The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles contain a brief history of the Lord’s people from the time of Adam to the time of King Cyrus of Persia. Because the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles largely present much of the same history as 1 and 2 Kings, this lesson will serve as a review of material students have previously studied. It will also provide context that will help students as they continue their study of the Old Testament.
Before class, create six signs and label them as follows: United Kingdom of Israel (Kings David and Solomon), Northern Kingdom (Israel), Southern Kingdom (Judah), Captivity in Assyria, Captivity in Babylon, and The Americas. Display the signs around the classroom as shown in the accompanying diagram. (Or you may use the graphic “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” found at the end of this lesson to write these same titles on the board in chronological order.)
Also, label three pieces of paper as follows (using large letters) and set them aside: Ten Tribes, Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and Lehi.
As class begins, invite students to open their Bibles to the table of contents. Ask students to find the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles.
Explain that the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles present a genealogy and condensed history from Adam to about 537 B.C. These books, along with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, mention a number of the prophets whose writings make up the last portions of the Old Testament. However, the books in the latter part of the Old Testament are not in chronological order. One of the purposes of today’s lesson is to provide an overview of how these prophetic writings fit into Israel’s history.
Before class write each of the names of the last 25 Old Testament books (those after 2 Chronicles) in large letters on separate sheets of paper (or have students create these at this point in the lesson). Distribute these 25 papers among the students. If your class is smaller, some students may have more than one paper. Ask students to hold on to their papers until later in the lesson.
Summarize 1 Chronicles by explaining that this book provides a genealogy of the Lord’s people from the time of Adam to the time of the Babylonian captivity as well as a brief account of the reign of King David.
Invite a student to read 1 Chronicles 16:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what David wrote at a time of celebration in Jerusalem. Ask students to report what they find.
Explain that a psalm is a poem of praise, worship, or lamentation, often set to music. You may want to invite students to read the portion of David’s psalm recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:8–12. Point out that David wrote some of the psalms contained in the book of Psalms. Invite the student with Psalms written on his or her paper to come to the front of the room and place it under the sign United Kingdom of Israel (Kings David and Solomon).
Summarize the content of 2 Chronicles by explaining that this book provides a history of events from the time of King Solomon until the time when King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. The beginning of 2 Chronicles recounts when the Lord appeared to Solomon and asked what gift Solomon would desire.
What gift did Solomon request of the Lord when he became king of Israel? (Wisdom [see 2 Chronicles 1:7–12].)
Explain that some of Solomon’s wise sayings are recorded in the book of Proverbs. Ask the student with the paper labeled Proverbs to place it under the sign United Kingdom of Israel (Kings David and Solomon).
Explain that Psalms and Proverbs, along with Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, are collectively known as the wisdom literature or the poetry books. We do not know for certain who wrote Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon or when they were written, but for this lesson, we will group them together with the other wisdom books. Ask the students with Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon written on their papers to place them under the sign United Kingdom of Israel (Kings David and Solomon).
What happened to the United Kingdom of Israel after Solomon died? (It was divided [see 1 Kings 12]. Ten of the tribes formed the Northern Kingdom, called Israel. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern Kingdom, called Judah.)
Invite half of the class to take the paper labeled Ten Tribes and stand by the Northern Kingdom (Israel) sign, and invite the other half to take the paper labeled Tribes of Judah and Benjamin and stand by the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign. (Students should take their scriptures and other labeled papers with them.)
Explain that the Lord called prophets to minister to the people in both kingdoms. Ask the students with Amos, Jonah, and Hosea written on their papers to place them under the Northern Kingdom (Israel) sign. (Throughout this lesson, you may want to have students place the half sheets of paper in the order given in the lesson so that students can see the probable order in which the prophets ministered.) Ask the students with Joel, Isaiah, and Micah written on their papers to place them under the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign.
What happened to the Northern Kingdom of Israel when the people became wicked? (They were conquered and carried away into captivity in about 721 B.C.)
Ask the students by the Northern Kingdom (Israel) sign to move to the Captivity in Assyria sign. Explain that these tribes were eventually scattered throughout the nations of the earth, and we do not know where they are (see 1 Nephi 22:3–4). They are often referred to as “the lost ten tribes.”
Remind students that the Assyrians also tried to conquer the Southern Kingdom, but because the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were righteous at that time, the Lord preserved them (see 2 Kings 19:32–35).
Tell students that the Lord continued to help the people in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Invite a student to read 2 Chronicles 36:14–15 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Lord did to help His people. Ask students to report what they find. Explain that the messengers referred to in these verses were prophets of the Lord.
From what you have learned in these verses, why does the Lord send prophets to warn us of sin in our day? (Because of the Lord’s compassion for us, He sends prophets to warn us of the consequences of sin.)
How can the prophets’ warnings about the consequences of sin help us understand the Lord’s compassion for us?
Point out that many of the teachings of the prophets sent to warn Judah are found in the latter part of the Old Testament. Ask the students with the papers labeled Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Obadiah, and Habakkuk to place them under the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign. Also place the paper labeled Lehi next to Jeremiah. Explain that Lehi was among the prophets who taught at Jerusalem.
Invite a student to read 2 Chronicles 36:16–20 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the people in the Southern Kingdom treated the Lord’s prophets and what happened as a result.
How did the people in the Southern Kingdom treat the prophets?
What happened to them because they rejected the prophets?
What principle can we learn from their experience? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: Those who reject the words of the prophets will eventually experience the judgments of God.)
Ask a student to pick up and hold the paper with Lehi written on it.
What happened to Lehi during this time?
Ask the student with the Lehi paper to stand under the sign labeled The Americas. Explain that Lehi and his family left Jerusalem shortly before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
According to 2 Chronicles 36:20, what happened to most of the Jews in Jerusalem who were not killed?
Invite the students by the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign to stand under the Captivity in Babylon sign.
Explain that even after the Jews were conquered and carried into captivity, the Lord continued to call prophets. Ask the students with Daniel and Ezekiel written on their papers to place them under the Captivity in Babylon sign.
Explain that after some time, the Persians conquered the Babylonian Empire and allowed the Jews from the former Kingdom of Judah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple (see 2 Chronicles 36:22–23).
Invite a few students standing near the Captivity in Babylon sign to return to the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign.
Explain that the Lord called Haggai and Zechariah to minister to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem. Ask the students with the papers labeled Haggai and Zechariah to place them under the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign.
Explain that some years later, a Jew named Esther became the queen of Persia. Invite the student with the paper labeled Esther to place it under the Captivity in Babylon sign. Tell students that later, Ezra led most of the Jews back to Jerusalem and sought to reestablish the law of Moses among the people. Nehemiah also came to Jerusalem and led the Jews in rebuilding the walls of the city. Ask the students with Ezra and Nehemiah written on their papers to place them under the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign.
Point out that the last prophet we have record of in the Old Testament is Malachi. Ask the student with Malachi written on his or her paper to place it under the Southern Kingdom (Judah) sign.
Invite students to return to their seats. Ask them to look at the names of the books of the Old Testament placed around the room, and then ask them to open again to the table of contents in their Bibles.
What have you learned today about the order of the books in the latter part of the Old Testament?
How might it be helpful as you study these books to understand when and where these prophets lived?
Testify of the love and compassion the Lord has for us and of the value of prophets who can speak for God. Consider making copies of the graphic “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” for students to use as they study the remaining books of the Old Testament.