Will God, Really? or Does the Church need to be there?
Will God, Really?
1 Kings 8
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen your dependence upon Hi m and help you pray, knowing God is here.. for you dwell in His presence.
Is it good enough for…
Twenty-seven years ago, I was looking in display cases in a store in San Dimas, Ca. I had already spent a lot of time in other stores, trying to find the perfect ring to go on Kay’s hand, when we got married on July 1st.
Although I didn’t have a lot of money, that wasn’t the issue as much as finding a ring that would make her smile, that she would proudly wear and that she would show off, saying, look!
I found it, got out my life savings… (which was last week’s paycheck) and purchased the ring. I remember thinking, until the time I saw her smile, will she find it good enough? Will it be good enough!
I have to think my anxiety was nothing compared to what Solomon was going through as he dedicated the temple. Can you imagine the pressure, for the dream was not just his dream, but King David’s dreams, and the fulfillment of a promise that went all the way back to Egypt and Moses, and even before that 4 centuries to the time when God made a covenant promise to Abraham, having him look up into the sky, to see the number of his descendants.
All of the Israel was there, to dedicate a sanctuary, the temple, to be the place where God would dwell with man.
And as he looks out on the people of God, his nervousness causes him to ask a question.
But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!
We could, no, we should ask the same question here today, for this place, as we stand in this place, where God has put His name.
How can Concordia contain the presence of God, who cannot even be contained?
The answer is found in why the Temple was dedicated as the house of God, and to see this place dedicated to the same purpose!
Why Solomon had Faith God Would hear.
It is amazing to me sometimes, when people take a question like Solomon’s and only read the question, assuming that God would not answer, or that because Solomon asked, it meant the issue would be in doubt. I’ve heard people say that churches and sanctuaries dedicated to being the place where God meets people are no different than a forest, or a beach. Because God is everywhere, and therefore, any place is as good as another.
But Solomon doesn’t ask this in a rhetorical manner. He asks it because he knows the answer, the very character of God is to dwell with His people. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and was close enough to know Cain and talk to him. Enoch walked with Him, as did Noah, and of course Melchizedek, the prince of peace who would help Abraham know the prophecy about Jesus, the incredible Prince of Peace. He walked with Isaac and wrestled with Jacob. He met Moses, and dwell on Mount Sinai, and led His people as they struggled to be faithful in the wilderness.
And as Solomon mentions, God kept the promises made to David, Solomon’s father. That God always keeps the promises He binds himself to in covenant.
God always shows love to those He calls to be His own; that is why we are devoted to Him. It is because He doesn’t fail us.
And he doesn’t’ fail us because He dwells with us, not just because He is everywhere. He makes His home with us, in our midst, to care for us, love us, reconcile us to Himself
That we struggle to believe that is the nastiest side effect of sin, the belief that God won’t care about the people He created to be His own.
Which is why we put up buildings like this one, it is why Solomon built the temple; it is why Jesus cleared out the money changers and those who made a profit selling sacrifices in the temple.
Because these places where God has said, “My name is there”, where He urges us to call upon His name, is to be a place of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.
Which is why we can pray here, which is why we feel at peace here at the rail, as God strengthens us, for He hears our cry, as He hears our Kyrie…our plea for His love and mercy.
Will God Really Hear my Prayer?
It took me a while to understand this passage, this prayer of Solomon. Because the very first thing he asks for is that God would hear all of the prayers prayed in the Temple – actually within the temple courtyards, and area 8 times the size of our Concordia property! A million people could easily fill the courts, and can you imagine how they would sound singing the Nunc Dimittis? How they praises would ring as they realized that God was welcoming them, drawing them into His presence!
What is so amazing, what needs to be realized is that when the people of God pray, the promise isn’t to give us the American Dream of Life, liberty, wealth, fame and the pursuit of happiness, the promise is to give us…
To give us the loving comfort of realizing God doesn’t walk away from us, that He will cleanse us up, that he won’t bar us from heaven, but He will make us as clean and share His glory with us!
If we are devoted to Him, this only ensures a deeper devotion. A more single-hearted adoration of the God who comes and dwells among us. There is no great answered prayer than this,
You are my children, and I will love you and care for you, by the stripes Christ wore on His back, you are healed!
Will God Really Hear Theirs?
That is there in the prayer of the heathen that Solomon would have God really hear as well. We get distracted by the “grant whatever they ask”, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I can be a unbeliever for a day, get 400 or 500 prayers answered, and then believe again. ( We’ll talk about that in Bible Study!)
But they are to pray so that they can be in awe of God’s presence as well, so that can know and fear God, even as His people do. That is what Solomon prays for those who aren’t the people of God, who aren’t in the covenant, that are drawn to God by the work of the Holy Spirit.
That they would know Him, and come into this relationship, this wonderful relationship where God answers Solomon question with smoke so thick that they priests can’t do anything.
Smoke that testifies to His presence, just as the bread and wine, body and blood testify to the presence of Christ in this place.
Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on earth?”
God answers, “Be at peace, I am with you…” AMEN!
Posted on May 30, 2016, in Devotions, semons, Theology in Practice and tagged Church Buildings, Congregations, God, mercy, mission, prayer, Sanctuaries, The Church, the presence of God. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.