Friday, August 23, 2013

CLXVIII - II Chronicles 5-7

Chapter 5 - The Temple is Dedicated

The Temple has been built and all of the furnishing have been crafted.  It took Solomon seven years to complete it.  Solomon finished the work in the 8th month of his 11th year as king. That was in September or October 960 BC. The dedication of the temple was in the autumn of the next year. That was in the 7th month of the year 959 BC.  {It's certain that Solomon was anxious to dedicate the Temple as a finished work ready to present to God.  But there was a year's worth of preparation for such an event.  We must bear in mind that communication alone took time.  It was more that just a matter of picking up the phone to contact someone.  Also, he wanted to again assemble (verse 2) all elders, tribal leaders, and clan chiefs from the entire nation.  Such an ingathering would have required much preparation for housing, sacrificial animals, etc.  Also, many of these elders and other leaders were old and traveled slowly.}  At that time of the year, there was a special week set aside when the Jews lived in temporary shelters (the Feast of the Tabernacles).  They did this to remember the time when God led them through the desert.  Solomon dedicated the temple to God on the 8th day during this special time.  When all the elders had gotten to Jerusalem and "settled in", it was time for the Levites to bring the Ark of the Covenant into its proper place in the Holy of Holies, the furthest room in the Temple.  The Levites also brought into the Temple all of the newly made furnishings plus all of the furnishings and utensils from the Tabernacle in Gibeon.  It states again here in Chronicles that the poles used to carry the Ark were to remain in the rings attached to the four corners of the Ark.  However, the poles were longer that the Holy of Holies was in depth, forcing the poles to stick out through the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.  Once the Ark was in Holy of Holies, only the high priest was permitted to enter.  It mentions here in verse 10 that the only items inside the Ark were the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments.  {It immediately comes to one's mind that the jar of manna and Aaron's budding rod were also placed inside the Ark (Exodus 16:32-34).  What happened to them?  They are not mentioned again beyond the time which they were placed in there.  I could not venture even a wild guess.  They might have been stolen by the Philistines, but that is doubtful because the Philistines would have considered them as part of the curse.  Also I seriously doubt that God would have allowed these two holy object to fall into enemy hands.  If you have any thoughts on this, please share.}

The remaining verses in this chapter tell of the priests withdrawing from the Holy Place, signifying that the Temple was complete.  This event began the playing of music by the Levite musicians and the singing of praises to the Lord.  The Levites were decked out in their regalia.  It must have been a sight to behold.  The musicians who played the cymbals, harps, and lyres (Guitars) were accompanied by 120 trumpet players, all skilled Levite musicians.  Then all other Levites burst out in a song of praise.  {These words of this song appear often in the Psalms, for example, Psalm 136.}

Chapter 6  -  God Is Pleased

It says in verse 1 of this chapter that the Temple was filled with the cloud.  Many times the glory of the Lord came as a cloud. At Mt. Sinai the Lord said that he would come to the people in a dark cloud. Then the people would hear him when he spoke to Moses (Exodus 19:9; 20:21)  And here in Chronicles, when Solomon put the Ark in the Temple, the glory of God came like a cloud. That cloud filled the Temple (I Chronicles 5:14).  Solomon saw the cloud and he believed that the Lord was in that cloud. The cloud showed to him that the Lord accepted the Temple. Solomon had built a wonderful Temple. He built it as a place for the Lord to live in forever. But for this to happen, the people must not only be loyal to God, but teach their children and grandchildren about God.  But in the end, God’s people did not remain loyal to God, so His glory left the Temple (Ezekiel chapter 10). The army from Babylon destroyed this glorious Temple in 586 BC.

Verses 3-6 Solomon spoke to the congregation, going over God's promise to his father David, and that God was faithful to His promises (vs 10).

Verses 12-42  -  Solomon's Prayer of Dedication

Solomon had planned to the the one who would deliver the prayer of dedication of the Temple to the Lord.  Before hand, he had a bronze platform made that would allow him to lead the entire congregation in prayer.  Take a moment to read this beautiful prayer of dedication in vss 12-21.  Then in vss 22-42, Solomon's prayer turns a bit unusual.  Solomon lists seven possible situations that might occur.  Solomon addresses each of the seven situations, using the same pattern:

1 - He states the situation which causes a problem
2 - The problem or situation is presented to God in the Temple
3 - He prays that God will hear the prayers and requests for mercy
4 - He prays God will forgive Israel and deliver them from the situation

There are seven problems (or situations) that Solomon specifically mentions in his prayer:

1 - A civil action brought by on Israelite against another  (vss 22-23)
2 - Israel is defeated by an enemy (vss 24-25)
3 - A drought  (vss 26-27)
4 - Plague and desease  (vss 28-31)
5 - A foreigner's prayer  (vss 32-33)
6 - God orders Israel to war  (vss 34-35)
7 - Captivity and exile  -  (vss 36-39)

Solomon's prayer would be almost considered prophetic.  All of these things happened.  All of them were recorded in Chronicles, the last of which is when Cyrus of Persia releases them from years of bondage to return to the Promised Land (II Chron 36:23).  It might seem as though Solomon drifts a bit in this dedication, but he didn't.  His words show that he wanted this Temple to be the central location for confession, repentance, supplication, and deliverance.  Actually, it was all very appropriate to the dedication of the Temple.  Note in the very last verse in this chapter, Solomon prays briefly for himself.

Chapter 7  -  The Lord Appears to Solomon a Second Time

This chapter opens with the continuation of the dedication with yet more sacrifices being burnt to the Lord.  In verse 10, after even an extension of another seven days of worship, Solomon sent all of the people back to their homes.

Between verses 10 and 11, there has been much time elapsed.  This might be difficult to get your arms around, but 13 years after Solomon's prayer of dedication, the Lord appeared to him during the night.  He appeared to him to tell him that He had accepted the Temple.  This was the second time the Lord appeared to Solomon.  {The first time was at the town called Gibeon at the start of his rule as king (2 Chronicles 1:7).}  The important part of God's appearance was that He accepted the Temple, and He reminded Solomon that the people must remain loyal to God and His commands.  Although God promises to hear the prayers and supplications of His people, He is careful to caution once again what He expects in the attitude of His people's prayers.  He describes the proper attitude of His people when praying that:

1 - they be humble
2 - they must trust in the Lord
3 - they must confess their sins
4 - they must repent their evil behavior.

THEN the Lord will hear their prayer. And He will forgive their sins.

Next post:  The Power and Splendor of Solomon

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