This is a continuation of the first “Solomon’s Prayer” post. If you haven’t done so already, you can read it here before reading the second part below; I will be discussing Second Chronicles 6:22-33 today. Thank you!
Summary of the Passage
Verses 22-33 of chapter six record the body of Solomon’s prayer. Here he intercedes for the Israelites and their sins, constantly imploring God to never move His face from the constantly wandering people. He does this via four “if/then” statements, and then offers another intercession for all the God-fearing foreigners who may enter the land.
Application of Passage
In the last post, Solomon was praising God and remembering all He did for His people Israel, especially as manifested in King David. Then his focus suddenly shifted, and he gave a desperate plea for God to listen to his prayer. It’s not until verses 22-33, however, that Solomon moves into the specifics of his requests and intercedes for both his people as well as the foreigners.
Intercession for Israel (verses 22-31):
“[W]hatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men), that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.” ~Second Chronicles 6:29-31, NKJV
One of the things I love about desperation in prayer is that it opens the heart. When we see the darkness in our hearts, we likewise possess the ability to see how glorious God’s pure light is. We pull our fleshy souls open to Him, wanting His goodness to fill the broken void. And in the process of opening our hearts, we also develop a sense of humility, not only to God, but to those around us. Here Solomon prays from that humility toward his countrymen, praying for them all equally, fervently, lovingly. In opening his heart, Solomon knows how good God is, and he can’t contain the joy and peace he finds in that knowledge. Thus he prays that all who sincerely seek God’s forgiveness and guidance will find it, whether they are facing drought, famine, or the inward throes of sin.
Intercession for the Foreigner (verses 32-33):
In the first volume of his Application Commentary, Jon Courson wrote:
“In this [passage], we see the calling of Israel to be an apostolic nation. That is, Israel was to extend an invitation to the stranger, to the Gentile. Israel was not to be simply a group of people enjoying the blessings of God for themselves. Rather, they were blessed so that others could see the reality of God and to be drawn to Him. Israel’s message was to be ‘Come and see.’ Jesus’ message to His church, on the other hand, was ‘Go and tell’ (Matthew 28:19,20).” (p. 1163, commentating on KJV version)
I believe the church suffers from a major misunderstanding of Old Testament Israel if they never know the distinction between the missions of the New Testament believers and those who lived before Christ. For years, I wondered why the spreading of divine truth seemed so slow in the Old Testament yet so quick in the New. It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I began to understand the concept more fully. Solomon’s prayer for the foreigner gave me a striking clue to my question’s answer:
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Thy people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Thy great name’s sake and Thy mighty hand and Thine outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house, then hear Thou from heaven, from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name.” ~Second Chronicles 6:32-33, NASB
As Jon Courson further noted on this passage, “[b]oth the church and Israel were to be missionary-minded.” However, the people living on each side of Christian history each had different missionary goals. In Old Testament times, the foreign nations had the responsibility of seeking out God’s truth for themselves, while the Israelites had the responsibility of reflecting God’s character. In New Testament times, however, the believers were now charged with doing the foreign nations’ job for them in addition to their own. In other words, the New Testament church was tasked with both sharing the Gospel and letting it shape their character; the Gentiles and Jews who heard them needed to either believe it or discard it.
Thus the comparison/contrast of the missionary duties of Old and New Testament times makes for a fascinating study, one which I’ve merely touched upon with the publication of this post. Although I’m not an expert on the subject and am still trying to better understand, I also believe that the manner in which God shaped both Old and New Testament missionaries has a reason behind it, one that I probably will not be able to find out until I arrive at my golden home. Isn’t it amazing how He works?
January 12, 2018