The books of First and Second Chronicles were originally one book. Together they tell the story of God’s people from the earliest of times to the years following the return from exile in Babylonia. Most think they continue the story of First and Second King’s, but it does not. Actually, they lay the foundation for the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, and as such, are often the among the last books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The purpose of the books of First and Second Chronicles is much different from First and Second Kings. Chronicles were written for a new generation, much like Deuteronomy, who has been in captivity for the past seventy years. They don’t know God like the generations before them. A large portion has not experienced Temple worship before returning. It is very likely that this group of returning exiles don’t know their national history (the reasons they were abandoned to exile by God), don’t know who the king’s, priests, and the Levites. It is possible that they don’t know who is considered Jewish. That is why the first nine chapters spend so much time teaching about the genealogies. Chapter ten begins the story of Israel with the death of Saul and Jonathon while chapter eleven begins the story of David. Second Chronicles begins the story of Solomon and ends with the Kings of Judah. The decree of Cyrus (2 Chron. 26:23), at the end of the book, proves beyond doubt that God is working for Israel.
The unknown writer has a very specific purpose in writing these books. He wants the returning exiles to see how that faith in God allowed the nation to rise to great prominence and power under David and Solomon. They also need to see how the eventual descent into sin and unfaithfulness to God destroyed them. As they pulled away from God, the nation became weaker, and eventually fell to foreign powers. Most importantly, they need to see that although they might appear weak and broken, God is still their King, and He will rebuild the nation and the temple.
Much like today, we struggle to see God amid our hardships and difficulties, but He is always there for us. He is always guiding, blessing, and sometimes judging us for our sins. Like Paul said in Romans 8, God is for us and since He is for us, nothing in all of life and creation can hold us back.
The key to success and failure is our faithfulness to our God. The closer we draw to God (James 4:8-10) and clean up our lives, the more he will exalt us and bless us. This powerful truth is repeatedly taught in Scripture but is often missed by those who seem to struggle through life and faith. God wants to bless and exalt your life because the more you shine (Matt. 5:13-16), the better it makes Him look. Just like God answered Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:36-39) with overwhelming proof that He is real, powerful, and blesses those who are close to Him.
First and Second Chronicles reminds us that unfaithfulness will ruin us while faithfulness can restore us and make us whole again.