Tuesday, September 24. 2 Chronicles 35 – Ezra 1.

Like the marathon runner who, exhausted, looks only for the tape of the finish line, so the writer of Chronicles speeds quickly to the end in his final chapter. The exile is not the end of the story, but it is the end to which the story has been progressing since the days of Ahaz. To see the speed with which the writer is finishing his story, note that this chapter is the only time in 2 Chronicles 10-36 that the writer deals more briefly with the same subject matter than Kings.

Four points are worth considering as the book closes: First, the failure of Israel was not the failure of the monarchy alone, or of any one generation of people, but the failure of the whole nation throughout its history. There have been bright spots, but these have been too few. Second, it is possible to be beyond the help of God (note the “no remedy” of verse 16). Not that Israel is beyond ever being forgiven, only that she is beyond deliverance from discipline. She committed the crimes and will do her time in Babylon – penitent or not. As Martin Selman observes: “Though the exile provides further evidence that God is always gracious and compassionate (cf. 2 Chr. 30:9), the opportunity to call on his mercy will not always exist. It is therefore wise to take God’s invitation seriously (v. 23).”

Third, the key to a successful spiritual life is emphasized. As chapter thirty-four comes to an end, Huldah the prophetess tells Josiah that his relationship with God has been enhanced by taking God’s word seriously and humbling himself in obedience. In this last chapter, Israel’s failure is due to the opposite response: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy” (vss. 15-16).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the lesson of the abiding presence of God. Even in a foreign land, exiled for moral and spiritual on a national scale, God was looking out for her – and looking to her future. And so, “in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm” that would allow God’s now disciplined people to return home. The only question remaining would be: “have they really learned their lesson?”