We’ve heard plenty of jokes about how boring certain sections of the Bible can be, and First and Second Chronicles tend to be the punch line. If you’ve ever tried to read these books of the Bible, you have a good idea why. They’re long—full of genealogies and records of kings.
It’s still the Word of God, however, and Paul considered all Scripture to be profitable (2 Ti 3:16–17). But although it’s equally inspired, I don’t think all Scripture is equally fascinating—at least not at the surface level.
In fact, it makes sense that the books of Chronicles are some of the least popular books of the Bible:
We don’t know these people.
Most of us have a really tough time finding anything applicable in the first 9 chapters of First Chronicles. It’s not about us (any Gershonite readers out there?), and most of the people listed do little more than bear more children, who bear more children, and so on.
We don’t know these places.
Most Bible readers have never been to the Holy Land (I haven’t, yet). We can hunt for dots on the maps in our Bibles, but we don’t really have a feel for where these events take place. And even if you have visited Israel, you’re about 2,500 years behind the last events recorded in Chronicles.
For most of us, this isn’t even our national history.
First and Second Chronicles go from Adam to Cyrus: it’s the long story of Israel. Plus, the books focus on King David’s dynasty in Jerusalem. We might know David as a king, giant slayer, psalmist, and/or an adulterous murderer, but he was up there with Moses and Abraham when it came to influential people in Israel’s history. It’s understandable that those of us who aren’t postexilic citizens of Judah aren’t all that intrigued by the goings-on in these books.
We’re often reading out of context.
If we’re not reading these books all the way through, we’re probably reading story snippets. And although some of those snippets are interesting stories, cherry-picking the gripping narratives can cost us context. This happened to me—I’d been taught a few stories from this obscure corner of the Bible, but I didn’t know why they were written in the first place. First and Second Chronicles became far more interesting when I studied what they were about.
That’s right: it took some work, but the more I studied First and Second Chronicles, the more interesting they became.
Truth be told: I was not looking forward to writing an overview of First and Second Chronicles. In fact, I overviewed First and Second Kings and then took a break to work on some of Paul’s epistles before circling back around to it. But when I finally did get to these books, something strange happened: I couldn’t stop reading. I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. one night reading First Chronicles. I’d never been so absorbed in the Chronicler’s account before.
God’s covenant with Abraham.
God had promised Abraham a nation, a land, and a blessing for the whole world. The first nine chapters of Chronicles show us Israel’s formation as a people. They come across as boring genealogies, but they’re more than lists of names: they’re the stories of God’s faithfulness in bringing about a people.
God’s covenant with Israel.
In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, we see God calling Israel out of Egypt and making them a people for Himself. The Law of Moses sets Israel apart from the world. It’s an agreement that promises blessings to the obedient and curses to the rebellious. The story of Chronicles shows us the high point of blessing (under David and Solomon) and the low point of curses (exile). The Law also promises God’s restoration of Israel, which is where Chronicles closes.
God’s covenant with David.
No book focuses on the Davidic dynasty like Chronicles. God promised that an heir of David would be on the throne in Jerusalem forever, and we see God’s faithfulness to the house of David generation after generation in Second Chronicles.
The New Covenant.
Jesus is the son of David (Mt 1:1), the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16), and the fulfillment of the Law (Mt 5:17). Granted, the original audience didn’t know this, but we live on this side of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension—we have more reason to find joy, encouragement, and hope in the story of First and Second Chronicles.
The Chronicles are by no means the most fascinating books of the Bible to the modern English-speaking reader, but they don’t have to be written off as the boring segment of our Bibles, either.
What are your thoughts on the Chronicles? Is there another book that’s difficult to find interesting? Let me know in the comments!