4 Reasons You Should Preach through 1 & 2 Chronicles
What if there was a book that provided us a concise review of the whole Old Testament? Well, there is—the book of Chronicles! (Yes, 1 and 2 Chronicles is actually one book and I will refer to it that way here.)
Placed at the end of “The Writings” section of the Old Testament, it serves as the bookend of the Hebrew Bible. But it’s no mere rehashing of other historical books. It’s not simply supplemental material to Samuel and Kings. No, just as each of the four Gospels has a shape and theology, so does the book of Chronicles. Both the “Chronicler” and God the Holy Spirit want us to see things from a unique perspective.
The Chronicler writes a history that begins with Adam and ends in Persia. He quotes from the Law, Prophets, and Writings, and gives Spirit-inspired theological insight that helpfully highlights key themes and promises in light of all the Old Testament.
When you preach through this book, you and your church should be more convinced of the clarity of Scripture as the author reminds the reader to turn from sin, put their hope in the promised Messiah, and to seek God with all their heart while waiting for God’s plan to unfold.
Here are four reasons why you should preach 1 & 2 Chronicles.
1. Chronicles focuses our attention on God’s sovereign purposes in Christ Jesus.
Chronicles begins with an amazing genealogy that teaches us that the Davidic kingship is the promised means for God’s salvation of his people (1 Chron. 1:1–3:24; 1 Chron. 17). These sections will remind your people that salvation is not just for the Jew, but for all nations.
Let your preaching from this book teach the church that the house of David is also of the lineage of Adam, reaching to the entire human race. Furthermore, God’s work of restoration in the past points to the arrival of the second Adam, the son of Adam, and the Son of God—and his name is Jesus. This Son will be the true King, and will lead the eternal household of God. Chronicles demonstrates that the goal of the Old Testament is the establishment of this King and his household.
As the bookend to the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles is a great setup for the New Testament. For example, it begins with a genealogy and ends with a king’s great commission to rebuild the Temple. Matthew’s Gospel also begins with a genealogy and ends with a Great Commission—not for building the Temple, but the church.
Preach this book to help your people see how the Old Testament consistently uses types and shadows to point out the realities that are ultimately found in Christ Jesus. They should see Jesus in the sacrifices, celebrations, conquerings, and restorations. The book should cause their hearts to long for the return of the King.
2. Chronicles equips the church to persevere as pilgrims.
Picture the original audience. While under Persian rule, they’d recently returned from exile only to experience a temple that paled in comparison to the original. The people had come out of Babylon—any yet they still felt like exiles and pilgrims. Does this sound familiar to us as believers (1 Peter 1:1)?
What did God want his people to dwell on in this situation? The Chronicler reminds them to focus on God’s promises and learn from the past about how to endure amid a sinful world.
This book contains example after example of how the faithful persevere during trials. In moments of faithfulness, the godly focus on God’s Word and prayer. However, the ungodly consistently focus on this world and the worship of idols. Have things changed that much for us?
Chronicles is a great book to exhort believers to pray faithfully and live by his Word.
3. Chronicles reminds God’s people to keep praying.
Toward the end of the book, the Chronicler tells us, “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
This book proclaims with certainty that Israel stood or stumbled depending on their faithfulness to seek the Lord, who alone is God (2 Chron. 32:19; 33:13). The kings of the day were to lead in this manner, and the people would experience God’s provision when they themselves sought God first in all things.
Do you want your people to see the necessity of prayer? Chronicles repeatedly emphasizes the value of prayer. As you preach through the book, you’ll be able to demonstrate to your hearers the need to seek God in prayer both individually and corporately.
4. Chronicles emphasizes the importance of godly leadership and faithful worship.
From Saul’s unfaithfulness in 1 Chronicles 10 to David’s sinful census in 1 Chronicles 21, we see that good leadership of God’s people is critical. Preaching Chronicles should beckon us to humility as we see kings like Rehoboam, Jehoram, Amaziah, and Mannaseh (2 Chron 10, 21, 25, 33, 36) pridefully and even disastrously trusting in themselves.
This is why faithful kings like Joash stand out. He worshiped God in accord with his Word (2 Chron 24:22)—not like Uzziah who approached God in his own way (2 Chron 26:16). Uzziah’s story begins with great success, but because of his pride it ends with God afflicting him with leprosy.
The kings of old were also called to shepherd God’s people (1 Chron 11:2). As shepherds ourselves, we ought to expose these texts to our people so that the church might look to Christ who as their Good Shepherd.
In the end, Chronicles ultimately emphasizes a person and a place. Preach this book to reveal to your people that Jesus is the promised one, and that one day, when he returns, he will usher in that perfect place.
- To help with the basic literary analysis, John Sailhamer’s volume on 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Everyman’s Bible Commentary is an excellent resource. (Note: You can find similar material in the NIV Compact Commentary also by Sailhamer. He provides a look at the broader landscape and points out to you how the Chronicler reveals new content and theological emphases.)
- To help with connecting Chronicles with its placement within the Hebrew canon, I highly commend to you Dominion and Dynasty by Stephen Dempster. Also, if you’ve not interacted with Paul House, you should read his Old Testament theology chapter on Chronicles.
- As far as commentaries go, I would commend J.A. Thompson in the New American Commentary series, and Frederick J. Mabie in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. They demonstrate a balance of exegetical and expository observation.
- Pastorally, I found resources like Richard Pratt’s commentary in the Mentor series, Andrew Stuart in the Welwyn series, and Michael Willcock in The Bible Speaks Today series to be useful in thinking about applying the message today.
May God use this book to cause you and your people to seek the Lord with all your heart.