Sunday, March 4, 2012

2 Chronicles 7 & 8 - Lord, Let Your Glory Fall

LINK: 2 Chronicles 7 & 8
Parallel passage: 1 Kings 8 & 9

BACKGROUND

After the sacrifices and Solomon's prayer, fire came down and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. Can you imagine what that would have been like? This event is not found in the 1 Kings 8 account. The fire was a sign of divine acceptance. It had occurred at the dedication of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23-24) and David's offering at the threshing floor of Onan (1 Chronicles 21:26).

At the conclusion of the dedication and Feast of Tabernacles, the LORD appeared to Solomon encouraging him that if His judgement should befall them due to their sin, they need only turn to Him in humility and repentance, and He would forgive and restore them. We will see this put into practice in 2 Chronicles 12:6-7. Yet, like every covenant text in the Near East, there were blessings if the subservient party obeyed the king and curses if they did not. God warned Solomon that He would uproot them from His land and His house and send them into exile if they did not obey Him. Of course, we know that Solomon did worship other gods (1 Kings 11:4-8), and many of the kings of Judah followed down this same path of disobedience. Eventually, they were exiled to Babylon, and the beautiful Temple of Solomon was destroyed (36:19).

2 Chronicles 8 tells us about Solomon's fame and success politically, religiously, and economically; but it does not mention that Solomon introduced pagan shrines and worship (1 Kings 11:1-3). We do see an inkling of his first step away from God when the chronicler mentions that Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter which was forbidden by God's law (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4).

REFLECTION and APPLICATION

I have been reflecting on how it must have been to see the fire consume the sacrifices, and the pure praise that followed. Here is a method of meditation that is great for this type of passage:
The Loyola Method 
Adapted from the “Spiritual Exercises” of Ignatius Loyola

PART ONE
(Preparation)

a. In prayer, ask God for grace to direct your thoughts, words, and actions to service and praise of his Divine Majesty.

b. Read the passage upon which you intend to meditate. Read unhurriedly, but without attempting yet to meditate on the passage. Your goal now is simply to familiarize yourself with the passage.

c. Determine an objective for your meditation time and ask God to help you accomplish it. If the passage you choose, for example, is the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:1–7, your objective may be a sense of awe and humility as you contemplate the mystery of-your Savior’s entry into the
world.

Usually this preliminary request is formulated in terms of some emotion you wish God to give you as a result of your meditation. Ignatius Loyola believed that the ultimate purpose of meditation is application (that is, an act of the will), and that the will is motivated primarily by emotion rather than reason.

PART TWO (Meditation)

a. Visualize the scene. In the case of Luke 2:1–7, see in your mind the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Is it level, or does it wind through valleys and around hillsides? See Mary, in her ninth month of pregnancy, riding on a donkey, accompanied by Joseph who is perhaps leading an ox. They are going to Bethlehem to pay a tax. What kind of people are they passing on the way? Soldiers? Peasants? Merchants? Other families? Study in your imagination the place of the Nativity. Is it spacious or cramped? Clean or dirty? Warm or cold? How is it furnished?

b. Assume the role of one of the characters in the passage, or of someone else who might be present. In Luke 2, for example, you could be the hotel’s servant or maid.

c. Now apply your five senses to the scene. Look carefully, watching all the action. Use your ears as you listen in on conversations.

Then apply your senses of smell and touch. What odors are present? What quality of garments are being worn? Feel the woodwork of the manger. Smell and feel the straw.

Apply your sense of taste—is there anything there to eat?

d. Analyze your own feelings as a member of the scene. How do you feel about what is happening? How do you feel about the persons involved? How do you feel about yourself?

PART THREE (Conversation)

Talk to Joseph, or Mary, or someone else in the scene. Talk to them about the thoughts that have come to your mind as you have meditated on this passage.

Or you might even want to talk to God or to the Lord Jesus.
 
This conversation should in most cases lead to some form of action or personal application. 
Wilson, Kent R., Discipleship Journal, Issue 6, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress) c1999
May you have a time of pure praise today as you listen to this song based on 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 by Matt Redmond. It always gives me chills!

"Lord, Let Your Glory Fall"

PRAYER

Lord, we worship You for Your goodness and enduring love today. Lead us into focused praise and devotion as we go through our day today. Keep us on the path to You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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