May 22

Read 2 Chronicles 4 -- 6

In Today's Reading:

The Temple's furnishings; the Ark brought into the Temple; the cloud of the Lord fills the Temple; Solomon's prayer of dedication.

Verses for Today:

Thus the work that Solomon made for the House of the Lord was finished. . . . he stood before the altar of the Lord . . . and spread forth his hands . . . and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward Heaven (2 Chronicles 5:1; 6:12-13).

It was not uncommon for the people of God to lift their hands in prayer and praise, with thanksgiving, as David said: Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy Name (Psalms 63:3-4). Hands lifted toward Heaven are a sign of wholehearted submission and worship. Surely it is fitting to lift up our hands or to kneel in humility before the living God.

Solomon began his prayer, saying: O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the Heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts (2 Chronicles 6:14).

Solomon's thoughts then turned far into the future when he prayed: If thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy Name, and pray . . . forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou givest to them and to their fathers (6:24-25). He also prayed: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place . . . that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name (6:33)

Sadly, Solomon's talk didn't match his conduct. He refused to "humble" himself and seek God's face, read His Word, and do His Will; and, most of the nation followed Solomon's example. Eventually, not only was the Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but also all of Jerusalem. Then, after 70 years of suffering in exile as Solomon had prayed, God, in mercy, opened the way for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.

The Israelites sinful failures and ultimate return to God illustrate how suffering is often God's way of bringing us back to Him and to a revelation of His purpose for our lives.

Somewhere, at this moment, on a hospital bed or in a prison cell, facing unemployment or the cruel experiences of family problems, there are people being restored to God as they repent of their sin and surrender to Christ. The best years of our lives can come out of failure, heartbreak, and loneliness, when they lead us to a true commitment to Christ as Lord of our lives. We can become the person God meant us to be. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

Christ Revealed:

Christ revealed through Solomon's prayer when he said: There is no God like thee . . . who shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts (2 Chronicles 6:14). Jesus is that God: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Word Studies:

4:2: sea = large basin; 4:22 censers = incense burners; 6:10 room = position; 6:24 be put to the worse = are defeated; 6:28 dearth = famine; blasting = blight; sore = plague; 6:40 attent = attentive.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Richard Baker (LA), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (MO), Rep. Brian Kerns (IN), and Rep. Edward Pease (IN) · Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Finland (5 million) in northern Europe · Major languages: Finnish and Swedish · Religious freedom · 91% Protestant; 1% Eastern Orthodox; 1% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pour out your heart in prayer to the Lord for your children (Lamentations 2:19).

Optional Reading: 1 Corinthians 9

Memory Verse for the Week: Ephesians 6:17