8:27 "But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Someday, YES! Who can even imagine it?? Notice in verse 10, God's presence is so glorious, people can't even carry on their duties in mortal bodies, anyhow: The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple.
8:29-30 May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.' May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive. I love this passage. Remember that you are now the Temple of God. Mysteriously, He lives on earth in you and me. And if you personalize these verses as you being the Temple, it is a beautiful prayer!
8:35-36 "If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you... Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession. There seems to be quite a correlation between sinful nations and no rain in the OT. But is it still true today? Interestingly, Papa (in India) tells me that when he first moved to Rajasthan to become a church planter, there were virtually no Christians in the whole region. He said the region was a very arid desert. But over the course of 50 years, Papa has planted churches and ministries all over Rajasthan, despite severe persecution, and now today, it is hardly a desert. Papa tells me that all of the green valleys and grass that I see between Rajasthan and Delhi on the 8-hour train ride didn't used to have any foliage, but are now becoming fertile farmland, and he believes it is the presence of God among the people.
I also saw a video a few years back about a place in central Mexico that was really arid and food was scarce. A core group of believers began fasting and praying for their town in this area, and after a year or two, they not only saw a lot of the spiritual oppression leave their town, but they began to get rain and amazing vegetation! I even verified the results of this video with the testimony of people who knew the area. I agree with Papa.
8:41-43 "In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. ...In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name. Wow...this is an awesome passage too! Definitely a prophetic word of the future Kingdom! This prayer has not been fulfilled yet.
8:51 ...for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt. Here's an excellent reference to the corrective process called "fire" not necessarily meaning literal, as we've discussed before.
8:55-56 [Solomon] stood and in a loud voice blessed the entire congregation of Israel: "Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses. Can you imagine the day we get to hear Jesus declare the same thing to us as we stand in His presence and all of His promises to Abraham and Israel have been fulfilled? I found it interesting that Solomon expressed the fulfillment of Mosaic promises, but from everything I've studied, it's the Abrahamic ones that have not all been fulfilled yet until the MK.
8:57-59 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us. May he give us the desire to do his will in everything and to obey all the commands, decrees, and regulations that he gave our ancestors. And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the Lord be before him constantly, day and night, so that the Lord our God may give justice to me and to his people Israel, according to each day's needs. Great prayer for individuals!!
8:60 Then people all over the earth will know that the Lord alone is God and there is no other. That day will come—all illusions will be burned away and they will see Him as He is.
Something to think about: Solomon offered a temporary sacrifice in a temporary Temple. Jesus was the permanent sacrifice contained in an everlasting Temple (Hint: He IS the Temple).
Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." ... He was speaking of the temple of His body. John 2:19, 21
8:1a Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. The soon coming conversion of Saul/Paul is a profound confirmation of two important facts.
1. We do not choose God, He chooses us in His time and way in the midst of our lost condition.
2. Saul's conversion warrants a second look by skeptics of the power and existence of Jesus Christ. What in the world would have changed Saul except a visitation by Jesus Himself. And what in the world would have made 12 scaredy-cat disciples ready to die for their faith after running away the night of Jesus' crucifixion? ANSWER: Seeing Jesus resurrected. The best proof in the pudding (I wonder where that saying came from).
8:1b A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. I never realized until I began to study church history this year how this type of persecution was severe and widespread in the first few centuries. Sadly, the true followers (both Jew and Gentile) being persecuted were forced to succumb to pagan traditions or be killed. One of the Jewish traditions that was heavily persecuted was the Saturday Sabbath. Anyone caught honoring the Sabbath was identified with Judaism the true ekklesia and paid a heavy price. This is partly how we lost celebrating this day.
Stephen is a good example that there are times when God would have us speak in humility and gentleness, but there are other times when He would have us speak with boldness and conviction.