You can draw more flies with sugar….
2 Chronicles 10: Be considerate of their needs…they’ll end up doing anything for you.
Solomon’s accomplishments are impressive…and expensive! All of that building takes a lot out of the nation. When Solomon’s laid to rest and his son Rehoboam ascends to the throne his subjects come to him with a reasonable request: “give us a break!” For a generation they’ve faithfully served his father, focusing their efforts on accomplishing his grand projects. Now, they want to put their efforts into building their own lives, capitalizing on the prosperity Solomon brought to them. Rehoboam goes to his father’s advisors and asks for their opinion and they agree with the people. These folks were committed to Solomon, but Rehoboam is starting new. If he’ll back off and show compassion his father’s people will become his people. These advisors wisely add that, in the long run, he’ll get more accomplished by getting the people on his side than he’d ever get done by using his sovereign authority and just ordering them to work. I know that Rehoboam foolishly listens to the advisors of his own generation and manages to split the country but, for the moment, I’m taken with the wisdom of the first advice he receives. I think there are times when a leader sees a bigger picture than others do. At times like that, he or she may have to prod people to move in the right direction. However, most of the time a leader who conducts himself or herself as a servant who cares for people and has compassion on them is going to accomplish more. A leader who appreciates what people do, who has their best interests at heart, and who is willing to listen to what they say is going to almost always get more done.
Take Away: People follow leaders who they believe have their best interests at heart.
Come and see for yourself
2 Chronicles 9: The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s reputation.
As an example of how God blesses Solomon the writer tells us about the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Israel. Her identity in history is somewhat a mystery, although most believe she’s a ruler of what is now Yemen or Ethiopia. The point of Scripture is that God keeps his word to Solomon and blesses him in every way. In fact, God blesses him to the point that he becomes well known outside his own region and that the stories told about him are so fantastic that this national leader comes to see for herself. We’re told that she isn’t disappointed. The purpose here isn’t so much to elevate Solomon as it is to proclaim God’s faithfulness to him. Through this blessing, God’s Name is made known even in far off Sheba (wherever that actually is.) When God’s people are faithful to him he can lift them to the point that even those outside the direct influence of the Lord will take notice and come to see for themselves. At least that’s our Lord’s take on the story. In Matthew 12 he says that this heathen woman came from a great distance to meet Solomon and that her act will judge those who have every opportunity and reason to come into the presence of the very Son of God but don’t make the effort. A result of God’s blessing is that it gets the attention of the world.
Take Away: The lives of the people of the Lord are a testimony to the greatness of God.
2 Chronicles 8: Solomon built impulsively and extravagantly.
From other passages we know that Solomon built other things, including his palace before he built the Temple. Some think that’s a bad thing. I think it was just practice. Still, once he started building things David’s son could hardly stop himself. In fact, Solomon’s psychology is that of an impulsive overachiever. From the rest of his story, especially from the Book of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs I see Solomon being consumed by one thing after another. At the beginning of his story he asks for and receives the gift of wisdom, now he can’t rest until he has mastered whatever it is that catches his attention. In fact, the same thirst for understanding that causes him to be a great builder and king will become his downfall as he becomes infatuated with the women he marries and then their various gods. I don’t think the Lord sat Solomon up for a fall in granting him wisdom, but I do think that the seed of failure was in it. In fact, I think that all gifts granted to us: natural ability, attributes, and talents have the potential of being a great blessing or the source of great failure for us. In Solomon, even as we celebrate his wisdom and understanding of an encyclopedia of things, we see a red flag of warning that there’s danger in natural abilities. These things must be continually balanced by an honest admission that we’re incomplete without God, who brings balance to even the most gifted life.
Take Away: When the Lord gifts us in any way the wise course of action is to bring those gifts right back to him and place them under his authority.
Those trumpets would have blown me away!
2 Chronicles 7: The priests were all on duty; the choir and orchestra of Levites…were all there…the priests blew trumpets.
Now this is a worship event! As the new Temple is dedicated it’s an all-out, no expenses spared, all hands on deck worship mega-event. All the priests, wearing their rich garments, are on duty. The Levite choir sings to the top of its lungs while the orchestra provides the music. Over here, we see the trumpet players all enthusiastically sounding the call to worship. The worshipers are on their feet, glorifying God. Our finest worship events today can only hope to match this exciting, awe-filled event that is the dedication of the Temple. I’ve been to some “biggies” in my life like Nazarene General Assembly, Promise Keepers, and some wonderful camp meetings. While I know these aren’t every Sunday events, I think they have a place in the worship life of God’s people. There’s something about combining excellent music, Spirit-filled preaching, and an awesome venue that stirs something deep inside of us. On one hand, there’s much to be said for worshiping in the simplicity of a small church that just loves Jesus. I’m all for it. Still, on the other hand, there’s something to be gained by being part of an all-out, no-holds-barred, let’s-go-for-it worship experience. There’s room in my heart for both!
Take Away: God is worth it!
The unfailing faithfulness of God
2 Chronicles 6: And now you see the promise completed.
Solomon is presiding over the dedication of the new Temple and soon he’ll pray his great dedication prayer. He’s giving his dedication speech about how years earlier the Lord promised David that his son would build a place of worship. David then gave the last years of his life preparing for this great construction project. Now, it’s finished and it’s not only a beautiful house of worship but is a monument to the trustworthiness of God who always keeps his promises. As I read and write devotionally from the Bible this theme comes up quite often and it’s no big surprise that it does. In the opening pages of the Bible, right after that Fall God begins making promises. Following the Flood there’s another big promise that the Lord will never again send a flood to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. Then, we come to a major promise as the Lord speaks to Abram. We find instances of God making and then keeping promises throughout the Scriptures. Here, as Solomon is about to pray his memorable prayer of dedication, he prefaces it by reminding us that God is the original Promise Maker and Promise Keeper. So, as we’re about to bow our heads and listen to the prayer of the wise King, let’s take one more look at the gleaming white Temple and remember that God is always faithful.
Take Away: Heaven and earth may pass away but his word will never pass away.
I love it when God moves in
2 Chronicles 5: Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God.
Solomon’s building project is complete and it’s a great success. An impressive Temple is now the official place of worship for the people of Israel and all others who will come. The building is complete with the fixtures in place, the offerings ready, and the personnel standing ready to serve. Then God moves in. In a display of glory that hasn’t been seen since Moses climbed the mountain to meet the Almighty, the Glory of the Lord fills the Temple. The Presence of the Lord is so great, so real, that the priests can’t even carry out their assigned duties. Outside the Temple Solomon does the only reasonable thing: he begins to call on God in prayer. Today, I long for God’s glory to fall on his Church, for Him to come in such majesty that the order of worship is set aside and people begin to simply call on the Name of the Lord. Oh God, we seek, not so much the “billowing cloud” as we seek you. Pour yourself out upon your Church as you did upon the Temple so long ago.
Take Away: The people of the Lord need to seek and, yes, expect, the Lord to fill our worship services with himself.
Jakin and Boaz
2 Chronicles 3: The right pillar he named Jakin (Security) and the left pillar he named Boaz (Stability).
These chapters of 2 Chronicles are devoted to the construction of the Temple. Some of the descriptions may be merely historical. Some things, though, like the perfect cube of the Holy of Holies likely carries meaning beyond the description. In the case of the two huge bronze (or copper) pillars at the doorway of the Temple, we don’t have to guess because we’re given the symbolic meaning. The six foot thick, twenty-seven foot tall pillars represent “Jakin” and “Boaz” – that is, Security and Stability. These are wonderful attributes whether we’re talking about the life of an individual or that of a nation. Every time the people of Israel of that era enter the Temple they’re reminded of the Source of their Security and Stability. We may not have a couple of large shining pillars at the entrance to our churches, but we certainly need to be reminded of the truth they symbolize. If I want to live a spiritually secure and stable life I must be firmly grounded in the Lord. The same benefit is available to a nation that allows the Lord to shape its character.
Take Away: We must build our lives on the Rock and not on the sand if we want to live secure, stabile lives.
God is the best
2 Chronicles 2: The house I am building has to be the best, for our God is the best.
Solomon assumes the throne of Israel with one major task before him: the construction of the Temple. His father David has accomplished much. For one thing, Israel is secure, at peace with the surrounding nations. Solomon’s efforts will not have to be divided between ruling and defending his kingdom. For another thing, David has already stockpiled building materials and funds for the Temple work. Now, the responsibility for the actual construction comes to Solomon. The young king takes the job to heart. The Temple is to be a masterpiece because it’s to be the focus of the worship of Jehovah God. Some years earlier David declared that he’d not give to God that which cost him nothing, now Solomon says that the Temple must be the best because God is the best. So, how does my life measure up against this standard? Do I give God my best at every juncture of life? I don’t want to ask God to play second fiddle in any area of my life. After all, what I give to God has to be the best because God is the best.
Take Away: The Lord is the best and he deserves my best.
Abundance of grace
2 Chronicles 1: What do you want from me? Ask.
Students of the Old Testament have long marveled at the wisdom of Solomon who, when offered anything from the Lord, asks for wisdom. In fact, the Lord, himself, is pleased with the request. Today, though, I find myself thinking about the question the Lord asks Solomon. Really, at this point Solomon has done little to cause the Lord to be impressed with him and, to be brutally honest, as I see his life being played out, I doubt he’s worthy of it. I understand that he’s assuming David’s throne and is now the leader of the people God has chosen to be his very own and in this passage I see that he starts off on the right foot, beginning his reign with a great worship service. Still, by any measure this is an unprecedented offer by the Almighty. God wants to bless Solomon. He wants this young man to be successful in all he does. Because of that, the Lord basically signs a blank check and hands it to him. I’m taken here with God’s good will toward us. He may not, like a genie, grant us anything we wish, but he does give us good things. Without doubt, he treats us better than we deserve. I know the focus on this passage is on Solomon’s answer, but today I’m taken with the abundance of grace in the question.
Take Away: The Lord delights in blessing us.
The children of good stewardship
1 Chronicles 29: It was all yours in the first place!
Centuries before Paul ever writes to Corinth, encouraging them to give selflessly and stating stewardship principles, David lays out some giving concepts for the people of Israel. They’re raising an offering for the construction of the Temple and David’s addressing the Almighty in prayer. He’s reminded that this nation began as pitiful slaves in Egypt, without a square inch of land to call their own. Over the years God blessed them and now they can no longer say, “Silver and gold have I none.” Still, in a real sense they continue to have nothing of their own. All that they have has been graciously provided to them by the Lord. As plans are being made to build a House of Worship it only makes sense that they return a portion of that which has been entrusted to them that the planned building might be constructed. The people come through with wonderful generosity and David prays that this giving spirit might always be seen in their lives. The result of all this is the Temple. Also, there’s a wonderful spirit of celebration. Great accomplishments and great joy: these things are offspring of good stewardship.
Take Away: When the people of the Lord are faithful stewards of all the Lord has placed in their hands great things are accomplished to the glory of God.