At the beginning of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, homeless and hungry is taken into a church by a priest and fed and housed. Jean responds to this kindness by stealing all the church’s valuables. He is caught red handed and turned over to the priest who tells the police that they weren’t stolen but were actually a gift to Jean and that he actually left one behind and he gave that to him as well. This extraordinary act of grace turns Jean’s life around and moves all of us to compassion as well.
But: was the priest being truthful? Wasn’t he lying? 神父は本当のことを言っていましたか？
On the surface yes. But this comes down to perspective. Who did the valuables really belong to? Did they belong to the priest? Did they belong to the church? Did they belong to God? If these were items that the priest was gladly willing to give, regardless of how they were taken, then they’re not really stolen. To Jean, he was stealing and he considered himself a thief. To the priest, these were church items which could be used (and were used) to glorify God. 神父にとってこれらの物は神をあがめるために使う（使われてきた）教会の物でした。
Has anyone either sent out or received those end of year mails that typically go with Christmas cards? They tell our family friends what we have been up to through the year and what we have achieved through the year. I often read about the birth of children, the winning of sporting events, entrance into schools and universities, professional success and so on. I’ve never read in any of those letters about drunken mistakes, lies told, people offended, broken relationships, adulterous affairs and other moral failures. We tend to be given a very positive, glossy perspective on the year’s events.
Do these mails lie? Are they deceptive? そのような手紙は嘘でしょうか？
Technically speaking, maybe. They certainly don’t give us the whole truth. But then, that is not their purpose.
I use these illustrations to lead us into the Books of Chronicles as we continue our study of all the books of the Bible, one a month, over a six year period.
1 & 2 Chronicles are recordings, compilations, editings and arrangements to give us an entire history of Israel up to that point. As such, the sources include the books of Samuel and Kings, the Pentateuch, Judges, Ruth, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Zechariah + others There is an awful lot of overview – and repetition – from other books of the OT. 第一＆第二歴代誌にはたくさんの要約と繰り返しがあります。
But these books (Chronicles 1 & 2), unlike the others, give us a rather glowing review of Israel’s history. The portraits of the good kings and of Israel are [that is] clearly idealized. It’s like those ‘studio photos’ of people that look fabulous but are so flattering it can be hard to recognise the person sometimes. Or even photoshopping. The perspective we’re given in Chronicles is one that is very pro-Israel. The bad kings are bad. But the good kings are all good and many of their blemishes and weaknesses and failures are completely overlooked. 歴代誌は明らかに理想化された歴史です。
There is a strong focus on the parallels between Moses & Joshua, and David and Solomon as faithful leaders of Israel and Messianic ideals. Yet despite their serious sins which are recorded in other books of the Bible, in Chronicles, they are presented as virtually flawless. Anything that might tarnish their image is omitted. Sounds a lot like those Christmas mails. Sounds a bit like photoshopping.
Are the books of Chronicles deceitful? Lying? 歴代誌はごまかそうとしているのでしょうか？
No. It’s a matter of purpose and perspective. いいえ、それは目的と見方の問題です。
Here’s the key thing. In the books of Samuel and Kings, we see these men of God as people see these men of God. Faithful men but seriously flawed.
In the books of Chronicles, we see these men as God sees them. 歴代誌では神が見るようにこれらの人たちを見ます。
Here is the vast difference between the perspective of men and the perspective of God. We see this in the seriousness of sin and we see it in the vastness of grace. Neither can be understood by the world. To the world, sin is not taken seriously and grace, while appearing beautiful and noble, is really foolishness, shallow and even deceitful.
What sort of person are you? あなたはどんな人ですか？
How do other people see you? 人はあなたをどのように見てますか？
How does God see you? 神はあなたをどのように見てますか？
Which is more important? どちらが大切ですか？
How then do you see yourself? ではどのように自分自身を見ますか？
These questions actually lead us straight to the gospel of Christ and its impact on our lives.
Before we were in Christ, we were sinners.
Once we are in Christ we are no longer regarded by God as sinners but as righteous.
Rom 3:22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
When you are in Christ, God no longer sees the sin in you. Your sin has been removed by the blood of Jesus. God sees you as righteous – without blemish in the very image you were originally created to be.
Is this a true image? Is God lying to Himself? Are we just using some kind of positive thinking? これが本当のイメージでしょうか？
No. This declaration of righteousness is true because God makes it true.
It’s not just positive thinking. Positive thinking says everything is all right. God says emphatically that until we are in Christ, everything is not all right. Everything is utterly sinful. When we come before Christ, the Holy Spirit brings us very low, He convicts us of sin, removes everything from us that is prideful and of self and brings us to a place where we are totally dependent on God and become aware that we are in desperate need of His forgiveness and restoration. Confessing Christ as Savior and Lord brings us that forgiveness and restoration. It creates in us a new heart. It produces upon us a new declaration of righteousness. And then God sees us in our idealised state, just as the books of Chronicles present Moses and Joshua and David and Solomon in their idealised states.
The knowledge of this is life-changing. It’s so easy to see ourselves in a sinful light. But God no longer sees us like that. He sees us as righteous. And when we see ourselves in the same light that God sees us – righteous children of God – we want to live well for Him by faith everyday. We would do well to remind ourselves regularly of this new status we have before God. 神は私たちを義と見ています。私たちは神の前にこのように新しい立場にあることを常に覚えておくといいでしょう。
Concluding passage for meditation
Titus 3: 3-8
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.