Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’s Temple’

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7:14)
If you move in Judeo/Christian circles you have heard this verse quoted by pastors, politicians, and proselytes more than a few times, especially in times of regional tragedy or national sorrow. Although an encouraging portion of Scripture that strikes a harmonious chord with all true believers, let us be mindful that it is primarily a directive and an admonition from God.
A Promise to Israel
Cite the verse or post it on social media, and it won’t be very long before some imperious theologian, qualified or amateur, chimes in that the verse is contextually a promise for Israel and not for the United States or any other nation. Well, we can’t argue the point; it is a conditional promise that God made to Israel.

Here’s the entire account in the New Living Translation:

“So Solomon finished the Temple of the LORD, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. Then one night the LORD appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you.”
God continues:
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father.”
God’s final warning:
“But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the LORD do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’” (2 Chronicles 7:12-22)
For the Church or Not?

Clearly, both contextually and historically, these words of God were for Israel. So the question then becomes, is God’s wise counsel and warning applicable to us today, and more specifically, are they applicable to the Church? The answer is, of course they are.

First Things First
When God said to King David, “One of your descendants will always rule over Israel,” it was a ‘now-fulfilled,’ prophetic reference to our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is the integral part of this equation, and because Christians are grafted into the vine that is Israel, the verse applies to the church. There is no question about it: if Christians, as in the warning to Israel, abandon their namesake Christ Jesus, and disobey His decrees and commands, we will be uprooted and rejected. 
“But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.”
(Romans 11:17, NLT)
Healing for Israel Only?
No one in the body argues that if believers anywhere or at anytime, humble themselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, that God will hear those prayers, and forgive their sin. The issue with some folks is the implication found in the final portion, ‘that God will heal their land.’ 
Let’s back up. What does God mean when He says that He will heal their land, and what’s wrong with the land that it needs healing to begin with?
For starters, God cursed the land back in Genesis because of Adam’s dirty deed, but arguably that is not what’s being referred to here. However, and as it pertains to our scriptural reference, God said, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people,” (2 Chronicles 7:13).

In other words, on occasion and for varied reasons known and unknown, God allows turmoil, and God-allowed turmoil is not unique to Israel. Therefore, when God says He will heal the land, and when Christians apply His promise to the land they happen to be most closely associated with, it is a proper application. No one is saying anything more than that and certainly no Christian I associate with is suggesting that the United States is somehow replacing Israel as the apple of God’s eye. That notion, along with replacement theology in general, is a sick interpretation of the Bible (a discussion for another time, perhaps).  

Simply put, and as it pertains to the Vine of American, if folks who are called by His name, get off their high horses and humble themselves, if they would pray and seek God’s face, His guidance, His equipping, and His power, and if they repent from their wicked ways, then God will hear us; He will forgive us, and the turmoil of the land will be healed. Take note: the agnostics, the atheists, and the followers of false gods and idols don’t have to do anything! The admonition is to the church alone. If we would just start acting like the church, that is to say, in a God-prescribed manner, the promise will come to pass.
And the Naysayers Say…
“It’ll never happen!”
And of course they cite Biblical prophecy that God’s wrath is ultimately going to be poured out on America and the rest of the world. I get that and cannot dispute the prophetic and specific inevitability of those words. However there is another element that cannot be disputed: we do not know God’s timetable; we do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return, and nowhere in the Bible is it suggested that we should abandon every good work and wait for His return. The mere thought of that is absurd and dare I say, blasphemous. God would never have us reject our Christian duty! Never!
So with that, let us humble ourselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, and see what God will do! To ignore God’s warning is to reject God Himself.

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Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself. Solomon selected seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. 2 Chronicles 2:1-2

The types and antitypes associated with the Temple built by Solomon are enormous and quite possibly innumerable. The fulfillment passages from the New Testament do however give us a threefold glimpse into the typology. John 2:19-21 for instance tells us the Temple is prophetically Jesus Christ. In inexpressible contrast, 1 Corinthians 3:16 cites that individually we’re the Temple. And while still grasping at that notion, Ephesians 2:19-22 reminds us that the church corporately is the Temple. While conceptually baffling, simultaneously (aided by the Holy Spirit), the believer somehow gets it.

Getting it

Despite the modern Christian rejection of the word religion, I cherish and embrace its intrinsic worth, for contained within are the components of our faith that we get to take part in. Those who discredit, disdain, and summarily dismiss the word have been prejudiced (apparently) because they see religion as the thing(s) they obligatorily have to do in supposed violation of their free will. While others quite frankly reject the word because they’re offended by someone else giving them biblical direction, failing to realize that the ordinances are God-breathed. That my friends is a shame.

I elevate the issue because in Solomon’s actions we see what God can do when a person is determined to do those things he gets to do. We note that Solomon’s free will was not violated–he could have refused. He could have said, “Hey, this was my father’s pet-project, not mine. I may have inherited the mission, but I don’t have to do it,” and God would have raised up somebody else to do the work. I’m pleased that Solomon didn’t perceive the construction of God’s Temple as just another element of somebody else’s legalistic religion.

More Typology

At the beginning of the chapter we read how Solomon established a workforce of 153,600 men. I assumed at this point that these were Israelite men. I was somewhat surprised to discover at the end of the chapter that labors were in fact alien residents who lived amongst the Jews. I believe it pictures how the Gentiles were to be spliced into God’s Holy nation of people. The Apostle Paul in Romans 11:17 would put it this way:

And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree

I am excited by the prophetic implication. What also excites me is that God’s people; i.e., His followers, understand that He has chosen us for this work. We are His tools and the appreciative believer willingly summits himself to the Hand of the Master. What should happen if we refuse? Jesus tells pointedly…

“I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40

Christ is building His church and as He declared in Matthew 17:18, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” So if we deem the mission legalistic or replete with religiosity, there are plenty of grateful folk waiting in line to take our place. My prayer is that we, as both constructors and components of Christ’s Temple joyfully recognize that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands.

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As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart (*perfect heart, KJV) and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10

The Myth

Nike, the winged goddess of victory, is of course a myth, which is quite fitting since the philosophy behind the slogan “Just Do it,” (that we currently attribute to the modern day name), is also a fairy tale. Taken out of its biblical context, “Just Do it” minimally serves to set one up for ruin. However, in its proper framework, the phrase is the perfect tag for a most wonderful counsel.

The Math

As we read King David’s encouragement to Solomon, the numbers begin to add up. Inspired by God, David lays down a pattern for the boy king to follow, first acknowledging that the tried and true God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is also his God. “If the God I follow were not genuine,” David might have said to his son, “I would have told you so!” Therefore David does proclaim, ‘Know God.’ The Apostle Paul would add…

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11

Serving God

It might seem obvious, but it’s of vital consequence to recognize that we cannot serve God until we know something about God. It is for this reason David prescribed the order to be followed. Once we know, and as we are committed to knowing Him more, the church, both individually and corporately can more effectively serve Him. Performance flounders for those whose biblical and relational knowledge of Jesus is shallow.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

A Perfect Heart

In the New King James version, the passage is rendered as serving God with a loyal heart, while the King James translation cites a perfect heart. The message being conveyed by both is that Christian service is not to be done half heartedly. Since the Father searches our hearts entirely and wholly comprehends our intensions, to bring Him less than all is pointless.

I will praise You with my whole heart… Psalm 138:1a

.Less of Me

David continues that we should seek Him…

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a

And that we have been chosen by Him…

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you John 15:16

And that we have a house to build too!

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

How Do We Pull it Off?

When we talk about things like perfection, aren’t we over extending ourselves? You bet we are. As we read further along in 1 Chronicles 28 we discover that David gave Solomon the plans for the Temple that was to be built. Similarly, our Father has given us the pattern in His written word to pursue.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

David told Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God–my God–will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord,” and God tells us the same thing; we have the identical assurance.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6; 4:19

No Worries

God does not take away our ability to choose, so we can, if we desire, worry. But in light of God’s established promises (for those who believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), why would we elect to waste precious time focusing on our anxieties–Jehovah Jireh is our provider and His grace is our sufficiency. We can know Him, whole heartedly serve Him, and seek Him resting in the reality that we have been chosen and thoroughly equipped by Him. Praise be to God!

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands.

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Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house. 2 Samuel 7:11

David’s first official act as king over Israel was to recover the Ark of the Covenant. His second official act was going to be to build God a Temple that would house the Ark. David’s heart was in the right place, his desire was biblically sound, and he had the spiritual support of the prophet Nathan, but what he didn’t have was God’s approval. Through Nathan, God would in effect tell David, “Did I ask you to build Me a house? I anointed you as king because you’re a shepherd, not a builder. I have a builder in mind and you ain’t him!” We might think this would be upsetting to David.

God Never Says No

Or more accurately, God never says just no. In other words if our Father seemingly vetoes our plans, it is only because He has something better in store for us. That’s a very good thing to remember when we pray. The fact of the matter that David was not qualified to build the temple because of the blood on his hands is not relevant—God had bigger plans for David since time began and the good news is that He has bigger plans for us also.

But What About Psalm 37:4

Didn’t David write in the Psalm, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart,” and wasn’t building God’s Temple the desire of David’s heart? It most certainly was his desire. But the reality is that when we pray and when God rejects our plans, we better learn to pray according to God’s will. The lesson David learned was that his desire (initially) was not God’s desire. Twenty four hours later, when David got the word from Nathan, he knew God’s heart as it pertained to this matter and as a result he was ecstatic.

“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far…what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them…You are great…there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You…For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God…O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said…let Your name be magnified forever…O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant” 2 Samuel 7:18-28 (abridged)

Does this sound like a man whose desires and plans were rejected by God? Absolutely not! David got it; he saw the bigger picture. God didn’t tell David ‘No,’ He told him, “I’ve got better things for you my son!” The truth is that God has better things for us too, regardless of how He responds to our prayers. Like David, He wants to build a house for us as well! Check this out…

…As living stones, are being built up a spiritual house…no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. 1 Peter 2:5a + Ephesians 2:19-21

If you’re not fired up, you should be. God’s building a house for Himself and we are that house! Like David, we should proclaim to Him, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far!”

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