Please click on the audio player below to listen to today’s message. Thank you!
…and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
2 Chronicles 6:29-31
Only God knows what’s in our hearts and in our behind-closed-doors lives. Only He has the full knowledge of our past, present, and future. We don’t really comprehend what this means, how special our connection with Him is, and why nurturing our relationship with Him— through daily prayer, conversations, meditation, and consistent obedience is so important. The stronger and healthier our relationship with God, the better our relationship with self and others. We should be focused on doing better, walking the walk, and ensuring that our heart is properly aligned with our thoughts, words, and actions.
In today’s scripture, we read the last line, which is a petition from Solomon to God to forgive the people of Israel, dealing with them individually and intimately. He said, “so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.” I’ve heard plenty of people default to translating the word “fear” in the Bible (at all times) as we would the meaning of horror and trembling fear. Rather than taking the time to use modern technology and search online for Hebrew translation and cultural context. In Psalm 149:13, we read about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, and people are quick to recite that line, but what does it mean to be fearfully made? God wasn’t scared during the process. David was describing the love, respect, honor, and reverence that is God and the understanding that he was created of that essence.
When we look at the context of Solomon’s prayer, this use of the word fear is not to be mistaken for being scared of God. But rather to be in awe of Him. To be so overwhelmed by Who and What He is that you are naturally drawn to Him and have the desire to serve Him and be obedient to His requests and commands. It’s the ultimate of respect.
It’s like the crying, trembling, and fainting fan who is so overwhelmed when they see their celebrity crush or hero. They are filled with so much energy that they can’t seem to control themselves. Now magnify that sentiment and experience to a level that you can’t comprehend. That, my friends, is the intensity that we feel and experience when we are in awe of God — when we experience Yirah, as it is said in Hebrew. With the highest level of reference comes the highest level of consistent and bold obedience. That is the type of relationship Solomon was describing. It is interesting, though, because it’s sort of based on the condition that God would forgive the people and deal with each person according to what they do, what’s in their heart. Based on seeing that, the people would feel this strong reverence and loyalty towards God and obey Him for as long as they lived in the land He gave their ancestors. The reverence and obedience wouldn’t come first, which means Solomon is asking for grace and mercy. He’s asking God to show the people something they won’t even show each other, to be the example that they may one day imitate. This is a recurring plea and negotiation throughout most of the Old Testament. Let’s not forget that even Jesus (in the New Testament) asked God to show mercy to the idiots screaming for him to be nailed to a cross and later discarded like trash and eaten by dogs and buzzards.
If you recall Solomon’s history, he was the son of David, the same David who was king, warrior, beloved, and conflicted. Yep, the same David I mentioned earlier. Solomon, his son, was a man of peace and was chosen by God to build the temple after the people came out of exile. Solomon’s journey reflects the desire for the realignment of the people in their relationship with God. While in exile, many people deviated and began worshipping other gods. As a matter of fact, they did this every time they found themselves in exile. What in the world!
The purpose of the temple was always about the relationship between the Creator and His creations. It provided a place to disconnect to be reconnected; it allowed for greater intimacy and to be filled with God’s presence. It was to distinguish Him and His reign from the other gods the people had worshipped or were familiar with. God was using the temple, routines, job titles, and rituals to mold out their old way of thinking, living, and worshipping to prepare them for the life they were destined to live and the relationship with Him that He most desired. It was about intentionality. You didn’t go to the temple to catch up on the latest neighborhood gossip, buy a fish dinner, or place bets. No, that space was your one-on-one time with the Supreme Ruler. It was to break you from the ceremonial worship of other gods and to get your mind focused solely on the God that delivered your people from one calamity after the next.
That’s why generations later, we read of Jesus flipping tables and going off on the money changers and the folks selling things in the temple. That’s why we read the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John, trying to recondition the minds of the people who naturally defaulted to the lifestyles and practices they led before becoming believers. Just like the generations before them, when they were in exile, they adopted the lifestyles of the people of those lands. We have to remember that the first generation that Moses led out of Egypt never made it to the Promised Land; it was their children and grandchildren who inherited that promise. So those beneficiaries and the generations that followed did not have a distinct recollection or reference point of God in the same way that their parents, grandparents, and great-grands did because they were either too young or weren’t yet born and have no memory of God’s presence in their lives when He freed their people from their captors. They only heard the stories about the plagues and Moses glowing, folks being swallowed up by the Earth, and the Red Sea parting and defeating giants.
When you look at people today, are we not living and behaving the exact same way? We are so far removed from the times of our ancestors of even six generations ago, heck, even from our grandparents’ and parents’ generational experiences, so we struggle to appreciate and reach out to God in the same ways that they did when they were our age and younger. That’s why you have people who scream out, “Stop living in the past,” as a dismissive way to disregard the horrors from the past that are still very much present. Solomon’s generation struggled with the temptation of worshipping idols and gods of their time, of the people who they lived around while in exile. Many thought that the God of their ancestors had abandoned them or was punishing them. Do we not still hear people say that today? Do we not hear people say, “If there is a God, then…” or “If God sent Jesus to do all of those things, then why are we still suffering?” and so on and so forth. Those are the voices of people who do not have an intimate relationship with the Great I Am.
Our relationship with God is to be like no other connection; it is to take precedence over all others. We were given rituals and routines to ween us off of our old ways of doing things and to reposition us to a new way, and many of us have a long way to go before we can walk confidently in this new way. Many people still reject the new way, even calling it the work of the devil, blaming it on the influences of other religions. That’s exactly what the people said to and about Jesus, ensuring his crucifixion. Do you not think that God has a New Covenant for us? But how can we possibly hear and embrace it if we still struggle to accept and live by the Covenant Jesus shared more than 2,000 years ago?
God’s plan was to prepare the people for the time when it would be revealed that we are the temple, the temple is within us, and whenever we want to have a moment with Him, all we have to do is speak to Him.
We don’t have to travel to a mountain or building to commune with Him. We just have to be still and speak.
An altar is no longer an object within a building; the altar is wherever you are. Just be still and speak.
People transitioned from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice, to then just burning some incense and candles, and then to learning specific prayers and being taught how to have a conversation with God. Through grace, God is still patiently waiting on us to stop worshipping gold, currency, things, and people. God led the people through the phases of having intercessors to guide us through prayer, petition, confession, and atonement — and as He worked with them, He had Jesus explain that there’s no need for you to go to the intercessors to speak on your behalf, you have all that you need to come directly to your Heavenly Father-Mother. And just like then, people today still place their faith in the intercessors, choosing them instead of trusting and choosing God. Thinking so little of themselves and totally disregarding how much God trusts and believes in them. Seeking a flesh and bones king rather than a Spirit of immeasurable force and presence.
We are more than what we see with these eyes, hear with these ears, and feel with this flesh. If we truly knew and believed who we are, what we are, and what we’re capable of, we would be in awe of God and obedient without question — and not just while we travel in these human tents called bodies, but even after we discard them.
Whew! Will you join me in a moment of prayer? I know that was long. It just came pouring out.
Father, thank You for your unwavering, unconditional, everlasting love. Thank You for always believing in me and for constantly reminding me who I am and reassuring me of what I can do, and can be. Thank You for molding me. I know I probably frustrate You but Your grace and mercy cancels out my blunders. Thank You Father. I love you. I need You. I want to strengthen my relationship with You. You know my heart Father. I thank You now for helping me. I praise Your Name. Amen.
And with that family, I pray that you are blessed, that you see and embrace your blessings, and that you are a blessing to others.
Copyright 2011-2022. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved. All Prayers and Reflections are Copyright Protected by Natasha L. Foreman. BreakingBreadWithNatasha.com
Music: Climb by Shane Ivers; Quiescent In Time by Shane Ivers – https://www.silvermansound.com