Lessons from 1st & 2nd Chronicles
We are slowly returning to a normal routine, if you want to call it normal. During this time, I spent thirteen weeks studying the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles. There is so much packed in these books I found not normal. And yet so relatable to our current times. Have you ever studied these books? I needed a handy cheat sheet to keep track of this king who “did good in the eyes of the Lord,” and that king who “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Far too many wicked kings. As I made my way to the last verse of this study, imagine my relief to read “let’s go up (and rebuild)” in the last sentence of 2nd Chronicles.
2 Chronicles 36:23 (ESV) “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”
As soon as one king would follow the ways of the Lord, his descendant would drag the kingdom back to their wicked ways. Back and forth, back and forth. Oh, dear kings, do you not learn from the mistakes of your ancestors? These men placed in the role of kingship by our sovereign God, they should know better. Right?
How often am I in a similar position? I know better, and yet I wander aimlessly this way and that way. Far off the path He sets before me. We are a people prone to wander, indeed. I am grateful for grace and the reminder that He continually promises “let’s go up and rebuild.”
What did I learn from my time in the Chronicles? Sometimes I go into studies of the Old Testament kicking and screaming, but lo and behold, His timing is always perfect as we walk our journey with Him.
I discovered joy in the journeys of these ancient people; so much joy, but I’ll condense it down into a few key points.
As life in this global pandemic slowly resets, the chronicler shares important lessons with application even for 2020. We emerge from uncertain times and can glean much through the uncertain circumstances of the Israelites. We learn what to do and what not to do. Our gracious God gives us plenty of warnings through His Word. Let’s go up and rebuild.
Smack dab in the middle of the recent isolation, I read where the Lord warns King Solomon about hardships:
2 Chronicles 7:13 (ESV) “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people…”
We know the prevalent theme in the entire bible: God is in control. If we know this, how do we respond to this truth in a season of difficulty? How do we find joy in all this suffering?
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
I discovered four practical spiritual lessons throughout the two books of Chronicles.
In the first lesson, I reached a deeper understanding of humility in this season. How in the world do I control a global pandemic in my own little world? I confess my reliance and my comfort in controlling my life circumstances in my own power way too often. My, my, my!
Nothing like a worldwide lockdown for God to remind me, and maybe you, to step away from the panic and anxiety in the loss of this personal control. I had my very first heart-racing panic attack in March. It shocked me but reminded me to take my control issues to the Lord.
Reading and learning the history of the kings who did good in the eyes of the Lord, I see their humility. I see the Lord respond favorably to the condition of their humble heart. I see them turn to the Lord first in their stress. In their despair. And even in their prosperity, they humbly come before the Lord. And they rejoiced.
Seek His Face.
Second, the chronicler continually reminded me to seek Him first. How do I do this? I appreciate the phrase my pastor repeats: bible first. Be a bible first believer. This means continually, and I mean every single day, be in the bible–seeking his truth. The very definition of seek includes the word desire. Is seeking His face the desire of your heart? I shared this practice of my daily delight in my first blog “His Joy Comes in the Morning.”
Throughout the Chronicles, God showed up faithfully to protect, love, cherish, redeem, and restore those seeking His ways faithfully. And they rejoiced.
But those who followed in their own ways, well, their stories never ended well. Disease, death, destruction. Who is your heart seeking today?
Speaking of those who will not turn from their wicked ways, we must depart from them and follow after our God. Next up is another important theme through the chronicles: take courage and rise up and leave the ways of the world behind you.
The wicked kings slipped easily into sinful patterns of the world when they surrounded themselves with the pagan world; they easily led their citizens into destructive behavior. Rise up and leave behind the patterns of this world. The idols. The verse at the top of this post recognizes the call for the faithful remnant of the Lord to rise up. Let him go up. Let us all rejoice.
HOPE FOR HEALING.
And finally, the chronicler ends his books with a message of hope. King Cyrus of Persia fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10-14) by allowing the exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord. A remnant returned as promised by God. God made a way for them to heal and restore the land He promised them.
This message of hope impacted me through two studies in this season. I love how God likes to drive home a point. On Friday I wrapped up my study of the chronicles and I also wrapped up a study of the book Rise Up by Lori Wilhite with my small group. Rise Up is based on lessons from the book of Ezra. The book of Ezra begins by repeating the verses from the end of 2 Chronicles 36. Hand in hand lessons in my journey of hope for healing. God is so good. I rejoice.
I’ve struggled over the past year in circumstances I never expected, but every time I open His Word, He reminds me to trust Him in all things. Last week I shared how He told me to “Get Up! Live.” This week I leave you with rise up.
ARE YOU READY TO GO UP?
Is God calling you to rebuild an aspect of your faith journey? I’m rebuilding the path He put me on for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health after back-sliding a tad in my lifestyle. My eating is back under control (no more evening snacking!) to fit the health goals He has for me. I’m running to Him in my despair. And I’m praising Him over and over and over again for the timing of His Word and the sweet fellowship and new friendships He’s gifting in my life to encourage me in my calling (thank you, friends).
In regards to the calling He’s given me, He’s prompted and guided me to: write more words than ever before, write and prepare new chapters of my manuscript to submit to my editor, write and post three new blogs, build and launch a new website, show up every Friday on YouTube, go live on Facebook weekly, compose and send eight weekly newsletter updates, attend a three day writer’s conference, and participate in a writer’s boot camp.
None of this in my power! I’m sharing this list to encourage you . . . when God tells you to “get up,” our best response is “let’s go up to see what He has in store” by His power, love, and self-control.
Church, let’s go up together. It’s time to rebuild. Would you care to be bold and share where He’s calling you to rebuild? Comment below.
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Be a Joy Seeker,
What I’m listening to: Here Again by Elevation Worship