1.2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah.
1. Chronicles: David is Shepherd and Leader.
First Chronicles is a story of David who brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David's prayer was a model of humility, faith and gratitude. He drew up the plans for the Temple but then gave the glory of building the Temple to Solomon. David was much loved during this time period.
The leader must be a shepherd, “You are the man to be the shepherd of my people, Israel.” (1Chr.11:2). Leaders must also be humble, sincere, foresighted and have enthusiasm for their group. Individual responsibility was necessary for the lasting success of any group. The book ends with descriptions of the roles of Levites, Priests, Cantors and Gatekeepers and the voluntary offerings made at the Temple.
2. Chronicles. Wisdom and Knowledge Guide God's People
Much of Second Chronicles deals with Solomon's building of the Temple and its dedication. “Who can build a house for the Lord when the heavens cannot contain him?”(2 Chr.2:5)
The kingdom split and only the kings of the south, the kingdom of Juda, are described. Kings should be judged according to their fidelity to the Law of God. Unity held together by force is like a spring under tension: when the force is removed, no know knows where the spring will fly.
Hezekiah urged reforms because harmony and cooperation cannot be bought or bullied into existence. They must be a free choice. The book ends with the destruction of Jerusalem.
Ezra: Study the Torah - Practice It - Teach the People.
The story in the Book of Ezra skips the fifty years of the Babylonian exile. The author resumes his account with the Edict of Cyprus, 539 B.C. Cyrus told all the aliens they could go back to their homelands. The remnant that returned to Jerusalem met with hostility, opposition and frustration. In the Persian court, Ezra was representative for Jewish interests.
Ezra demanded all obligations outlined in the Torah because of the authority of Moses. Ezra insisted that all who had married non-Jewish women had to dissolve these marriages, or they could not remain part of the remnant.
The work of the Scribe is described: study the law, live it in actions, continue the traditions. “He (Ezra) practiced the Law and taught the people its regulations and customs.” (Ezra 7:10).
Nehemiah: The Lord Is Part of Everything We Do
The Book of Nehemiah gives more information of the work of Ezra and the foundation of Judaism. As royal cupbearer, Nehemiah had the king’s attention. The walls of defense around Jerusalem were not completely rebuilt. Nehemiah was given permission to return to Jerusalem and finish the task. He completed the walls and there was a rededication ceremony.
When Nehemiah returned to Persia, he found laxity in the priestly group and violations of the Sabbath. Jews were marrying non-Jewish women and some were worshiping idols. He enacted reforms but they didn’t last very long.