The book title Chronicles may make you want to yawn. But, despite all the numbers and counting, this isn’t a book to help you get to sleep. It’s the riveting, fast-paced, retelling of all Old Testament history. If you want to know the story of the entire first half of the Bible, you’ve got it right here.
Chronicles is the last book in the Hebrew Old Testament, and was originally one work. The Jewish people put their Bible together this way so that at the end of the Old Testament, the reader would have a summary of everything else they had read. Helpful, right?
Chronicles was split up into two books because it would not fit on just one scroll when it was written, but it tells one story—a story that’s relevant to you.
Chronicles begins with a list of names, and these names are super important! Do you notice the first name on the list? Adam. And in case you “don’t know him from Adam,” he’s the first guy… ever! The first human ever created by God. Why is this important?
Chronicles isn’t just half a story; it’s half the story, the story we are all a part of that began with the first created man and woman. Chronicles is the authoritative history of the beginning of God’s plan to save humanity through the nation of Israel from its greatest problem: sin.
Chronicles is the authoritative history of the beginning of God’s plan to save humanity through the nation of Israel from its greatest problem: sin.
Even though we know the whole Bible is God’s Word, God led the author of Chronicles to tell his story in a special way. If you read carefully, you’ll notice that this book has an air of optimism, and more than optimism—hope. The narrator doesn’t let the dark moments in Israel’s history dampen the mood of the book. You’ll also see that God’s work and character are celebrated often in this book.
For example, at the very end of Chronicles we have one of the clearest synopses of Israelite exile—which is the worst event in their history. Though you may expect a recap of Israel’s rebellion, the author chooses to focus on God’s kindness—how he again and again sent prophets to Israel.
Or, when Chronicles references the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel’s displacement from their land, the text says, “The land enjoyed its sabbath rest.” In this statement, the author frames the barrenness of the land as an intentional and sacred event (Leviticus 25:1-7;26:34-35). He frames the circumstances in the most positive way.
And similarly, instead of mourning God’s discipline, the author of Chronicles reminds the reader that God’s discipline for Israel was measured (2 Chronicles 36:21).
Instead of mourning a fallen temple, the book ends with Cyrus of Persia giving permission for Israel to return to build God’s temple again.
With national pride, the author of Chronicles writes with faith that the nation of Israel is precious to the Lord—it is through their history, and their king that God will bless all of humanity, which began with Adam.
With holy love, the author speaks of God as the main character in the whole story, intimately involved with and governing his people from the beginning. But this author also leaves us waiting for the rest of the story.
Would you like to know what the Old Testament is about? Read Chronicles! Don’t let the names slow you down—remember that every one of them is a significant character in God’s story.