Saturday, 31 May 2014

(152) June 1: 2 Chronicles 1-3 & John 12:1-19

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider what we learn about Solomon’s rule.

To ponder:
With the baton now passed, the book begins affirming Solomon established himself “firmly” over the kingdom, but only because the LORD was with him, making him “exceedingly great.” Solomon’s greatness is then recounted. First, Solomon leads “all Israel” in devotion to God by having the assembly of its leaders join him at Gibeon to “enquire of the LORD” – the act of kings that do right. The author ensures we are clear this was acceptable despite being a high place: Although David had erected his own tent in Jerusalem and taken the ark there, the tabernacle and its altar were at Gibeon (the note about Bezalel affirms it was the original). This helps us understand that to do something “before the LORD” didn’t require the ark, but might simply refer to something done in acknowledgement of God’s special presence, and perhaps in the context of worship. So Solomon offered 1000 burnt offerings - the offering that expressed devotion to God.
            Having displayed humility in requesting wisdom from God and been promised wealth, riches and honour (see notes on 1 Kgs 3), we read Solomon reigned from Jerusalem. There is however a hint of his failings in the record of the horses and silver and gold he accumulated (see Deut 17v16-17, and notes on 1 Kgs 10v26-29).
            After the build up of the previous book, Solomon then gives orders for the temple to finally be built, arranging workers and foremen. These were taken from the aliens within Israel, enabling Israelites to continue their day to day work (2v17). The census Solomon took of these aliens (2v18) was not sinful as David’s was. Its motives were pure, and it was not of Israelites, and so did not suggest any doubt as to God’s promise to multiply his people.
The significance of Hiram’s assistance is that of the nations serving God’s anointed king and supporting his worship (see notes on 1 Kgs 5). What is recorded here and not in 1 Kings is Solomon’s outline of the work to be done within the temple. This would ensure the post-exilic readers were clear what must take place once the temple in their day was rebuilt. Solomon is also uncompromisingly clear both that Israel’s God “is greater” than all others and so supreme over the nations, and that he cannot therefore be contained within a temple – or even heaven itself. We should not read this as an affirmation of foreign gods as real. The author (and Solomon himself) knew quite well they were not (1 Chr 16v26). The point is simply that Israel’s God is due all worship. And in our pluralistic age this clarity needs to be our own. It is for these same reasons that those of other religions, like Hiram, need to turn from their idols to worship the true God. Indeed, Paul echoes Solomon in making just this point (Acts 17v24-34).
The third extra to the account in 1 Kings is Hiram’s praise of God. He declares that God’s love for Israel is expressed in providing such a wise king, with his commitment to building the temple and his own palace. As with the Queen of Sheba (1 Kgs 10) we see Solomon fulfilling Israel’s role of displaying God’s wisdom to the nations (see Deut 4v6-8). And as people witness Christ’s rule of the church, they come today to praise God for his love in providing such a wise king who is building the church as the temple of God’s presence. Indeed, to be ruled by such a king is a reason for aligning ourselves with the people of God through faith.
            The details of the temple were a reminder of Eden (see notes on 1 Kgs 6). It measured 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and a little over 40 feet high. Significant is that the location was not only Arunah’s threshing floor (1 Chr 21), but Mount Moriah, which Abraham named “the LORD will provide” after he provided a ram so Abraham didn’t have to sacrifice Isaac. Here God would now provide atonement through the sacrificing of animals until one day sacrificing his own son to make that atonement full and permanent.

Praying it home:
Praise God for providing us with such a wise king in Jesus. Pray for those sharing the gospel with people of other religions, that they would be clear and their hearers would turn to the true God.

Thinking further:
To read the NIV Study Bible introduction to 2 Chronicles, click here.
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