Adult Sunday School Lesson for March 11, 2018
To build on the promises God made to those who have come before us
Background: 2 Chronicles 6:1-21
2 Chronicles 6:12-21 (CEB)
12 Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in front of the entire Israelite assembly and spread out his hands. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform seven and a half feet long, seven and a half feet wide, and four and a half feet high, and he set it in the middle of the enclosure. He stood on it. Then, kneeling before the whole assembly of Israel and spreading his hands toward the sky, 14 he said:
Lord God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven or on the earth. You keep the covenant and show loyalty to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. 15 This is the covenant you kept with your servant David my father, which you promised him. Today you have fulfilled what you promised.
16 So now, Lord God of Israel, keep what you promised my father David your servant when you said to him, “You will never fail to have a successor sitting on Israel’s throne as long as your descendants carefully walk according to my Instruction, just as you have walked before me.” 17 So now, Lord God of Israel, may your promise to your servant David come true.
18 But how could God possibly live on earth with people? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can’t contain you, how can this temple that I have built contain you? 19 Lord, my God, listen to your servant’s prayer and request, and hear the cry and prayer that I your servant pray to you. 20 Constantly watch over this temple, the place where you promised to put your name, and listen to the prayer your servant is praying concerning this place. 21 Listen to the request of your servant and your people Israel when they pray concerning this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive!
This is the covenant you kept with your servant David my father, which you promised him. Today you have fulfilled what you promised. (2 Chronicles 6:15)
In the Old Testament there are four different books that chronicle the history of Israel. 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. Sometimes the stories overlap so you can get two different perspectives of the same events.
First and 2 Kings begin with the last days of King David’s reign and end with the people still in exile in Babylon. Bible scholars believe the original author completed his work before King Cyrus conquered Babylon and released the exiles in 539 bc. Much of the material in 1 and 2 Kings is drawn from Deuteronomy and the Prophets and presents “an account of the past that assigns responsibility for events.”1 In contrast, the focus of the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles is worship, specifically “worship at the temple in Jerusalem, the site chosen by God and linked to Solomon, David, and Moses.”2 While scholars have not been able to determine a specific date for this work, the concerns it addresses “reflect a Jerusalem context during the late Persian period” (approximately 400–325 bc).
1st and 2nd Kings was written prior to 1st and 2nd Chronicles, so the writer of the Chronicles uses some of the same events, as you can find today’s text similar to a text found in 1 Kings 8:22-23( 22 Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in front of the entire Israelite assembly and, spreading out his hands toward the sky, 23 he said: Lord God of Israel, there’s no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep the covenant and show loyalty to your servants who walk before you with all their heart.)
The event in both books is the same, the dedication of the newly built temple by Solomon. Note how the latter writing adds some additional information.
Solomon and the Chronicler are reminding the people of God’s faithfulness and how they can trust God to fulfil His promises as long as they remain faithful in their worship of the one true God. All of Israel's neighbors worshipped more than one god. Israel was God’s witness to the rest of the world that He (God) was the only God worthy of worship. And the only one with the power to influence events.
Solomon is wise enough to know that God can not be confined to a temple. If heaven itself cannot contain God then certainly a building cannot contain God.
Solomon’s prayer is one of petition, seeking security for the structure but also for the people. God’s promise was conditional, as long as the nation obeyed, did not worship other Gods He would be their God and they would be His people.
Jesus gave a promise to Martha in John 11:25-26 (NKJ) 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus’s question to Martha is one we all need to answer, do you believe?
My hymn for this week is one of my all time favorites, “Standing On The Promises.”