Last week we looked at what happened in 2nd Chronicles up to the point where Solomon finished praying and FIRE came down from heaven and the glory of the LORD filled the temple! Then the Lord appeared to Solomon that night. Here's what happened next:
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said: 13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.' 19 "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' 22 People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.' "
Look at the “if, then” statements of verses 14, 17 and 19, which I underlined. God is looking for 4 things in verse 14: humility, prayer, seeking Him, and repentance.First, when we humble ourselves before Him, we are admitting that we have no faith in our own inability. Humility may be a very difficult thing to aim for because as soon as we think we’re humble our pride surges up. So let’s concentrate on keeping pride down. If we recognize and smother pride that would be great. The evidences of pride in a life can be seen in the following ways: A proud person refuses to listen and often interrupts others. A proud person likes to talk about himself all the time. A proud person has an intense desire to be noticed. He believes that he deserves everything he gets. He is not thankful. A proud person cannot be corrected. He does not like to follow instructions. A proud person exalts himself in the presence of others; he brags. He criticizes and tries to makes himself look better by putting others down. A proud person thinks of his own needs first. Think on these and see if you agree.
Second, the people of God are challenged to pray. When we call on His name in prayer, we are proclaiming our faith in His ability. Prayerlessness is the first cousin to pride. Prayerlessness says, “I do not need to call on the Lord, I can make it just fine without His aid.” Prayerlessness does not say, “He is all I need”; but “I am all I need.” Prayerlessness relies on self and the resources self can produce and refuses to lean on Jesus alone. Prayerlessness is the enemy of revival!
Third, seek God: God’s people are told to “seek His face”. The word “seek” means “to search out by any method; especially by worship and prayer.” The word “face” refers to “the countenance; to turn toward His direction.” This little phrase is a call for God’s people to stop looking for help and purpose in every other thing in life. They are called upon to make God their primary focus and their first priority.
And finally, fourth, turn away from wicked ways or repent. Wicked ways could be interpreted as idols. Possible idols in our lives are money, position, status, hobbies, habits, lust, TV, sports, on and on. There are an unlimited number of things that you and I put before God in our lives!
So, God has declared that he would forgive the Israelites’ sin and heal the land if they would do those 4 things. Then in verse 17 he makes another if, then statement. Study that one and see if you can see the 3 things after the if and the promise after the then.
Verses 19 and 20 give the big “but if” and the consequences. Judging by how things turned out, I think you can guess what happened.
Read for yourself in 2nd Chronicles about Solomon’s other activities, building and rebuilding, his visit with the Queen of Sheba and his death. The rest of 2nd Chronicles records the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah and the various kings that ruled Judah. When Solomon died, he left to his son, Rehoboam, a kingdom that was filled with splendor, power and the presence of God. Unlike his father, Rehoboam was a very foolish and wicked man. He listened to the advice of young men rather than the elders and, as a result, ten of the tribes rebelled against him and Israel was divided into two kingdoms with the 10 tribes forming the Northern Kingdom. They chose a man named Jeroboam to be their king and the Northern Kingdom left the worship of Jehovah and fell into idolatry. The priests and the Levites left the Northern Kingdom and moved to Judah to serve the Lord (2 Chron. 11:13-17). Throughout 2nd Chronicles in various parallel passages to Kings there are references to the priests and Levites that are missing from the Kings verses (compare 1st Kings 8:10-11 to 2nd Chronicles 5:11-14, 1st Kings 8: 63-64 to 2nd Chronicles 7:5-7, 2nd Kings 11:5-7 to 2nd Chronicles 23:4-7 and 2nd Kings 23:22-23 to 2nd Chronicles 35:18-19).