The disastrous 16 year reign of Ahaz.
Religiously he worships ABJ: Anything But Jehovah – including Molech the child sacrifice god of the Canaanite natives. When he is defeated, he worships the God of the country that defeated him, figuring it must be stronger. He shutters up the temple and gives away it’s treasure to buy alliances.
His political moves are disastrous too. Losing territories on all sides from non-Jewish neighbours, he also has a massive losing war with Israel to the north. Too many fronts. He buys an alliance with Assyria, who gladly take his treasure but scarcely have Judah’s best interest at heart.
Indeed we finally hear a story from the North, from Israel which Chronicles, unlike Kings has not followed at all. And it is a story of mercy, of a prophet speaking God’s words, saying that enslaving fellow Israelites was a sin too far.
These were people from the Northern tribes who defected/immigrated to the South because they were believers, who then were captured in the civil war. After the prophet’s plea, they are cared for and returned.
They live at Jericho, ironically, the symbolic first victory for all the tribes, united, as they entered into possession of all of the promised land.
You suspect that the story is there partly to provide emphasis by contrast… Judah is even worse than Israel now!
Its striking how the two books, Kings and Chronicles, each seem to take quite a theologically different spin on the north.
Kings keeps up parallel narratives of the 2 kingdoms after the split, continuing to treat it as a story of all the promised land, and gaining hope from the rise of the prophets in Israel.
Chronicles doesn’t tell the stories of Elijah and Elisha, at least not so far, and treats Israel as the enemy, emphasising that attempts to recreate the glory days of the combined nation are unfaithful to God.
Kings leads into the books of prophesy, Chronicles into the books of rebuilding Jerusalem: Ezra and Nehemiah.
Jerusalem the holy city, Israel the promised land. Both continue to have deep symbolic power in the new testament, and Jesus’ life zigzags between the two regions, ending at Jerusalem.
Chronicles has a theology of earthly consequences of faithfulness or unfaithfulness to God, with zero sense of the afterlife – so far.
Kings has a stronger sense of the transfer of God’s promises to prophesy and spiritual destiny, as he whispers to Elijah in the desert, who ends by ascending from earth in a burning chariot.
We’ve been preaching through Ecclesiastes at church while I’ve been reading Chronicles, a nice counterpoint and evolution of the understanding of God here. And written reasonably close together, I gather, among the last OT books.
Ezra and Nehemiah themselves ultimately contribute to a sense that there needs to be more, that earthly blessing by God will never be enough while people still scorn his grace.
I’m looking for guidance and signs myself over the next few months, I suppose, these things are bouncing around in my head.