Here is a passage in 2 Chronicles that such a clear picture of the heart of God concerning His primary goal concerning ?His house?. This has a 3-way?meaning and application. The house of God is a picture, type and shadow of the way things should look. Firstly the application begins with our personal lives, as we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Next it has meaning for our corporate gathering together in worship to God. Then there is a reality of how God tangibly and even visibly fills even a physical building, something He still does today!
I. BUILDING THE HOUSE OF GOD
2 Chronicles 2:1
“Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself? 4 Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening??
I love this passage because we can clearly see what God?s priorities are. We see Solomon dedicating the house of God for the ?Name? of the Lord, to the Person of Who He is. Then we see how this actually works out in the next three elements.
- The Sweet Incense
- The Showbread
- The Offerings
1. Sweet Incense (Prayer & Worship)
?O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You!?May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.?
Here in David?s Psalm we see the parallel and picture of how the burning of incense represents the ?prayers of the saints?, that it is to the pleasure of God to see this rising to Him continually. It is also reflected in the Book of Revelation where we see a complete connection of life of prayer before the Throne of God.
?Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ?You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.?
It is again confirmed here where God says that His house will be called a ?house of prayer?. It is worth understanding that it is not a house of evangelism, miracles, preaching and teaching, but a house of prayer. Why? Without God we can do nothing. Everything that has eternal value is initiated through our intimate communion with God, our relationship and connection with Him. That is why God puts this first. He is for all the other things, but if we are not abiding in the Vine through worship and prayer then all the rest will fall to the ground. As well, I also like to make the point that He ?makes us joyful? in His house of prayer. In other words, it is not a place of sadness but of gladness. If your prayer life makes you sad and heavy then something is missing. You may start with a burden for something, if at all, but when you come out of that place ideally you should have abundant joy.
?Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.?
2. Showbread: ?The Bread of His Presence? (Presence of God)
Next we look at the ?Showbread?. This is otherwise known as the ?Bread of His Presence?. Here we see that God?s house is to be a habitation of the Presence of God. Solomon dedicates the house of God as a place where the tangible Presence of God would dwell. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, the Presence of God. Again the showbread was, literally, ?bread of the Presence.? It consisted of twelve loaves of wheat bread, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, placed on the table of the showbread in front oft the Holy of Holies. The showbread did not represent ?matzah? but ?lechem ha?panim?,that is, ?bread of the face?. When we are partaking of the reality of God?s Presence we are before experiencing the ?face of God?. Here the phrase ?face to face? comes alive as we are in the most intimate communion by His Spirit.
3. Burnt Offerings (Sacrifice)
The burnt offering is simply not possible without these previous two elements of ?prayer and presence? because every true sacrifice can only happen the grace of God being imparted to us as we dwell in His Presence. Just as Peter said he would be willing to die with Jesus. It was premature because the grace of the Holy Spirit has not been given to empower him at that point. for the sacrifices that God calls us to make we need the grace of God that is released from a live that abides relationship with Him face to face. It is a sweet savor to God. He enjoys the offering of our lives. It is not given because of sin but because of our devotion.
?Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.?
Altars of Sacrifice represent:
a. Place of Remembrance/Memorial
b. A place of atonement for sin c. For us it is remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus
d. A life is given in sacrifice
e. It is completely burned up
II. ESTABLISHED ON MOUNT MORIAH
2 Chronicles 3:1
?Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.?
“Mount Moriah? is the place where Solomon?s temple was built, meaning ?chosen by the Lord. It represents a place of obedience, encounter and provision as it was the same place of Abraham?s giving of Isaac, where the Lord provided the sacrifice. It is also the place where David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan to interceded into order to stay the plague God has released upon Israel for David?s personal disobedience. As well it is the place of the current Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Here we see the story of David.
2 Samuel 24:14
?And David said to Gad, ?I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.? (takes the 3 day plague & plans some intercession to shorten it)
God gives David Multiple Choice:
? 7 years of Famine
? Flee 3 Months before your enemies
? 3 Days of Plague
David, knowing the mercy and goodness of God,?wisely chooses to fall into His hands rather than the other options. The Prophet Gad advises David buy the threshing floor of Ornan. A Threshing Floor is where they separate the chaff from the wheat that is usable. This location represents purity of heart, obedience to God and true sacrifice as we see in this passage below. David refuses to offer to the Lord something that costs him nothing.
2 Samuel 24:21,24
“…Now Araunah said to David, ?Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him? Then the king said to Araunah, ?No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.? So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.?
III. THE HOUSE FINISHED
1 Kings 9:1-3
?And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king?s house, and all Solomon?s desire which he wanted to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him: ?I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.?
When the house of God is finished we see how God honors the heart of
1. Heard Your Prayers
2. Consecrated or ?Set Apart? This House
3. Built it For My Name Eternally
4. The Eyes and Heart of God will Be There
God wants our lives to be filled with the incense of worship and prayer. Many times we find ?worship? and ?prayer? is the same word in the Hebrew as they are very interconnected with each other. As set apart lives for His glory God marks us with His Name upon our foreheads saying that His ?eyes and heart? will be there perpetually. What an amazing promise! I love the corporate aspect of worship and prayer as well. There are some things we can do in our personal devotion that are needed but there are also things that we can do together as one that we cannot do apart. We are together a habitation of the Lord, His building that is not built with stones but of hearts consecrated to Him.
Give God your ?whole heart? today in worship, devotion, prayer and sacrifice allowing Him to establish a habitation of His Presence within you.