I sat next to them at a banquet. They smiled often but said little, even to each other. I tried, without being noticed, to observe the two of them together. They had the reputation of being the happiest senior couple ever! They glanced to each other, smiled, and even giggled a bit. They shared whole messages with their eyes. What a joy! I wondered about their secret. I wondered how people together for fifty or sixty years could have such a relationship. What was their secret? Last week we looked at what God said he wanted from Solomon, and noted that the obedience was just a means to a greater end – an intimate and personal relationship with him. How does someone get that? There is a secret that the text quietly passes to those who will look carefully for the “how” of the relationship.
Key Principle: When you have a vibrant private side to your walk, God will open public blessing!
The Public Side of His Life (7:51-8:21)
1. Followed through on the work God entrusted to Him (7:51a)
2. Put the treasures into God’s work in respect to His father’s wishes (7:51b).
3. Assembled the team together to complete to serve the Lord (8:1-4, 6-9)
4. Extravagant in giving (8:5)
5. Saw God’s blessing on the work (8:10-11).
6. Proclaimed God’s faithfulness (8:12-21).
The Private Side of His Life (8:22-53)
1. Unashamed: he stood before the Lord (8:22). In Matthew 10:33-34 Jesus said that the disciple that denied Him was no disciple at all, and could expect Jesus to deny the relationship later.
2. Personal in approach: Lord God of Israel, There is no God like you in Heaven or earth (8:23). Jesus began His prayer, Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be your name. Hallowed is from the word agios, or holy, which means UNLIKE ANY OTHER. Acknowledging the way God is distinct from men and all other living beings is important to Him. We must understand He is not ordinary, He is precious and alone as the God of the Universe. The angels before His throne cry out endlessly of His distinctiveness. If it is important to Him, it must be important to us. Do not say “Oh my God!” meaninglessly. Do not use His titles in explitives. He is unlike any other, and above every other. He is supreme.
It is the same as Jesus taught:
Principle #1 We are instructed to approach Him with tenderness: Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Our Father” since we are adopted into that royal family.
Principle #2 We are instructed to approach Him with reverence: “In heaven” Jesus reminds us here that we are not approaching an earthly father that is limited in his capabilities or his presence.
Principle #3 We are instructed to approach Him with respect: “Hallowed be Your name” – our Father is free from all impurities. He is totally separated from all evil. It was John MacArthur who pointed out “Praying this prayer places some demands on ourselves… it is a risky prayer:
I cannot say “our” if I’m living only for myself.
I cannot say “Father” if I don’t try to act like His child.
I cannot say “Who art in Heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say “hallowed be Thy Name” if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say “Thy Kingdom come” if I’m not doing my part to hasten that day.
I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His word.
I cannot say “in earth as it is in Heaven” if I’m unwilling to serve Him here and now.
I cannot say “give us this day our daily bread” if I’m not relying on Him to provide.
I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against someone.
I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I haven’t put on the whole armor of God.
I cannot say “Thine is the Kingdom” If I am not loyal to the King as His faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what people may do.
I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself.
I cannot say “forever” if my life is bounded completely by the things of time.”
3. Relational in approach: Keeping your covenant by showing hesed to your faithful ones (8:23). Solomon knows that God’s mercy is beyond anything that can be understood in normal human experience. His trustworthiness is unimpeachable. He gives and gives and gives the undeserving and even often the unappreciative. He blesses the unloving and cares for those that don’t even care for themselves well. He is the ultimate caregiver to His people. He recalls even the specific nature of caring for promises he made to David in the time of Solomon (8:24).
4. Intercessory in approach: Solomon knows the relationship exists, and he is not afraid to call on God to ASK OPENLY on behalf of the needs of those around him, particularly those in his care.
A) Asked God to continue to keep His promises (8:25-26) regarding the throne and succession. He recalls the Word God spoke about obedience as a prerequisite for blessing. Having obeyed, he calls on God to fulfill His Word!
B) Recognized how vast God is (8:27), yet asked God to stay very personal (8:28 30). He does not presume to house God in aTemple. He acknowledges God’s awesome greatness, but asks that God continue to show Himself as a personal God, watching over Jerusalem’s Temple night and day.
C) Asked God to stand over the nation and reveal injustice (8:31-32). Solomon knew that men in the kingdom would sin and cheat each other. He wisely called on God to pick out the righteous and uphold them. “Russian reformer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an address to Harvard University: “We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession-our spiritual life.”
D) Asked God to reconcile the confessing sinners (8:33-34). Solomon knew that his people would hide their sin as Aachen did under Joshua, and defeat would come as a result. He asked that God would regard the people’s repentance and turn His face back to them.
E) Forgive the repentant nation when they recognize the penalty (8:35-36). He knew that God would have to send hardship on the people to get their attention when they were not listening, but asked that God would turn His face back when they cried out to Him.
F) Hear the downtrodden and plague ridden (8:37-40). When war didn’t capture the attention of the people, perhaps an illness would. Solomon wanted God to open his ears to the hearts of those whotruly repented before Him. He held God to no obligation to help those who did not repent!
G) Hear the stranger that comes to you by the testimony of the nation (8:41-43). He anticipated others that were not of his nation coming to God, and thoughtfully asked to be a nation of testimony, with a promise of God to offer.
H) Hear when the nation goes to war (8:44-45). He asks God to regard the people when they are on the field of battle if they turn their face to the Temple to pray for help.
I) Hear when the nation disobeys and is taken captive, and return them home again
(8:46-52). The longest part of the prayer anticipates another eventual captivity of the people as God promised in the end of Genesis they would be in Egypt. Solomon asked God to look down the road and yet forgive for sin not yet committed. This was not to escape responsibility, but to root the people’s enduring relationship with the land and the Temple.
5. Promise oriented (Rested in the Word – 8:53). Solomon ended on the note of God’s pattern of separating His people, and His enduring promise to care for them. He ended with the phrase he began with, “O Lord God”. The only thing that makes prayer powerful is the God that hears it! “Roger Simms, hitch hiking his way home, would never forget the date–May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fifty-ish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?” Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day?” Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. “Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” “He’s dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see–I thought God had not kept His promise.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!” [J. Kirk Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, pp. 39-41. www.christianglobe.com/illustrations/prayer]
Don’t Give Up God is Working Out the Answer!