Read 2 Chronicles 7
The Dedication of the Temple
7 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lordfilled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lordbecause the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. 5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God. 6 The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the Lord’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the Lord and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing.
7 Solomon consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the Lord, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions.
8 So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israelwith him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt.9 On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more.10 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.
The Lord Appears to Solomon
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 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.
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 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. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’
19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”
In this chapter, God answers and publicly responds to Solomon’s prayer. Verse one sets the scene. God accepts Solomon’s prayer and dedication of the temple: “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” God displays His acceptance when He fills the temple with His glory so all can see and experience the glory of the Lord.
There are two responses for us to notice: the people’s response to God’s glory and God’s response to true and proper prayer. Notice how the people react to God’s glory in verses 2 and 3:
The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”
In multiple references throughout the Old Testament (1 Kings 18:38-39, Leviticus 9:24), God shows up in a consuming fire. When His glory is revealed, the people fall to their knees trembling and shouting, “He is good!” Wholehearted worship and joyful expressions of God’s goodness are people’s natural responses to experiencing God’s glory.
After God’s public display of acceptance and the people’s response to God’s presence, God also responds privately to Solomon at night. In verse 12, He says to Solomon, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.” God showed up to Solomon at night when he was alone and spoke to him personally! When God responds to our prayers, He doesn’t follow a formula. Solomon’s encounter with God shows us He is able to respond to us not only with public signs and wonders but also in a personal and intimate manner.
When God shows up to Solomon privately, He encourages him with the words, “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” (v. 14).
This powerful verse spoken in private is still important for us to understand and meditate on today. Our world is full of sin, violence, malice, ungodliness, pain, and loss. It is tempting to become discouraged, outraged, confused, and frustrated, but God encourages us with these words to cling to, not only for ourselves, but for our world. God tells Solomon about the kind of relationship He wants with His people. He wants us to pray in faith with humility, seeking Him, and repenting from sin. God wants to listen to our voices and forgive and heal us. God calls us to turn our hearts to Him and away from what is not of Him.
What if we took this prayer quite literally? What if we, His people, His very own children, called by His name, humbled ourselves, prayed, and sought His face with all of our heart? What if we repented? Imagine the faith space we create for God to move not only in our own lives, but in our city, in our nation, and in our world. This chapter shows us what honors God and what does not and how to avoid the consequences of disobedience: submit to God, pray, and repent. The lesson is as applicable today as it was then.
- If you were to give an honest assessment of your prayer life, what is the current state of it today?
- Which of the four directives discussed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (humility, prayer, seeking God, repentance) could you improve on when it comes to how you approach God?
- How does this chapter end, and why should we see it as a warning to us today?
By the Way
This chapter is all about the dedication of the temple Solomon built and God’s response to his prayer and dedication. But because of Jesus, God’s presence and glory is no longer limited to a building. He put an end to the need for a temple being in a single location. Christians became the temple of God, a house for his Holy Spirit. Because of Christ’s blood, given as the ultimate sacrifice, we have been made clean, pure, and holy enough to have God’s Spirit live in us.
I Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 explains, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
2 Chronicles 7:1 says, “When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the temple.” A similar verse in Acts 4:31 reads, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
In both of these verses, prayer stirred God’s heart and His power manifested itself. In the Old Testament, when Solomon prayed to God, fire burned the offerings and the Spirit of God filled the temple. But in the New Testament, when the disciples prayed to God, the Spirit of God filled them. They became the temple. We are the temple! Our prayers can stir and move the heart of God leading to an outpouring of his Spirit and a greater manifestation of his presence! In Acts 4, after this outpouring and filling of the Spirit, the Church was birthed. Imagine, today, what this could mean for our world.
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