he gets on his knees and he places his hands toward heaven and he prays.
Chapter 7:1, "When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the temple."
What a great day to go to church. You are sitting around like, well, this is kind of cool, listen, the music is great, and this is a great regalia and it's marvelous and then fire comes out of heaven, consumes the offering. Wow! And then that cloud probably, that shekhinah, filled the temple. Beautiful!
Verse 2: "And the priest could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house."
This isn't the only time it happens. Way back in Exodus, Chapter 40, the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord filled that place the Bible tells us. It happens here as we read, and it will happen again in what I believe is described as The Millennial Temple, Ezekiel, Chapter 43, "The glory of the Lord will fill once again a temple that will stand in the future, kingdom, the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, the millennium."
Now, twice we read that the priest couldn't continue or stand, as it says, to minister. And I want to bring something up because I have heard it through the years and perhaps you have too, it's a teaching that some have called being slain in the spirit, and I remember first hearing that. In fact, I had somebody say, have you been slain in the spirit? And I go, I don't know, what is that? And they explained that that's where you sort of lose control of yourself and you fall backwards, and if you are really spiritual, I guess you won't get a contusion on your brain or a hemorrhage, somebody will catch you, but they called that being slain in the spirit. And they will often point to these two verses of scripture as their textual proof for being slain in the spirit.
You see it says -- the Bible says, the priest couldn't stand to minister, and what they interpret that to mean as, they couldn't stand, they had to fall. And that's not what it means. It means, they couldn't continue, they had to walk out, they have to leave the temple and they couldn't enter. That's what it means.
And the same people that propose being slain in the spirit will point to a few other text of scripture. They will say, well, when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, they came to arrest him and Jesus stood up. They fell backwards. Yeah, but they were pagan Roman soldiers, and I don't think it was a blessing to them. I don't think they went away going, I have been slain in the spirit.
Or they will point to Ananias and Saphira, believe it or not, in the Book of Acts, but they were slain by the spirit. I mean, they didn't get up again. They died. It was a judgment.
Or they will point to Paul on the Damascus Road, that he fell down, but again, he was an unsaved man, it wasn't a blessing. It was God getting his attention. So all of these fall short to form any theology of falling backwards and losing control because God shows up. So be careful not to twist the scripture. A plain rendering is always best.
Now, as we go on in the text, the temple is dedicated, it’s finished. The Queen of Sheba, down in Arabia comes, that whole event we read about a few weeks ago. And Solomon finishes out his life and he dies.
Now, Chapters 10, 11, and 12 is that second slice of the book. That's the division of the north and the south. The glory days of Israel, the glory days of Jerusalem, the postwar, two cars in every garage prosperity era was short lived with Solomon. As soon as Solomon dies, it goes to pot. His son Rehoboam takes over, and because he is a weak leader, others who see the weakness are opportunists and they want to vie for control. A guy by the name of Jeroboam; no relation to Rehoboam, it sort of sounds like that's their last name, there is Jero and Reho boam. No, two different dudes completely. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, had been a refugee in Egypt for years.
Now he comes back and he approaches Rehoboam. So knock on the door. Who is there? Jeroboam. Great, Jeroboam comes in. Excuse me, King Rehoboam, do us all a favor, now that your dad is dead, and since he overtaxed us and overburdened us, I know this place really looks great, but you may want to consider easing the tax burden and being nice to your people. They will love you for it.
So Rehoboam goes away and consults with two groups of people. One is a younger group, you know, sort of his compadres, his contemporaries, and they are young and they are brash and they are prideful, and they say, don't listen to that dude or don't listen to anybody else. You go back and tell the people, hey, my father was heavy, you wait till I get on the thrown. He scourged you with whips, I will scourge you with scorpions. My little finger will be heavier than his thigh, you tell him that.
And then he counsels with the wiser men, the older men, they had been around. They knew people. They knew how to govern. And they said, I think Jeroboam is onto something, you may want to listen to that man.
He didn't do it. He goes back and follows the advice of the young guys. And as soon as he gives his little speech of, I am going to show up my father, and I am going to scourge you with scorpions and my little finger will be heavier than his thigh. Jeroboam says, great, then we are out of here; I am paraphrasing a little bit, we are out of here dude. How is that for a paraphrase? And he took ten of the tribes and divided them from the south. From this point on the kingdom is divided and we have two parallel tracks. Northern kings called Israel, southern kings called the Kingdom of Judah.
Chapter 12:1, see I summed up a lot for you. "It came to pass when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him." "And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak, the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord."
So look at it this way. Rehoboam had three years of grace, three years of blessing. The fourth year was when he rebelled, the fifth year, mentioned in what we just read, was the year of judgment. How was he judged? Simply by a superpower in the south, Egypt, who wanted control of the world, comes up, invades, attacks, and overcomes them.
As they are invading, as they are being overcome, a prophet speaks to Rehoboam and says, you blew it dude, you should have listened to God. And as the prophet is speaking, Rehoboam is convicted and the Bible says that he repented and God then delivered them from the hand of Egypt.
So Chapter 5, "And Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah who were gathered together at Jerusalem because of Shishak and said to them, thus says the Lord, you have forsaken me and therefore, I also have left you in the hand of Shishak." "So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, the Lord is righteous."
"Now when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah saying, "They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak."
In Micah, Chapter 6:8; one of the most famous verses of scripture, some of you have committed to memory. If you haven't, it's a good one to commit to memory.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?"
God loves humility. God loves a good confession. Confession simply means to agree with God. God knows the truth about you, and when you decide to agree with God verbally, you confessed, you were agreeing with what He says about you, God loves that. It's like God is ready to pardon. He just wants an agreement. It's like, okay, you are a sinner and you don't deserve anything, can I hear an amen? Nothing good is going to happen till you amen, you are right, I agree with you, I am a sinner, please help me. That's humility.
You know what humility is? I think it’s a combination of two things. A good self appraisal and a good God appraisal. You appraise yourself in the light of who God is, and whenever you do that you become what Jesus said in Matthew, Chapter 5, Poor in spirit, Blessed are the poor in spirit, and you mourn. Blessed are those who mourn. And then you hunger and thirst after righteousness. So you look at yourself and you go, euw. That's meekness. Me, ek. Meek. Easy to define the word, me, ek.
Poor in spirit, meek, and at that point you hunger and thirst after righteousness, that's humility. When you realize who God is, who you are, you confess, you agree with him, that's humility, and God can do so much with a person who doesn't resist him by pride.
Alex Haley was the author in 1970s of a book called 'Roots', that was made into a movie. He became quite successful in his literary career and subsequent film making. In his office he has an interesting poster, or he had, it was a poster of a turtle on top of a fencepost, and he would often look at that poster and at the bottom the poster said, if you see a turtle on a fencepost, you know it had some help. That's what it says at the bottom of the poster.
So he says, whenever I am tempted to think I am something great and I have been so successful in my writing career, I look at that picture and know, that me, the turtle, couldn't get up that high unless it had some help.
You couldn't get to where you are unless you had help. You certainly couldn't get to heaven unless you had help. You certainly couldn't have healing in your family, in your marriage, transformation in your life unless you at God's help, His deliverance. God loves humility.
Now, the rest of the book, third slice is, as I said, the declension of the Southern Kingdom, and the rest of the book focuses on the kings of Judah and largely omits, with a few exceptions, the Northern kings of Israel.
So there is 19 more kings that are mentioned, and believe me, you want to get confused, try to memorize all of these kings' names, it's just some difficult territory. 19 of them are mentioned in the rest of the book, from Abijah to Zedekiah; he is the last king, when Nebukanezer comes, and there are some good ones and bad ones.
Some of the kings, and largely again the 70% of the focus is on the good kings, 30% on the bad kings, despite the reform, despite even the revival, despite the rekindling of the passover and obedience to God and teaching and reading the law, all of the things you are about to read in part, that wasn't enough to keep them from plunging into judgment, into captivity. They were just like little bright dots on a very dark background, by and large, it was the exception rather than the rule.
Chapter 13, look at Verse 21, but Abijah; this is Solomon's grandson now, this is the son of Rehoboam, who is the son of Solomon, "But Abijah grew mighty, married fourteen wives and begot twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters."
Chapter 14:1, "So Abijah rested with his fathers, they buried them in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land was quiet for ten years."
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord His God, for he removed the altars of the foreign Gods and the high places, and he broke down the sacred pillars and he cut down the wooden images."
So Chapters 14, 15, and 16 are all about the reign of King Asa, who was a good king, who brought reform, who helped rebuild some of the temples that have been broken down, destroyed the pagan altars. But as good as he was, he had some hangups. He relied on the flesh. He relied on Syria for help rather than trusting God; and that was brought out, Chapters 17 through 21, and we'll highlight a few of these things, is about another good king name Jehoshaphat, jumping Jehoshaphat. He was a great king, he continued the reforms and the revival of king Asa.
What he did however; I was reading it this week and it just struck me as sort of like an Old Testament church planter, he got the priesthood involved. He not only brought reforms and encouraged people to follow God, he got a bunch of priests and sent them to the towns around Judah and said, go teach people Bible studies, teach them the law of God, take with you a copy of the law and in every town hold Bible studies, teach them the word so they know what's going on, what the Lord is saying from His mouth.
Chapter 17:3, "The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals."
Remember, King David was, how shall I put it, fiercely monotheistic, tolerated no rivals, tolerated no idols, fiercely in love with God, and so he is compared to being like King David; got rid of the false worship that was in the land.
Verse 4, "But sought the God of his father and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel." "Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance." And his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord; moreover he removed the high places and the wooden images from Judah."
So, so far so good. It sort of sounds like the definition of the man in Psalm 1, doesn't it? Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor does he stand in the way of sinners, nor does he sit in the seat of the scornful, his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, etcetera. He sounds like that.
He does make some wrong moves. We are going to highlight just a couple of things. Number one, he marries the wrong gal. He takes the wrong allies politically; I will show you that in a minute, and he fights the wrong war. As you read continually down on this chapter, he starts walking in the counsel of the ungodly. When Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah, the king just to the north of him, with the ten tribes, is none other than the infamous King Ahab; remember Ahab and Jezebel; wicked, wicked dude. He sort of forms an alliance with King Ahab. King Ahab talks Jehoshaphat into coming to Israel and helping him fight a war against the Syrians.
Okay, now get this. He says, Jehoshaphat, tell you what, why don't you dress up in your royal robes for this battle? I, on the other hand, will disguise myself. And Jehoshaphat goes okay.
Now honestly, I love his heart; he wasn't the brightest bulb in the pack. He had a great heart after the Lord, but I mean, this was obviously a ploy. You dress up in your royal robes, I, on the other hand will disguise myself.
So they went out to battle. Nobody knew who the king of Israel was, even though the war was against Israel. And when all the soldiers in Syria saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they thought, that's King Ahab. He is the king of the north, the kind of Israel, let's go kill him. So they surround his chariot and they are ready to kill not King Ahab but Jehoshaphat, and Ahab's over on the corner going, yeah.
You know what Jehoshaphat does, right in the middle of the battle, he cries out to God for help, and that simple faith and trust was enough to deliver him. God delivered him from that battle, safe and sound. He goes back to Jerusalem, says, bye, bye to King Ahab.
As soon as he gets back, he has another battle to fight. There is two eastern kings; Ammon and Moab, east of the Dead Sea, east of the Jordan river, they attack him. Let's see how he fights his battle.
Chapter 20:3. "And Jehoshaphat feared; this is after he is being attacked by Moab and Ammon, he feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah."
I don't know if you do that, it's a great way to set your heart right before the Lord, a fast. "So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord."
Well, as they are there, the Lord basically says, hey, the battle is the Lord's, the battle is the Lord's. You don't even have to do anything. You just have to show up. You have trusted me, I will fight for you.
Verse 17, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you." Does that ring a bell? Remember when Moses was at the Red Sea and the Egyptians were chasing them and everybody freaked out, and Moses said, through the word of the Lord to him, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. So position yourselves. Don't fear, be dismayed, tomorrow, go out against them for the Lord is with you.
"And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with face to the ground and all of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord." So they got on the right position. They had patience. Don't be dismayed, don't fear. And now they praise, worshiping the Lord.
Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and the children of the Korahites; all these ites, these termites and turn on the lights, stood up to praise the Lord, God of Israel with voices loud and high.
Verse 21, "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying." Get this view in your mind. It's the singers, not the soldiers who start the battle. It's like sending the worship team out first. The enemy is coming out, who should we put first? The worship team.
And it wasn't done to kill the worship team, it was done to destroy the enemy, having the right position, the right perspective, the right patience, and then praise, and they were saying, Verse 21, "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever."
"When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who came against Judah; and they were defeated."
There is a good little lesson in that. We won't belabor the point, but we have warfare; all of us fight battles, not with flesh and blood the Bible says, but there is a spiritual battle we fight, there is spiritual warfare, okay, we are on a battlefield, and we who are Christians understand that Satan hates us, but God has granted us the victory. And so who do we live our lives, how do we enter into battle? We position ourselves, we face the battle, we don't run from it, we face it.
And in patience we keep moving on, we keep enduring, we keep marching forward with Thanksgiving and with praise. That's a life of faith. Not, things aren't going my way, I am not going to church tonight or ever again. I am not going to pray anymore, because last time I prayed, God said no. No. We keep marching forward with faith and patience and praise and we let God give us the victory in due time. So the singers went out and the battle was won.
Chapter 21 is about a 32-year old king named King Jehoram; reigned eight years. A bad dude. He is appointed king, so the first thing he does is, get this, kill all of his brothers, all of his brothers, because he was afraid some of them might want to take over the kingdom, so I will kill them first so they can't get rid of me. He eliminates competition.
Chapter 22 is about King Ahaziah. He reigned one year, an evil king, had a bad mom named Athaliah. And after he died, Athaliah killed all of the royal seed; remember that, back in Kings, killed all of the royal seed, all of the royal heirs. One of them, one of them was kept safe. His name was Joash. He is written about in Chapter 23 and 24. He survived. He is a seven year old kid. When he becomes king, believe it or not, he is the youngest king of anybody in Israel and Judah, probably ever. Seven years old. They bring him out of hiding. He was kept in the temple. They crowned him as king. Athaliah sees that. Grandma sees and says, treason, treason, they kill her. She is gone.
Chapter 25, Amaziah reigns for 29 years. First thing he does is execute the people who killed his dad, and that's what the chapter is about.
Chapter 26 begins, a good king, Uzziah, a teenager, 16 years old, he becomes the king of Judah. Imagine, you are thinking about, who am I going to vote for President? Imagine a 16-year old running. You go, not a chance. This 16-year old reigns for 52 years, and he was one of the best kings Judah ever saw. He loved God. He did what was right, and he prospered in battle, he prospered in building projects and expanding the city and even spirituality.
Chapter 26:1, "Now all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah."
Verse 4, "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done." He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding of the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper."
He sought the Lord during the days of the Prophet Zechariah. This isn't the prophet Zechariah who wrote the Book of Zechariah. There are in the Bible, get this, 34 different people named Zechariah. So there is a lot, it was a common name. This is one of them. This isn't the prophet but a prophet who prophesied during that time.
Now, Chapter 27 and 28 is about Jotham and Ahaz. They weren't remarkable. We won't even mention much.
We will go to Chapter 29 through 32 and talk about another good king, okay? You remember the 70/30 rule, 70% of the book is about the great guys who built the temple and bring reform, and so most of the book writes about them.
Hezekiah is mentioned in Chapter 29, 30, 31, and 32. This king was a great guy. King Hezekiah broke down the altars and the images that were scattered around the temple area, in the Kidron Valley, around Jerusalem, where people were worshiping false Gods and Goddesses. He restored the temple, he rebuilt the walls that have come down.
And while King Hezekiah was reigning, he faced a problem. The Assyrians; remember those guys, they were the big superpower of the time. They had already taken over the northern ten tribes. By this time of Hezekiah, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to enemy hands, the Assyrians had taken it over.
The king was a guy by the name of Sennacherib. Sennacherib sends his General to Jerusalem; he is called in the Bible the Rabshakeh, which is a Assyrian term for the big dude, the General, the Commander-in-Chief. Rabshakeh comes to Jerusalem and faces the people on the walls and basically says, surrender because you are dead meat.
And then he says, don't you dare listen to King Hezekiah who is telling you to trust in Yahweh, your God. He says, look around at all of the other nations who have trusted in their Gods, they are dead. I took over their cities. So you can trust in any God you want to, but your God can't deliver you from me.
Then, Sennacherib writes a letter to King Hezekiah basically saying the same thing, surrender, here is the term, surrender, surrender, surrender. I am going to come in and attack you, you are dead.
King Hezekiah gets his buddy, the Prophet Isaiah who wrote the Book of Isaiah, The Isaiah, unlike Zechariah, but this is the real Isaiah. He says, Isaiah, buddy, what do I do? He says, don't worry about it, God is with you. And King Hezekiah spreads the letter out before the Lord and begs for God's mercy and help.
Two times the Assyrians come against Jerusalem. Once they are turned away. They come back again. The second time they are wiped out. 185,000 of them are killed in this false attempt.
So Chapter 32:7. We skipped a lot. Chapter 32:7, "Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; now listen to this king give such great words of faith, for there are more with us than with him."
What a statement to make. You are surrounded by thousands of people with weapons, well trained for war. They say, we are going to attack you. We have attacked and won every city we have come against, you are next. And the king says, don't worry about it. There is more with us than with them.
Now, if you were a secular person hearing that, you go, where would that be? Because there is a lot more them than us. What he meant is what Martin Luther meant when he said, with God, one is a majority. We have the hand of God, these are people mouthing off to God, what do we care?
In fact, there was one single angel who kills 185,000 Assyrians in one night. More are with us than with him.
I wish Christians would think about this. I hear so many going, the devil is after me. So? He is there, there is demon chasing me. So what, what do you care? You see, yeah, there is demons, yeah, the devil hates you, I don't want to minimize the warfare, but the last time I checked a third of the angels fell with Satan, that leaves two-thirds. Two-thirds against a third. Two-third good angels against a third bad angels. God promises you His protection, His Holy Spirit, Christ will live within you, God the father will help you. The Holy Spirit will seal you, and you got all these angels who will guard you. What do you care? There is more with us than with him. Greater is He that is within you than He that is in the world. That's the perspective we have to live everyday with.
As Hezekiah said, Verse 8, "With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles." And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah, the king of Judah."
You get a godly leader who loves God and sets the pace, and the people were comforted.
I have told you this story a couple of times through the years, but it bears repeating on this occasion of our reading. I went to India on one occasion with a group of people who were from Texas, who said they had an exorcism ministry. Their ministry was to travel around the world and exorcise demons out of people. That means make them do push-ups or sit-ups, jumping jacks, lift weights, but cast demons out of Christians. It was their contention that Christians are inhibited and Christians are weak because they are inhabited by demons and I have to cast them out and set you free; all this nonsense that is both unbiblical and very, very damaging.
So this one guy one night stood up and addressed about a thousand pastors in a tent in Southern India, and as he was talking to them, he said, I have cast demons out of some of the greatest leaders and church leaders all across America.
And then somebody was translating in Malayalam, the dialect. And the people were smiling when the guy interpreted that. So I thought, that's a strange reaction.
Then he said, and I can see demons all around you tonight, this place is filled with devils, demons. And then the guy, and everybody was smiling, clap like yeah! And I thought, now, this is an odd reaction.
So afterwards I went to the guy who is running the conference and I said, what just happened tonight? And the guy said; he was a PhD of a local seminary, he said, when I was interpreting for my friend, I was correcting his theology all the way through. Okay. So I said, so what do you mean? He said, when he was saying there are demons all around you, I was saying God is surrounded you with His holy angels, and everybody clapped. I thought, Amen! That guy was brilliant, saved them from that heresy and false doctrine.
Chapter 33 is the story of the most wicked king of Judah, the worst, fell to the lowest, got an F and below, his name was Manasseh. Manasseh reigned for 55 years. Worst of all, not only was he a bad guy, he restored all of the altars that were broken down, the pagan altars, restored the pagan worship that have been eradicated by the good kings.
Chapter 33:9, "So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel."
"And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen."
But God has ways. It is what truly one of the most fascinating stories of conversion in the Bible. Manasseh is taken by Assyrians to Babylon. He is taken captive there, and when he is taken captive there, he sort of wakes up, gets an epiphany; I have sinned against God. And there in Babylon he repents, asks God to forgive him. God restores the throne and the kingdom back to Manasseh after he has a heart-felt conversion, after his forgiveness, he is restored to the throne.
In Chapter 34 is Josiah; he is the best of all, really the godliest of all the kings. And Chapter 34 is a key chapter because of a dramatic revival, not a renewal, a real revival among the people of Judah under Josiah.
Look at Verse 1, Josiah was eight years old when he became king. Huh, there is just something to be said about you, isn't there? Whether it's king Uzziah at 16 or an 8-year-old who just has a simple trust in God, and he was king, he reigned for 31 years in Jerusalem.
Verse 2, "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord." As time goes on, this king at age 26 decides, let's repair the temple. So they are repairing the temple, they are the taking the trash out, they are removing the rubble, they are setting the stones up, and as they are doing this, somebody finds one of the priests helping out, finds a copy of the Law, of the first five books of Moses, and brings it in and shows the priest, the high priest, and then high priest takes it to the king and says, believe it or not, I found a copy of the Bible. Which sort of you would expect in the temple, but -- they had been reading it for years. He said, a Bible, yeah, I have heard about that book. Yeah, read it.
So in the hearing of the king, the Bible was opened, and its read. And as people just hear the reading of the Bible, probably around Deuteronomy 28, 29, deep conviction fills their heart, the people renew their covenant with God, they celebrate the passover. That's mentioned in these Chapters. 41,000 animals are brought in for sacrifice. That's a lot of bloodshed.
Chapter 35:18, look at how it sums it up, "There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Chapter 36 is the last chapter, gives a list of kings up into the captivity. The son of Josiah is Jehoahaz. King Jehoahaz reigns for three months; barely gets the throne warm. After three months, he is taken off the throne by the Egyptians. Here is what's happening. Egypt in the south, Assyria and then Babylon in the north and the east, trying to have control over the world; Babylon will win.
The Egyptians deposed Jehoahaz from off the throne. They put in his place his brother by the name of Eliakim, but they changed his name from Eliakim to Jehoiakim. Don't ask me why, just says they did.
Jehoiakim is on there for 11 years. Jeremiah said, whatever you do, don't resist the king of Babylon, because he is a big bad guy, and just don't mess with him, don't tick him off. He does it anyway. The Babylonians depose Eliakim/Jehoiakim, and place Jehoiachin as king in his place.
Jehoiachin or in Hebrew Yhowyakiyn would be the pronunciation, is on the throne three months and ten days. He is deposed, taken to Babylon, Zedekiah is the final king of the House of David before the captivity and then comes the captivity.
Chapter 36:15, the year is 586 B.C., "And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place." "But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy, till there was no remedy." Too late, nothing could help it, nothing could change it, nothing could avert the hand of God.
Verse 19, "Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all o its precious possessions."
Here's what's interesting. If you were to go to Israel today, we could take you down to the City of David and show you stones that have fallen in 586 B.C. and are still in their original position, and the fire marks against the stones where the city had been burnt with fire. You can still see it. It's a recent archaeological discovery. Fascinating!
Verse 20, "And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept the Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years."
Three attacks against Jerusalem. Three deportations or taking of the people from Jerusalem to Babylon. 605 B.C., 597 B.C., 586 B.C. The first one is when Daniel and his buddies went to Babylon. 586 B.C. is when the temple was burnt and it finally fell.
But the last few verses end with hope, they point to the new era. The first temple built and destroyed, and now Ezra, who writes this book, is pointing to the second temple.
So in Chapter 36, the last – well, let's look at Verse 22 and 23. "Now in the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished or fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, the king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all of his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus says Cyrus, the king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth has the Lord God of heaven given me. And He has charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!"
Now, those are the same verses that the very next book Ezra begins with. So that's why we think Ezra wrote this book. It ends in hope. It points to a second temple that will be rebuilt. So that's Second Chronicles.
And I always like to end by showing you Christ in the Bible. This is the Bible from 30,000 feet, and one of the things I said is, we always like to look at the scarlet thread of redemption, because the Bible is moving historically toward a culmination in a single person, and that is Jesus Christ, the last Adam; begins with the first Adam, ends with the last Adam.
How is Jesus Christ seen in Chronicles, Second Chronicles? The temple. The temple. It was all about the temple and the relationship of the temple and the sacrifice in the temple.
In Matthew 12:6, Jesus said, "I say to you that in this place there is one greater than the temple." Speaking of Himself.
In John 2:19, Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." They said, it took 46 years to build the temple. And the writer of John says, he was speaking about the temple of His body, not about the stones.
Revelation 21:22, the book comes to a close, one of its last verses, "I saw no temple in it, that is in heaven, the eternal state, for God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."
So what is seen in that nascent form of God living with His people in the temple is fulfilled in Christ and ultimately when He dwells with His people.
So I am grateful for C.S. Lewis and his imagination and his 'Chronicles of Narnia'. I am really grateful for the Chronicles and how it points toward the future fulfillment. I am really grateful that eye has not seen nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love him, but Paul says, buy God has revealed them to us by a spirit.
The temple must have been awesome to be a part of. Where do you see your digs? Where do you see your future home? Marvelous! "Don't let your hearts be troubled Jesus said, you believe in God, believe also in Me." In my Father's house there are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I am going to prepare place for you."
He said that 2,000 years ago. If He can create the earth in six days, did a pretty good job, imagine the place He has been preparing for 2,000 years must look like by now. Awesome! God has revealed it to us by a spirit. Let's pray.
Father, thank you for the hope of heaven. Thank you for the truth, this divine editorial. We read about a history of a nation fractured, people of God not perfect, fighting each other, breaking Your laws, and still You find mercy and favored anybody who humbles themselves or turns even in the last moment, and even though you judge that nation and took him out of the land, you brought him back. Thank you Lord that today we are not under the old covenant but the new covenant. Very different way of dealing with people. Completely by grace through faith in one work done 2,000 years ago on a cross. Thank you Lord. That's why we rejoice, we have every reason to do that. And just as the glory of the Lord filled the temple and as there were singers, we close tonight by singing to you from our hearts saying, the battle belongs to the Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen!