2 Chronicles 7 – The Temple Dedicated
A. Dedication by God and man.
1. (1-3) The temple is dedicated by God with fire from heaven.
When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the Lord’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.”
a. Fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices: This is one of the remarkable instances in the Old Testament of God sending fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice. It was a dramatic and visible proof of God’s approval, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
i. “This fire was kept alive till the captivity of Babylon: and after that, it was said to have been miraculously renewed [in the days of the Maccabees].” (Trapp)
b. The priests could not enter the house of the LORD: This repeats the occasion first described in 2 Chronicles 5:14.
c. They bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD: The people responded with a combination of reverence and worship. Their awe-filled praise glorified the goodness and mercy of God.
i. One might think that consuming fire from heaven might make them more aware of the power and judgment of God. Yet the whole situation seems to have made them more aware of the goodness and mercy of God.
d. For He is good, for His mercy endures forever: This familiar refrain is connected with Psalm 136 and Psalm 118, and with 2 Chronicles 5:13. Seeing all they could of God’s great works, they could not help having this strong emphasis on the goodness and mercy of God.
2. (4-5) The temple is dedicated by man with a multitude of sacrifices.
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
a. The king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD: As wonderful as the program and the praise were, they could not replace the sacrifices. God still had to be honored through blood sacrifice, both for atonement and as a demonstration of fellowship with God.
b. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep: This is a staggering – almost grotesque – amount of sacrifice. Each animal was ritually sacrificed and a portion was dedicated to the LORD, and a portion given to the priests and the people. It was enough to feed a vast multitude for two weeks.
3. (6-10) The days of praise and feasting for the dedication of the temple.
And the priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the LORD, which King David had made to praise the LORD, saying, “For His mercy endures forever,” whenever David offered praise by their ministry. The priests sounded trumpets opposite them, while all Israel stood. Furthermore Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the LORD; for there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat. At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a sacred assembly, for they observed the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that the LORD had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel.
a. The priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the LORD: On such a great occasion everyone must be about their work. The priests had so many sacrifices to administer that they specially consecrated the area in front of the temple to receive sacrifices because the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings.
b. At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him: From the time of year and the length of this feast, we understand that this was the Feast of Tabernacles, extended beyond its normal seven days on this special occasion.
i. “Their unity is expressed in geographical terms as well as by a unity of spirit – Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt indicates the widest possible extent of Israel’s occupation of the Promised Land.” (Selman)
c. For the good that the LORD had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel: This account of the dedication of the temple ends where the story of the temple began – with David, not Solomon. The writer remembers that it was David’s heart and vision that started the work of the temple.
4. (11) Conclusion: the work successfully accomplished.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the LORD and in his own house.
a. Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house: 1 Kings 7 goes into more detail about Solomon’s palace. It seems that his palace was even more spectacular than the temple, based on the number of years it took him to build it.
b. Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart: It was the end of a well-done job, a job that began with Solomon’s father David.
B. God appears to Solomon again.
1. (12-16) The assurance of answered prayer from the temple.
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”
a. The LORD appeared to Solomon by night: This was actually the second great appearance of God to Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-2). The first is described in 1 Kings 3:5-9. It was good of God to appear to Solomon the first time; it was even better of God to grant a unique appearance to Solomon the second time.
i. “Brethren, we want renewed appearances, fresh manifestations, new visitations from on high; and I commend to those of you who are getting on in life, that while you thank God for the past, and look back with joy to his visits to you in your early days, you now seek and ask for a second visitation of the Most High.” (Spurgeon)
ii. After Solomon built the temple and his palace he came to the most dangerous period of his life – a season after great blessing and accomplishment. God graciously gave Solomon a fresh revelation of Himself before this dangerous period.
iii. “The words speak to us also. No height attained, no work done, no blessing received, is in itself sufficient to ensure our continuance in favour. Nothing but continued fidelity can do that.” (Morgan)
b. I have heard your prayer: The great prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings 8 meant nothing unless God heard the prayer. The true measure of our prayer is if God in heaven answers the prayer.
i. This answer seems to have come many years after the actual dedication of the temple. Yet God also gave Solomon an immediate answer of approval at the time of dedication, when the sacrifices were consumed with fire from heaven (2 Chronicles 7:1-7).
c. Have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice: The building was Solomon’s work, done in the power and inspiration of the LORD. The consecration of the building was God’s work. Solomon could build a building, but only God could hallow it with His presence.
i. “It is to be a house of prayer and a (literal) ‘house of sacrifice’…. This combination of the temple’s functions is striking, and is one of the several indications in 2 Chronicles 5-7 that prayer and sacrifice are to be understood as ‘two sides of the same coin.’” (Selman)
ii. “By presenting the temple as a place where right sacrifice and prayer could be accepted, an opening was being provided to exchange Israel’s present bleak circumstances for a more positive future. It offered an opportunity to change the course of Israel’s history.” (Selman)
d. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face: This wonderful promise is in the context of God’s promise to answer prayer from the temple which He chose to hallow with His presence. God promised something special to Israel when they did humble themselves and did pray and seek God’s face.
i. There is something naturally humble in true prayer because it recognizes that the answers are not in self and they are in God. God promises something special to humble, praying people.
ii. The phrase My people who are called by My name had its first application to the people of Israel as they lived in the land God promised them. Nevertheless, the same God who made this promise to Israel still reigns in the heavens and will still respond to His humble praying people today.
iii. “Although God’s invitation is initially given to my people (2 Chronicles 7:14), 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 has made clear that anyone who acknowledges God’s name and authority may pray with the same confidence of a hearing. This passage is therefore consistent with others where the invitation is explicitly extended to ‘all who call upon the name of the LORD.’” (Selman)
e. And turn from their wicked ways: This great promise of answered prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14 also includes the condition of repentance. As the people of God humble themselves, pray and seek the face of God, they must also turn from their wicked ways. It wasn’t enough to merely turn their hearts to God; they must also turn their lives to God.
f. Then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land: God simply promises to hear the prayer of His humble, prayerful, seeking, repentant people. He will bring forgiveness to His people and healing to their land.
i. “These expressions are best understood as four facets of one attitude, that sinners should seek God himself in humble repentance, rather than four separate steps on a long road to forgiveness.” (Selman)
· We can see what it means to humble one’s self by looking at Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:6, 7, and 12), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:26), and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:12, 19, and 23).
· We can see what it means to pray by looking at Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:18 and 32:20) and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:13).
· We can see what it means to seek by looking at the returning priests and the faithful (2 Chronicles 11:13-16) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
· We can see what it means to turn by looking at Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:6 and 30:9)
ii. “Healing throughout the Old Testament has a mixture of spiritual and physical applications. Sometimes healing is specifically equated with forgiveness (e.g. Hosea 14:4; Isaiah 53:5, 57:18-19; Psalm 41:4); at other times it relates to physical healing (e.g. Genesis 20:17; Numbers 12:13; 2 Kings 20:5, 8). When it is applied to the land, as here, it can refer to bringing the exiles back to the Promised Land (Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6-7) or restoring the land and its people to peace and security (Jeremiah 33:6; Isaiah 57:19).” (Selman)
g. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place: God promised to pay special attention to the prayers offered from the temple which Solomon, the son of David built. We can be much more confident of His attention to our prayers when we offer them in the name of Jesus, the Son of David. He is better access to God than even the temple was.
h. My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually: “The idea of God having a heart is extremely rare in the Bible, and the only other explicit reference speaks of God suffering heart pains because of the evil of humanity (Genesis 6:6; cf. also Genesis 8:21; 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)…. It is hard to think of a more intimate way to indicate God’s nearness, or a greater encouragement to prayer.” (Selman)
2. (17-22) God’s warning to Solomon.
“As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’ But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.’”
a. If you walk before Me as your father David walked…then I will establish the throne of your kingdom: God’s answer to Solomon’s previous prayer had a great condition. If Solomon walked before God in obedience and faithfulness, he could expect blessing on his reign and the reign of his descendants, and the dynasty of David would endure forever.
i. God did not demand perfect obedience from Solomon. David certainly did not walk perfectly before the LORD, and God told Solomon to walk before Me as your father David walked. This was not out of reach for Solomon.
b. But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments…then I will uproot them: The positive promise is followed by a negative promise. If Solomon or his descendants turn away and forsake God and His word, then God promised to correct a disobedient Israel.
c. And this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight: God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer was not an unqualified promise to bless the temple in any circumstance. God blessed the temple and filled it with the glory of His presence, but He would cast it out of His sight if the kings of Israel forsook the LORD.
i. With such a glorious temple, Israel would be tempted to forsake the God of the temple and make an idol of the temple of God. Here the LORD made them know that He could never bless this error.
d. Will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.… everyone who passes by it will be astonished: Under the Old Covenant, God promised to use Israel to exalt Himself among the nations one way or another. If Israel obeyed, He would bless them so much that others had to recognize the hand of God upon Israel. If Israel disobeyed, He would chastise them so severely that the nations would be astonished at the judgment of God among His disobedient people, and they would know that the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.
i. “The manner in which these disobedient people have been destroyed is truly astonishing: no nation was every so highly favoured, and none ever so severely and signally punished.” (Clarke)