May 25, 2008

God Gave His Name - May 25, 2008

Service Introduction: The Church Year

Traditionally the church year has been divided into two parts: the Festival Half and the Non-Festival Half. The Festival Half starts in Advent and celebrates the Savior:

The prophecies that foretold His arrival.

His birth in Bethlehem.

How He revealed His identity through pure preaching and amazing miracles.

How He died a shameful death to set us free from sin and punishment.

How He rose from the dead on Easter morning and into the Heavens on Ascension Day.

How the Spirit filled the followers of Jesus on Pentecost so that they might bring the message of life through Jesus to the world.

All this we celebrate in the Festival Half of the Church Year.

The Non-Festival half of the church year begins today with the Second Sunday after Pentecost. Until Advent begins again our focus shifts from the Savior to the Saved. Or in other words, our focus shifts to the life of a people who have been touched by God through the Good News of His Son.

What does it mean to live as a follower of Christ?

What joys can we expect when we walk with Him?

What troubles?

What wisdom?

What responsibility?

What peace?

What future?

Many call themselves Christian, but what does it mean to be one? These are the things we consider in the second half of the church year.

You know, you might call the traditional Church year, “The Life of Christ”. The Festival half is all about the “Life He lived” and the Non-Festival half is all about the “Life He Gives”.

I pray that the Persons of the True God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, would touch our lives in a powerful way during this part of the Church year, through Christ who is our source of eternal life, and our source of power for living the Christian life.

Old Testament Reading Introduction

It had taken seven years, but the Temple that Solomon had set out to build was now finished. Out in front of the Temple stood a huge altar on which sacrifices would be burned. Out in front of that altar Solomon had set up a square bronze platform that was about seven feet wide, and four feet tall.

On the day of the Temple’s dedication Solomon stood on that platform before the whole assembly of Israel. Then kneeling down he spread out his hands toward heaven to pray. His prayer is our Old Testament reading.

This is a larger reading than we’re accustomed to, but I couldn’t bear to cut it short for the sake of custom. Instead let me point out and explain some of the words that Solomon uses here. This will help us to get more out of a single reading of this prayer.

“Name” – As we read through this prayer, look for all the times that God’s “Name” is mentioned. Solomon talks about How God has promised to put His Name on this Temple, and that means the world to Solomon. If God puts His Name on a something, then He is associating all that He is and all that He does with that something. Solomon knows that if God will truly put His Name on the Temple in Jerusalem, then it will be far more than a place of beautiful architecture, it will be a place of real power because it is the Temple of the LORD.

“Prayer and Supplication” – In his prayer, Solomon speaks of two different kinds of prayer. One he just calls “prayer”, the other he calls “supplication”. In the Hebrew, the term “prayer” is talking about coming before God to speak. The term “supplication” is talking about humbly bowing low before God to speak. We might summarize these two as “prayer” and “begging prayer” made in full recognition that God owes us nothing.

“Forgive” – Throughout His prayer Solomon repeatedly describes a cycle of events. First, the people of Israel sin against God. Then, God then makes them miserable in one way or another so that they will recognize their sin. When they realize what they have done, and that their suffering is a consequence of their sin, they turn toward God’s Temple and pray. Solomon asks that when this happens, before anything else, God would forgive them their sin. Then after that most crucial forgiveness is rendered, Solomon asks that they would also receive relief from the LORD’s rebuking hand.

Old Testament ...... 2 Chronicles 6:12–7:3 (NIV)

12Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14He said:

“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

16“Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ 17And now, O LORD, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.

18“But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.

22“When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, 23then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty and so establish his innocence.

24“When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and confess your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, 25then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their fathers.

26“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 27then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

28“When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each one aware of his afflictions and pains, and spreading out his hands toward this temple—30then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of men), 31so that they will fear you and walk in your ways all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.

32“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, 33then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

34“When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

36“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.

40“Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

41 “Now arise, O LORD God, and come to your resting place,

you and the ark of your might.

May your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,

may your saints rejoice in your goodness.

42 O LORD God, do not reject your anointed one.

Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”

7:1When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,

“He is good;

his love endures forever.”

Sermon Theme:

“God Gave His Name”

On Solomon’s Temple

To the Israelite People

Not to be Dishonored

To Be Called Upon for Grace

To the Christians Beside Us

To Me

Because His Love Endures Forever

Jehovah God is serious about His Name and were He puts it. His Name is everything that He is. Everything that He says. Everything that He does. His Name is Himself.

Over four hundred years before Solomon was born, Jehovah promised Moses and the people of Israel that He would to put His Name on His place of worship.

On the day that the first Temple of the LORD was dedicated, Jehovah showed the people, in a spectacular way, that His Name was here. He was here. This was His place.

When Solomon’s prayer was finished and His voice fell silent, then from the sky above fell fire, burning up the sacrifice which had been laid on the great altar that stood before the all the people.

A bright light emanated from inside the Temple. A light that was so bright that the priests couldn’t come near it. A radiance so brilliant that all the people put their faces to the ground and worshipped.

In the fire God displayed His power. In the brightness, His glory.

Yes, Jehovah God is serious about His Name and were He puts it, for His Name is Himself. All that He is. All that He says. All that He does.

Human beings are serious about their names too. Some cultures are extremely serious about family names. In the Japanese culture, maintaining the honor of your family name is often placed far above the individual. If a person has done something that dishonors their family name they are expected to make up for it. They call it “saving face”.

In ancient Japan, a very painful and self-inflicted suicide called “seppuku” was expected of warriors and high officials in the government if that person had done something to dishonor their family name. One historian writes,

“In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced”(Dr. Stephen Turnbull).

The Japanese culture is unique in many ways. But, when it comes to salvation the mind of man always comes up with the same tired idea. Without the true God’s help mankind always thinks, “I’VE got to do something to balance the scales with God. I’VE got to do some great or difficult task to wipe away my sins and restore my name.”

Some cultures may look on such actions as honorable and admirable, but Jehovah God is not pleased by any actions that sinners attempt to offer as a payment for past sins.

God does not approve of “seppuku”, but God is serious about “saving face”. He is serious about His Name being honored. He desires that His Name be associated with goodness and not with evil.

In Ephesians God instructs His followers,

11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:11-12 NIV).

In his prayer, Solomon spoke about God’s people in Old Testament times. Since they were chosen by God, His Name was associated with them. His Name had been put on them. They were made His family. From that point on everything that they did either polished the Name of Jehovah and made it shine, or smudged that Name with sin. Every sin that the people of Israel did was an insult and a dishonoring of God’s Name.

Think about it like this: If God is love, than to hate is to spit on God’s Name. If God is all about forgiveness, than refusing to forgive is to spit on God’s Name.

When the Israelite people sinned against God’s Name, God would not put up with it. He would afflict them in some way or another. The guilty schemer would find his own evil plan toppling down on his head. The rain would not fall on the spring crops and they would wither and die. Hunger would pain the bellies of the people. Disease would weaken them. Insects would infest their fields. Enemies would take them captive. All as a result of their unrepentant sins against God’s Name.

God had put His Name on these people when He had chosen them as His own. He would not permit them to tarnish that Name by their continuing in unrepentant sinning. God’s Name is not “Sin”. His Name is “Holiness”. He would afflict His sinning people in some way so that they would realize they were dishonoring Him, and repent.

But God is not a cold and selfish God, only concerned with His reputation. He is also a loving God. He would touch His people with the hand of rebuke because of His Name, yes, but also because of His love for them.

When a person turns away from God by continuing in unrepentant sin, refusing to turn away from that sin, that person is in serious danger. Each one of us has a time of grace, a set time of life and opportunity to know God by faith. For all people, believers and unbelievers, there comes a moment when that time of grace is ended. If the unrepentant sinner doesn’t turn back to God, at some point their time of grace will end and God will let them go away from Him forever.

Personally, I pray that God would afflict me terribly if I ever get stuck in the bog of unrepentant sin. I pray that He would hurt me bad and lead me to see my sin as the source of my pain. Then there might be hope for me. Then I might remember His mercy. Then I might call out for His help, and He would answer in love, forgiving me and restoring me because Jesus suffered all in my place.

It’s no coincidence that Solomon prays this prayer from His knees and uses the word, “supplication” or “begging prayer”.

Solomon thought the idea that God was going to live in this Temple like a person might live in a hut to be an extremely silly idea. He says,

“…the highest heavens, can’t contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18 NIV).

Solomon’s whole posture and tone in this prayer reveals that He would have also considered it ridiculous to pray to God like God owes you something.

Turn away from your sin. Come low. Ask mercy. Receive forgiveness. That’s Solomon’s wisdom.

The Temple and the Israelite people are not the only ones to have God’s Name placed on them. God placed His Name on you and me when we came to trust that Jesus really did take our punishment away by His death, and really did seal our eternal life by His resurrection. We individual Christians are the Temples of God.

16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV).

With invisible fire, the Holy Spirit created faith in Jesus within our hearts and minds. Through our testimony God shines the glorious message of His forgiving love out into the world.

Yes, Jehovah God is serious about His Name and where He puts it, for His Name is Himself. So we aught to come before God with Solomon’s humble awe. We must approach God on our knees, knowing He owes us nothing, but has given us everything in the forgiveness, salvation and eternal life that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

The more clearly we see the greatness of God’s Name, the more respect we will have for all things that He puts His name on. Whether it’s this sanctuary, or His Bible, or His called servants or His holy people.

Think about that one for a moment. Your fellow Christians are God’s Temple. God has placed His Name on them. God has connected all that He is, with all that they are. They are people cleansed from sin and damnation by the blood of God’s Son. When we Christians disrespect each other, we disrespect God. But when we honor one another, then we honor Christ who has saved us. As Jesus said,

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

The whole Bible is Christocentric. What that means is that it’s all about the Christ, the Savior that God promised to send to rescue sinners from eternal punishment. Whenever you open your Bible to read, a very good practice is to look for Christ. Is He actually in this reading? Is He foreshadowed here? Is He prophesied? What is the connection to Christ Jesus here?

Looking at the prayer of Solomon, we see Christ in the forgiveness that Solomon is so sure that Jehovah will dispense to the repentant who call out to Him. That forgiveness was only available to the people of the Old Testament because God knew in advance what His Son would do on the cross of Calvary. That He would suffer for each sin of each person.

But there is another connection to Christ that is found in Solomon’s prayer. Solomon closes his prayer to Jehovah with the words:

“O LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant” (2 Chronicles 6:42 NIV)

To understand how this connects to Christ you have to know a little history about Solomon’s father David. David had once wanted to build this Temple for God. He realized that while he was living in a grand palace, God’s house was still just a tent, the Tabernacle that the people had carried through the desert.

When David expressed his desire to build a house of worship for God, God told David, “No”. The building of the Temple were God would put His Name would be done by David’s son. Jehovah told David,

“When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7: 12-13).

God promised David that his offspring would build a Temple where God would put His Name. God also promised that the throne of this Descendant’s kingdom would be established forever.

In Solomon this prophesy found partial fulfillment when He built the Temple. But in Christ Jesus God’s promise to David found complete fulfillment.

Through David’s descendant Jesus we are cleansed from our sin. Through faith in Him God’s loving rule pours into our hearts. The Kingdom of God pours into our heart. That Kingship never ends because He gives us eternal life.

David’s family line never ends either because Jesus, the Son of David, rose from the dead after His Crucifixion and lives now on forever. David’s family grows with each new soul that comes to trust in Christ as the Son of God and Redeemer of all.

“…Remember the great love promised to David your servant” (2 Chronicles 6:42 NIV).

Solomon asks God to forgive the repentant sinner because of the great love promised to David. The great love promised to David is the Son of David, Jesus.

When Solomon’s prayer was finished, God responded in a powerful way. Fire reigned down from heaven. Light burst out of the Temple.

The people responded to this by kneeling on the pavement with their faces to the ground. From there they worshipped God with the words:

“He is good; his love endures forever.”

What a fitting response. That fire could have fallen on them. They were sinners. God would have be fully justified if His fire had devoured the whole lot of them. But in love God spared them. He is good. His love endures forever.

In whatever pain or sorrow you find yourself in, pray and reflect on it to see if it is the rebuking hand of God trying to get your attention. Looking to God’s promise, to His Son’s cross, pray that He would forgive all your sins. And know the He is good; his love does endure forever.

11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:11-13 NIV).


“Call upon Me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15 NKJV).

He has put His name on you dear Christians. Call on that Name often. In humble repentance look for His mercy. In joyful restoration offer Him your praise.


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