First Chronicles 9 Commentary
It says a lot about God’s love that this chapter can report on the resettlements. The first verse explains why Judah was scattered. The second verse is reporting on the returning people. It had been 70 years out of the land of promise. There was love in the LORD’s anger.
Among the first settlers, are men from Ephraim and Manasseh. Prosperity has a way to separate us, while adversity has a way to unite a people. We are no longer looking at the two kingdoms but rather one community of God’s people – simply called Israel.
There is a marked mention of priests coming back in their numbers to attend to temple duties. It’s not exactly like the initial conquest of Canaan under Joshua but it is nevertheless a coming back. But how things have changed!
Among the many workers at the temple of the LORD are security personnel. Back in the day, even Aaron’s children needed to navigate the temple grounds carefully, otherwise, they suffered instant judgment. That is how Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s eldest sons died. But today the sacred place of worship has to be guarded. Has it lost its teeth? That is exactly the point.
Idolatry and unfaithfulness have a way to empty the temple of the presence of the LORD. It remains a shell. Its importance remains, but only in name. The post-exile years were difficult. The sorry state of the temple, be it a tent, was ably matched by the lame-duck leadership at the top. The days of King David and King Solomon were long gone. Both institutions, the priesthood with its temple system, and the kingship were basically dead.
We can reflect on these two very important institutions. In Exodus chapters 19 and 20, the LORD had wanted to dwell amongst His people in person – like it was back in the Garden of peace and tranquility. But the people feared the awesome presence of the LORD and instead implored Moses to meet the LORD as a proxy.
The LORD agreed to the proposal but upgraded it to what was then a very sacred Sanctuary representation system. The people would meet the LORD there through a complex system of worship. It was all human and very much like what other nations had. The marked difference between other worship systems and Israel’s Sanctuary system was the Ark. It housed the righteous Law of the LORD. It is this system that looks very much dead by the time of the Book of Chronicles.
During the time of the Judges, the people longed for a king. We also agreed with them. Lack of leadership was a real problem. The problem wasn’t with leadership but with the people that rejected the leadership of the LORD. They wanted a king; and a king they got. But as we can see, after David and Solomon, save for a selected few individuals here and there, the kingship had been a real disaster.
A better king? Yes. A better priest? Yes. The Book of Chronicles is written with this perspective in mind. With hindsight, we know that the LORD did send this better king and this better priest. The LORD Jesus is presented to us as that King that Israel had longed for. He is that better priest that the Sanctuary system could no longer provide.
But there is even more. He is above all these institutions. He is the LORD God in person. Can we have it like it was back in the Garden of peace and tranquility, the LORD walking and eating with mankind? Yes. Yes. Yes. That is the essence of salvation; a man can bask in the presence of the LORD once again.
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