2nd Chronicles 6 – 7:3
SOLOMON’S DEDICATES THE TEMPLE WITH PRAYER
Having overseen the removal of the ark from Sion to the Temple Mount, restoring this holy oracle to its rightful place within the sanctuary, Solomon now leads the worship as the house which he has erected is dedicated unto the glory of God.
As we study Solomon’s prayer of dedication we must reflect upon the need that exists in our hearts for consecration unto God. As the temple illustrates by metaphor the Church of Christ, the people of God, so we likewise should offer prayers each day dedicating our lives, our families and our congregation unto God.
Solomon’s prayer was offered with real meaning and fervour because God visited His people with revival, thereby approving this building programme, that had been initiated back in the days of David. Since the days of Eli the ark had been separated from the tabernacle.
This was God’s time for restoration and at this time God came to His people in a new way. But He only acted as He did in response to prayer. Therefore Solomon’s dedicatory prayer has much to teach us about praying for revival, for a visitation from God.
The opening verses, which precede his prayer, contain Solomon’s address to the gathering which is made up of the representatives of the entire nation. He reminds them that the Temple had been erected as a consequence of the directive given by God to David many years earlier. It is evident that he was a man who was convinced, as he stood before the people on this momentous day, that God’s will had been perfectly performed. God had decided where the Temple would be erected, Jerusalem (v6), and who would build the structure, David’s son (v10). Therefore as this was God’s time Solomon could declare “The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken” (v10). Therefore Solomon prayed as a man convinced that he was standing in the centre of the God’s will. Ensuring always that we are in the will of God and following his purpose is a vital preparation for prayer. Let this be the burden in every heart.
Solomon, it seems, had a temporary raised structure, like a platform or pulpit, erected within the outer court of the temple for this act of dedication. He wanted the people the hear his words and to see him as he prayed. Attention is drawn to the spreading forth of his hands and his kneeling position as he sought God. He had become a rich and powerful ruler yet before the dignitaries of the nation he humbled himself before God signifying that he was surrendering all to a higher power. Humility, passion and sincerity are key elements in true prayer and Solomon by example was teaching this lesson to his people.
He addresses God being deeply aware of the one whom he approached:
O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in the heaven or in the earth (v14)
A reverent approach is so necessary as we draw near to God. The privilege of being able to petition the one God, who stands alone and unique in the universe ought always to fill our hearts with a sense of wonder.
Solomon also and particularly praised God not just for who He is, but also for what He does for His people:
keepest covenant, and showest mercy
If we had no awareness that the great and holy God is filled with mercy and grace we could not approach Him. God’s forgiveness is the key reason why we can pray.
Solomon now presents God with arguments why He should bless the Temple and look favourably upon His people. These arguments hang upon the promise that God gave to David:
Keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him…let thy word be verified…that thine eyes may be open unto this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there
Solomon was aware that this house could not contain the infinite God yet he claimed the promises that God had made. He knew that the grandeur of this Temple was a pale reflection of the glory of the Lord but still he realised that while he could plead his own deserving state he could rest on the promises.
We always are encouraged in our prayers by the promises of God. We can claim these promises because God’s character is bound up in the covenant which cannot be broken. He continues to be the God of revival who satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:9).
In petitioning God Solomon prays for the future welfare of his nation. He seeks Jehovah on behalf of future generations who would worship in this very sanctuary long after he had passed away. In so doing he contemplates the various prayers that will be offered either in the Temple or towards the Temple and he requests that every petition from every believing heart will be answered. Therefore this prayer as it is recorded would forever be a beacon of hope for the believing in Israel in future days when the flame of revival would burn low and when apostasy would set in.
We do not merely pray for ourselves in our present situation. We must pray for the future of our community, of our nation and of our world. We derive benefit from believers who prayed before we were born and we have a solemn duty to pass on this legacy to a future generation.
The Plea for Justice v. 22-23
God will forever honour the cry of the innocent who pleads for justice and He will not fail to expose and punish the evil doer. Whether we pray for innocent victims of terrorism or for the unborn, whether we pray against against wicked Governments and their ungodly laws or whether we simply cry for justice in a broken world God will not fail to respond to our cries, in His time.
The Petition in Times of Military Defeat v24-25
This begins a series of petitions which links problems in the nation with unconfessed and unrepented sin. Solomon was keen to impose a spiritual sensitivity upon the nation that when events took a turn a turn for the worse there must be a seeking of God. And in each case God would forgive and restore in response to the cries. How we need to seek God in adverse circumstances and mourn over the departure from God in our land manifested in the failures to pray our way out of this COVID-19 crisis which has so afflicted us.
This first petition concerns prayer following military defeat. In such times the repentance must be accompanied by a prayer that claims the land given to the fathers..another reminder of the covenant.
The Cry in Times of Famine v26-27
When famine comes God will send the rain once more when the people prayerfully repent of their sin. We are experiencing a drought of blessing in these wicked times. It is more than 100 years since a major revival took place in our nation and we today are living in the darkest spiritual time in our national history since the Reformation. Yet the promise of Ezekiel holds true for such days:
There shall be showers of blessing
The Cry in Times of Pestilence v28-31
This cry was more general contemplating locusts, invasion or sickness. The remedy is all encompassing relating to any man who recognises “his own sore and his own grief”. The individuality of the suffering within the nation in troubled times is identified in this petition. The emphasis is more upon the suffering than the sins which potentially have caused the suffering. This is because suffering is not always a judgement because it is an evidence of the brokenness in this troubled world. God is interested in the troubles of individuals and families in a troubled world seeing our grief and knowing our hearts. He is especially interested in His own people. Therefore let us pray that He would relieve us and give us peace so that we might fear him and walk in his ways and live for His glory (v31).
The Cry from the Stranger (v32-33)
This is an interesting section because Solomon here promises that if the stranger, the Gentile, seeks the Lord then He will hear. These anticipate the ingathering of the Gentiles into the economy of grace after the Temple has ceased to function because Solomon is in prayer “that all people of the earth may know thy name.”
The Cry Before Battle (v34-35)
It is incumbent upon the people not to commit their soldiers to war without first of all committing their cause to God. The promise that He will “maintain their case” is most blessed.
The Cry from the Captives (v35-39)
All of these petitions relate to future events. Solomon is aware that God’s people will depart from the faith, they will experience judgements, they will undergo severe trials yet his message is one of hope that God will respond to earnest prayers. This 7th petition pertains to the most severe test of all when the people will lose their liberty on account of their sin. It anticipates the captivity in Babylon when the people would lose their freedom and their national sovereignty. Even then they will be able to pray towards their land and the temple unto a forgiving and gracious God. Daniel would find great succour in this prayer, and many others likewise. The influence of Solomon’s praying would continue for generations.
The man of God concludes with one final earnest plea for God to see, hear and arise in order that the priests might be clothed with salvation and that the people might rejoice in His goodness (salvation through the priests precede rejoicing – our joy Is found alone in our salvation through our Great High Priest). Pleading and crying unto God is a mark of earnestness. But never once did he escape from the importance of the promise calling upon the Lord to “remember the mercies of David thy servant.”
Solomon now witnessed the most remarkable event of his life; the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifices that lay upon the brazen altar. It was a most astonishing affirmation of the prayer that he had presented before God. When the ark was laid down within the Holy of Holies the cloud of God’s presence filled the sanctuary but now the divine visitation comes also in the form of fire as the glory of God comes down.
While Solomon had spent months preparing for the ceremony of dedication this was unplanned, without parallel or precedent. God took over the event manifesting His presence in a most awesome fashion.
Revival is when God steps in and takes control revealing Himself in a most remarkable fashion. Yet revival cannot be planned or organised. God comes.
We often associate fire with revival. On the Day of Pentecost, which is the pattern for every visitation of the Holy Ghost in this New Testament age, tongues of fire sat upon the disciples as they were praying.
The primary action of the fire in the Temple was to consume the sacrifice. God is described in the Old Testament as a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24) because he justly deals with sin. The fire upon the altar was God’s sign that He accepted the sacrifice and that His people were forgiven on the grounds of the offerings presented.
As we come before God we must be reminded that Christ the fire of His Father’s wrath and that sacrifice has been accepted for us.
But with forgiveness comes repentance as the fire of God consumes our sins and helps us walk in newness of life. When revival takes place God purges His Church with the purifying flame.
The fire had the effect of humbling the people as they bowed down worshipping and praising and crying out “For he is good for his mercy endureth forever”.
A whole generation was impacted by this momentous event. Revival and revival alone will transform this generation. Yet it is rooted in what God does.
Let us pray for such a visitation of God in these dark times!