Preaching An OT Worship Service (Preaching Through Chronicles)

One of my favorite places in 2 Chronicles is from 2:1–6:2 and 7:1-3. This lengthy Scripture records the building of God’s house. In the middle of all the details about materials and furnishing you will find a description of an OT worship service.

Consider structuring your sermon around the following (providing you have already taught a theology of the temple in previous sermons as I had):

  1. The character of our God (vv. 5:13b; 7:3b). It should go without saying that our worship centers on our God. In this section we find repeated, “For he is good…” Think about how we use this word in daily life–“that was a good meal, movie, book, or day”–and you quickly realize we’ve got some work to do explaining the goodness of our God. The other character trait of our God is his loyal love (the important Hebrew word, hesed). Nothing sets off a worship celebration like focusing on the goodness of our God.
  2. The glory of our God (vv. 5:13c-6:1; 7:1-2). In this section “the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” 6:1 describes “thick darkness.” There’s a mysteriousness about our God’s presence. Even in Exodus 24:9-11, for instance, when we read, “they beheld God,” we learn that, “There was under his feet…” So, we don’t really see God, but only what He was “standing on.” It’s good for us to remember that our glorious God who matters most, is present with His people. We’re never alone in this world. God is with us.
  3. Finally, our response to His goodness and glory is seen in 7:3. We read, “they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord…” Our worship always includes this same humble attitude, if not the same humble posture.

And if you’re wanting to read Chronicles Christologically, you certainly can remind your faith-family from John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory…” That vision of our glorious Christ continues to drive our worship services.

May we preach about worship in our worship services so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching the Wisdom of Solomon: Preaching Through 2 Chronicles

Solomon certainly was a wise ole owl. His God-given wisdom is highlighted almost immediately in chapter 1 of 2 Chronicles.

As I entered 2 Chronicles, I chose to stay with the same theme, “Direct our hearts toward you, Lord.” Solomon leads the way by showing that God alone possesses the wisdom we need to live LifePlus. When you preach 1:1-17 and also 9:1-31 you will be encouraging your parishioners to follow Solomon’s example by seeking the wisdom God provides.

You might begin with the concept of the Source and special nature of this wisdom (vv. 1:7, 10). It is significant that the narrative begins with God telling Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you.” There’s so much theology in that question.

I asked our faith-family: “Wouldn’t it be great if God asked you that same question?” Of course, according to Matt. 7:7 and James 1:5; 4:2, God does tell us to ask Him for the same: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all…” This separates us from the average citizen who turns elsewhere for this commodity.

Next, you might want to spend a moment talking about the priority of this wisdom (vv. 1:8-9, 11). There were so many other things Solomon could have asked for (see the list in v. 11). Every one of those things was important to Solomon’s success, but he asked God for wisdom. Solomon truly was a fine example of Homo (man) Sapiens (wise).

Finally, wisdom has its benefits (vv. 1:12-17; 9:1-28). Chapter 9 contains this wonderful story of the Queen of Sheba arriving to see Solomon’s wisdom firsthand. Solomon’s subjects were faring very well in his kingdom and she was amazed at what she saw. Wisdom did that.

Proverbs 3:18 says, “she is a tree of life…” and 4:13, “for she is your life.”

And if you want to read Christologically, Matt. 12:42 says, “…something greater than Solomon is here.” God made Jesus “our wisdom” says 1 Cor. 1:30.

God’s reputation in the church and in Christ Jesus will increase as you preach the wisdom Solomon received and Christ provides all who believe (Ephesians 3:21),

Randal

Preaching On Giving: Preaching Through First Chronicles

It’s great when you can preach about giving in the midst of an ongoing series through a book of the Bible like 1 Chronicles. You can say,

“Our study of the book of 1 Chronicles brings us to chapter 29 where King David teaches us about glad giving as a sing of or complete devotion to our Lord.”

Or something like that.

I was anxious to get to chapter 29 because v. 18 contained the phrase that became the title for our series: “…direct their hearts toward you.” David was asking the Lord to work in their hearts in such a way that they would never stop what they were doing. And what they were doing was “offering freely and joyously…” (v. 17).

Here are aspects of their giving you may want to consider for your congregants. Israel’s giving was…

  1. excessive (vv. 1-5a, 6-8). They were building a “palace” after all! The list, amounts, and quality of materials is impressive.
  2. eager (vv. 5b, 9b). Everyone was asked to give “willingly,” not of duty, but delight.
  3. wholehearted (vv. 5c, 9c). Their giving was an act of “consecrating” and involved their “whole heart.”
  4. glad (vv. 9a, d). They “rejoiced because they had given…” Here was a place where I confessed to our faith-family that I personally feel more celebration when I give toward a special project than I do when I write a check to the church each pay period. This section helped remind me of the joy of regular giving.
  5. worship-filled (vv. 10-22). This large section comes from David’s blessing the Lord: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty…” (v. 11). No wonder they gave aggressively! And you’ll love the perspective in v. 14 “…and of your own have we given you.” It’s all His to begin with!

Anyway, 1 Chronicles 29 is an excellent chapter to teach a theology of giving and I hope you’ll get that far into the book so that our Lord receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching My Toughest Section (so far!): Preaching Through Chronicles

When you reach 1 Chronicles 23:1 through 27:34 you encounter my toughest section to date. King David gives instructions to prepare for the building of the house of the Lord. What makes this section so difficult is, (1) it’s sheer size and detail and (2) needing to decide what temple details correspond to our worship and service.

McConville says that these five chapters provide “a picture of the people of God organized for the life of service” (p. 91). So, we urge our faith-families to worship by following the patterns presented by their temple service.

Here’s how I approached the section:

Title: “Direct our hearts toward you, O Lord” to do your work in the church and in the world.

  1. There is work to be done (23:4, 24, 28, 32;24:3, 19; 25:1; 26:12, 30). Nine times you’ll read, “work and duties.” The NT is not the only place to find the subject of spiritual gifts.
  2. There is praise and blessing to offer (23:5, 13). A neglected discussion pertaining to worship services is the pronouncement of blessings (cf. 23:13). It’s a time to announce: “You are the recipient of God’s special powers.”
  3. We’re characterized by humble service (24:5, 31; 25:8; 26:13). This is fascinating: everyone submits to casting lots to receive their ministry description. Social standing had nothing to do with the ministry you got.
  4. There’s lots of singing and instrumentals to offer (25:1, 6-7). This is a great time to rally your faith-family around the importance of music within the context of a worship service. I hope your church is fortunate to have people who use their musical talents. For some reason God has always appreciated music as an integral part of worshiping Him.
  5. There’s skill involved (26:6-9, 30-31). Evidently, non-skill would not honor the glory of God. God is worthy of our best talent and skill.
  6. Finally–everyone’s favorite–there’s money management (26:20, 22, 26-27). There’s hardly ever a bad time to talk to your faith-family about their financial habits. There’s so much disciple-making work to be done across the street or across the seas. And it takes a ton of money.

Finally, if you are interested in a Christological reading of this section of Chronicles, you can refer to the construction language in Ephesians 2:19-22, “…members of the household of God…Christ himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure…grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Preach that tough section well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

P.S. Unless you divide this message into two or three parts, you will need to cover these sections quickly. Due to my earlier teaching through Exodus, in this Chronicles section I decided not to go into details about the significance of the temple furniture and procedures.

Preaching the Significance of Solomon’s Temple: Preaching Through First Chronicles

Photo by Michelle Rosen on Unsplash

When you preach 1 Chronicles 22:1-19 and 28:1-21 you have the privilege of showing your faith-family the significance of “the house of the Lord” (22:1).

Kings David and Solomon, remember, are portrayed as ideal kings. Their best practices move us to want what they did for God’s people under their rule and authority. In this case, David’s instructions about building the temple shows us that the worship of God must be central in our lives.

I remember saying, “If only I could convince us that we need God’s powerful presence more than good health, someone to love, a spouse, family, friends, job, financial security.”

In his commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles, Pratt refers to Israel’s worship center as his presence, “his accessible power.” That’s what they needed back then; that’s what we need now in order to experience any level of spiritual success.

I defined success as: “Success in whatever assignment God gives you in life and the redemption of any perceived failures or setbacks.”

But, as far as sermon structure through this section, you might try:

  1. Desiring God’s powerful presence (22:1-10, 17-19; 28:1-6, 11-21) Key to this section is 22:19 “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” And then help your parishioners see that “God is uniquely present when the church assembles” (from my friend, Jim Samra’s book, The Gift of Church, p. 24). Scriptures such as 1 Cor. 5:4; Eph. 2:21-22; Heb. 3:6; 10:22-25, and 1 Peter 2:5 can help solidify this understanding.
  2. Securing God’s powerful presence (22:11-16; 28:7-10). It’s critical to stress 22:12-13 in these minutes. Everything centers on our obedience. Note the condition, “Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules…” (v. 13). One of the great exhortations is in 28:9 “…know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind…”

And if you’re wanting to remind your folks how their Christianity works, take a moment to tell them what Christ said would happen if the people destroyed “this temple” (John 2:19-21) and how the Spirit creates our ability to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law (Romans 8:4).

Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21),

Randal

Preaching The Old Testament Battles: Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

Sooner or later while preaching through 1 Chronicles you come across the battle narratives. That’s true in 1 Chronicles 18:1–20:8. This is an excellent time to teach about the enemies of our souls and how to defeat them through faith in Christ.

But before moving to a summary of the world, prince, and desires of the flesh (cf. Ephesians 2:2-3), spend a moment highlighting the supernatural foes and our terrible odds. One of my favorites is the six-fingered man and giants of 1 Chronicles 20:6-8. God wants us to know that our foes are menacing.

But key to the theology of this section is the repetition of “…the Lord gave victory wherever he went” (cf. 18:6, 13). David is invincible in these battles. All credit goes to the Lord. The victories were a gift from the Lord. And this is what makes any of our spiritual victories possible. This is what ensures any spiritual success.

Finally, what I love about preaching through Chronicles–true of OT narratives in general–is the balance of God’s work and our work. In 19:13 is the instruction: “Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

Spiritual victories don’t happen without our using the strength God provides. Paul tells us the same thing in Ephesians 6:10ff. (“Be strong in the Lord…”). He says the same thing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12 (“fight the good fight of faith”).

And if you’re wanting to explain how God makes spiritual victories possible for Believers, mention how Christ achieved the ultimate victory (cf. Col. 2:15; 1 John 5:4-5 “…this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.”

1 Chronicles 18:1–20:8 provide a great opportunity for us to urge our folks to use the strength our Lord provides in the fight against deadly temptation. And our Lord will receive glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching the Davidic/Solomonic Kingship: Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

I admit: the title of this blog post is not sermon-friendly.

My own title for 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 was: “Direct our hearts toward you, Lord”: Living Life In God’s Eternal Kingdom.

1 Chronicles 17 is one of the more significant chapters in the OT. That’s because it contains information about the promises God made to David concerning his dynasty.

The most important aspect of preaching the Davidic/Solomonic Covenant is showing how everything God promised us in Christ, the Son of David, is guaranteed because of what God promised to do for David and his son, Solomon. David’s dynasty would be eternal which means it’s still active every Sunday morning.

This is a case where biblical theology is as important, if not more important, than exegesis.

 

So, here’s a way to approach this chapter:

  1. Our need for God’s kingdom (vv. 1-10a). Verses 8-9 describe the fact of God’s powerful presence to defeat Israel’s enemies (especially, “violent men”). The warfare which began in Genesis 3:1ff. and the promised victories of Gen. 3:15 and 1 Corinthians 15:24ff. provide the context for the Church’s current situation and ultimate hope.
  2. Our need for a King in God’s kingdom (vv. 10b-12). It is very difficult to preach this point in a democratic society like the U.S. I spent some minutes reviewing why Israel wanted a king in the first place (cf. 1 Sam. 8:20, “…fight our battles”). Most important is the fact that God’s chosen king rules in a “kingship within God’s kingly rule” (Bock & Blaising). The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology speaks of the significant “role of a royal covenant mediator in the person of the king.” We don’t access God’s kingdom and all the benefits of God’s rule apart from a Mediator.
  3. Our life as citizens in God’s kingdom (vv. 13-15). Here is the place to show that the special adoption language describing God’s relationship to the king applies to us (“…I will not take my steadfast love from him…”).

Finally, you may want to move from the son of David (Solomon) to the Son of David (Christ in Matt. 1:1, 17, 20) who is declared the Son of God (Matt. 3:17) who makes living in God’s kingdom possible.

I hope this provides the kind of framework that can help the Church make sense of the Davidic Covenant so God receives glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching the Psalms in 1 Chronicles: Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

When you arrive at 1 Chronicles 16:7 you discover you’ve changed genres. We move out of narrative and into Hebrew poetry/psalms. We worship by allowing this song to guide our worship in church and in life. That means at least 7 aspects of worship, plus the reason why God deserves our worship.

So, as you read through the Psalm you can teach that worship involves:

  1. Giving thanks (vv. 8a, 34a)
  2. Asking for help (vv. 8b, 11, 35)
  3. Singing His praises (vv. 9a, b, 10, 23a, 28-29a, 36). Let me pause for a moment and point out in v. 10 that God commands us to be happy. I always love that. He says, “I know life is often hard, but I’m good and I am putting together the pieces of My broken world. You are a part of that restoration while you wait for Me to finish the job.” Your congregants will appreciate the honesty, the balance of brokenness and wholeness they experience.
  4. Witnessing in the world (vv. 8c, 9c, 23b-24). I must admit: I didn’t see that one coming. But, as you can see in the Psalm, corporate worship involves instruction to tell the Story. If I was a techie, I’d write: Tweet This: Every worship service is a commissioning service. But, I’m not…
  5. Remembering His promises (vv. 12-22)
  6. Bringing an offering (v. 29b). We’ll see more on this in the last chapter of 1 Chronicles.
  7. Becoming holy (v. 29c). It can’t get much clearer: “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness…” It’s a great time to remind everyone that we can’t worship God and rebel against Him at the same time.

Finally, vv. 25-27, 30-33, 34b, c provide the reason why God deserves our worship: “For great is the Lord…” (v. 25).

If you’re interested in making a Christo-centric application (more on the difference between Christ-centered interpretation and application later maybe), you can move from v. 15-16 (“Remember his covenant forever…”) to the New Covenant in His blood (cf. Luke 22:20).

Preach the Psalms in Chronicles, or the Psalms in Psalms for that matter, so God receives glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Cover More Text In Less Detail: Preaching Large Sections Of I Chronicles

When you preach through an OT book like 1 Chronicles, be prepared to cover large amounts of text in a sermon. Inevitably that will mean covering it in less detail, which goes against my training and bent.

I was trained to be a detailed expositor, not a skimmer. You?

However, in 1 Chronicles I’m learning that large amounts of biblical real estate are designed to function for the church as a unit. The question is how much detail can be included in a sermon covering so much ground.

Take, for instance, 1 Chronicles 11:1–12:40, the coronation and celebration of making David King of Israel. In these long sections I am looking for repeated themes about this kingdom, such as:

  • God appointing of a king (vv. 11:2, 3c, 9b, 10c; 12:18, 23). God doesn’t want us to miss that He is responsible for selecting David and giving Him victories. The people’s choice, remember, failed miserably, but not David.
  • Everyone is together (vv. 11:1, 3a, b, 4, 10a, b; 12:33, 38). 1 Chronicles uses the phrase, all Israel, 23 times. Everyone is on board after this selection (unlike our nation this past year, but that’s not important right now!). One of the major questions I asked our congregants was, “Who wouldn’t want to be in a kingdom like David’s?!?”
  • Success is everywhere (vv. 11:11, 20, 22-23; 12:1-2, 8, 14, 21-22, 32). Most of the long section records impressive military exploits. God’s people defeat their enemies consistently, remarkably.
  • And the result is a joy-filled celebration (vv. 12:39-40). The section closes with a huge victory party, “for there was joy in Israel.”

Apparently, God wants His people to inhabit this kind of kingdom that began with David and continues with the Son of David. This is the kind of existence God promises to all who trust Him.

I hope this helps you preach large sections so He receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

P.S. I may have failed to also say to fight the urge to go into too much detail. Or, you may decide it best to break this into a mini-series and spend a sermon on each major point above.

How to Preach 1 Chronicles. Really.

You know you want to preach through 1 Chronicles.

When you do, this series of posts may provide some help. Last month I launched a series through this book so I will try to provide examples of navigating this part of redemptive history in a way that functions for the Church.

First, the image I selected for the series connects to my chosen theme for the book: “Direct Our Hearts Toward You, Lord.” These are the words of king David recorded in 1 Chronicles 29:18.

I have written before about the importance of choosing a preaching theme for a book study. It takes some time but is well worth the effort.

Benefit for the Listener: Notice that I’ve chosen to word the series title as an applicational statement. In this case, a request that mirrors David’s original request. As we worship our way through 1 Chronicles each Sunday, we remind ourselves how we are supposed to respond generally to our God. The Faith-Family never has to wonder how 1 Chronicles applies. It’s relevant by design.

You can imagine that your congregants will question the book’s relevance when they begin reading 9 chapters of genealogies (more on that next time)!

Benefit for the Preacher: But, selecting a theme for the book benefits you too. The process requires some familiarity with the whole book. That means reading through it quickly and consulting some introductory studies.

In the case of 1 Chronicles, reliable guides will highlight the unique positive perspective of the Chronicler: David and Solomon’s kingdoms are held up as positive examples for God’s people to follow so they can experience the blessing of God as did Israel in their hay day.

When I read through the book, as is often the case, the ending of the book provided a clue of its purpose. Unlike king Saul, David seeks the Lord.

1 Chronicles 10:14 (the narrator’s comment in the opening story after all the genealogies) describes Saul’s way: “He did not seek guidance from the Lord…” But David prays in 29:18 “…direct their hearts toward you.”

That’s the difference between spiritual defeat and spiritual victory. And every sermon in 1 Chronicles provides an opportunity for God’s people to follow their Savior on The Way.

May you experience the privilege of preaching 1 Chronicles for the sake of God’s reputation in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal