Over the past three weeks I have been preaching a series in 2Chronicles 26-36, which is effectively the end of the Hebrew canon (in the typical Jewish ordering of books), and the conclusion of the backwards looking summary of the Old Testament. Because my wife is expecting any day, I am uncertain of being able to preach tomorrow, and so made sure I finished the series last week. But I now have (potentially) another two messages in the series tomorrow since the baby seems to be comfortable where it is.
This leaves me in the nice position of being finished with the series, yet not finished. My plan is to allow an aspect of Biblical theology to put the finishing touches on the series. Let me explain.
One of the big themes in the last chapters of Chronicles is that of the devotion of the kings to the Lord. Some were, some weren’t. And the biggest manifestation in pre-exile Israel lay in the issue of overt idolatry. As the book ends, hope dawns with Cyrus’ decree that the temple should be rebuilt. Perhaps God’s promise to David will be fulfilled after all?
So in the progression of revelation, we move to a post-exilic Israel where overt idolatry was never a feature again. Historically we see this determination for purity in books like Ezra and Nehemiah, but canonically, the next step from Chronicles is Matthew. It’s a new world in Israel in Jesus’ day. No physical idols. But no idols?
Jesus addresses the issue of the less tangible idolatry of his day in the Sermon on the Mount. And the beauty of this is that Matthew 6 speaks so directly to our, typically non-physical idol, cultural setting. In post-exilic Israel, as in the modern Western world, money has become the “ba’al” for many. Yet the issue of our devotion to God remains paramount. Who is bigger in our eyes? The false god, indeed the replacement god of financial security, or the true God who really cares?
So maybe I will get to preach Matthew 6 tomorrow to finish the Chronicles series. Maybe I’ll get to push further into the New Testament and consider other areas of covert idolatry facing believers today. Or maybe I won’t!
Next Week? Eco-Preaching: Recycling Sermons