TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 6:12- 8:10;
Once you read through the Bible you will see how both the Tabernacle and the Temple serve an important function as ‘a prophetic picture’ and ‘a place-holder’ for the Greater Temple- Jesus Christ. His is the perfect provision that God has purposed for the rescue of the human race. He is the perfect King, priest, temple, and provides the perfect atoning sacrifice on the altar of the cross. He is the ‘Holiest of all’.
The Apostle John shows how the tabernacle and the temple foreshadow the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.
John 1:14 14 And the Word (Jesus-the Son of God) became flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 2:19-22 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple (Herod’s temple), and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Years later after Jesus ascended to heaven, John, while a prisoner in exile on the island of Patmos, is shown a vision of the future age of the eternal kingdom.
Revelation 21:22 22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
Solomon, knowing that a building cannot contain God any more than the entire creation of heaven and earth can contain the One who created them, asks the question:
2 Chronicles 6:18 18 “But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth?
At the end of the Bible, that question is answered with a loud voice!
Revelation 21:3 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
The promise of God dwelling in the temple constructed by Solomon was conditional upon his obedience. Notice the ‘ifs’ in this covenant.
2 Chronicles 7:17-20 17 “As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’ 19 “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, 20 then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
We often hear people quote 2 Chronicles 7:14
2 Chronicles 7:14 14 if my people who are called by my name 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.
In the historical context it is a promise for the special covenant people of God, Israel. God promises that if they repent of their sin and return to faithfulness to the Lord and His commands, He will reverse the judgments of famine and barrenness that have come upon their land according to God’s promises in Deuteronomy 28.
It is never wrong to confess our sins, forsake them in repentance, and pray for good government, and the salvation of the lost in our nation, but this particular verse is given in the context of God’s warnings to His covenant people of Israel when they are being disciplined by plagues.
As we have already seen in reading 2 Kings, due to unfaithfulness to God’s Word, the kingdom is divided and the northern kingdom of Israel is taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and the southern kingdom of Judah is taken into captivity to Babylon.
The Lord also states that people observing the prophesied destruction of the temple will know the true cause. It was not due to the superiority of the Assyrians or Babylonians, but due to the sins of God’s covenant people.
2 Chronicles 7:22 22 “And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.”
There are many other prophetic pictures of Christ that encourage us in Solomon’s prayer of dedication:
The temple is a picture of the mediatorial role of Jesus Christ. God is holy and must correspond exclusively with what is holy. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus makes the invisible God visible, the inaccessible God accessible. He has protected us from being killed by the radiance of God’s glory by offering Himself as our shield (thus the dark cloud 2 Chronicles 6:1). He has communicated divinity to us in a way that we can apprehend, veiled in human flesh. He is perfectly holy on our behalf. He perfectly corresponds to the Name (holy character) of God. He stands in for us, the guilty sinners, atoning for our sins with the sacrifice of Himself, now representing us as “The Lord our righteousness”.
This helps us understand the value of praying in Jesus’ Name. Notice in Solomon’s dedication prayer that he refers to prayers being answered on the meritorious ground of ‘this house’, ‘this place’, ‘your dwelling place’ and ‘the place of which You have said You would put Your Name’. Read this being mindful that Jesus is ‘that place’ and we who believe are positioned ‘in Him’ and thereby ‘favored of God’.
2 Chronicles 6:20-21 20 that Your eye may be open toward this house day and night, toward the place of which You have said that You would put Your name there, to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 21 “Listen to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place; hear from Your dwelling place, from heaven; hear and forgive.
Let this give you confidence, Christian (‘in Christ one’) that God hears Your prayer when You are praying in Jesus’ Name (with Your faith rightly directed towards ‘this place-the merits of Your perfect mediator, Jesus Christ).
1 Timothy 2:5 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Solomon had a false hope that he would be able to provide a place for God to dwell forever. We all tend to overestimate our ability to keep our promises and we underestimate the deceitfulness of our own hearts. Solomon would soon be practicing idol worship and the kingdom would suffer for it, even as it already was suffering from David’s sin.
God is faithful to His part of the Davidic covenant, but it was not to be David’s Son Solomon who would build a temple where God’s presence would dwell forever, but another Son of David, Jesus of Nazareth who would both be that temple and the builder of it. He would build His community of redeemed to become a corporate temple of the Holy Spirit- which becomes His eternal dwelling place.
After Solomon completes his prayer, once again the glory cloud fills the temple of God so that the priests could not perform their services (2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1-2). This prophetically pictures that when the glory of God comes in Christ – the fulfillment of all that the temple services require of a perfect mediatorial sacrifice– there is no more need for the temple services. “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
After this, fire comes down from heaven to consume the sacrifices on the altar. It is God who starts the fire that was to burn continually under the altar of the burnt offering (2 Chronicles 7:1; Leviticus 6:8-13). You may remember that God also sent a fire to inaugurate the services of the brazen altar in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:22-24). This perpetual fire is a symbol of God’s holy presence- He is an all-consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He is a purifying fire. Only He can make something holy.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 7:14- 8:8
Paul explains the dilemma we are faced with due to the operation of our old sin nature. Our deliverance from the power of sin cannot be through natural self-effort. Paul proves that when we ‘TRY’ to escape the bondage of sin through our own efforts of ‘law-keeping’, we only prove and strengthen the operational law of sin and death.
Sin is the transgression of the law, whether it be the law written on tables of stone or on the table of your heart (conscience). Death speaks of the absence of ‘life’. Not only do we need to recognize the sin nature in that it influences us to do what we don’t want to do (violate God’s law) but that nature is insufficient to empower us to do what we ought to do. Thus, we have two operating principles (laws)- the law of sin and the law of death. These are two aspects of the principle of sin at work within the human being (Romans 7:21).
Paul clarifies our need for Christ’s life for sanctification as well as justification.
The Law of Sin-
Romans 7:15b I am doing the very thing I hate. (SIN-TRANSGRESSING THE LAW)
Romans 7:16 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do (SIN- TRANSGRESSING THE LAW), I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
Romans 7:19b 19b I practice the very evil that I do not want. (SIN-TRANSGRESSING THE LAW)
The Law of Death-
Romans 7:15a for I am not practicing what I would like to do (DEATH-LACKING A SUFFICIENT LIFE),
Romans 7:19a “For the good that I want, I do not do, (DEATH- LACKING THE POWER OF A SUFFICIENT LIFE)
Romans 7:18 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not (DEATH- LACKING THE POWER OF A SUFFICIENT LIFE)
Romans 7:19a 19 For the good that I want, I do not do (DEATH-LACKING THE POWER OF A SUFFICIENT LIFE, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
Having diagnosed the problem that these two principles are at work in us (The Law of Sin and the Law of Death), Paul is able to show that the way of deliverance is NOT through the Law-keeping in the energy of the flesh, but through the operation of a greater law- THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS.
The operation of Christ’s Indwelling Life through the Holy Spirit, enables us to be delivered from the downward pull of the law of sin and death, just as the law of aerodynamics enables an aircraft to transcend the downward pull of the law of gravity.
Romans 8:1-4 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (THE JUSTIFICATION OF CHRIST’S WORK FOR US ON THE CROSS). 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (THE POWER OF CHRIST’S LIFE IN US FOR SANCTIFICATION THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT).
3 For what the Law could not do (make us right with God and deliver us from the power of sin), weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (freeing us from sin’s penalty) 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us (sanctification-holiness), who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 18:1-15;
We will be spending three days reading and meditating upon this psalm.
It starts with the Psalmist professing his love for the Lord. Have you told the Lord that You love Him today? Remember Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” “If you love me, feed my sheep” (John 21:17). If you love Him, love what He loves and hate what He hates.
1 Peter 1:8 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
Notice that the Psalmist knows that the Lord is the source of His strength (v.1), His security (v.2), His deliverance (v.2-6).
He then goes on to describe how the Lord has made known His presence and His power throughout history (v. 7-15).
How has the Lord made His powerful presence known to you?
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 19:24-25
Here’s another warning to avoid laziness. Also, here is wisdom showing that there are both profitable and unprofitable ways of correction.
Proverbs 19:24-25 24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish but will not even bring it back to his mouth. 25 Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, but reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- ITALY
(from “Operation World Prayer Guide” p. 481-485)
Area: 301,000 sq. km
A long, mountainous peninsula that dominates the central Mediterranean Sea. Also, two large islands, Sardinia and Sicily.
Population: 60,097,564 Annual Growth: 0.49%
Official language: Italian, but vigorous use of nine regional languages akin to Italian Languages: 42
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
The need for expatriate workers has not diminished, but it has changed. Helping the existing Italian Church mature, expand and reach out, as partners and with a servant attitude, is now needed. Attrition is traditionally high here, often due to inadequate preparation, entrenched opposition and relatively low fruitfulness. Some significant groups (and a number of expatriates) in the country are CB/CMML/EoS, TEAM, Avant, Missions-gesellschaft, Campus Missions International. Italian Ministries is a field-based mission, started in 1998, that has a positive impact in further enabling foreign workers.
Literature and Bible distribution have not had a wide impact due to Italians’ reluctance to read. There are about 15 Christian bookshops, including CLC with nine bookstores and The Bible Society with Italy’s largest Bible and literature center. Pray for the growing number of Italian publishing houses – ADI Media (AoG), Alfa & Omega (Reformed publishers), GBU and Passaggio, among others. Pray also for the spread of the newly published Bible dictionary (GBU) and theological dictionary (by IFED). Pray for a hunger for God’s Word, for a desire for wholesome Christian literature and that quality material that leads people to Christ would be found in the more than 1,000 Catholic bookshops. The Gideons are active throughout Italy in distributing Scripture. Italy For Christ has spearheaded the distribution of over 600,000 NTs in schools as well as many copies of the evangelistic Book of Hope.
PRAYER: Lord God, You are our Rock, our Refuge, our Dwelling Place. You are our strength and our security. Therefore, we want to abide in You. Lord Jesus, You are the One to Whom the eyes of the Father are always looking, the ears of the Father are always listening. We are grateful that we can ask whatever we choose according to Your will, and the Father hears us, because we are hid with You, identified with You, and have access to the Father and a standing before Him because You have given us ‘a place’. Father, bless our families, our friends, our neighborhoods, our region, and our country with a visitation of Your Holy Spirit’s convicting and converting power through the preaching of the gospel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.