2 CHRONICLES 7:1 – 9:31 and ACTS 7:1–60
2 Chr 7
Solomon made an end of his prayers before God resulting in fire coming down and consuming the offerings and sacrifices. These were heartfelt prayers that Solomon offered to God and they were deemed acceptable as seen by the fire coming down from heaven. What a sight that must have been! The glory was so strong that even the priests were not able to enter in. The people were also affected as they bowed down, worshipped and praised God declaring that He is good and that His mercy endured forever. We see a similar demonstration of God’s confirmation of a sacrifice when Elijah was atop Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal. God consumed Elijah’s sacrifice to confirm before the prophets and the people that He was the true and living God (1 Kings 18:38-39). The response of the people at Mt. Carmel was pretty much the same as seen with the people here. God did answer Elijah but he got himself into difficulty in the way he mocked and challenged the prophets of Baal. This opened him up for attack via Jezebel the next day.
We need to be very careful when God chooses to use us. It is a matter not to be trivialized or taken lightly. It is God moving and there should be no evidence of the flesh otherwise it can give the enemy an opening. We later see this with Peter as he challenged the Lord in the area of his faithfulness. In verses 4-7 Solomon and the people offered more sacrifices unto the Lord. We also see the priests taking their office very seriously as they went about their respective duties. The Levites were specifically engaged in instruments of music which David had instituted for praising the Lord. All of this was taking place in the season of the Feast of Tabernacles, which is characterized by Joy, Rest, His Appearing, Glory, and Ingathering. Can you see how all of these names given to this feast were fulfilled in this great event? We see here the completion of the house of the Lord while tending to the construction of his own house. We will now see a visitation that the Lord has with Solomon which gives him the opportunity to establish a good and solid foundation that will last with prosperity and blessing. There are warnings given if he were to turn away. This is covered in the balance of chapter 7 (vs 12-22) which we will look at briefly below.
There are many similarities seen in 1 Kings 9:4-6 which we have covered previously. It is an opportunity that God is giving to Solomon in either serving him wholeheartedly or with a heart that is divided which will result in future problems. We already see the love that Solomon had for God and for the wise request he made is asking for wisdom and understanding instead of worldly riches. It also must be pointed out that he did marry the daughter of Pharaoh which will prove to be a sign of things to come. There is a well-known verse that is seen in this portion of scripture that is not picked up elsewhere.
2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.
How often have we quoted this verse in praying for our respective countries? In the USA it is commonly cited but the sad reality is that the nation as a whole is not humble; there is little evidence of humility throughout much of the country. God is a merciful God but He does have a limit as to how long He can stay the hand of judgement. The above prayer is not one that can be turned on and off whenever one feels like it.
In verse 17 the Lord makes this promise to Solomon that if he were to walk before God as David did and keep His statutes and judgements He would establish the throne of His kingdom. We once again see the Lord bringing everything back to the Law. Remember, it was the Ark which speaks of the presence of God with the tables of stones (Laws) inside that enabled the house of Solomon to finally be dedicated. In verse 19 the warning is given to those who choose to forsake God’s statutes and commandments while going to serve other gods and nations that the Lord has cast out of His sight. This is exactly what happened and we will later see Solomon being guilty of these very things. We marvel at the great glory and beginning that Solomon had to his reign. It is with sadness to note that he did not finish well. Through this one man we can see both a picture of Christ and the antichrist. We would do well to learn the many lessons from his life.
2 Chr 8
Solomon finished both the house of the Lord and his house which took a total of about 20 years. He then restored the lands that he offered Hiram from Lebanon. Hiram did not find these cities suitable (1 Kings 9:11) so they were restored and given to some of the children of Israel. We do see a brief flare up from the city of Hamath-zobah but Solomon quickly confirmed his dominion over the city without much incident. It is the only war type scenario we see prior to the later sins of Solomon. He fortifies other cities as his kingdom was becoming further established. The descendants of the Canaanites were made to pay tribute to Israel to maintain their standing within Israel. Solomon did not make this a requirement amongst the children of Israel. Many of the people were men of war and had high ranking positions within the kingdom.
Solomon brought up Pharaoh’s daughter who was his wife from the city of David and had her placed in a house that he had built for her (vs 11). He did this due to not keeping her in a holy place. He must have had sensitivity as to how she was not suitable to be in such a place yet he did marry her. This clearly seems to have been the right thing to do but it begs the question as to why he married her in the first place. Was it for the purpose of having a wider range area of control seeing that she was Pharaoh’s daughter? It was a decision very similar to that which Abram did when engaging with Hagar, the mother of Ishmael from Egypt. It was a work and decision of the flesh. It may have been for a good intention but the fruit of this choice cost Solomon dearly. It occupied a good portion of his time as he went about the building of her house. It also put into motion a desire to seek out other wives which in the end opened his heart to other gods.
Still, Solomon did perform his kingly role efficiently in his early years. He appointed the priests according to the order that David had established (vs 14). We also see in the early years that there was a measure of the Fear of the Lord at work. The priests kept the commandment of the king concerning the matter of the house and specifically the treasury (vs 15). The chapter concludes with his own house being completed. We see King Hiram from Lebanon sending servants who had knowledge of the sea as well as a considerable amount of gold. The favor, Rest and blessing just kept coming to Solomon and his kingdom. It was a glory and splendour that is most difficult to imagine.
2 Chr 9
The account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon is quite similar to that seen in 1 Kings 10 which is included below. The additional verses regarding the building up of his kingdom and forces are also included which are italicized:
In verses 1-13 we have the account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. She had heard of his fame and the glory of the kingdom and she felt compelled to see for herself if all that was said about Solomon was true. The Lord Himself references this visit in Math 12:42. This was a very great distance she would have travelled so as to satisfy her curiosity. She sought to test and prove him with difficult questions as well as share many of the things that were on her heart. We have to appreciate that what was taking place at Jerusalem would resonate beyond those immediate boundaries. Today, if there is a worldwide event of significance you immediately find attention coming from many places. This event was unlike any other. The Queen of Sheba was a wealthy and influential dignitary who took great pains to travel such a distance. This speaks as to how glorious the things surrounding Solomon actually were. She was so impressed at every aspect of the kingdom that her breath was taken away (vs 5). One can only imagine what it must have been like. The glorious temple, the royal demeanour of the attending servants, the abundance and the wisdom that Solomon conveyed in the end was too much for her. She makes the statement that she heard so much about Solomon but not even the half of it had been told. She recognized the hand of God as being upon him. She also took note of the joy and happiness of his servants as they went about their respective tasks. It does provide a window into what it will be like when a people will behold the wisdom of the Lamb Himself.
The Queen was very generous in the gifts that she brought unto Solomon. In verse 10 we see that she gave 120 talents of gold and various spices. This amount of gold is the same that Hiram provided to Solomon as seen in 1 Kings 9:14. The number 120 has significance. Moses lived for 120 years and we have been able to break his life down into 3 segments of 40 years each. The first 40 years we can say were the years where he experienced his call while in Egypt. The second forty years were the years in Midian where he was chosen to be the leader that God would use. He qualified for the call during those wilderness years of obscurity. The third set of 40 years was when he led Israel out of Egypt and throughout the wilderness. These were the years where he showed himself faithful (Rev 17:14). We mentioned previously that there were 120 priests sounding trumpets in unison at the dedication of the temple (2 Chr 5:12-13). It was at that moment when the glory came down. There were the 120 gathered together in one accord in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon the early church at Pentecost. We can see that Solomon’s kingdom is exceptional in every way and by all appearances on his way to a glorious, long lasting rule. There is a clue from another verse that gives cause for concern.
1Ki 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
Does the number 666 have any particular meaning? It was said earlier how we see the two extremes through the life of Solomon and this chapter helps to bring this more clearly into view. Though we do not yet see outward issues this verse gives an indication of what is to come. It is important to note this because if we lived in Solomon’s day we may never think that such a thing could be possible. There is no way that someone who knows and loves God as we see in Solomon could ever present to us aspects of the man of sin, the antichrist. This one man gives a picture of the future glorious reign of Christ and yet will later present many of the characteristics of the antichrist. This chapter helps to drive this message home. What happened between his early and latter years? What happened between the early years when he wrote the Song of Songs/Proverbs to the time of his last book of Ecclesiastes? There will be many insights and keys that will come forth that will help us. This period is a most important one to note due to its parallel meaning for the last days.
Actually we do not have to travel much further in seeing what contributed to Solomon’s downfall. Remember our constant referencing the law of Kings from Deu 17? Here is a brief review of the appropriate verses:
Deu 17:16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
In the remaining verses (vs 16-29) we see Solomon increasing his wealth and his army by way of added horses and chariots; both of which were violations of the stated law of Kings. If you read on in Deu 17 you see that when the king would assume the throne he was to have a copy of the law and to read it all the days of life. We can see right away that this was not being done. There is another law of Kings that Solomon violated and perhaps this was the most serious. It is picked up in the next chapter.
Since the book of Chronicles only covers the Kings of Judah it does move along quickly in certain areas. In verses 29-31 we see the life of Solomon quickly summed up. The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes have yet to be written; the latter giving great insight into the final stages of his life. Chapter 9 is really a summary of what went wrong with Solomon aside from the marrying of many wives. He added riches as seen in verse 13 and he added horses as seen in verse 25. Once again, it was the Law of Kings (each one of them) that was violated. The kingdom would soon split under the reign of his son; a split which Solomon was largely responsible for.
In the previous chapter Stephen was brought aside due to the impact he was making with teaching. He exuded great wisdom which the priests and scribes could not refute. There was an effort to try and discredit him by way of false accusations. We have seen this ploy used on a number of occasions before. There was the discrediting of Nabal via Jezebel when he would not relinquish his vineyard to Ahab. We also saw this used against the Lord, then Peter and John and we certainly are seeing this ploy used today. We need to be ready for it and understand it is one of the primary tactics of the evil one. Stephen is brought before high priest and a huge gathering that were looking upon him with a fixed gaze as to how he would respond. What Stephen conveys to his audience is an Old Testament survey summarised in about 53 verses. It is an anointed message that cuts to the heart and will have impact that will go far beyond the moment. It is a message and defence that will cost him his life.
In verses 2-8 he speaks of Abram who was told to get out of his country and separate from kindred. He refers to the promise of a great inheritance and the promise of a seed that would come forth. He then leads them to the period of the patriarchs which is covered in verses 9-19 taking the period up to the time in Egypt and during the period of when they served there up to the time of Moses. In verses 20-41 Stephen gives a broad account of the life and ministry of Moses; giving warning that if they do not keep his laws and commandments that he would give them up to the hosts of heaven at Babylon. In verses 42-45 we have the period where the Tabernacle of Moses sojourned through the wilderness while also covering the period of the judges. We are introduced to David in verses 45-46 where mention is made concerning the Tabernacle he built for God. His son Solomon is referred to in verses 47 where a house was built for God but then goes on to say that the Most High God does not dwell in temples but in heaven and upon earth and within earthen vessels which is the Rest He desires (vs 49). Stephen then turns his attention towards the priests, scribes and those who oppose the gospel message; calling them stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart (vs 51). He makes abundantly clear that they are responsible for the betrayal and murder of Christ. He also cites in how they boast in the law given by angels but do not keep it (vs 53).
This was all they could take as they moved against him with anger and indignation. Stephen, who is fully anointed by the Holy Ghost looks up to heaven and sees an amazing sight. He sees heaven and then declares what he is seeing; the glory of God and Jesus standing, not sitting at the right hand of the Father (vs 56). It’s as if the Lord is giving Stephen a standing ovation for the declaration he had just made before the priests and eye witnesses. The Lord must have been very much moved. Once again, they move against him with the purpose of silencing and killing him. They followed through in killing him and then laid down his clothes at the feet of Saul. There is little doubt that Stephen’s message had an impact upon Saul. (Paul) Though the life of Stephen was a short one after Pentecost his message and life still speaks. It helps to put the cry within us to be faithful in whatever area God has given to us.