Have you ever watched a small child trying to blow up a balloon? Some kids can do it and some can’t. There is a great deal of energy and force needed at the start to get the first bit of air into the balloon. With excitement and some enthusiasm, they continue to push air into the balloon until it reaches critical mass and either pops and scares them into a crying frenzy or, they let go and giggle as the air escapes and the balloon flies around uncontrollably making a loud noise that makes them to want to do it all over again and again and again.
Reading through 2 Chronicles is an adventure much like that of the illustration of the balloon. We read about many kings who in their time (some as short as 3 months to those who stood for 50+ years) put a great deal of time and energy into building their kingdoms. Many of these kings like the balloon hit a critical mass, a point in time when because of their status, their wealth and power they lose sight of how God was a part of the picture. Many of them started well and yet many fell to the evil of pride, becoming more dependent and determined they could do things on their own rather than with God. I can’t help but think about the account of Hezekiah’s pride and how our gracious God forgave the sin of his heart when he humbly came before Him. This is a powerful story of the destruction that pride can have in our lives, thankfully our God is unchanging and from the time of Hezekiah till now and forever we will always have the opportunity to bring these things before Him.
1 & 2 Chronicles help us see how God worked to fulfill his promise to the people of Israel through the deliverance into the promise land. These words should come to us as encouragement as they would have for the remnant of people as they looked ahead to re-establishing their presence as a nation of God’s chosen people. God used the many kings of Israel to make an impact on the life of the believers in their time. Today as disciples of Christ we may not have the power or influence of a king but we can rest in the greater power of the Holy Spirit to use us to make an impact that leaves a legacy of God’s love just the same.
Every family has one, I’m sure you will know exactly who I am talking about. This person has a memory like an elephant, they can tell you the name, birth-date, height and most likely the last known location of every one of your relatives that is perched on the branches of your family tree. They spent countless hours pouring over records trying to establish a lineage that ties us back to the beginning of time when Adam walked with God in the Garden.
1 Chronicles is divided into 29 chapters, the first nine of those highlight a lengthy genealogy that begins with Adam, then works its ways through the all the tribes of Israel and eventually ends with the family line of Saul. Finding excitement within the study of historical documents such as the Chronicles in my mind extends only to a limited audience. It is the picture of a truly faithful God through generation after generation of people that is encouraging to me. The law and word of our sovereign God had not changed throughout their time, it was the people who changed. It was a gracious and loving God who always wanted them to come back to Him and that is what we read in these books. There is more going on through these chapters than the rebuilding of God’s house, for me it is about relationships, about people.
Our God is great and mighty, and His power goes beyond our capacity to understand how His plan unfolds. The evidence of His work in the lives of people is recorded here in scripture, it really is a treasure that should not be overlooked. I don’t often think about or look back into my own family history, but it would be interesting to look back and see how God used the people in my family tree to help build His kingdom. Generations from now I wonder how people will look back to my life and the life of my family? It is my hope and prayer that they can find the same encouragement as I do in the faithfulness of a God who is described below in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12.
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all”.
There is always a story behind a story.
The story of Ezra is packed with many accounts, records and lists of the exiles that returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. We read about the incredible journey of God’s people as they work to rebuild the temple through the reign of more that one king, one of which puts a complete stop to the work. Alongside this great story another story unfolds that helps us understand how God was working in the lives of the people. God had raised up a great teacher and leader among them. “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”
After many years of wandering from one place to another and with so many years of influence from the “outside” world the new gathering of the people of Israel had strayed from the practices of the Law of the Lord. Ezra, with his knowledge and understanding of scripture began teaching and preaching the word of the Lord so that the people would come back into a right relationship with God. Ezra’s story reaches beyond that of the book scribed with his name, you can continue to read about his ministry in Nehemiah chapter 8. “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (8:6). All this happened when Ezra opened the book, (the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel).
Fast forward to today, what we have is much like that in Ezra’s day. Our bibles are filled with stories that have the power to change lives. Many of us gather together every week to listen to the Word of God being preached, we listen to how God speaks through His word to us. When was the last time you responded with a loud Amen! Amen! bowing in worship to the Lord? The stories we read, each one of them are there for a purpose and when the time is right God will use them to shape our own personal stories, and when that happens it deserves a loud Amen.