Top tips from the author of 2 Chronicles (@UnshaunSheep)

The book of 2 Chronicles ends with a proclamation not by a prophet of Yahweh, but by Cyrus, King of Persia who had conquered the Babylonians and freed the people held in captivity there (including the Jews).

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom and also declared in a written edict: “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up”

A few things interest me about this.

1. Yay! Cyrus the Persian credits the God of the Jews with his victory and builds a temple in Jerusalem, right?
Actually, yes and no. That’s what he says here, but there are other documents from exactly the same period in which Cyrus says the same thing about other peoples’ gods. He gives credit for his victory variously to It looks like he was in the business of making peace with all the nations he liberated from the Babylonians. But yes, under his patronage, the temple in Jerusalem project began.

2. This looks a lot like the start of the next book in the Bible – Ezra.
Yup. Actually, 2 Chronicles ends in the middle of a sentence as that’s where the scroll ended. Ezra is the continuation of the same story on the next scroll. If you want to see the rest of the sentence, just look at Ezra 1 v3-4

3. Before this, the end of 2 Chronicles has been a tad depressing
All good storytellers like to end on a high note, hence bringing the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy into the picture and the hope of the building of a temple in Jerusalem. Before that, it was a tale of failed Kings – failures because of their evil acts and turning away from God.

800px-Scroll_ink_materialsSo… some top tips to glean from all that…

1. Sometimes we need to look outside the Church for help. God speaks and acts through all kinds of people, even when their motivation isn’t what we’d choose if it were up to us. God is good. In online terms, this can mean that the best evangelists are often those outside the comfy world of churchy types who simply like what we are saying and pass it on or publicly engage with it. The grace and love which we show as we engage in public online spaces are crucial. A positive response is needed from us – just as a response was required to Cyrus’ proclamation if the temple was going to get built.

2. Sometimes the medium limits or defines the nature of the message. Just like the length of a scroll defines the length of a book of the Bible, we have either concrete limits on Tweet lengths to tailor our message to. When posting in a public space online, if we want engagement outside the world of the churchy types, we need to be realistic about blog post lengths. Very long blog posts usually are not the right medium for engaging publicly. Better to split a complex subject into smaller chunks over a few posts than have a comprehensive one, where you really have a lot you want to convey.

3. Take a tip from the editor of 2 Chronicles. Yes, we may have some harsh or uncomfortable truths to share at times, but remember that we are called to share – indeed, called to be – Good News.

About Nick Morgan

Nick Morgan, Church of England ordinand based at a welcoming, bijou-sized northern Cathedral. Writer and composer. Tweets as @Unshaunsheep