Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22- God Dwells With Man

July 22, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10; Romans 7:14-8:8;
Psalm 18:1-15; Proverbs 19:24-25

Then, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. 
 ~2 Chronicles 7:14

2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10

When I was a child I attended a Methodist church whose liturgy each Sunday included a corporate reciting of the Lord's prayer. It was a wonderful experience to hear everyone praying to God together with one voice.  Today, we will see that Solomon's dedication prayer at the Temple is a shadow of the Lord's Prayer.  The Old Testament consistently points to the future when Jesus comes to earth for the first time and confirms that God plans  to have Christ return to earth a second time for the purpose of dwelling with mankind on earth in fellowship and unity.

Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden (Genesis 3:8).  God dwelt with man in that perfect environment until Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Since that time, man has been separated from God and powerless to restore the fellowship of those early times. 

God sets forth a plan to restore fellowship with mankind and the Bible gives us a front row seat to God's solution to this problem of broken fellowship.  First, God chooses a particular people group through which He will bring a Redeemer Child to earth to die for our sins.  This group is the Israelites. Next, He has that particular people group fight to occupy a land, which would be God's special place to live with them in fellowship.  This is the Promised Land. Finally, this group of people writes down and preserves God's Laws, showing the world His Holiness and personality. These people also serve as witnesses to the world about who God is.  The Gentiles are seen throughout history believing in the God of the Israelites and are officially grafted into God's family through belief in the Redeemer Child-Jesus.

After breaking fellowship with humans in the Garden, God dwells with the nation of Israel, His chosen people group, in the Tabernacle.  Moses is given instructions as to how to create the Holy Tent.  It is not a permanent dwelling and it represents Christ coming to earth into the wilderness that is our sinful planet, in order to suffer, die, and be resurrected from the dead.  The Tabernacle represents God coming to dwell with man to solve the problem of sin. With sin having been paid for, mankind is able to enter God's Holy presence through the sacrificial blood of Christ.  Believers in Christ have spiritual fellowship with God.  Jesus' time on earth was God's second time to dwell with man physically.

Today, Solomon dedicates the Temple, where God will dwell with the nation of Israel.  Just as the Tabernacle represented a time in the future when God would actually dwell with men on earth to provide a sacrifice, the Temple represents a future time when Jesus will return to earth to dwell with mankind as a ruler and king in the millennial kingdom.  This will be God's third time to dwell with man on this earth.  God likes numbers.  The number three represents the Trinity and the completion of God's person dwelling with mankind. During this millennial reign of Christ on earth, both believing Jews and Gentiles will dwell with Christ in the Promised Land.  Jewish believers will receive the fulfillment of God's promise to them to be their God and dwell with them in the Promised Land.  The Temple of God will be in Mt. Zion.  It should be noted that Mt. Zion is where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac.  It is a place just opposite of where Christ was crucified, and it will be the place where Jesus' feet touch down at His second coming to earth.  Jesus will reign from Mt. Zion in the millennial kingdom and will complete the story by coming full circle in the Promised Land.

Solomon's dedication prayer for the Temple shadows the Lord's Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.  The reasons that these prayers are so similar is that they are both prayers asking God to fulfill His promise to dwell with man on earth in the Promised Land in His Temple.  For Solomon, the prayer was that God would occupy the Temple that he (Solomon) had just constructed.  For Jesus, the Lord's Prayer was that the Church on earth pray that God would bring His Kingdom on earth in the millennial reign.  Each prayer asks for God's Kingdom to come to earth. This is exactly what God is talking about in 2 Chronicles 7:15-16 when He states, 
"I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever; My eyes and my heart will always be here."
God intends to have the Temple rebuilt for use in the millennial kingdom.  Some commentators and Bible teachers believe that this is just a spiritual picture and not a physical reality in the future.  I hold the position that God will have both the physical reality and the spiritual promise fulfilled.  God will dwell with man on earth, again. He is true to His promises.

To make a comparison of Solomon's prayer to the Lord's Prayer, please read Matthew 6:9-13.  Both prayers acknowledge that God is in heaven and should be honored. Both ask that God's kingdom come to earth and that God's will be done.  Both prayers ask God to forgive sins and provide for His people. They both ask that we be delivered from evil.  While Solomon's prayer focuses heavily on God doing for Israel what He promised to David, Jesus' prayer focuses on God's will being done on earth, as it is in heaven.  It is interesting to note that Solomon's prayer (6:32-33) includes a request that foreigners, who learn about God because of Solomon's Temple, be included in God's mercy.  This shadows the Lord's Prayer, which is available to all people who believe in Jesus.

I would like to point out one other symbol of the millennial reign.  After Solomon's dedication prayer, the Lord's presence fills the Temple. Solomon sacrifices 22, 000 oxen and 122,000 sheep.  Please note that the total number of animals sacrificed would cover the sins of 144,000 people.  We are told in the book of Revelations that in the end times, 144,000 Israelites (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes) will serve as witnesses to spread the truth of the gospel to the whole world during the Tribulation (Rev. 6:17).  These witnesses' testimonies will result in millions of people coming to faith in Christ during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:9)   How cool is that?  Solomon's sacrifice pictures this future event.

Are you looking forward to the day when we dwell with Christ in his kingdom on earth?  Did you know that God dwells three times with man on earth prior to destroying this earth and forming the new heavens and the new earth?  What do you think of this story?

Romans 7:14-8:8

Slavery was abolished for good in the United States of America when the Thirteen Amendment was passed in 1865.  For many modern Americans the concept of slavery is quite foreign.  Unfortunately, slavery is still a reality in many parts of the world.

Paul uses the terminology of slavery to sin in the Bible because in the Roman world of his day, upwards of 30% of the population was estimated to be slaves.  This would have been language that hit home with his audience.  Paul laments that prior to being saved he was a slave to sin.  Sin was a master over his life.  The law of God is good in that it shows Paul that he is a slave to sin.

Paul describes wanting to do what the law commands him to do, but not being able to control his mind and body to obey. Paul explains this condition as the law of sin within himself.  Have you ever experienced this in your life?  Think about trying in your own strength to stop a bad habit. Maybe it is as silly as trying to stop eating chocolate.  It could be as serious as breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Certainly, each us of has dealt with the law of sin in our lives. This law is at war with God's law.  Paul cries out in despair wondering who can free him from this master called sin?  With joy, Paul proclaims that Jesus is who saves us from this master of sin.

One of the problems of being a sinner is that we have a tendency towards self-condemnation about the bad things we have done in life.  Paul begins chapter 8 of Romans with the good news that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who belong to Christ.  Did you get that?  No condemnation.  If you have led a life of deep sorrow because of your sins, you need to embrace the concept that Jesus is not interested in holding your bad behaviors over your head for the rest of your life.  He died on the cross to put this issue to rest. Your job is to REST in HIS WORK.  It is a slap in Jesus' face for you to hang onto guilt about sins for which he died.  So, stop it!

One of the keys to the Christian life is to let go of condemnation and embrace God's Holy Spirit.  It is through God's Spirit living in us that we begin to get a handle on sin in our lives.  Your life will be pleasing to God as you forsake the old nature and embrace the new nature God gives you through the Holy Spirit.

Are you willing to let go of self-condemnation?  How about negative thoughts about yourself?  God's Spirit is a spirit of love.  Do you think in loving ways about yourself and others?

Psalm 18:1-15

Think of this psalm in terms of God coming down to the cross and rescuing us from the master named sin.

Proverbs 19:24-25

Some people are so lazy that they won't do the work required to feed themselves.  What do you think of this?

What did you notice as you read today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts! Very insightful summary of God's dwelling man thru out the history of the Jews.