Studies in Chronicles
2nd Chronicles 7:11-22
This very famous passage contains the words which God brought to Solomon after he had completed both the construction of the Lord’s house and of his own palace. According to 1st Kings 7:1 Solomon spent 13 years building his own house after he erected the temple. Therefore the Lord came to Solomon after these twenty years of building works were completed with the words recorded in 2nd Chronicles 7.
This was the second occasion when God visited Solomon in a very personal way. At the beginning of his reign God visited His servant in Gibeon at the beginning of his reign. On that occasion Solomon asked for wisdom (2nd Chronicles 1:7-12). Now twenty years God came again; on this occasion with warnings and promises.
Solomon was now at the height of his success and prosperity. He had achieved much in twenty years and had taken Israel to a place of influence and power that she would never again experience. Therefore, these words were necessary in order that Solomon and all Israel might understand that the God who blesses can withhold that same blessing, that years of achievement are no guarantee that success will continue and that the ground that is gained can so easily be lost.
We too must hear these words within a New Testament context:
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall 1st Corinthians 10:12
In these last weeks the evangelical church across the world has been rocked by the findings of a report into the promiscuous and abusive behaviour of a very well known Christian apologist, who passed away within the past year. This is a solemn reminder of sin and its lethal consequences in the lives of God’s people; the good that we do can even be eroded by hidden sins that come to light even after we die – but we are all fragile prone to wandering and failure. Let no-one say that this is not relevant for us. Christians backslide and churches drift into apostasy. We must be watchful. The tragedy is – Solomon himself fell into this same pit that the Lord was warning him about in this place.
These words which God presented to Solomon were an answer to prayer (v12) yet this answer was a warning. Solemn and serious words when they come from God are in themselves a gracious response to the cries of God’s people. We ought always to be grateful when God speaks, especially if His words come with convicting and challenging power.
These words from God centre around the 14th verse, which has inspired Christians for generations. They dominate the spiritual history of Israel and continue to bless and challenge the church in this modern age.
God’s words to Solomon focused upon those whom He described as
1: A Chosen People
…my people which are called by my name…(V14)
Israel’s identity was bound up in the choice of God. He called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. He chose Isaac and Jacob to be the recipients of the covenant promises, which were always seen in terms of sovereign grace:
And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt
Likewise today, we are Christians because of God’s choice; He has decided that we would be honoured by His name:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will...
2: A Chastened People
But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them. (V19-22)
Setting before Solomon the very real possibility and probability of Israel’s forsaking the commandments and pursuing idolatry, God warned that He would permit the temple to be destroyed. The frightful apostasy of later years, particularly during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh would seal the doom of the temple, bringing this tragic warning to pass.
The history of Israel teaches us that God is not mocked and He will take the sins of His people particularly seriously. With a high calling comes high responsibility. When we dishonour God He will not fail to apply the chastening rod. The consequences of sin should never fail to alarm and bring fear into the hearts of God’s people.
3: A Crying People
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. (V14)
This famous verse describes a people in prayer when God has stopped the rain or commanded the locusts to devour the crops. In such a time of fearful visitation the people of God must cry with tears of repentance that God would heal their broken nation. Such praying must be accompanied with humility and repentance if a change is to take place.
God, however, instructed the people to pray in the temple or towards the temple:
Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
(2nd Chronicles 7:14-15)
In like manner we direct our cries towards Christ, to whom this temple directs us. As the one in whom all the fullness of God resides, who is the embodiment of the sacrifices and the mercy seat we cry unto Him as our Great High Priest.
4: A Covenanted People
For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. ( v 16-18)
While God never turns a blind eye to sin He will not forget His covenanted people. The healing of the land is based on this fact; God is bound to His Word.
These words would be a help in later times when sin and judgement afflicted the land. They drew the ungodly Manasseh to faith when in captivity, they inspired the revivals in the days of Hezekiah and Josiah and they certainly comforted Daniel and others when in Babylon. They provided the evidence that however dark the situation God would not turn away from the cries of His people to whom He is bound.
These words encourage us to pray in the darkest of times, believing that God will always respond to His people.
But ultimately, as God would respond to Israel because of the promises that He had made concerning the temple, so all of our blessings and prayers are bound up in the person of Christ, the anti-type of the temple.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. John 2:19-22
On account of His death and resurrection God looks with favour towards His people.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
2nd Corinthians 1:20