Last week we looked at the first half of this chapter, which featured Solomon, the Israelites and their brand new temple.  Everyone praised the Lord and was increased in happiness.  The second half of the chapter, featured today, explores God’s message to Solomon, which followed the Feast of Tabernacles.

This chapter is not available in any lectionary.  You are unlikely to hear it preached on in any church.  Yet, it carries important messages for us, even today.  For this reason, it qualifies as a Forbidden Bible passage.  For past Forbidden Bible Verses, click here.

Today’s reading comes from the New International Reader’s Version.

2 Chronicles 7 11:22

The Lord Appears to Solomon

 11 Solomon finished the Lord’s temple and the royal palace. He had done everything he had planned to do in the Lord’s temple and his own palace.

 12 The Lord appeared to him at night. He said,

   “I have heard your prayer. I have chosen this place for myself. It is a temple where sacrifices will be offered.

 13 “Suppose I close up the sky and there isn’t any rain. Suppose I command locusts to eat up the crops. And I send a plague among my people. 14 But they make themselves low in my sight. They pray and look to me. And they turn from their evil ways. Then I will listen to them from heaven. I will forgive their sin. And I will heal their land. After all, they are my people.

 15 “Now my eyes will see them. My ears will pay attention to the prayers they offer in this place. 16 I have chosen this temple. I have set it apart for myself. My Name will be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

 17 “But you must walk with me, just as your father David did. Do everything I command you to do. Obey my rules and laws. 18 Then I will set up your royal throne. I made a covenant with your father David to do that. I said to him, ‘You will always have a son to rule over Israel.’

 19 “But suppose all of you turn away from me. You refuse to obey the rules and commands I have given you. And you go off to serve other gods and worship them. 20 Then I will remove Israel from my land. It is the land I gave them. I will turn my back on this temple. I will do it even though I have set it apart for my Name to be there. I will make all of the nations hate it. They will laugh and joke about it.

 21 “This temple is now so grand and beautiful. But the time is coming when all those who pass by it will be shocked. They will say, ‘Why has the Lord done a thing like this to this land and temple?’

 22 “People will answer, ‘Because they have deserted the Lord. He is the God of their people who lived long ago. He brought them out of Egypt. But they have been holding on to other gods. They’ve been worshiping them. They’ve been serving them. That’s why he has brought all of this horrible trouble on them.’ ”

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Verse 11 explains that Solomon was satisfied with his work on the new temple and palace.  The Lord appears to him in verse 12 telling him that He has enabled the smooth running of Solomon’s plans and reminds him that the temple is now His house, one of sacrifice and prayer. 

Referring to Solomon’s prayer (last week’s post), God intimates that whilst He has chosen the Israelites as His people, they, in turn, must acknowledge their responsibility to Him.  Suppose they sin.  God says He may then send a drought, or famine through swarms of crop-eating locusts or another type of plague (verse 13).  If the people then turn from their sins and sincerely return to the Lord, He will forgive them and call off His punishment (verse 14):  ‘After all, they are My people.’  He will also remember that the temple is His house in which He dwells (verse 15).

So, what must Solomon do as a good leader of his people to ensure they love the Lord?  God says to him, ‘If you love me, obey me and keep my commandments, the royal throne I promised through your father David is yours’ (verses 17, 18).

And, if Solomon breaks this covenant?  Such acts will force God’s hand.  He will take away the Promised Land from His people and leave them homeless and vulnerable (verse 19).  He will even forsake the temple built in His name.  Worse still, God warns that the people of Israel will become a laughingstock amongst friends and enemies alike (verse 20).  The respect they once had for Israel will vanish.  That landmark edifice — the temple — so beautiful and grand now, will become a rundown shadow of its former self should the Israelites sin (verse 21).  It would no longer be a sanctuary.  Onlookers would wonder why.  And, yet, they would know the answer (verse 22): because God’s Chosen have disobeyed Him.  God visibly shows that He will not let iniquity go unpunished.     

Think of the comparison we can make between this passage and the Western world today.  Our beautiful churches erected to give glory to God, once thrived. Increasingly, they are now restaurants, nightclubs or empty edifices.  God is no longer there.  He left a long time ago.  That is because we have turned to the false idols of sex, greed and ambition.  We no longer pray or worship Him together.  We prefer to worship our own pleasure and power.  We act as if we are God Himself.  When we leave God by disregarding His will, we ignore His house on earth — the Church.  And when we ignore Him, His commandments and His house, He punishes us.  He leaves us to wallow in our own sin.  Note the crime and insecurity in our world. Sins of the flesh: rape, paedophilia, fornication. Sins of greed: fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement. Sins which guarantee sadness: adultery, theft, murder.  Note how we place increasing trust in man’s government to relieve this misery: ‘There ought to be a law against it,’ we rail.  Yet, we are failed because we love the idols that result in these sins.  We become prisoners of those idols and, strangely, of the myriad new laws designed to prevent them.  

Yet, we can persuade God to call off this punishment individually and collectively.  It’s so simple.  If only we take time to look deep in our hearts and examine our consciences, we will see where we have deviated from His ways.  Let us then turn unto Him and pray for His infinite mercy and forgiveness.  Then, with true hearts and minds, let us turn unto Him in full repentance.  We can do so much individually which will make a difference to the survival of our society and our children’s national inheritance.   Please take some time this Advent to do this, privately and within your own families.

You can read more here.

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