Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1 Kings 8-9 When you hear, forgive

From 1 Kings 8-9

1 Ki 8.1-11; Solomon; The Ark Brought into the Temple
1 Ki 8.12-21; Solomon; Solomon Blesses the LORD
1 Ki 8.22-53; Solomon; Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
1 Ki 8.54-61; Solomon; Solomon’s Benediction
1 Ki 8.62-66; Solomon; Solomon’s Sacrifices
1 Ki 9.1-9; Solomon; The LORD Appears to Solomon
1 Ki 9.10-28; Solomon; Solomon’s Other Acts

Passage and Comments
After Solomon built the temple, he brought the ark of the covenant into it and then dedicated the temple in prayer. This is a portion of his high priestly prayer. It gives a glimpse of what the temple is intended for.
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, 23 and said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no god like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart; 24 you have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. (1 Ki 8:22–24)
The LORD is righteous, he fulfilled his covenant promise to David that his son would build the temple after him. Solomon commends the LORD above all other gods. Not that there are any, but the people of that time were a superstitious bunch and the victories they won over their enemies were seen as conflicts between the gods of one people (e.g. Ex 12.12) with the true god of Israel, the LORD.
25 Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father. (1 Ki 8:25–26)
Solomon beseeches the LORD to remain faithful to his promise to keep a man from David's line on the throne. The LORD is still faithful to this promise right up to this day and forever more. He is the crucified and risen Lord of all. Jesus the promised Christ.
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! (1 Ki 8.27)
Yes, the LORD is omnipresent. They didn't have to go to the temple to be with the LORD. We dont have to go to a church building to be with the LORD.
28 Yet 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 this day, 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30 And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. (1 Ki 8:27–30)
Solomon asks the LORD to keep looking at this house. Yes, the LORD is omniscient. But there is a special reason for Solomon's request. That the LORD may be extra attentive to hear peoples prayers for forgiveness.
31 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven and act and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness. (1 Ki 8:31–32)
A man sins and is made by others to go to the altar to offer a sacrifice and swear an oath not sin again. But is he sincere? If he is not, Solomon asks his conduct be brought on his own head regardless of the sacrifice and oath. If he is, Solomon describes his sincere repentance as righteousness. Even more, he will be rewarded. I guess at the very least with forgiveness from the LORD and perhaps reconciliation with his neighbour.
33 “When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, 34 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to their fathers. (1 Ki 8:33-34)
Israel is may still come into conflict with foreign nations. Remember from judges this could be an indication of their unfaithfulness. If they lose it is, because they must have sinned in some way because the LORD was not with them. If they lose they know something is wrong. So they should seek the LORD and repent. Provided they do, again Solomon asks that the LORD hear them and forgive.
35 “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance. (1 Ki 8:35–36)
Likewise if there is no rain or a famine, this is a sign of the LORD's displeasure. They should seek the LORD and repent. Solomon asks that the LORD hear them and forgive. He adds they can be taught the ways of the LORD and hopefully then live in a way pleasing to the LORD.

Story of Israel
All these things happen and Israel at times does come to the temple to seek the LORD. He hears and forgives because he is the LORD, gracious and abounding in steadfast love.

Story of Jesus
Before Jesus died and rose again he told a story about temple forgiveness.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18.9-14)
The tax collector came to the house of the LORD and prayed. The LORD heard and forgave him. He went away righteous and left his life of sinning. You might need to do some business with the LORD today. Or you might remember the LORD's gracious forgiveness and give thanks again.