The road to reformation

by LA UBF   07/13/2008     0 reads


The Framework for Reformation��

 The Framework for Reformation

2 Chronicles 1:1 - 36:23

Read 36:15-23

Key Verse 36:23

Welcome to the study of the book of 2 Chronicles. Tonight we would like to cover 2 Chronicles by focusing on the last seven verses of the book. 

The title of our study is "The Framework for Reformation," for we assume that the author Ezra must have written 1 and 2 Chronicles in preparation for his return to Jerusalem, so that as he goes back to the Promised Land he would lead the people to reform their way of life and then hopefully transform the nation Israel into a priestly nation. 

For this purpose Ezra found it necessary to recount the history of the past. A review of the past should bring people to the realization of the cause(s) of their downfall. It is like a medical doctor checking patient’s history of illnesses to diagnose the current problem and come up with the right prescription. 

In 1 Chronicles Ezra gave the account of the history from Adam to David. Adam provided the human race with the first cause of downfall. David however represents the antithesis of Adam, in that the Lord used him to have the Lord's temple ready to be erected. The Lord's temple represents the remedy for the consequences of Adam's downfall. In sum, 1 Chronicles covers the introduction of the problem and the introduction of the solution. 

2 Chronicles stands in strong contrast with 1 Chronicles in that it begins with the construction (and operation) of the temple, the framework for life, and ends with the destruction (and cessation of the service) of the Lord's temple. In the last part of 2 Chronicles, Ezra sums up how the Lord desired to support life for Israel and yet how they ended up forfeiting this grace. The last seven verses provide us with two pivotal pillars of reformation. 

I. The word of the Lord (15-16)

Verses 15-16 note that since the Israelites failed to pay attention to the living word of the Lord they were expelled from the land. In other words, had they paid attention to the word of the Lord they could have continued to live in the Promised Land. 

By the same token as the Israelites came to have the second chance to go back to the land, it was critical for them to pay attention to the word of the Lord that they could reform their ways of life and restore God’s purpose for them as a holy nation. 

So the word of God is the foundation for reformation. We can easily understand this concept when we think about the way God created the universe and everything in it, that is, through the word of God. The other day as John Lee was working on a classroom at the youth center, the nail gun began to make a hissing sound. Since air was leaking from the nail gun we wanted to get it fixed and took it to a repair center. They asked for the serial number specified in the manual. But we lost the manual. The Bible is the manual for life. When life goes out of order we can look to the Bible. In the Bible we can find the way man's life is built and then figure out where it might have gone wrong. Then we can find the solution to the problem. 

Since the word of God has all we need for life, the first thing the enemy Satan did was to tempt Eve to deviate from the word. In the same way the Israelites slid from the way to prosperity by first straying away from the living word. 

The truth that God's word is the key for reformation and transformation is further supported by the examples of saints getting their lives in order, all according to the word of the Lord. In the history of the kings of Israel, there lived in Jerusalem a king named Josiah. His day was chaotic. His life became so disorderly and he did not know why things grew so difficult. But one day in the course of repairing the temple, the high priest Hilkiah found the Bible (the book of the Law of the Lord). Upon reading the Bible, Josiah found repentance topics. He then led a major repentance movement. 

As we shall see in studying the book of Ezra, the Prophet Ezra led the reformation by assisting the congregation to read the whole Bible.


In our day to day life, keeping the Bible to our heart daily helps us find repentance topics so we can turn to God for his healing. As we live in this world which is yet to be redeemed, our minds and spirits naturally get contaminated. Whether we like it or not, and with or without ourselves knowing, we get influenced by this sinful world. Even without ourselves knowing we end up becoming wicked. We can easily understand this phenomenon when we think about how quickly our room or office gets cluttered. Just like our places get disorganized and grow disorderly unless we constantly keep things organized, so also the inner space within us gets so quickly worldly unless we constantly keep the inside in order. Thinking that the job to clean up daily is too much, one might be tempted to do one big clean up and never bother again.  But we know that nature does not work this way. For example, when one keeps his house cleaned up and leaves it unoccupied, will the house remain clean all the time? No. Dust will soon pile up and spiders come out of nowhere. When spiders come out and find the room empty, they will think that they’ve got a Garden of Eden and will start decorating the house room by room with cobwebs of all different shapes.

This is the exact case with our spiritual house. In fact, our spiritual house (the inner person, that is, the domain of our soul and spirit) gets contaminated a lot quicker than the physical spaces, such as a room or office. For what is spiritual is more sensitive and fragile to harmful elements than what is physical. Speaking of the same phenomenon, the Prophet Isaiah says, "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught" (Isaiah 50:4), and, "He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver" (Isaiah 49:2). Here the expression, "to know the word that sustains the weary," speaks of the need to keep orderly the spiritual man from the inside not every once in a while but morning by morning. The word "hid" indicates the need for one to preserve his inner person from worldly influences so that he would not be corrupted and become dysfunctional. 

Viewed in this way, we can understand how influenced by the world the Israelites must have become after seventy years of Babylonian captivity. Likewise, we can tell for sure what will happen to a man (or a family, a society, or a nation) when he neglects, mocks, and scoffs at the words spoken by the Lord's prophets. By the same token, the way to bring people back from despondency to the excellence of God is to bring people back to the living word of God.   

Part II. The temple of the Lord (17-23)

1 Chronicles begins with Adam and ends with David making all the necessary preparations to build the Lord's temple. 2 Chronicles begins with King Solomon completing the construction of the Lord's temple and ends with the Lord's temple getting completely destroyed, only to see Cyrus issuing the order to rebuild it.  

This chronology sheds light on the problems and solutions to the problems we have been suffering from. Ezra saw the light. As we shall see in the book of Ezra, he leads reformation focusing first on the word of the Lord and then on the worship at the Lord's temple. 


While God's word correctly diagnoses the problems, the worship at the Lord's temple offers the solution to the problems. 

In fact, in 2 Chronicles the Prophet Ezra gives us a visual presentation of this truth. For example, in 2 Chronicles 5:14 it is written: "And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God." The "glory" refers to the Lord's attributes manifested in a visible form. This term represents the heart of the solution to all the problems we have. At the same time the manifestation (the glory filling the temple) denotes the goal of reformation and transformation. For the end picture of reformation and transformation is to ensure that the glory of the Lord rests amongst God's children. When the Lord's glory fills each person, God's healing will be commonplace. Peace will roll like a river. The joy of salvation will be constant. 

In 2 Chronicles 36:14, then, it is written: "Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem." This verse sets forth the net amount of the work to be done for reformation, that is, to first restore faith in the Lord, second, to renounce "all" the detestable practices of the nations, and third, to reorder the worship at the Lord's temple. 

By the time of Ezra’s return to Jerusalem, technically the temple (as built under the leadership of Zerubbabel) stood in Jerusalem. The temple represents the spec (or model) for the worship that must take place in the heart of each individual. 

At the outset of the year 2008 we studied the book of Hebrews where we could see in detail how the Lord provided a way for sinful men to come to him. The features include the altar, the offerings, the priesthood, the distinction between the holy place and the most holy place, and the festivals, such as the Passover, the Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. These features boil down to one thing: opening the "way" for all sinners to solve the problem of sin, come to the Lord God and remain in constant fellowship with him. 

In the context of the New Testament era, after Jesus’ ascension, the gospel is being preached to all nations. Yet, the gospel itself calls for all believers to meet the same challenge, that is, the call to repent and the call to turn to God. One may glibly say, "Okay, Jesus died for our sins. If you believe in Jesus, you are going to heaven." But we must remember that Jesus came to deal with the problem of sin. For this reason, Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Speaking of the same truth, the Apostle Peter says, in Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Then he further adds, "Through these [i.e., the Lord's provision, especially his divine power] he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1 Peter 1:4).

Like the Israelites who became worldly and went into Babylonian captivity, it is possible that a believer in the Lord abandons the way of faith and is overcome by this sinful world. So the Apostle Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:20 saying, "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning." In short, the call to lead people to reformation and transformation is still on all the ministers of the new covenant. Transformation must begin with the word of God and must continue until God's Spirit fills the hearts of God's children.

In conclusion, 2 Chronicles 36:23 reads, "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you--may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.' " Ezra took note of the Lord God who already began the work of restoration for his people. With this vision in mind, and in order to work on the vision, he made a close review of God's work in the history of the Israelites beginning with Adam all the way to the people of his own day. Through this study he learned that two things were critical for restoration: the word of God and the Lord's temple. In our own generation the same challenge is upon us. Let us pray that we would all dedicate ourselves to studying the word of God so that we may find out where this nation has gone wrong. Let us pray to build the Lord's temple in the hearts of all peoples on earth, one person at a time, particularly among young college students. 

One word: the road to restoration

Class Exercise: 

1. Who in the Bible performed reformation in accordance with the Bible (called the Law of the Lord)? ____________ 

2. What is the name of the king who was rebuked by the Lord for helping the wicked and loving those who hate the Lord? _____________

3. Which king of Judah died of leprosy? ____________

4. Why did the king (described in Q. 3 above) die of leprosy? 

5. 2 Chronicles starts with the completion of a ________ and ends with Cyrus issuing a decree to build a ________. 

6. The Lord God sent ________to them (the Israelites) through his _________ again and again, because he had ________ on his people and on his ______________. 

7. During the Israelites’ exile to Babylon, the land (of Israel) ______________.