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Ezra and Nehemiah: I Kings 8:6-11, 22-24, 27-30

Ezra and Nehemiah: I Kings 8:6-11, 22-24, 27-30

During the exodus (1446 BC), the Lord led his people in a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. Four years later, King David established the kingdom of Israel and defeated most of its enemies. His desire was to build a temple for the Lord. But the Lord did not permit him to do so, because David was a man of blood and war. Instead, David’s son, Solomon built it. The temple was a house of prayer and worship. The Lord promised to dwell there and be with his people. In I Kings 8 God makes good on his promise to Israel:

 

6 The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. 8 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:

“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below-you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it-as it is today.
27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

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There is no one like the Lord God. He fills heaven and earth. Solomon is amazed that such an almighty God would dwell in a specific place like the temple. This is quite the mystery! Even though the heaven cannot contain him, he can dwell in his temple.

 

There is another reason that the Lord God is so different than all other gods. Even in pagan mythologies, the gods were not like the Lord. The Lord is faithful to his promises. The Lord is merciful and slow to anger. He forgives his people. Pagan gods were very much like sinful people. They were petty; they broke promises; and they were selfish. But our God is completely selfless, and he never breaks a promise. That is really important for us. It is because of his selfless love that Jesus took our sins upon himself. And it’s because of his unwavering promises that we can trust him to forgive us and take us to be with him, when we die.