As we near the end of our wanderings in Kings 1 and 2, followed by Chronicles 1 and 2, we eagerly look forward to the sunlit narrative uplands of the Book of Ezra. Why so many begats in the Old Testament?
Well, perhaps it is an extension of the injunction to honour our fathers and mothers? (Not that the mothers get much mention). Also, as previous Digidisciple posts have pointed out, we need to appreciate our roots in order to appreciate who we are. We need to understand a little of Judaism in order to understand Christianity. I was once in a house group which was onto its third minor prophet in succession, full of the wrath of God. We seriously discussed whether to abandon all future study of the Old Testament, in favour of the New. And then some bright spark pointed out that this would abolish the Messianic prophecies, not to mention the Ten Commandments. You cannot just dive into the middle of a story without reading the first chapter.
Chronicles 2 is, blessedly, more of a narrative than the lists of Chronicles 1. But the events it describes seem so distant, so hard to relate to (unlike the stories of the New Testament, where it is easy to imagine oneself among the crowd around Jesus).
As we are called on to engage in ‘conscious evangelism’, the lesson I draw from this (possibly not the one intended!) is that it is important when telling a story not to get bogged down in the detail, such as:
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, besides that which the traders and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the land brought gold and silver to Solomon. King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold; 600 shekels of beaten gold went into each shield. And he made 300 shields of beaten gold; 300 shekels went into each shield.
2 Chronicles 9.13-16
Do not introduce someone to Christianity by asking them to read the Chronicles – much better to start them off with Mark’s gospel!
If you are trying to communicate Christianity to others, simplify and cut to the chase. As John Betjeman encapsulated it: nothing:
Can with this single Truth compare – That God was Man in Palestine And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.
The context and the chronicles, how we got there, can come later.