Read: 2 Chronicles 6-7 and Psalm 79
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.
Reading Psalm 79 alongside of this section in 2 Chronicles makes me wonder what it was like to be a prophet during these tumultuous times. Imagine being a prophet that is given this vision of the future, especially at a time when the temple is about to be dedicated. I know this is a bit out of step chronologically, but soon we’ll be reading through Isaiah to Malachi when the kingdom of God’s chosen people is divided, exiled and greatly misled. Yes, I’m ahead of myself, but these thoughts run through my head as I read the joy with which the temple is built and dedicated.
There are some minor differences in the a narrative accounts of Solomon’s dedication, but the overwhelming theme is that of praise and glory to God for all he has done for Israel, for his people. The Name of God is to be praised for he keeps his promises.
Solomon knows there is no actual dwelling place to contain God:
But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 2 Chronicles 6:18
In my mind, this reminder distinguishes this temple from that of other gods in the surrounding lands where idols are worshiped in troves. This is a place of worship, a place where they escape their daily lives and come to focus on God alone. Having a physical place to escape to is a wonderful concept, not to be confused with idol worship.
Solomon’s prayer is pretty clear here: this is a special place of refuge where people come and submit their hearts to the Lord, especially for repentance because of:
- Wrongful actions against their neighbor
- Defeat by an enemy because of personal sin
- In times of drought, famine or plague
Solomon speaks prophetically for “the foreigners,” people like you and I to come before the Lord:
Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. 2 Chronicles 6:33
God enunciated the prayer with a special kind of amen: fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 Chronicles 7:1. These were the best of times! Great joy and unity, songs filled the hearts and ears of many.
On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel. 2 Chronicles 7:7
The Lord Appears to Solomon
the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
2 Chronicles 7:12
These words of assurance are truly incredible:
if my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and
seek my face and
turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and
I will forgive their sin and
will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If…then. This verse makes its way to billboards from time to time as a means of reassuring us the we are still his people. Sadly, in just a few chapters, we’ll read the result of the rest of God’s words to Solomon, “but if you turn away…” (2 Chronicles 7:19-22).
There is so much more to the story, but this is a wonderful moment to stop and pray, to humble ourselves before you. All honor, all glory, all praise to you!