February 3 - 9
A Prayer for God's Dwelling: Solomon
LIGHT TRAVELS AT 186,000 miles per second. This means it can circle the globe seven times in, literally, the blink of an eye. Yet, even at that speed, light requires 4.3 years to reach Alpha Centuri, a star near to earth. In contrast, some stars are so far away that-even at the speed of lightit would take billions of years to arrive.
The universe is, indeed, big. Yet, the God who created it is even bigger, not in a physical sense but in the sense that an artist is greater than his or her creation. No matter how wondrous the music, the statue, the paintingwhatever is created first existed in the mind of the artist, who had not only the notion of what to create but the ability to create it. In this sense, the creator is always greater than the creation.
Yet the Creator of the creation that we exist inthe Creator of the universe itselfhad come to dwell with us. The thought is overwhelming. Of course, the closest association came with Jesus, Immanuel, "God with us." This week's lesson, however, deals with another way in which the One greater than all that was made chose to tabernacle with those who were made, and that is in the earthly sanctuary.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. A Dwelling Place for God (1 Kings 8:1-21).
II. "Hear From Heaven, Your Dwelling Place" (1 Kings 8:17-30).
III. Prayer for a Rebellious Nation (1 Kings 8:31-61).
IV. "When You Hear, Forgive" (1 Kings 8:23-61).
V. "If My People. . ." (2 Chron. 7:11-22).
MEMORY TEXT: "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" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
God always wanted to be near His people, but since Israel entered Canaan, He had been dwelling in humble structures, homes, and tents in Shiloh, Gibeon, and Jerusalem. Embarrassed at the contrast with his own palace, King David dreamed of building a home for the Lord. He drew up the plans and collected the materials. His son Solomon had the honor of building it.
Hundreds of years before, Moses had predicted that God would choose a place for His Name to dwell (Deut. 12:5). The very spot where Abraham had offered his son Isaac and where David had offered a sacrifice to end a devastating plague became the site where Israel presented their sacrifices to God in anticipation of the Great Sacrifice God would provide (Gen. 22:2-14; 1 Chron. 21:15-18; 2 Chron. 3:1).
Solomon spent seven years building the temple, a magnificent structure of stone and cedar, lined with gold (1 Kings 6). With great ceremony, the priests brought the ark and sanctuary furnishings into the temple.
How did God respond to this gift from His people? 1 Kings 8:10, 11. How long did Solomon intend that the gift should endure? Verse 13.
"Had Israel remained true to God, this glorious building would have stood forever, a perpetual sign of God's especial favor to His chosen people."Prophets and Kings, p. 46. Human failure thwarted that purpose. Ultimately, this purpose will be fulfilled when the New Jerusalem descends to earth and God lives with His people forever (Rev. 21:1-3).
Solomon built the temple for the name of the Lord to dwell in (1 Kings 8:17-20). Where else does God put His name? Rev. 14:1. What does it mean to bear His name?
A name is not a mere label of identification but an expression of its bearer's nature. The full expression of God's character is given in Jesus Christ, who has manifested God's name (John 17:6, 26, KJV). Whatever is called by Yahweh's name is His possession and comes under His authority and protection. God wanted His character to be embedded in Jerusalem, in the temple, and in His people.
Though King David had conceived the plan of building a temple for the Lord, God did not want him to. He told David that his job was to unify Israel and lead them in battle against their enemies. God told David," 'You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood' "(1 Chron. 28:3, NIV). So He gave the honor of building a permanent place of worship to his son Solomon instead (1 Kings 8:16-20).
Solomon and David did not resist God's plan (see 2 Sam. 7:27-29; 1 Kings 8:17-21). Sometimes people want to do a great work for God, but because of a lack of experience or capability the Lord directs that others do the work. Instead of resisting, David stepped aside and let the honor fall on Solomon. As a result, both received great satisfaction.
What principle can we learn from David surrendering His ambitions and plans to the Lord?
In his prayer of dedication, Solomon stated that even heaven is not big enough to hold God (1 Kings 8:27). Though God is infinite, eternal, and incomprehensible to us, He is also very near, a friend and personal companion who will enter into a personal relationship with His creatures and who dwells in earthly sanctuaries made for Him (see The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 766:27, "Will God indeed dwell?"). It is only as we recognize the awesome majesty of our God, however, that we can fully appreciate the wonders of intimacy with Him. "I dwell in the high and holy place, with Him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit" (Isa. 57:15).
What was Solomon's earnest longing for himself, for the people, and for the temple?
1 Kings 8:28-30 ________________________________________________________________
Five times Solomon asked God to "hear," also to "give attention," and to keep His eyes open. It sometimes appears to human beings that God is not there, that He does not hear, that heaven, His dwelling place, is far away. What if a person feels that God neither is near nor hears his or her prayers? What advice can you give to that person?
Solomon's prayer contains numerous requests. The first was a plea that God would see that justice was done to those who swore under oath before His altar. How much better our justice systems would be today if their object was to determine the truth rather than to secure a favorable verdict for the rich and powerful!
What did Solomon request for foreigners? How far did he expect Israel's influence to extend? 1 Kings 8:41-43.
The temple of Jerusalem was to be a "house of prayer for all people" (Isa. 56:7). What does this tell us about churches that tend to exclude people based on class or ethnic identity?
Other petitions dealt with the covenant curses (Lev. 26:14-39). What types of calamity did Solomon foresee in 1 Kings 8 that would happen as a result of Israel's sins?
1 Kings 8:33 ______________________________________________________________________
1 Kings 8:35 ______________________________________________________________________
1 Kings 8:37 __________________________________________________________________
Elijah called down a covenant curse when he declared that there would be no dew or rain except according to his word (1 Kings 17:1). Israel's frequent defeats in warfare were a consequence of sin. When a city was besieged, the population inside the walls would experience starvation, disease, and death (8:37). Leviticus 26:27, 28, and 33 state that one of the punishments for persistent rebellion against God would be foreign captivity (see also 1 Kings 8:46). God was patient with His people for hundreds of years. Then the dreaded blow fell. In 722 B.C., Assyria took captive the northern kingdom of Israel, and Babylon overtook the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C.
|How would you help a person who believes that a personal calamity in his or her life was a direct result of a judgment from God? Even if that were the case, could you help that person realize that even in such a circumstance God has not abandoned him or her?|
Most of Israel's history was spent under the shadow of apostasy and the resulting curses. Yet, mingled with the curses were the promises of mercy to those who would repent (Lev. 26:40-45). It was these promises that Solomon drew upon in his prayer of dedication.
What hope was there for God's people when they were captive in a foreign land? 1 Kings 8:46-51.
Daniel was one of those captives. He used the very words of Solomon's prayer as he confessed the sins of his people and begged for mercy (Dan. 9:4-19).
Several times in his prayer, Solomon asked God to forgive. He "recognized that every man who sends a prayer heavenward stands in need of forgiveness. . . . Solomon knew that forgiveness of sin would be the earnest desire of those who prayed. He also knew that man's hope of receiving an answer to his petitions would rest largely on the sin-pardoning grace of God."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 766.
Will God's people ever get beyond the need for forgiveness? The doctrine of perfection is unprofitableit leads to pride or despair. The doctrine of imperfection is satanicit leads to presumptuous sin.
God's people do not need to commit acts of sin, but the closer they come to Jesus, the more they will recognize the sinfulness of their own natures and their constant need for forgiveness. It's an interesting process: The more we come to reflect the character of God and the more we obey His commands, the more we realize our own sinfulness and our need for a God who will forgive us, not based on our own righteousness but on His righteousness. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference" (Rom. 3:21, 22).
|Though Christ's righteousness alone is the foundation of our acceptance
with God, explain the importance of prayer in the process of being reinstated
with the Lord after we sin. What other things beside prayer are
1 Kings 8:33, 34 ________________________________________________________________
How did God respond to Solomon's petition? 2 Chron. 7:1, 2, 12-16. What does His response teach us about His attitude toward prayer?
It's a great thrill to make contact with Almighty Godto pray and receive a reply from heaven. The Lord accepted the steps of repentance Solomon had outlined and had promised to respond graciously.
At the conclusion of the dedication services for the temple, the nation celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, commemorating the years when God and His people had wandered in the wilderness living in tents. Now, God had a substantial place of rest with His people in their own land. They experienced the great joy of being at peace with Him. If only that "rest" had been permanent!
The dedicatory celebrations inspired the people, and they returned 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" (2 Chron. 7:10, NIV).
What special counsel and warnings did God give to Solomon? 2 Chron. 7:17-22.
Solomon's story presents an astonishing picture of the weakness of human nature. The deceitfulness of riches, fame, and association with the world lured him step by step away from God. Most people can stand adversity. The real test of character comes when they experience prosperity. It is easier to carry an empty cup than a full one.
Solomon committed the very sins he had prayed he would not commit. He lived most of his years away from God. When he looked back on his life, he found it was all "vanity" (the Hebrew word means "vapor" or "breath"). Wealth, pleasure, hard work, and accomplishments brought him no satisfaction (see Eccles. 1; 2). He reached the top of the ladder of success only to discover he had leaned it against the wrong wall! How could this happen to the wisest man on earth?
|How can we live our days so that when we are old we will look back with satisfaction? What are the achievements that bring lasting pleasure--wealth, service, friendships, prestige, close family relationships, sacrifice, a walk with God?|
FURTHER STUDY: Solomon's temple was only one example of a place where God loved to dwell. Ever since sin separated humanity from God, God has sought ways to dwell or "tent" in human skin with us. Look up the following texts to learn what God's other temples are: Exodus 25:8; John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Revelation 21:1-3.
One more special temple wherein God wants to dwell is your home. You might wish to plan a special dedication service to invite God's presence there.
"From every Christian home a holy light should shine forth. Love should be revealed in action. It should flow out in all home intercourse, showing itself in thoughtful kindness, in gentle, unselfish courtesy. There are homes where this principle is carried out-homes where God is worshiped and truest love reigns. From these homes morning and evening prayer ascends to God as sweet incense, and His mercies and blessings descend upon the suppliants like the morning dew."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 144.
SUMMARY: It is our privilege to dedicate ourselves, our churches, and our homes to be God's dwelling place. We can pray with Solomon, "Arise, Lord, and fill your temple!"
ETHIOPIAI am 19 years old and already have wasted years of my life. I was searching for something, but I did not know what. Some of my friends invited me to become a member of their cult, but I hesitated. Eventually, they convinced me to quit school and join them. They said the Bible did not prohibit smoking, drinking, drugs, adultery, or other activities I had thought of as sinful.
I started taking drugs, and soon I graduated to selling drugs. But when I learned that the police knew about my activities, I became worried. I did not want to spend my life in prison!
I grew restless and could not sleep. I began reading the Bible, although my mind was foggy from drugs and alcohol. I realized that my life was out of control, but I could not help myself. My soul cried out for hope and salvation. The religion that had promised a good life was choking me. Instead of happiness it brought sorrow, and instead of life it brought death. I cried out to God, and He reached down and pulled me out of the pit of sin.
Two Adventist friends invited me to a nature program at their church. I was inspired by the devotional message I heard. I yearned to have what these Christians had-real happiness, true freedom, and purity. As I prayed, I felt God's power pumping new life into me.
However, the devil was not willing to let me go. He tried to convince me that God could not love me. But God assured me that He loves me and I am His child.
I spent much time on my knees begging God to save me from the sins that I had let bind me. Soon I had the assurance that God accepted me and would abide with me. I stopped associating with my former friends and spent all my time with my new Adventist brothers and sisters.
I moved back into my parents' home. They were not sure they wanted me back. But the changes they saw in my life convinced them that I had met Jesus.
Today I am truly happy. I have returned to school; my life has found direction and purpose. But most important, I have the assurance of God's love and salvation. God has cleared my mind of the foul pollution of drugs and the poisons of my bad behavior. I am at peace. I am satisfied. I have real life in Jesus.
Berhantinsea Masrekasay lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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