>I’ve been working on a journey through the Bible in 90 days, target end date being March 30, 2010. To be honest, I’m a little behind…ok…I’m a lot behind. But that’s not what’s important here…I can lament my undisciplined life on my own blog. This is man’s game. This is Hold To Truth…not your momma’s boy blog (wait…isn’t DeLano ending this series with his mom…I digress…). On my journey through the Old Testament I’ve come across sections of Scripture that I haven’t read in a long time. Some I avoided because I can’t pronounce names with that many consonants in them, some I glossed over because they seemed irrelevant, and to be honest, Leviticus just seems weird. I hope I can still get this posted…
But recently I came across the sections (both in I Kings and in 2 Chronicles) where Solomon is dedicating the Temple. A couple of verses really jumped off the page into my heart. This venue seems appropriate to be the one where I share my thoughts. First, I’ll give you the passages of Scripture and then I’ll try to give you some measure of semi-organized thoughts about my interpretation. Hang in there…it’s about to get real good…
1 Kings 8:27 (English Standard Version)
27″But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!
2 Chronicles 6:18-21 (English Standard Version)
18″But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! 19Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you, 20 that your eyes may be open day and night toward this house, the place where you have promised to set your name, that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 21And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
2 Chronicles 7:11-16 (English Standard Version)
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if 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. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
It’s such an interesting passage of Scripture where Solomon builds and dedicates the Temple. The whole passage revolves around giving the LORD a place to live forever. But then, just as it is completed both Solomon and the LORD agree that the Temple will never be big enough to hold Him. After all, “…heaven and the highest heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house…” So Solomon builds a place for God to live and then acknowledges, “It’s not big enough for God.” So if the Temple was not to serve as a place for God to live, what was its purpose? From the passages above, I believe we see three THINGS that live perpetually in the Temple of God, one ACTION should perpetually take place in the Temple of God, and there is one PURPOSE for the Temple of God.
The first thing God says will be in the Temple forever is His NAME. The Temple would forever be identified as being “HIS”. Others can write far more scholarly articles about what this means…I want to take a more simple approach. As a child I had a few possessions that were “mine”. There was nothing special about any of them, ranging from a baseball glove to a basketball to a remote control car and so on. The one thing that distinguished them from everything else in the world, the one way that I could identify those items was this: they bore my name. In black sharpie it said “Rayden”. No one ever confused me for a baseball glove, a basketball, or a remote control car (and none of those showed up as my doppelganger on facebook last month). The purpose of writing “Rayden” on those items was not to identify them as “Rayden” but as belonging to “Rayden”. The LORD put His name on and in the Temple forever because it belongs to Him. It is His possession and no one can pluck it out of His hand.
The second thing God says will be in the Temple forever is His eyes. Two important thoughts immediately jumped into my mind as I thought about God’s eyes being in the Temple. The Temple was a place where sins were confessed and offerings were made to atone. So, the LORD could see the sins of the whole world. The sin of His people was perpetually in sight. But, to the praise of His glorious grace, so was atonement. And since the eyes of the LORD were residing in the Temple, He saw His people through a blood stained lens.
The third thing God says will be in the Temple forever is His heart. All across America we just celebrated a great holiday celebrating love, Valentine’s Day. It’s a fun little holiday, giving you the chance to share your love and affection with someone special. The most common gift, or perhaps most identified with Valentine’s Day, is a heart shaped box of chocolate candy. The idea is that you give your heart to the person you love. God placed His heart in the Temple as a perpetual reminder that He loves His people. The glory of the Temple was not the gold that lined the walls, it was that the very love of God flowed from its inner chambers.
The action that must always take place in the Temple is implied in the verses above. Did you catch it? The Lord says that His ears will be attentive to the prayers made in that place. He cannot hear that which is not said. The perpetual activity of the Temple is prayer. Simple as that.
The purpose of the Temple is stated in 2 Chronicles 7:12, . “12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. ‘” Sacrifice. That was the sole purpose of the Temple. It was to be a place where sacrifice was made.
Here comes the application…don’t miss it…
1 Corinthians 3:16 (English Standard Version)
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
There it is. You are God’s Temple. So, His NAME is on you forever. Not to identify you as HIM, but to identify you as HIS. His eyes are on you, so that you can see what He sees and so that you are seen by Him. He sees your sin, but only through the blood stained lens. His heart is in you. Why? Because He loves you. He gave you His heart because He loves you and so that you might love. And what about this prayer thing? Well, when you know what to do: pray. When you don’t know what to do: pray. When you are happy: pray. When you are sad: pray. When you are angry: pray. When you are rejoicing: pray. Why? Because prayer places God in the position of power in our lives. It connects us to His heart. It disconnects us from independence and self-centeredness. Prayer prioritizes the desire of God above the desire of self. It is our way to seek the connection, security, love, peace, courage, clarity, and hope that are found only in the NAME. So, pray. Finally, we come to it…the purpose…it’s a word that none of like very much. Its application is different in every life. But the cost is always the same: more than we are comfortable with. That’s what sacrifice is. It’s giving more than we are comfortable giving. Our example is the NAME above all names, Jesus Christ. His anguish over His impending sacrifice was so excruciating that it cause Him to sweat blood. Our purpose in this life is to lay down our lives. That is real hospitality. That is real love. That is sacrifice. That is our purpose. Go and live in such a way that all the world can see that the glory of the temple isn’t in the walls of gold, the artifacts, the shape or the size…the glory of the temple is that it belongs to the LORD and exists for His good pleasure. Be a living sacrifice today…and HOLD TO TRUTH!