The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
The books of Chronicles repeat much of the history recorded in Kings. The events of 1Chronicles parallel those of 2Samuel, but they are seen through the eyes of the priest rather than the prophet. The book concentrates upon the history of Judah, speaking of Israel [ie., the Northern Kingdom] only when it comes in contact with the people and events of the Southern Kingdom.
Chronicles has been called by some ''the chosen book of the theocracy.'' It tells the story of a great king and points forward to an even greater King and kingdom. First Chronicles 17:24 sets the theme, ''Let the house of David, Thy servant, be established before Thee.''
  1. The Royal Genealogy (2Chr 1-9)
  2. The Parenthesis of Saul's Rule (10)
  3. The Reign of David (11-29)
We will discuss three of the key questions that arise when one studies 1Chronicles.
We read in 2Timothy 3:16,17 that ''All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good words.'' The genealogies of 1Chronicles 1-9 fall within the scope of this passage. They are profitable for at least three reasons.
As [the narrative of] 1Chronicles opens [in chapter 11], David has been anointed king over Israel, and he is making preparation to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. The events that preceded this are recorded in 1Samuel 4-6. Why did David want the ark in Jerusalem? Because it symbolized God's presence in the midst of His people. In fact, it was the very place where God dwelt with His own. The most dishonoring thing that could have happened to Israel was for the ark to be captured by heathen enemies.

You may ask, ''What does this have to do with our subject? How does it speak of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures?'' Just as the ark of the covenant in the Holy of holies was the dwelling place of God among Israel, so the church is the dwelling place of God with His people in this age. Oh, I'm not speaking of a building, an edifice, but rather the church, which is the body of Christ. Paul wrote,

Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and sojourners,
but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;
In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
(Eph 2:19-22)

As you read the first few chapters of Acts, you see a risen, glorified, immortal Savior communing with mortals. For 40 days, He was with them, then He led His disciples out to Bethany and told them,

But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you;
and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

No instruction like this can be found in all the Old Testament! Pentecost followed Christ's ascension, and the changes were noted immediately. On that day they were all Jews, and they witnessed first to the Jews, with 3,000 being converted. Persecution followed. Peter was sent to the Gentiles. Converted Jews began to fraternize with previously hated Gentiles. These new believers, Jew and Gentile, forsook the temple and met in houses. They discarded the elaborate rituals, replacing them with the simple ordinances. They set aside the sabbath day in favor of Sunday, the Lord's Day. Why? Because the ascended Lord Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with them, and they were carrying out His word.

What has happened to the church in the intervening centuries? David's failure to handle the ark correctly, as recorded in 1Chronicles 13, is a picture of the church's failure today. Consider these points:
  1. David consulted men rather than God's Word (13:1).
    The New Testament commands that we are not to be menpleasers, but ''the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart'' (Eph 6:6).
  2. David was popular with the people.
    ''All the congregation said that they would do so; for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people'' (13:4). Popularity often wrecks both men and churches. The works of the flesh never get a single convert. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ will never impress the world by becoming worldly (Jam 4:4).
  3. David used human methods instead of God's plans.
    The Lord had given plain instruction for transporting the ark. The tribe of Levi was set aside for the tabernacle service, and they were to bear the ark by means of staves that fit through rings fastened to its side [Ex 25:10-15; Num 4:15]. There was no place for wheels. Yet David used an ox cart, like [the one] used by the Philistines [1Sam 6:1,2,7,8]. Likewise, the church cannot be driven by artificial means or worldly methods. All sorts of gimmicks are used in the Lord's work today. But God has ordained that men are to be saved through ''the foolishness of preaching.'' ''Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'' (Rom 10:17). Substituting human efforts for God's way will always bring disaster.
  4. The tragedy of the affair.
    Everything seemed to be going right. There was music and dancing, a new cart, and oxen. The cart got as far as the threshing floor, and then the animals stumbled. Uzza, a man not appointed of God to carry the ark, reached out to steady it. God smote him dead! Poor fellow, he actually thought he was doing a service to God. Evidently, no one had instructed him. He was doing what he was told, and now he was dead. How sad-- yet it's happening today! The church is filled with men and women who think they are doing God a service, while indeed they are ''dead in trespasses and sins.'' It's a travesty upon divine grace and order to get people to serve the Lord when they are either unconverted or carnal Christians working in their own strength.
         For three months, the ark was stored in the residence of Obed-edom. The glory of God was hidden in a house! No sign of God's presence could be found in Israel. Everything was dead and cold, just like the Philistines. But the house of Obed-edom was greatly blessed. When the presence of God is experienced in the life of an individual, His rich blessings always abound.
The sequel to this story is found in 1Chronicles 15, when David finally did things God's way. The priests and the Levites ''sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel'' (15:14,15). When the ark was safely inside, communion with God was restored.

The secret of an effective, powerful, growing church is to acknowledge the presence of God's Spirit and to obey His leading in every aspect of church life and ministry. God's work must be done God's way.

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

Go to The Book opening page.