2018-03-14 / Religion

The people give thanks to God

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

2 Chronicles 7:1-9

Lowly humans can offer our Heavenly Father — the creator of the universe — only those things that are part of our physical world. The best that mankind can accomplish is not sufficient to express gratitude to the one who has brought this universe into existence.

When King Solomon, the son of King David, built the first temple in the city of Jerusalem, he saw the limit of human efforts. He declared, “behold, heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” 2 Chronicles 6:18b. In his great prayer at the dedication of this building, the king said, “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.” 2 Chronicles 6:41.

Divine acceptance of human efforts gave assurance to mankind. The Record tells us, “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.” This divine visitation — in the form of the fire — gave these worshippers an assurance of the presence of God. We are told that “the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.”

The “general population” did not take a direct part in the Old Testament worship. After the worshipper brought the animal for sacrifice — and laid his hands on the head of the animal, the remainder of the ritual was carried out by the priest. The people only saw these spectacular actions from a short distance. However, they were aware of the divine response to the worship. “And when the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” There was no question in the minds of the worshippers regarding the significance of the scene that they witnessed. They were familiar with their history. When the tabernacle in the wilderness was completed, the same experience was recorded. Of this event, the record says of the long-ago dedication of the tabernacle in the wilderness, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34, 35. The record gives us an important detail regarding the fire on the altar. After the parts of the sacrifice were made ready, “there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat…” Leviticus 9:24a, b.

The Old Testament worship was based upon the offering of animal sacrifices. At the dedication of this temple, this pattern did not change. “Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.” We have a description of the sacrifice that day — “twenty and two thousand oxen and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.”

King David had introduced much music into the worship of Jehovah. This action was continued. “And the priests waited (stood still) on (in) their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry (hand); and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.”

The space of the temple was much greater than that of the tabernacle. Yet, the size of this offering was so great that “Solomon hallowed (to make holy) the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brazen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.”

These people were not in a hurry to end this time of dedication of this house of the Lord. “Also at that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.”

This time of dedication became a time of celebration for the nation. “And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.” 2 Chronicles 7:9. The record tells us that “on the three and twentieth day of her seventh month he sent the people away unto their tents (dwellings)…” 2 Chronicles 7:10a. The attitude of the people reflected the purpose of the event. They were “glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” 2 Chronicles 7:10b. Upon completion of the various projects, the king and his people realized that the Lord had been the Source of this prosperity. 2 Chronicles 7:12.

The construction of the tabernacle and temple was a visual-aide for the people of Israel of the redemptive, mediatorial, and sacrificial work of their coming Messiah. When Jesus declared “It is finished” (John 19:30), the residence of God on the earth became the hearts and lives of believers. The Apostle Paul asked, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Thus, we — as believers — can witness the redemptive work of Jesus, and show it to the world. Eternal salvation from the consequences of sin is available to all who will accept it. John 3:16.

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