Study Guide

God in 1 Chronicles

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God may be the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth, but that doesn't mean he's totally distant and unrelatable. Even though God never makes a personal appearance in this story, his name is in the lips of just about everyone. Let's see what he's up to in 1 Chronicles.

Praise Him

Back in the day, God made a covenant with the Jewish people. If they would love and obey him, he'd be their God and they'd be his people. This deal is still good for the people living in David's day:

Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance." When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in the land, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." (16:15-22)

One of David's agenda items as king is to make sure that the people of Israel are making good on this promise. That means they're properly praising God for all he does. Praising God is David's specialty.

  • "eat is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." (16:25) 
  • "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, 'The Lord is king!'" (16:31)
  • "There is no one like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you." (17:20)
  • "They shall stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening." (23:30)
  • "Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, forever and ever." (29:10)

It also doesn't hurt that they're building God his very own house so he can "reside in Jerusalem forever" (23:25). God's presence in the temple in Jerusalem ushers in a golden era in Jewish history. He doesn't exactly stay there forever (he leaves in anger from time to time) but always considers it the place where he dwells.

He's a Lawmaker

Loving and building things for God is no big deal. Anyone can lavish praise or make some menorahs out of silver and gold. But God also wants them to obey all those laws and commandments he told them about back when Moses was still around. It's a tall order, but it's part of that covenantal deal.

Back in the day, God gave the people lots of rules to follow. (Around 613 of them depending on how you count.) He wasn't just trying to come up with weird ways to sacrifice goats. These laws were supposed to help the people live with each other more peacefully and grow into a great nation.

  • No one but the Levites were to carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord. (15:2)
  • Offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, according to all that is written in the law of the Lord that he commanded Israel. (16:40)
  • You will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. (22:13)
  • Observe and search out all the commandments of the Lord your God. (28:8)
  • The Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. (28:9)

Basically, all this rule-following has one point: to show that a person trusts God. If you listen to him, obey his commandments, and follow his will that means you have faith in his wisdom. You understand that God the Father knows best. Praise is great, but when it comes down to it, this relationship is about respecting his laws and doing it wholeheartedly.

Crime and Punishment

So what happens if you don't trust in God and obey him? It's not pretty. Here are some examples of people who have crossed the ultimate rule-maker:

  • Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death. (2:3)
  • The God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria […] and he carried them away. (5:26)
  • The Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. (6:15) 
  • [Saul] did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (10:4) 
  • The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. (13:10) 
  • God was displeased with this thing and he struck Israel. (21:7)
  • The Lord sent a pestilence on Israel; and seventy thousand persons fell. (21:14)

The Chronicler gives us a highly abridged version of some wrathful and destructive "days of the Lord" that are described in all their brutal detail in some of the books of the prophets. When God's pushed beyond his limits of compassion, he's burned Jerusalem and the Temple to the ground (courtesy of the Babylonians), scattered the people across the region, and killed priests and officials, mothers and children, left their bodies to be eaten by birds and beasts, etc., etc.

So do these harsh punishments mean that God is unjustly vengeful? Maybe he should be a little more lenient? It depends. Are parents justified when they ground their kid for breaking curfew? Is a judge cruel when he sends someone to jail for stealing? In both these cases, the person who's being punished knew about the rules and broke them anyhow. The same is true for Israel. They know what God expects of them, but sometimes they don't listen. If you do the crime, you're going to have to do the time. Don't say you weren't warned.

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