Finding Our Way Back To God

Finding Our Way Back To God

2 Chronicles 7:12-14

“And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said: I have heard thy prayer, and I have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven, and there fall no rain, or if I give orders, and command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people: And my people, upon whom my name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek out my face, and and turn from their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”

The occasion that this portion of scripture is about is the dedication of the temple that Solomon had built [2 Chronicles 7:12-42]. There never has been a structure that was ever built on any part of our earth like that of Solomon’s building that was built on Mt. Moriah on the eastern side of Jerusalem. And of course, after the work of years and years of its construction, Many of Gods people came to make that day a great day of celebration. The priests were there, every one was there. The Levites were there without exception, and every family of the Hebrew nation that could arrive were present upon that greatest day.

The celebration was in keeping with this holy occasion. It began on the second day of the seventh month, and there were twenty-one days of glorious feasting and celebration. Upon that feasting scene, Solomon slew twenty thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep, sacrifices unto God [2 Chronicles 7:5]. It was indeed a triumphant, a glorious feast and a high time in the lives of the Hebrew people.

But when I read in the Bible, I get the impression it had a very sober and somber and serious turn. For example, on the tenth day of that celebration, which was the Atonement Day, when all of God’s people afflicted their souls for their sins; and as I read the prayer of dedication, it also has that serious and passionate turn.

Look at it:

For Solomon had made a brazen scaffold, and had set it in the midst of the temple, which was five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high: and he stood upon it: then kneeling down in the presence of all the multitude of Israel, and lifting up his hands towards heaven, He said: “O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in heaven nor in earth: who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:...If the heavens be shut up, and there fall no rain by reason of the sins of the people, and they shall pray to thee in this place, and confess to thy name, and be converted from their sins, when thou dost afflict them, Then hear thou from heaven, O Lord, and forgive the sins of thy servants and of thy people Israel, and teach them the good way, in which they may walk: and give rain to thy land which thou hast given to thy people to possess. If a famine arise in the land, or a pestilence or blasting, or mildew, or locusts, or caterpillars: or if their enemies waste the country, and besiege the cities, whatsoever scourge or infirmity shall be upon them: Then if any of thy people Israel, knowing his own scourge and infirmity shall pray, and shall spread forth his hands in this house, Hear thou from heaven, from thy high dwelling place, and forgive, and render to every one according to his ways, which thou knowest him to have in his heart: (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:) That they may fear thee, and walk in thy ways all the days that they live upon the face of the land, which thou hast given to our fathers. If the stranger also, who is not of thy people Israel, come from a far country, for the sake of thy great name, and thy strong hand, and thy stretched out arm, and adore in this place: Hear thou from heaven thy firm dwelling place, and do all that which that stranger shall call upon thee for: that all the people of the earth may know thy name, and may fear thee, as thy people Israel, and may know, that thy name is invoked upon this house, which I have built. If thy people go out to war against their enemies, by the way that thou shalt send them, and adore thee towards the way of this city, which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built to thy name: Then hear thou from heaven their prayers, and their supplications, and revenge them. And if they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them up to their enemies, and they lead them away captive to a land either afar off, or near at hand,” [2 Chronicles 6:13-14, 26-36]

The whole prayer of dedication has a very serious and somber tone. And after the feast was done and the people were turning away, it was in the night that God appeared to Solomon and said, “I heard your prayer” [2 Chronicles 7:12]. And then the word of our text: “If my people, upon whom my name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek out my face, and and turn from their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14].

“If a famine arise in the land, or a pestilence or blasting, or mildew, or locusts, or caterpillars: If thy people go out to war against their enemies, by the way that thou shalt send them, and adore thee towards the way of this city, which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built to thy name: Then hear thou from heaven their prayers, and their supplications, and revenge them. And if they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them up to their enemies, and they lead them away captive to a land either afar off, or near at hand...[2 Chronicles 6:28, 34-36]. Isn’t it strange that that should have been injected in a feast of high gladness and joy [2 Chronicles 7:8-10].

Would you think that the time for prayers like that, and time for contrition and supplication and intercession, could be days of supreme joy and merriment, and certainly not in times when we are celebrating and feasting? Wonder why it was injected on that occasion? [2 Chronicles 6:12-36].

I humbly believe that it is this:

Solomon prayed like that [2 Chronicles 6:12-43] when the nation was at its best game—at the top of their game, when peace was on every hand and everybody was glad, everything was right [1 Chronicles 29:16, 23-25] And God answered the prayer the way He did because of the times [2 Chronicles 7:12-22].

During the good times we soon forget where we come from. In days of blessing we get to comfortable and find ourselves committing transgressions, we err, we sin, we drift away.

We are all like that and we have always been like that. Especially we as American people have been like that, even today.

There is a story where England was celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. She had been sovereign longer than any other ruler England had ever had, and her reign had been without exception illustrious and great. England had great statesmen, great leaders, great teachers, great authors, great poets, musicians. All had been given in her reign, and almost with excessive or wasteful spending, with an eye toward the luxurious. During this Victorian period of English history. And so after she had reigned for sixty years, they had in London, a diamond jubilee in behalf of that illustrious monarch; to show forth the wealth, prowess, and greatness of the British nation. They brought men and women and queens and rulers from every corner of the globe, from every country; all nations were represented there; England in all its greatness and all of its might. And after the days of celebration, and the feasting, and the English nation had exhibited its greatness, and the people prepared to leave, and the visitors were turning to their separate ways, there came a poem out of this celebration, “The Recessional.” The going back of these big, illustrious men that had been in England’s jubilee days, was expressed by this poem written by Rudyard Kipling:

God of our fathers, known of old,

Lord of our far-flung battle line,

Beneath whose awful Hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine—

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;

The captains and the kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-call’d, our navies melt away;

On dune and headland sinks the fire:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose

Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,

Such boastings as the Gentiles use,

Or lesser breeds without the Law—

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust

In reeking tube and iron shard,

All valiant dust that builds on dust,

And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,

For frantic boast and foolish word—

Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

[“Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling, June 22, 1897]

 

Why, at a time like that, was somebody giving admonition such as this? Because Kipling knew as a boy, the tendency and the weakness of men who are blessed to forget God.

That is the reason upon this occasion, when the Hebrew people were there at their highest, and when they were there at the dedication of their temple to God, Solomon prayed like He did [2 Chronicles 6:12-42], and God answered the way he did [2 Chronicles 7:12-22]. And when they turned, when they humbled themselves, when they prayed and sought the face of God and turned from their wicked ways, that was when God promised them, “I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” [2 Chronicles 7:14].

This is the way back home! This is the way to come back! “I will be waiting, I will not cast you off. I will be waiting like the father who looked down the road where the prodigal had gone days before [Luke 15:20]. He was waiting with open heart, with open arms.” This is the way to come back:

“If my people, upon whom my name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek out my face, and and turn from their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14]

The way back to God: is the way of humility, that first—a way of humility.

There can be no sufficiency in us; no good thing in us—no adequacy at all, “Lord, Thou alone must help us,!”

If My people will pray…” prayer; how that would strengthen our hearts! We run here and we run there; and we are busy here and over there but can not find time for God, no time for prayer, no time for meditation. No wonder sin lures us away, and there is no power within us to strike back, to stand up and overcome. We are trying to do it in our own strength! We have the ideal that organization and machinery and man-made method is able to do this miracle. But it is “Not with an army, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Zechariah 4:6].

The way back to God is the way of prayer, the way of turning from sin and asking the forgiveness of God.

 Because we are full of pride and because we do not pray as we should, we find ourselves stumbling in this life we find ourselves stumbling into sin, we stagger before the world. When depression comes, heartaches come, sorrows overtake us, then how quickly we turn and say, “Oh, the injustice of God! Where is the mighty arm of the Creator of this universe? Where is God when His world is bathed in blood?”

How we need to cry aloud, "Between us and our God are our sins, that He will not hear …Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. And our sins testify against us." [Isaiah 59:2, 9-10, 12]

“If my people, upon whom my name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek out my face, and and turn from their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14].