May 29, 2003

2 Chronicles 7

Fire from heaven, and a glory in the temple, witness the Divine acceptance: the people worship, #2Ch 7:1-3. Solomon's solemn sacrifice, #2Ch 7:4-7. Having kept the feast of tabernacles, and the feast of the dedication of the altar, he dismisseth the people, #2Ch 1:8-11. God appeareth to Solomon; promiseth his favour on obedience; else threateneth grievous judgments, #1Ch 7:12-22. (Poole)

In this chapter we have God's answer to Solomon's prayer.

I. His public answer by fire from heaven, which consumed the sacrifices (#2Ch 7:1), with which the priests and people were much affected, #2Ch 7:2-3. By that token of God's acceptance they were encouraged to continue the solemnities of the feast for fourteen days, and Solomon was encouraged to pursue all his designs for the honour of God, #2Ch 7:4-11.

II. His private answer by word of mouth, in a dream or vision of the night, #2Ch 7:12-22. Most of these things we had before, 1Kings 8-9. (MH)

V. 1, the Lord declared that he was pleased with Solomon's prayer and building, the temple.

Ver. 1. The fire came down from heaven.] In a miraculous manner, to testify God's approbation. This fire was kept alive till the captivity of Babylon: and after that, it was said to have been miraculously also renewed; {#/APC 2Ma 1:18-22} fides sit penes authorem. (Trapp)

If it was restored after the return, then that means that it was present when the Lord was here, and left just before the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple. Voices were heard saying, "Let us depart from hence" just before Jerusalem fell.

The glory of the Lord here is evidently the Shechinah glory of the Lord that led the people through the wilderness for forty years. The people should have recognized it is such.

V. 2, the priests could not enter to do their job because of the presence of the God's glory. The whole house was filled, both the holy place and the holy of holies.

V. 3, all of Israel saw the fire come down and the brightness of His presence, and realized that it was the glory of the Lord placed upon the house. Solomon made it clear, however, that what the people were seeing was not the Lord Himself, but only a symbol of His presence.

We know, however, that within a very short time, many of the people trade the glorious power and presence of the Lord here for false gods, as they kingdom split under Rehoboam and went to worship the Lord before the calves. No doubt there were many alive under Rehoboam who could remember this glorious day when the Lord placed His approval upon the house Solomon built, yet they followed Jeroboam instead. Jeroboam set up the calves, and led the ten tribes to worship before those calves rather than going to Jerusalem.

Note that though the fire still burned at the temple that was started from heaven here in v. 3, Jeroboam started another worship, and the people followed him.

We have such short memories of who the Lord is and what He has done for us.

For his mercy endureth for ever was the close of their song of praise. Considering the shortness of the life of the proper worship at the temple, maybe 30 years at the most, one wonders if maybe they took advantage of the mercy. We do know that human nature does indeed take advantage of God's mercy.

Israel traded this living God for gods made of gold, wood and stone.

Notice the difference between this and Moses: They could not look at Moses because of the glory of God upon him.

Vv. 4-7

V. 4, the king and the people offered sacrifices, and those sacrifices were without number. We are only given the number of sacrifices given by the king.

The people may have killed their own sacrifices, and had the priests present the blood upon the altar as the law required.

V. 5, gives us the number of sacrifices offered by Solomon.

The greatest offering that we do anywhere read of. The emperor's hecatombs—wherein they gloried, and whereby they thought they merited—consisting of a hundred eagles, a hundred lions, a hundred swine, &c., offered to their gods, were nothing to it. (Trapp)

This was a peace offering, so it was eaten by the people in th e15 days feasting, 1 Chronicles 29:21.

V. 6, the instruments of music made by David for the praise of the Lord are used. The reason for praising God was and is because his mercy endureth for ever. All Israel stood when the instruments played.

Note the ease it is to praise the Lord when things are such as they were here, but when things are the opposite, praise is far more difficult; praise is then by faith rather than by "sight".

V. 7, this was a peace offering, so it was all eaten, except the blood and the fat. This was a fourteen day feast, v. 9. (1 Chron. 29:21.)

Vv. 8-11

V. 8, the dedication of the temple fell at the same time as the feast of the tabernacles in the seventh month. This was the season right after the harvest, our September and October. It lasted seven days, and was a time of festivity.

V. 9 the solemn assembly was an assembly to hear the word of God, after they had remained in the booths or tabernacles seven days. The booths were to remind them of the wilderness journey, so it was quite appropriate to dedicate the tabernacle at this time, for they had just been reminded of God's glorious care for them as the people of the promise.

V. 10, twenty two days later, Solomon dismissed the people to go home, but they did not go home until the next day.

The high emotions did not last long.

V. 11, is 1 Kings 9:1:

Ver. 1. And all Solomon's desire.] The word signifieth such a desire as a young man hath after his mistress, or a bridegroom toward his bride; which showeth that Solomon took too much content in his buildings and furniture, passed over his affections too much unto them, and here began his fall. Licitis perimus omnes. See #Ec 2:2-10. (Trapp. Be sure to check the cross ref. In Ecc.)

I must agree with Trapp's assessment of Solomon. He had no enemies to keep him dependant upon the Lord, and now he had no goal in life, which had been to build the temple. Solomon was ordained by God to be a builder, and now his building was done. He had built everything he could think of to build, and now he was at loose ends with far too much time on his hands. "Idol hands are the devil's workshop" certainly applies here.

Vv. 12-22

12. the Lord appeared to Solomon by night—( See on #1Ki 9:1-9). The dedication of the temple must have been an occasion of intense national interest to Solomon and his subjects. Nor was the interest merely temporary or local. The record of it is read and thought of with an interest that is undiminished by the lapse of time. The fact that this was the only temple of all nations in which the true God was worshipped imparts a moral grandeur to the scene and prepares the mind for the sublime prayer that was offered at the dedication. The pure theism of that prayer—its acknowledgment of the unity of God as well as of His moral perfections in providence and grace, came from the same divine source as the miraculous fire. They indicated sentiments and feelings of exalted and spiritual devotion, which sprang not from the unaided mind of man, but from the fountain of revelation. The reality of the divine presence was attested by the miracle, and that miracle stamped the seal of truth upon the theology of the temple-worship. (JFB)

V. 12, The Lord appears again to Solomon. His dedication prayer had been inspired by God, and now God tells him that the prayer was heard:

26 ¶ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8.)

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

We are promised that those prayers directed by God are heard by God, as with Solomon.

V. 13, the Lord brings about these various distresses upon His people because of sin. He simply reminds them of the law given through Moses, Deuteronomy 28, 29.

V. 14, the distresses of v. 13, take place against the nation, national judgment, so the answer here is national humility, repentance and turning from sin:

2. National repentance, prayer, and reformation, are required, #2Ch 7:14. God expects that his people who are called by his name, if they have dishonoured his name by their iniquity, should honour it by accepting the punishment of their iniquity. They must be humble themselves under his hand, must pray for the removal of the judgment, must seek the face and favour of God; and yet all this will not do unless they turn from their wicked ways, and return to the God from whom they have revolted.

3. National mercy is then promised, that God will forgive their sin, which brought the judgment upon them, and then heal their land, redress all their grievances. Pardoning mercy makes ways for healing mercy, #Ps 103:3; Mt 9:2. (MH)

Vv. 15-22. Solomon and the glorious temple were replaced by Christ, so the promise looks forward to Christ:

1) the Lord promises again that He will hear the prayers made in the house of God.
2) the promise of a choice of life or death was made to Solomon – if he would live before the Lord as did his father, his kingdom would be established forever. We know that Solomon departed from the Lord, and thus lost the promise.

Matthew 1 traces Solomon's line through Roboam to Joseph, the husband of Mary
However, Luke 3:31, traces the genealogy back through Nathan, Solomon's brother, which evidently is Mary's genealogy. So Christ's "blood line" went back to David, but not through Solomon. Sin cost Solomon the promise, just as the Lord warned in v. 19.

3) the promise of a choice of life or death was made to the nation – if the nation departed from the law of the Lord, the Lord would depart from them, turning the nation over to their enemies.

4) the house was glorious, but the material things were not important to the Lord. Rather, He was concerned about their service to Himself. He promised to turn His house, as well as the "promised land", into a waste land if they departed from the Law of the Lord.

[V. 20] (f) Declaring that God had more concern for their salvation than for the advancement of his own glory: and where men abuse those things which God has appointed to set forth his praise, he withdraws his graces. (Geneva)

5) they departed from the Lord to serve the other gods, and the Lord turned them over to the other gods, the gods served by their enemies. In fact, the kings of Israel sought to serve the other gods openly, for they felt that those gods were stronger than the Lord God. (2 Kings 16:10ff.) They refused to see that sin was the problem.

6) sin would result in astonishing complete destruction, and the destruction was complete.

7) the cause of the destruction would be obvious and well known. The people departed from the Lord God.

Though Solomon knew all of these things by personal instruction from the Lord, he departed from the Lord anyway.

Only God's sovereign grace keeps anyone in the right way.