From 2 Chronicles 6-8
Solomon has built and dedicated the temple, The LORD has approved what he has done and let the people know this by consuming their offering with fire. Solomon then prays to the LORD, asking him to hear peoples prayers for forgiveness.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
11 Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not live in the house of David king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy.” (2 Chr 8:11)
Interestingly, Solomon has married a foreign wife. More will follow and this is a sign of trouble to come. She is unclean. Thus Solomon builds her another house. Im not sure how she would have taken not being allowed in Solomons house.
12 Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of the LORD that he had built before the vestibule, 13 as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. (2 Chr 8:12-13)
Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 summarise the annual religious festivals for the Hebrews. Here is quick run down on the times they were to be observed and their purpose.
All of these festivals were holidays. They had to stop work.
- Sabbaths were to be observed on the seventh day of each week. They recalled the LORD’s creation of the heavens and the earth (Ex 20.8-11) and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Dt 5.15).
- 1st Month – Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread recalled again the LORD’s rescue of Israel from Egypt and their birth as a nation (Dt 16.1-3).
- Harvest – Feast of Firstfruits. They were to offer the first of their harvest to the LORD in thankfulness for what he has given them (Lev 23.10).
- Gathering – Feast of Weeks. They were to celebrate before the LORD and remember they were slaves in Egypt (Dt 16.12).
- 7th Month – Feast of Trumpets. A day of rest and a memorial to the LORD, proclaimed by blasting trumpets. They were to present a food offering to the LORD (Lev 23.23-25).
- 7th Month, 10th day – Day of Atonement. Aaron, the priests, the levites and all Israel were to make atonement for their sins (Lev 16).
- 7th Month, 15th day – Feast of Booths. They were to celebrate and rejoice before the LORD (Lev 23.33-43).
These feasts involved sacrificial worship at the temple. They are part of the Jewish law and have to be observed regularly every year. Jews from all over Israel had to travel to Jerusalem to observe these feasts (Dt 16:16–17). Sometimes this involved large distances and several days of travel.
14 According to the ruling of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry before the priests as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers in their divisions at each gate, for so David the man of God had commanded. 15 And they did not turn aside from what the king had commanded the priests and Levites concerning any matter and concerning the treasuries. 16 Thus was accomplished all the work of Solomon from the day the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed. (2 Chr 8:14–16)
The temple was built. The sacrifices and the regular feasts were promulgated. This place became the centre of the Hebrew worship of the LORD.
Story of Israel
Sadly from this point these observances failed to produce their intended effect and point Israel to the LORD in true worship. Israel corrupted them by using them to serve other gods. Prophets like Hosea, Isaiah and Amos condemned Israel’s use of the temple and its sacrifices.
11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
12 Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the LORD does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds. (Hos 8:11–14)
Story of Jesus
Following Jesus death and resurrection, Gentiles heard the gospel and came to believe he was Christ and Lord. The Jews still observed these commands and thought the Gentile believers were sinning by not observing them. But how could all the nations observe these commands if they were all over the world? The Jewish law is not suited for the whole world.
A large part of Romans 1-4 is a dialogue between Paul and an imaginary Jew (Rom 2.17). In the dialogue the Jew has judged the Gentiles as sinners (Rom 2.1-5). But Paul responds highlighting the Jews are no better. They are under the dominion of sin as well.
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:9–20)
Paul quoting a long list of indictments against the Jews from the law includes them in the judgment they pronounced against the Gentiles. The Jews believed they were righteous in God’s sight. The works of law included the sacrifices and feasts we have been looking at above. Paul says God does not identify the righteous by these observances and others because the law as the story of the Jews highlights their sin. How can Jews who observe these feasts and sacrifices, who sin at the same time still be recognised as righteous? There is another way to identify the righteous? A way which includes Gentiles as well without them having to observe these feasts and sacrifices.
The LORD steps in and remedies this situation. Paul introduces Jesus the faithful one and faith in him as the Christ. He has only briefly mentioned Jesus up till now. He has not spoken about those who believe him to be the Christ.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Rom 3:21–22)
The Jewish law, including all these festivals and sacrifices is not the way God has been faithful to his covenant promises. But the law as the story of the Jews and the prophets bear witness to how God will fulfill them. He has sent the promised Christ, who faithful to His will, to offer up his life for the salvation of all who believe in him. God is just, dealing with sin and God is the justifier of the one who believes Jesus to be the Christ.
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