Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan For May 12, 2 Chr 6-8

Today's readings are 2 Chr 6-7.

In 2 Chr 6, we see the dedication of the temple in detail. Solomon's prayer of dedication reveals much about himself. Like his father David, Solomon is a godly man who sometimes makes regrettable decisions. In this case, he humbles himself before the nation he leads and before his God by kneeling down and uttering an astonishing prayer.

He begins by confessing that God cannot be contained in the temple. Then Solomon enumerates the possible consequences of sin upon the nation of Israel. In each case, he prays that the people would repent before their God. We see the value of contrite, repentant hearts.

Solomon's prayers reflect the experience and history of his people. They have sinned repeatedly, paid the consequences, then turned back toward God and called out to Him. God has been consistently gracious and merciful but has also continued to refine them, teach them and discipline them, revealing more of His character and nature to them as their relationship with Him continues to develop.

This is a model for our personal relationship with God. We may stumble and fail from time to time. God is always gracious and merciful, willing to teach us and move us forward. But this happens only if we humble ourselves and repent. Israel did it. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, did it. We should do it as well. The reward is a closer, more intimate relationship with God.

The temple is a milestone in Israel's growth. Adam walked in an intimate relationship with God. When he sinned, Adam was ejected from the garden, taking the human race with him. God chose a man, Abraham, to begin leading a particular people back into an intimate relationship with Himself.  He delivered them, gave them His law, gave them a home and now dwells among them. The relationship is progressing but is not yet complete. There is still a veil between God and His chosen people. The relationship will continue to grow until, one day, the veil will be removed, and God will live inside His people rather than among them.

In 2 Chr 7, we see that much bloodshed accompanies this phase of the growing relationship. We learn that man's communion with God progresses through repentance and the shedding of blood as a sacrifice for sin.

God reiterates all this when He reveals to Solomon that His blessings are conditional. They will come if the people humble themselves and repent. There are tremendous blessings for those who lead godly lives but there are also grave consequences for those who sin.

2 Chr 7:14 is one of those verses that is frequently taken out of context,
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It is commonly used as a prayer for our land to be healed of the ungodly forces that the culture has loosed in our day, whether they be political, moral or pagan. But, if this verse is read in context, the prayer God encourages is one for His own people to repent of their sin and turn back to Him. As Scripture says, “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.” (1 Pet 4:17).

The ground rules have been set. There is a clear understanding of what God expects from His people. The temple is complete. There is peace in Israel.

2 Chr 8 provides some detail on Solomon’s accomplishments. Solomon naively thinks the impact of his marriage to Pharaoh's daughter, which was prohibited by God's command, can be mitigated by seeing to it that she does not live in the house of David (2 Chr 8:11). Sin cannot be separated from our life of faith nor compartmentalized. It must be dealt with through repentance, not compromise.

It is ironic that Solomon does such a great job of completing the house of the Lord then immediately joins with Hiram, a Gentile, in a money-making venture (2 Chr 8:17-18).

It is so easy to be swayed into compromise by the lure of easy money or by the reluctance to deal with sinful behavior. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, falls into it quickly.
This should cause us to be extra vigilant to avoid making the same mistake. 

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