2 Chronicles 6The Message (MSG)
Solomon’s Dedication and Prayer
6 1-2 Then Solomon said,
God said he would dwell in a cloud,
3 The king then turned to face the congregation that had come together and blessed them:
4-6 “Blessed be God, the God of Israel, who spoke personally to my father David. Now he has done what he promised when he said, ‘From the day I brought my people Israel up from Egypt, I haven’t set apart one city among the tribes of Israel in which to build a temple to honor my Name, or chosen one person to be the leader. But now I have chosen both a city and a person: Jerusalem for honoring my Name and David to lead my people Israel.’
7-9 “My father David very much wanted to build a temple honoring the Name of God, the God of Israel, but God told him, ‘It was good that you wanted to build a temple in my honor—most commendable! But you are not the one to do it. Your son, who will carry on your dynasty, will build it for my Name.’
10-11 “And now you see the promise completed. God has done what he said he would do; I have succeeded David my father and now rule Israel; and I have built a temple to honor God, the God of Israel, and have secured a place for the Chest that holds the Covenant of God, the covenant he made with the people of Israel.”
12-16 Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took his position at the Altar of God and stretched out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze dais seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet high and placed it inside the court; that’s where he now stood. Then he knelt in full view of the whole congregation, stretched his hands to heaven, and prayed:
God, O God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below, who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and unfailingly loves them while they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your promise. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!
Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, “You’ll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel’s throne, on the one condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have.”
17 O God, God of Israel, let this all happen—
18-21 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place.
Listen from your home in heaven
22 When someone hurts a neighbor and promises to make things right, and then comes and repeats the promise before your Altar in this Temple,
23 Listen from heaven and act;
24-25 When your people Israel are beaten by an enemy because they’ve sinned against you, but then turn to you and acknowledge your rule in prayers desperate and devout in this Temple,
Listen from your home in heaven;
26-27 When the skies shrivel up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, but then they pray at this place, acknowledging your rule and quit their sins because you have scourged them,
Listen from your home in heaven,
28-31 When disasters strike, famine or catastrophe, crop failure or disease, locust or beetle, or when an enemy attacks their defenses—calamity of any sort—any prayer that’s prayed from anyone at all among your people Israel, their hearts penetrated by disaster, hands and arms thrown out for help to this Temple,
Listen from your home in heaven, forgive and reward us:
32 And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation—people are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonderworking power—and who come to pray to this Temple.
33 Listen from your home in heaven
34-35 When your people go to war against their enemies at the time and place you send them and they pray to God toward the city you chose and The Temple I’ve built to honor your Name,
Listen from heaven to what they pray and ask for
36-39 When they sin against you—and they certainly will; there’s no one without sin!—and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken captive to the enemy’s land, whether far or near, but repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, “We’ve sinned; we’ve done wrong; we’ve been most wicked,” and turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name,
Listen from your home in heaven
40 And now, dear God, be alert and attentive to prayer, all prayer, offered in this place.
41-42 Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose,
2 Chronicles 7The Message (MSG)
The Temple Dedication
7 1-3 When Solomon finished praying, a bolt of lightning out of heaven struck the Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices and the Glory of God filled The Temple. The Glory was so dense that the priests couldn’t get in—God so filled The Temple that there was no room for the priests! When all Israel saw the fire fall from heaven and the Glory of God fill The Temple, they fell on their knees, bowed their heads, and worshiped, thanking God:
Yes! God is good!
4-6 Then the king and all Israel worshiped, offering sacrifices to God. King Solomon worshiped by sacrificing 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep at the dedication of The Temple. The priests were all on duty; the choir and orchestra of Levites that David had provided for singing and playing anthems to the praise and love of God were all there; across the courtyard the priests blew trumpets. All Israelites were on their feet.
7-10 Solomon set apart the central area of the courtyard in front of God’s Temple for sacred use and there sacrificed the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, and fat from the Peace-Offerings—the Bronze Altar was too small to handle all these offerings. This is how Solomon kept the great autumn Feast of Booths. For seven days there were people there all the way from the far northeast (the Entrance to Hamath) to the far southwest (the Brook of Egypt)—a huge congregation. They started out celebrating for seven days, and then did it for another seven days, a week for dedicating the Altar and another for the Feast itself—two solid weeks of celebration! On the twenty-third day of the seventh month Solomon dismissed his congregation. They left rejoicing, exuberant over all the good God had done for David and Solomon and his people Israel.
11 Solomon completed building The Temple of God and the royal palace—the projects he had set his heart on doing. Everything was done—success! Satisfaction!
12-18 God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, “I accept your prayer; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. From now on I’m alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel—make it a sure thing on a sure foundation. The same covenant guarantee I gave to David your father I’m giving to you, namely, ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’
19-22 “But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, then the guarantee is off: I’ll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I’ve just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will be nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world. And this Temple, splendid as it now is, will become an object of contempt; tourists will shake their heads, saying, ‘What happened here? What’s the story behind these ruins?’ Then they’ll be told, ‘The people who used to live here betrayed their God, the very God who rescued their ancestors from Egypt; they took up with alien gods, worshiping and serving them. That’s what’s behind this God-visited devastation.’”
Psalm 135The Message (MSG)
135 1-4 Hallelujah!
5-12 I, too, give witness to the greatness of God,
13-18 God, your name is eternal,
19-21 Family of Israel, bless God!
Romans 4The Message (MSG)
4 1-3 So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”
4-5 If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.
6-9 David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man:
Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off,
Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?
10-11 Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That’s right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life.
12 And it means further that Abraham is father of all people who embrace what God does for them while they are still on the “outs” with God, as yet unidentified as God’s, in an “uncircumcised” condition. It is precisely these people in this condition who are called “set right by God and with God”! Abraham is also, of course, father of those who have undergone the religious rite of circumcision not just because of the ritual but because they were willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God’s action for them, the way Abraham lived long before he was marked by circumcision.
13-15 That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
16 This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.
17-18 We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
19-25 Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.