Tuesday, May 15, 2012
praying to a really, really, big God
"But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!"
2 Chronicles 6:18
Solomon knew the immensity of God for whom he had built a temple. He knew the temple could no more contain God Who was so big the universe could not contain Him! God was not to be considered localized. The entire universe is something that He spoke into existence. A small stone temple on a hill in one tiny bronze-age city on a little blue planet in one small corner of the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy which is one of millions of galaxies in a vast universe could in no way house a God this big!
The prayer of Solomon is full of theological understanding. And with that understanding, Solomon explains that the temple was a place to localize the worship of Yahweh. It could not contain Him. But as a center of worship, it focused Israel on the worship and service of God, helping them to obey His commands. It was a center for spiritual practice and understanding. It was a place to make God's name great among the peoples of the earth.
Solomon repeatedly focuses on prayer and relationship with God through temple worship. He sees the temple as a place to come to God to resolve relational conflicts between fellow Israelites (2 Chronicles 6:22-23). It is a place to confess national sin (2 Chronicles 6:24-27). It is a place to endure the judgments of God (2 Chronicles 6:28-31). It is a place where gentiles will discover God (2 Chronicles 6:32-33). It is a place where Israel will go in times of national crisis (2 Chronicles 6:34-35).
The deep personal aspects of prayer emphasized by Solomon in this prayer should not be overlooked. He makes no mention really of sacrifice or priestly practice, but instead emphasizes the personal aspect of relationship with God through prayer at His temple. The temple gave the right and the location for the privilege of prayer and access to God for all God's people. And in Solomon's heart, this was the greatest action of all temple worship. So do I see prayer as just as vital?