Read II Chronicles 4 -- 6
The Israelites gathered around Solomon as 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 (II Chronicles 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 Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus will I bless You while I live: I will lift up my hands in Your Name (Psalms 63:3-4). Hands lifted toward Heaven are a sign of wholehearted submission and worship. Surely it is natural 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 You in the Heaven, nor in the earth; who keeps covenant, and shows mercy to Your servants, who walk before You with all their hearts (II Chronicles 6:14). After this, Solomon prayed for continued covenant blessings that God had promised David when He said: There shall not fail you a man in My sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; if only your children take heed to their way to walk in My Law. . . . That all people of the earth may know Your Name, and fear You . . . and may know that this House which I have built is called by Your Name (6:16,33).
Solomon's thoughts then turned far into the future when he prayed: If Your people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against You; and shall return and confess Your Name, and pray . . . forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which You gave to them and to their fathers (6:24-25).
But his talk didn't match his conduct. Solomon refused to "humble" himself . . . and seek His face, read God's Word and do His Will and most of the nation followed his example. Eventually, not only was the Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar but also all of Jerusalem. Then, after 70 years of suffering in exile, God opened the way for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple as Solomon had prayed.
The Israelites needed to remember that Solomon had prayed: If your people . . . have sinned and shall confess . . . and pray . . . then forgive their sin (6:24-25). They were in need of a rededication of their lives that all the people of the earth may know Your Name, and fear You (6:33). The Israelites failure and ultimate return to God illustrates how suffering is often God's way to bring us 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 and coming forth stronger. The best years of our lives can be the outcome of failure, heartbreak, and loneliness, when it leads to a true commitment to Christ as Lord of our lives. We can become the people God meant us to be. Suffering is never caused by God, but it can be used of God, if we have faith to turn to Him. 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: By the Passover Feast: Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king (II Chronicles 5:3). The Passover is a picture of Christ's redemptive work, death, burial, and resurrection. At His last earthly Passover, when blessing the Cup of Redemption, Jesus made a New Covenant, making it possible for all mankind to assemble themselves unto the King of kings (Luke 22:20; John 6:37; Revelation 19:16).
Word Studies: 4:2: sea means large basin; 4:22 censers means incense burners; 6:28 dearth means famine.
Government Officials: Rep. Richard Baker (LA), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (MO), Rep. Brian Kerns (IN), and Rep. Edward Pease (IN) · Pray for Carl and Joyce Main, Cadence International · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Linda Kennon · Country: Iraq (22 million) in southern Asia · Major languages: Arabic and Kurdish · Fierce harassment of non-Muslims · 96% Muslim; 3% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and praise God that the answers to your prayers are granted through the grace of God (Isaiah 30:19).
Optional Reading: I Corinthians 9
Memory Verse for the Week: I Timothy 2:8