Ezra 7-10: Pleading of the High Priest

Chapter 7

The events leading up to chapter 7 have been providing a background to Ezra’s (the name means “help”) involvement in the restoration of Israel, a context and culture in which Ezra operated as the LORD’s key servant in re-building of the Temple.  This is the same Ezra whose lineage is traced directly back to Aaron, the chief priest – as a reminder that it is the High Priest who re-built the temple, and no mere “layman”, pointing towards Jesus the High Priest who is the one who destroyed the temple and also built it up in three days (John 2:19).  Not only is it refreshing to know that this son of the high priest Aaron is the key catalyst behind the Second Temple, but he is also a “scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him”.  Indeed, his faithful walk with Christ has led those around him to grant him favour and understand the ways of the LORD as well.  Therefore, this man is equipped, and ready to leave Babylonia to Israel for the purpose of teaching the LORD’s statutes and rules in Israel (v.10), knowing that the previous six chapters provided the context of the return of the exiles as summarised in v.7-9 of this chapter.  The LORD effectively uses King Artaxerxes to provide Ezra (the refrain, again – “a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel” – repeated previously in v.6 and v.10) with the resources (i.e. all the silver and gold that Ezra shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, v.16, the money used to purchase bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, v.17) to do all that is necessary, “according to the will of your God” (v.18).  It is clear from v.11-20 that the king, too, is well-versed in the necessities of Temple maintenance.  What a contrast in v.24 for Artaxerxes to command the treasurers to not impose a tribute, custom or toll on anyone of the specified servants of the house of God (c.f. Rehum and Shimshai’s lies in Ezra 4:11-15).

This chapter ends with a first person commentary of Ezra – indeed, blessed be the LORD who put such a thing as this into the heart of the non-Israelite king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem.  Whilst the book of Ezra focused primarily on theology than chronology, we saw Zerubbabel and Jeshua’s work on the Second Temple completed by chapter 6; and in the remaining chapters of Ezra, we shall see this scribe of the LORD focus on the community of Israel and the issues of their hearts as revealed later.

Chapter 8

Ezra therefore left Babylonia with a number of exiles to return to rebuilt Jerusalem – yet, his primary concern is the presence of the sons of Levi (v.15), despite the lengthy detail given to the returning exiles in v.1-14.  It is from Iddo that Sherebiah (“heat/flame of the LORD”) (with his sons and kinsmen, sons of Mahli the son of Levi), Hashabiah (“whom God regards”), and Jeshaiah (“salvation of the LORD”) (of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons) were appointed, these men (and their kinsmen/sons) making up the 12 leading priests (v.24).  In the same vein, Ezra continues to rely on the LORD for protection by fasting and imploring Him for safety at the river Ahava (meaning “water/essence“), relying not on Artaxerxes’ band of soldiers and horsemen which would otherwise be reliable in worldly eyes.  Most importantly is Ezra’s pronouncement that these men are “holy to the LORD”, a refrain often used as a reminder of the priesthood, the setting apart of Israel from other nations and the Sabbath rest (c.f. Exodus 28:36, 30:37, 31:15, 35:2, 39:30; Deuteronomy 7:6).  This is key, given the events in chapters 9 and 10.

Symbolically, Ezra’s return is timed to a meaningful date in the Israelite calendar.  Where chapter 3 began with the Feast of Booths in the 7th month (Tishri) of the ecclesiastical year, this chapter focuses on the Passover, occuring between the 15th to the 21st of the month of Nisan (the 1st month).  Therefore, whilst under Zerubbabel and Jeshua’s re-institution of the Temple the Feast of Booths and other offerings were kept (fitting in the context of the Feast reminding them of the tent-centric life of Abraham and the saints as we look forward to new creation), under Ezra the re-institution began with the Passover, an equally fitting reminder of the separation of the Israelite community from the captivity of the Egyptians, just as the community is now restored after 70 years of Babylonian captivity.  To conclude this chapter with the words of Matthew Henry as the churches finally entered (a temporary) rest:

“That will be dispensed with when we want opportunity which when the door is opened again will be expected from us. It is observable, … That among their sacrifices they had a sin-offering; for it is the atonement that sweetens and secures every mercy to us, which will not be truly comfortable unless iniquity be taken away and our peace made with God… That the number of their offerings related to the number of the tribes, twelve bullocks, twelve he-goats, and ninety-six rams (that is, eight times twelve), intimating the union of the two kingdoms, according to what was foretold, Ezek. xxxvii. 22. They did not any longer go two tribes one way and ten another, but all the twelve met by their representatives at the same altar.
…That even the enemies of the Jews became their friends, bowed to Ezra’s commission, and, instead of hindering the people of God, furthered them, purely in complaisance to the king: when he appeared moderate they all coveted to appear so too. Then had the churches rest.”

Chapter 9

Throughout chapter 8, the theme of being “holy to the LORD” (taking us back to Exodus and Deuteronomy) has been briefly explored – and immediately Ezra is faced with the challenge of spiritual purity of the returned Israelites.  “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations” – language which is directly lifted from the Deuteronomic law (chapters 13, 14, 17, 18, 22-27).  What beauty then, that in spite of our sins, that the LORD is merciful.  Look at Ezra’s humility as he stood on behalf of Israel before the LORD, praying as if he himself was the High Priest mediating on behalf of the nation, as if it was Christ mediating between Israel and His Father.  The words in v.6-15 could be lifted from the lips of Christ as he bore our sins on the cross – that he should be counted as a worm whilst the burden of the Fall was on His shoulders (Psalms 22:6), pleading in relation to man’s heaven-high guilt (v.6), the nation given into captivity for its iniquities (v.7), that the LORD has not forsaken them in their slavery (v.9), that they still break His commandments (v.10), that they have inter-married against the commandments of the prophets (v.11-14; c.f. Exodus 34; Deuteronomy 7:3).  Ezra recognises that His grace and His steadfast love is still on this remnant of Israel (v.15), preserved as this remnant hides in Christ.

Chapter 10

It is telling that the first person to confess the sin of inter-marriage is from Shecaniah (the name aptly means “dweller with Jehovah or intimate with Jehovah”) son of Jehiel (“God lives”), of the sons of Elam (“eternity”).  It is because of his first confession that the nation is on its first steps to heart-felt recovery, rather than that of the mere infrastructure.  The restoration of the Temple, though centre to the lives of the Israelites, would be meaningless in face of a rebellious remnant.  It would take a man, intimate with Christ, to proclaim the living and eternal God through true repentance by separation from their wives, as Ezra calls for in v.9-11 (though not universally agreed by the Israelites – v.15).  Symbolically, this begins in the 9th month (Kislev – commonly known as the month of “hope”, during the autumn season), lasting until the first day of the first month (v.17 – i.e. Tishri, the month of “beginnings”) – that in this period of refining, Israel would not only hope to be restored but is given a new beginning (and, especially, that even the sons of Jeshua, son of Jozadak (v.18), the Levites (v.23) would be purified from their sins the same way as the other “laymen” of Israel, a reminder that the Israelites are all but sinners, with Ezra standing as the typological mediator between them and the LORD). 

The book interestingly ends on this “census” of those who have sinned and inter-married – a bittersweet mixture of a new beginning under Ezra’s leadership of the community, having established the re-institution of the Temple in the earlier chapters under Zerubbabel and Jeshua; yet time with tell as to whether these sons of intermarriage (v.44) would have a role to play in the first coming of the Messiah and whether they cling to the Promised Seed or become the seeds of Satan, leading Israel astray.

Ezra 7-10: Pleading of the High Priest

2 Chronicles 25-27: Leprous Head

Chapter 25

Amaziah’s reign is already earmarked with a mixture of success and failure – while he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, he did not do so with a “whole heart” (v.2).  Yet, his decision to kill his servants who struck down the king his father is indicated as a compliance with the Law in the Book of Moses, so long as the children do not die of their fathers’ sins (v.4) (which does not indicate a rejection of the doctrine of original sin – c.f. Romans 3:23).

Yet, his decision to hire the Ephraimites was an unwise one.  Thankfully he turned to listen to the man of God and discharged the Ephraimites (although they were paid! v.9) and eventually was successful against the men of Seir not with the strength of men but by the LORD’s provision.  However, his decision to hire the Ephraimites, rather than see them join arms as brethren of Israel, has already made its impact – leading to the demise of 3,000 people in Judah and its various cities.  It would appear that although a tragedy this is, the tragedy of what would have happened (v.7) in alliance with the Ephraimites would have been far worse.  The Ephraimites, unlike those aligning with the house of David in Judah, were clearly not with the LORD (v.7) and were men thirsting for war, for blood, and not merely for money (v.13).  In spite of Amaziah’s victory over the men of Seir and the Edomites by the LORD, he still opted to worship the foreign idols which should have been destroyed like their worshippers – yet, just as the LORD has used Ephraim to shame Judah in Amaziah’s mistake, so also Israel was used to defeat Amaziah in response to his idolatry (v.17-24; esp. v. 20).  Indeed, Judah is but a thistle on Lebanon compared to the rest of Israel, compared to a “cedar on Lebanon” or even a “wild beast”.  Without walking with Jesus, Amaziah is but a thistle, ready to be trampled.  By defeating Edom, Amaziah is but a boaster (v.19); had he remembered the victory and glory belonged to the LORD, then King Jehu would have also recognized the rest of Israel to be the thistle, and Judah the cedar – for the LORD is with the house of David.  Yet, King Jehu spits on the house of David, on Judah, on Amaziah – not because Amaziah was walking as a Christian but because of his arrogance, contrary to the spirit of 2 Timothy 3:12.  It was therefore at the house of the sun (Beth-shemesh) where Amaziah’s true face was revealed; and though Judah was the elected tribe, it was defeated on its own ground (v.21, v.23).  Like his father, his life ended in tragedy (v.27-28) – will the lamp in David’s house be slowly extinguished as the light in his lineage continually dims to be akin to the life of non-Christian kings?

Chapter 26

Uzziah, too, walked in Amaziah’s footsteps – a life with Jesus filled with various compromises.  He sought to seek God in the days of Zechariah (v.5), but was struck down for his disobedience to the priesthood (v.16-23) – again highlighting the importance of the prophets and the priests as the crucial identity of Israel.  By the victory of Jesus (v.7), he broke through the wall of Gath (one of the five royal cities of the Philistines – Joshua 13:3), wall of Jabneh and wall of Ashdod (the winepress, building of God and stronghold respectively), all important landmarks in the Philistine geography; as well as against the Arabians in Gurbaal and the Meunites, so much that the Ammonites (v.8) actually paid tribute to Uzziah.  Yet, the remainder of the description of his life spells inevitable destruction – note v.9-15: Uzziah was not surrounded by priests or prophets, but by men of war, building towers and fortifying them; having an awesome army fit for war (v.11-15), all to strengthen Israel in the military sense.  Yet, our role in the world is not that of a warrior, but that of a worshipper first.  Have we yet to meet a person who would dance before the LORD as David did before identifying oneself as a soldier (2 Samuel 6:14)?

Thus, his inevitable downfall is described in v.16-21 as his pride led him to believe that he, like Jesus, can transcend the priest-king divide.  Yet, Amaziah forgets that he is but a shadow and not the same type of son as the Son of God Jesus Christ.  Uzziah should have known as king of Judah that it is not for him to burn incense to the LORD, but this is the role specifically ordained by the Spirit to the sons of Aaron (v.18; c.f. Exodus 27:21).  Had Uzziah understood the significance of the priesthood as a multimedia presentation of the gospel, then he would not have intervened and arrogantly believed that he could stand in the house of the LORD in his own holiness.  Nay, the holy priestly garb, the offerings and the various procedures all point towards the need for the priests to rely on Jesus to gift them the robe of righteousness and salvation.  Thus, the breakout of leprosy on Uzziah’s forehead is a suitable diagnosis of the sin in his heart, which (if not for the priests!) would not be dealt with vicariously in Christ.  Note Exodus 28:

“36  “You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ 37  And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. 38  It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”

Instead of a gold plate saying “Holy to the LORD” on Aaron’s forehead, the High Priest who shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts, we have Uzziah whose guilt is upon himself and equally marked on his forehead as he illegally burns incense on the altar of incense.  From that day onward, he lived in seclusion – far away from the house of the LORD, as he was reminded of his sinfulness against the LORD’s righteousness. Yet, Uzziah’s life is what characterises that of the climate of the kings of Judah now – forgetting one’s place as one of the kings in the promised lineage of David.  Instead of a king whose kingship is “Holy to the LORD”, we have a line of kings increasingly acting effectively as leprous heads of Israel, leading the entire nation into potential exile just as Uzziah was.

This also goes to explain the variant of Uzziah’s name in 1 Chronicles 3:12 where he is given the name Azariah, the same name as the High Priest around his era.  Uzziah’s attempt to do the work of the High Priest is mocked in 1 Chronicles 3, and laid bare in this chapter, reminding us that there is only one true High Priest.

Chapter 27

Unlike his father, Jotham walked in the way of the LORD and also did not arrogantly enter the temple of the LORD knowing this to be the role of the ordained priesthood.  The tributes from the Ammonites continued to be given – but unlike Amaziah and Uzziah, his ways were ordered before Jesus (v.6), his fights in the name of Christ, and his fortifications belonged not to military might, but to the temple (v.3).  However, his life is described in few words, an indication that the light in David’s house – except by the LORD’s grace – is rare and far in between.

2 Chronicles 25-27: Leprous Head

2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

Chapter 1

In Solomon’s first act as king upon his second anointing, he immediately spoke to all Israel – the intimacy of speech being also God’s first act to us, Him speaking to us the Word (John 1), followed immediately by burnt offering, a hopeful sign that Solomon understands his position as sinner before the LORD our Redeemer and Saviour.  Rather than going directly to Jerusalem where the ark was, he understood that his sin needed to be typologically dealt with at the altar first, as a sign to the Israelites and the neighbouring countries.  This contextualises Solomon’s thirst for wisdom in v.7-13, as opposed to the common possessions, wealth, honour or lives of those who hate Solomon.  He would rather bless the kingdom with the Wisdom of God, and in turn be given these things which are inherited by the meek (Matthew 5:5). So also Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52), and it is by this Wisdom (Proverbs 8), the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2), that kings shall truly reign (c.f. v. 13).

Chapter 2

This is followed by Solomon’s humility in understanding that this house, this temple, is but a shadow – “who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?  Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (v.6).  Indeed, not even highest heaven can contain the Trinity, led alone some earthly temple which unfortunately has become a place of over-emphasis when Christ, and not His shadow, is the focal point.  Hiram, the king of Tyre, is first of many non-Israelites to understand this crucial Christian message.  It is “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made [Solomon] king over them” (v.11).  So also, because the LORD loves us so much that He has given us His only begotten son Jesus Christ to be king over us (John 3:16), secured only through his victory on the cross.  What glory to witness Hiram praising the LORD (v.12), contributing also to the work of the temple by the hand of a man with mixed blood – son of both Dan and Tyre (v.14), followed by a description in v.17 of the resident aliens in Israel.  The LORD surely does not only have eyes for Israel, but also for the glory of the Gentiles.

Chapter 3

The work is done on none other than the place where Isaac was to be sacrificed (Genesis 22) and where the LORD provided a substitutionary ram, until the day the Lamb of God would be provided.  It is here that the Lamb is slain on the cross, and it is also here that the glorious temple is built, where the wrath on David was averted by the Angel of the LORD – Jesus Himself.

The remaining commentary of the work of the Temple can be found in my posts on 1 Kings 6-10.  However, it is again important to note the focus of the narrator here that the priestly nature of Chronicles places the work of the temple at the forefront of Solomon’s ministry and role as priest-king, immediately after his speech with the Israelites and burnt offering at the bronze altar of Gibeon.

2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

1 Chronicles 27-29: King to all the Kingdoms of the Countries

Chapter 27:  The Sinful Census and Church Ministries in Israel

Given the LORD’s expression to David that His reason for electing Solomon to build the temple is due to David’s hands being stained with blood and riddled with war (re-iterated in 1 Chronicles 28:3), it is unsurprising that the narrator of 1 Chronicles has explicitly focused on the priesthood aspect of this elected nation.  The “military divisions” is the final allotment to be described in this book, indicating that though this is important, the priestly aspect is far more significant.

In chapter 27, we see the 12 military divisions (from v.1-15), each numbering 24,000 – amounting to 288,000 – an impressive number, though significantly less than the number taken from the census in chapter 21.  The 12 leaders as follows:

1.  Jashobeam (of Perez), chief of all the commanders – the 1st month;

2.  Dodai the Ahohite – the 2nd month;

3.  Benaiah, son of Jehoiada the chief priest (a mighty man of the thirty, commanding the thirty), and his son Ammizabad in charge of his division – the 3rd month;

4.  Asahel (brother of Joab) and his son Zebadiah after him – the 4th month;

5.  Shamhuth the Izrahite – the 5th month;

6.  Ira, the Tekoite – the 6th month;

7.  Helez, of Ephraim – the 7th month;

8.  Sibbecai of the Zerahites – the 8th month;

9.  Abiezer of Benjamin – the 9th month;

10.  Maharai of the Zerahites – the 10th month;

11.  Benaiah of Ephraim – the 11th month;

12.  Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel – the 12th month.

This is followed by the allocations for the leaders of the tribes from v.16-22:

1.  Eliezer – over Reuben (as chief officer);

2.  Shephatiah – over Simeon;

3.  Hashabiah – over Levi;

4.  Zadok – over Aaron;

5.  Elihu (one of David’s brother) – over Judah;

6.  Omri – over Issachar;

7.  Ishmaiah – over Zebulun;

8.  Jeremoth – over Naphtali;

9.  Hoshea – over Ephraim;

10.  Joel – over half-tribe of Manasseh;

11.  Iddo – over half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead;

12.  Jaasiel (son of Abner) – over Benjamin

13.  Azarel – over Dan.

Just as the descendants of Abraham are meant to be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5).  Abraham was challenged by the LORD then that his descendants shall be of such number, if such can be counted.  David was therefore presumptuous to merely refrain from counting those below 20 years of age, when he should not have needed to count at all.  Joab’s futility in counting, alongside his disgust at David’s arrogance as tempted by Satan, is met with the LORD’s wrath – as if David is the man who should be given glory for Israel’s multiplication.  Rightfully so, the number was not (nor could it have been!) entered into King David’s chronicles (v.24).

Then, the descriptions of the stewards of King David’s property (v.25-31):

1.  Azmaveth – over the king’s treasuries;

2.  Jonathan son of Uzziah – over the treasuries in the country, the cities, villages and in the towers;

3.  Ezri – over those who did the work of the field for tilling the soil;

4.  Shimei the Ramathite – over the vineyards;

5.  Zabdi the Shiphmite – over the produce of the vineyards for the wine cellars;

6.  Baal-hanan the Gederite – over the olive and sycamore trees in Shephelah;

7.  Joash – over the stores of oil;

8.  Shitrai the Sharonite – over the herds that pastured in Sharon;

9.  Shaphat the son of Adlai – over the herds in the valleys;

10.  Obil the Ishmaelite – over the camels;

11.  Jehdeiah the Meronothite – over the donkeys;

12.  Jaziz the Hagrite – over the flocks.

Finally, the miscellaneous allocations:

1.  Jonathan (David’s uncle) and Jehiel – attending the king’s sons;

2.  Ahithophel (succeeded by Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar) – the king’s counselor;

3.  Hushai the Archite – the king’s friend; and

4.  Joab – commander of the king’s army.

Upon the various allocations from chapters 23-27, David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, of the tribes, and of the divisions, and the commanders, the stewards of the king’s property / livestock / sons, the palace officials, and the mighty men / seasoned warriors.  And this gathering draws us back to chapter 22, the promise of the temple to be built by the true Solomon.

Chapter 28:  Israel’s Foremost Duty

This chapter is very much a reiteration of the purpose of the nation Israel (Exodus 19:6) – that it is a priesthood to the other nations.  It was never an imitation of its neighbours, nor did it seek to be a kingdom on earth; rather, it is an imitation of one neighbour – the kingdom of heaven.  However, it should also remember that it is but an imitation of the heavenly kingdom, at most an incarnation of the taste of new creation.  Yet, it should be remembered as a shadow to the New Jerusalem.  In v.1-8 of this chapter, David provides a short autobiography to the assembled people (a summary of the content from 1 Samuel onwards regarding David), with the LORD’s command to David in 1 Chronicles 22 being the core message of this assembly (v.2-3), that Solomon is David’s promised son and future king of Israel (reflecting what had been stated in 1 Kings 1:30 and the establishment of Solomon’s headship in 1 Kings 2:12).

This is followed by Solomon’s duty, proclaimed from David to Solomon before the assembled men of Israel, commanding Solomon to seek after the LORD truly to best resemble the relationship between the Holy Father and the Holy Son.  However much a type of Christ Solomon is, he is still but a follower of Jesus, and prone to the type of apostasy described in Hebrews 6:4-6 (v.9 – “If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever“).  This is in contrast to the LORD’s persisting love (v.20 – “Be strong and courageous and do it [the building and service of the temple].  Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished“).  This is a defining moment for Solomon and his predestined role in life as the very first priest-king of Israel, just as Christ was both Melchizedek and High Priest of all men.

It is interesting how David in v.11-19 provides the plans and the blueprint of the temple to Solomon, when the LORD could have provided such plans and blueprint to Solomon directly (c.f. the detailed blueprint of the tabernacle provided to Moses directly – Hebrews 8:5).  However, David’s speech to Solomon is itself a glimpse of the relationship between the Holy Father and the Son before Genesis 1:1 – the Father planning and mapping the salvation of mankind, and the Son being the executor of such plan as the chosen heir to the Father’s throne (Matthew 25:31; Revelation 22:3).

Chapter 29:  Worshipful Response

After David’s wonderful speech in chapter 28 to Israel, and his command to Solomon as heard by the assembled people, he poses this question to the crowd – “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” (v.5).  This evoked a sensational freewill offering from the leaders of fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work.  This resembles the awesome freewill offering provided in the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 35-36) – and “the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD” (emphasis included).  Such is the essence of Christian worship, that we give freely as bondservants of Christ and not with hands tied to our guilt and shame in bondage to the father of liars!

David goes further to prevent any Israelite to boast in their giving (v.14).  For all things come from the LORD, and of His own we have given Him.  Truly, what “glory” could we possibly give to the LORD except that which is already His?  Even the gift of faith is not a work in itself, for the circumcised heart also comes from the LORD (v.19).  This beautiful assembly surrounding the theme of the Temple and Solomon’s exaltation was not recorded in 1 Kings, an indication again at priestly as opposed to the deuteronomist source of Chronicles.  Hence, Solomon’s anointing to be the king of Israel and prince for the LORD is very different from the opening verses of 1 Kings 2 (and certainly does not seem to be the same as the first anointing described in 1 Kings 1:39), which does not specify whether Solomon was made king a “second” time.  The narration in Chronicles places his reign in a better context, the context of the covenant promise the LORD has made with Israel from the day of the exodus from Egypt, and provides a fitting background as to why Solomon and David, of all the other kings after them, are the most obvious types of Christ in Israel’s history.  They are not only kings of Israel, examples of Christ to Israelites, but the books of Chronicles considered also the circumstances of all the kingdoms of the countries – a reminder of the wide-reaching implications of salvation through Israel and the promised Messiah especially in these Old Testament pages.

 

1 Chronicles 27-29: King to all the Kingdoms of the Countries

1 Chronicles 12-15: Seeking the Father in the days of Christ

Chapter 12 continued with various descriptions of David’s mighty men, from Benjaminites (v.2), Gadites (v.8), men of Judah (v.16) and Manassites (v.19) to the other tribes listed in the divisions of the armed troops who also assisted David in turning the kingdom of Saul over to him (such as Simeon (v.25), Levi (v.26), Jehoiada of the house of Aaron (v.27), Ephraim (v.30), Issachar (v.32), Zebulun (v.33), Naphtali (v.34), Dan (v.35), Asher (v.36), Reuben (v.37) – altogether a large number of men from all the 12 tribes of Israel).  These were men of notable abilities (v.2), the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand (v.14).  Amasai (the “strong“, the chief of the thirty v.18), being filled with the Spirit, thus declares that these men are as follows:

We are yours, O David, and with you, O Son of Jesse!  Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers!  For your God helps you

Indeed, but for David’s LORD, these mighty men would not be David’s subjects to begin with, that they were scatter from Saul’s headship and kingship to be with the one persecuted and rejected by the kingdom at large (v.19).  These are the men who were added day to day to David’s camp, until there was a great army of God (v.22)  indeed, an army of God, not an army of man.  This army had one single purpose:  to make David king over all Israel (v.38), hundreds of thousands of men feasting with David for three days (v.39) on food from afar, celebratory elements of flour, figs, raisins, wine, oil, oxen and sheep – a shadow of the marriage supper of the Lamb in new creation (v.39-40; Revelation 19:9), for “there was joy in Israel“.

This familial supper is thus combined with the celebratory reclamation of the ark.  Chapter 13 begins with David consulting with the commanders, the leader, and above all – the LORD (v.2), to firstly gather brothers in Christ who were scattered across the land.  Just as the good news was to be brought to the ends of the world as Israel was to be a priest to the nations (Exodus 19:6; Mathew 24:14), Israel must firstly be gathered and seek the LORD as one man (c.f. Judges 20, before the days of Saul).

From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.” (1 Samuel 7).  It has therefore been over two decades until David has ushered in the symbolic presence of the LORD back into the arms of the Israelites.  This explains why David assembled Israel to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim, as it was brought to that region by the Philistines who had been struck with curses (e.g. 1 Samuel 5:6).  Eleazar (God has helped), the son of Abinadab (father of nobleness) has thus taken care of the ark since it was brought to his father’s house in Samuel’s day.

However, terror struck in v.9, at the threshing floor of Chidon (meaning “javelin“; or Nacon, meaning “prepared“- c.f. 2 Samuel 6:6) when Uzzah unwittingly touched the ark when the oxen stumbled and died there before God.  Although it would seem to be merely a careless mistake that this son of Abinadab had died simply from touching the ark, this family of Levites should have known from Exodus 25:14 that the proper method of transporting the ark is not by a cart but by the poles in the side of the ark.  This proper procedure was not observed with care, and thus the incident – a reminder that such joy for the LORD should not come without proper knowledge of the gospel and worshipping in His will and His direction.  Thus, as shown in the house of Abinadab and in the house of Obed-edom – with proper understanding of our standing before the LORD in our worship of Him, understanding that the work of the priesthood can never be replaced or revised, allows us to remember that the Father has indeed chosen to bless us through the High Priest and not through our devised methods of worship.  This, of course, translates into the Protestant obsession with “faith” and “grace” (sometime with a capital G) rather than with Christ Himself:

“The views to which the Wesleys were led by these means became of historic importance, for these views influenced the beliefs they held throughout life.  They both spoke of ‘seeking Christ’, yet as one analyses the pertinent passages in their Journals it becomes evident that they were actuallly seeking faith more than they were Christ. Faith had become the great desideratum in their thinking, insomuch that they began to look upon it as an entity in itself.  Under [the Moravian] Bohler’s instructions they had forsaken their trust in personal endeavours and works, but faith had become a kind of new endeavour which they substituted for their former endeavours and a work which took the place of their former good works.  They had still learned nothing about receiving Christ in the fullness of His person and the completeness of His saving work, but were concerned about faith itself and what measure of it might be necessary for salvation.  Charles expected that the coming of this faith might be associated with some visible presence of Christ, and John looked for an experience which would be accompanied by an emotional response.  ‘I well saw’, he wrote, ‘that no-one could, in the nature of things, have such a sense of forgiveness and not feel it.  But I felt it not.” – Arnold Dallimore on John Wesley in his George Whitfield, vol 1

Chapter 14 chronicles David’s victories against the Philistines, underscoring God who has broken through David’s enemies by David’s hands; so also it is the Father’s joint victory over the cross through the Son.  As Karl Barth states it in his first volume of his Church Dogmatics – the Father’s work has His own distinguishable personality and mark compared to the Son’s, but should never be separated from the Son.  The Son was indeed the One on the cross, but it is as much the Father’s work in the Son’s overcoming of the sting of death as it is the Son’s.  David’s fame is therefore underlined by the LORD (v.17); not by Saul’s type of might, nor by Abinadab’s type of good works, but simply by seeking Christ Himself.

Note the difference in chapter 15 with the break-out against Uzzah in chapter 13; David has learned from his experience and has chosen the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites to consecrate themselves so that they may bring up the ark of the LORD (v.12).  The proper procedure has been observed, and David understood that the failure came from the fact that they “did not carry it the first time, [so] the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule“.  Exodus 24:15 was thus observed in chapter 15:15.  The LORD thus helped the Levites (who had prepared joyous music in this act of worship, see v. 16-25), and their response was to sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams (v.26; c.f. Numbers 23:1; Job 42:8; Ezekiel 45:23) – at the same time, David was dressed as a Levite, robed in fine linen with a linen ephod.  This is a grand picture of the Saviour in His fullness, the salvific work of the Lamb through His sinless sacrifice, the glorious High Priest and King coming in the sound of the horn, trumpets, cymbals, harps and lyres (c.f. Book of Revelation).

Yet, in this wonderful occasion, the chapter ends with Michal’s jealousy for David which is nothing like the jealous love of the LORD.  Her heart for David consumed her above her love for the LORD (2 Samuel 6:23), forgetting what the mystery of marriage truly is about (Ephesians 5:22-33).

1 Chronicles 12-15: Seeking the Father in the days of Christ