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Explain (in 6 paragraphs) these aspects of Restoration literature’s historical background: why Israel had an identity crisis (Sect. 30.2), the post-exilic answer to “What does it mean to be the people of God?” (Sect 30.5), and the Jews’ realized purpose as God’s people, as of the 5th c. BC (Sect. 30.6).
- Israel’s identity crisis
- 30.1.1. Before the return from exile, Israel had believed that to be the people of God they must:
- 18.104.22.168. Have a “David” on the throne
- 22.214.171.124. Be an independent nation
- 126.96.36.199. Have a standing army
- 188.8.131.52. Have a political conquering of the world
- 30.1.2. After the return from exile, Israel met none of the above criteria they believed were necessary to be the people of God. Israel was a tiny backwater nation at the edge of the mighty Persian Empire.
- 30.1.3. Therefore, after the return, Israel experienced an identity crisis. The burning question arose: “What does it mean to be the people of God?”
- 30.1.4. Some people realized the prophets were right: both the exile and the return had happened. So they asked, “What else did the prophets have to say?”
- 30.1.5. The prophets also had predicted: “a Golden Age is coming with a Davidic Messiah; Jerusalem will be the world’s center; Gentiles will come to us bringing money; God’s glory will rest on us!” Rediscovering this message, the returnees felt a flurry of excitement.
- The post-exilic answer to: “What does it mean to be the people of God?”
- 30.1.6. After the return from exile, the Jews were focused on this question from 516–438 BC under the following leaders:
- • 458 – Ezra, the priest
- • 445 – Nehemiah, governor
- • 438 – Malachi, prophet
- 30.1.7. Pre-exilic prophets’ message
- • Before the exile, people thought, “We can manipulate God through ritual. It does not matter where our hearts are.”
- • Thus, the pre-exilic prophets’ message was, “Stop your rituals!”
- 30.1.8. Post-exilic prophets’ message
- • After the exile, people thought, “It does not matter what you do because God does not pay off.”
- • The post-exilic prophets’ message was, “Show your heart by following the Old Testament commands regarding worship.”
- 30.1.9. Ezra – got rid of the people’s disobedience.
- • Ezra’s message: “If you obey God, you will be a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We are priests for the world.” The people understood his message.
- • That is why Aaron, the Levites and the Davidic Messiah were all important.
- 30.1.10. Nehemiah – got rid of the rubble of Jerusalem.
- The Jews’ realized purpose as God’s people – 5th c BC
- By the end of the 5th c. BC, the Jews realized their purpose as the people of God: being a blessing to the world was God’s intention all along. They were to show:
- 30.1.11. There is only one God (monotheism)
- 30.1.12. God is not of this world
- 30.1.13. Smash all idols (iconoclasm)
- 30.1.14. Belief is inseparable from obedience
- 30.1.15. Devotion is more than sacrifice
- 30.1.16. The Messiah’s necessity – through the Atonement and the Spirit we can minister to the world
- Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel all address a people in the midst of an identity crisis. They affirm, “Out of exclusive heart worship, we have a message to the world that is embodied in our behavior.”
- Recognize how the authors of Hebrew narrative identified what was most important to them.
- -The significance of allotting space
- In Hebrew narrative, the author emphasizes his most important material by giving it more space.
- Therefore, we want to watch for the proportion of material allotted to certain persons or events.
List (in 1 sentence each) the three criteria the Chronicler used to judge the reigns of the kings.
- 1. Seek God and keep the law of God.
- 2. Destroy the Asherim and remove the places of idolatrous Baal worship.
- 3. Refrain from making alliances with other nations, even Israel
Recognize the Chronicler’s answers to Israel’s questions about History.
History: What is truly relevant?
THE CHRONICLER’S ANSWER: Removed by more than a century from the latest events he records, the Chronicler singles out those episodes whose significance have lasting value for his time and perhaps even for the future. He wants to assure his readers that God’s rule and covenant love are still active and their complete loyalty to him is still relevant. No matter how low God’s people sink, all is not lost: there is a way back to God’s favor through repentance, worship, and submission to God’s rule. The Chronicler wants to show continuity between the pre-exilic and the post-exilic God. He wants to rediscover what was best about the pre-exilic days and recover that.
Recognize which stems in the family tree of God’s people are particularly important to the Chronicler and why.
- The remaining tribes-
- Naphtali, the other half-tribe of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher
- CONCLUSION: In the family tree of God’s people, the two stems of David and Levi are the central core of the nation. David represents true kingdom and Levi represents true worship. The Chronicler asserts that what made the nation great in the past, true kingdom and true worship, can be true of us today.
Match the key themes of David’s reign with King David.
- -Building of the nation and conquest
- -Restoring the Ark
- -Testimony of his power
- -His desire to build a temple
Recognize the Chronicler’s answers to Israel’s questions about politics.
Politics: Who is the true Israel?
THE CHRONICLER’S ANSWER: His solution to this dilemma was to view the real “Israel” as all those for whom true kingship was expressed through the sons of David and the true priesthood through the sons of Aaron. That included Southerners who stayed loyal to the covenant and Northerners who returned (2 Chron 13:9; 15:9; 11:13-17; 19:4; 30:1, 18). The Chronicler emphasized the line of David because his relationship to God demonstrated the true Kingdom of God.
Recognize the Chronicler’s answers to Israel’s questions about theology.
Theology: What is true kingship and worship?The Chronicler ties the greatness of the past to proper worship. He says, in effect, “You cannot be great unless you worship purely, by seeking the Lord with your heart. God does not want your mechanical worship.”[
CHRONICLER’S ANSWER:] Even though no Davidic king is on the throne, and even though the external splendor and glory of the second temple is nothing compared to the former, what God was doing through David’s reign and through Solomon’s temple He is still doing. It’s all about the rule of God and the worship of God. That’s what it was about, that’s what it is about, and that’s what it will always be about.