Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Introduction to Part 4
Lesson 70 – Deuteronomy 32: Israel’s National Anthem; Solomon, Blessings and Cursings
13 Nov 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’re going to start another series of events, which takes us to the end of the Old Testament. We’re going to start with the golden era of Solomon; this is the peak of Israel’s culture. Then we’re going to look at the decline of the kingdom; Solomon was the high point and everything else throughout the Old Testament was basically a decline. Then we will look at the fall of the kingdom, a rather gruesome period of history, but some very important lessons come out of that. Then we’ll go to the exile and how Israel survived trying to live out of the land among a sea of Gentile nations for 70 years, and then the restoration which was the time when they came back in the land preparing for the New Testament. And one of these years we’ll get to the birth of the King, the life of the King and the resurrection of the King. That’s the New Testament that follows this series, so that’s where we’re going.
We want comment on a few of the introductory paragraphs in the notes, and how we’re going to shift gears in our perspective. What we’ve done in Parts II and III is we’ve covered the Bible over against the pagan culture around it. In part II we covered creation, the fall, the flood and the covenant, and we labeled that as the time of the buried truths. We call it The Buried Truth of Origins, and the reason I titled it that way is because that era of history, from before the flood, is largely deliberately forgotten, so it’s a time of suppressed truth. So we use the term “The Buried Truth of Origins.” Buried psychologically, buried because the mind of flesh doesn’t want to know that kind of information because to know it is to be responsible.
Part III is the truths that interrupt, “The Disruptive Truths”. We used that word because the founding of an elect nation, chosen among all the nations, is a deliberate sovereign discrimination. For people like us who live in our era, where everything is supposedly the same and everybody’s opinion is equally smart or equally stupid, however you want to view it, when everything is relative it’s terribly disruptive to have the claim that there is a way, a truth, and a life and no man comes to the Father except through that method. This is why, once Abraham was elected and we have Israel starting off on its own, this becomes a very disruptive thing. The counterculture that Israel developed and goes on into the New Testament, into the Church is a disruptive counterculture, it’s always disrupting what Satan had planned for civilization, because once the Noahic civilization began, and began to be corrupted, playing into Satan’s hands, the model of civilization was a fallen civilization, was a corrupted civilization, and so if God is going to have His own counterculture there’s going to be friction between them, and indeed we saw that there is a lot of friction between them.
We’re moving into a new part, and we’re going to entitle this section “The Disciplinary Truths.” We’re going to use the word “discipline” because what we have from Solomon to the end of the Old Testament is God’s reign upon His own people. So now we’re going to shift, whereas before I always tried to consciously compare the Bible with the pagan surroundings, and we always tried to take the contrast between paganism and the counterculture of Israel. Starting now we’re going to look inside the kingdom, as though we’ve come to live inside the house. We want to see how God disciplines His own. That’s the story of the Old Testament, and we learn more about God, every time we do this we learn more about our God and Savior. In Part IV we’re going to learn what He expects of people in His kingdom, and how He rules His kingdom, and we’ll see that He rules from a position of strength, and it’s a struggle. In the middle paragraph on page 2, I say “Now we look not at the offense toward the outside pagan world but at the inner life of the elect nation.” And I point out, “Her history was controlled,” this is important. You want to check this in the notes because I’m going to spend the rest of the evening going through two major Bible passages controlling this point. “Her history was controlled by the great covenants,” a very important statement.
Remember we went through sanctification and we said there’s a position in Abraham that David had and then there’s the circle of his obligations, the area of what God promised to do and then there’s the area of what God expects the believer to do, and they’re two different phases, two different areas of truth. “Her history was controlled by the great covenants such as the Abrahamic unconditional covenant of election and the Sinaitic Covenant of kingdom rule. On the one hand,” and here’s the tension, this next sentence describes the tension that goes on in chapter after chapter after chapter from this point on in the Old Testament. “On the one hand, Israel’s future destiny was secure in terms of her racial continuity, her national geographic location, and her mission to the world.” What covenant was that? The land, the seed and the blessing, the Abrahamic Covenant. That gives her the security. “On the other hand, Israel’s passage through time toward that destiny was conditioned upon her loyalty to Yahweh: blessing for obedience; cursing for rebellion. Thousands of Israelites would be lost. At times her very historical existence seemed to hang by a thread.” That’s the suspense in the story. How can God reconcile this discipline that He exercised toward His kingdom that looks for all the world like He’s going to extinguish it in His fury, and at the other time say that the destiny is fulfilled, the destiny is secure.
Last time we concluded with a very important section applied to the spiritual life of David. We covered his confession. It’s the spiritual first-aid in believer’s lives, yet I bet you could go out and do a survey of 100 Christians and probably get 20% that know what’s going on in the area of confession. Some people think that you have to confess to get your salvation back again; other people think you have to go through this big long peer- pressure system, and it’s none of that. It’s becoming convinced of the truthfulness of our violation of God’s will and it’s basically centered on our relationship between God and ourselves. There are social consequences, we’re not denying the social consequences patterning after David’s life, but we are saying that the solution to the social consequences doesn’t come from the social consequences. The solution to the social consequences come about by a vertical reestablishment of a fellowship between God and man, and that can only be accomplished by true biblical confession. We’ll come back to that truth again and again because in this disciplinary thing we’re going to have this come up again and again. Last week was kind of like an introduction. That’s all I want to say about page 2.
On page 3 I give Deuteronomy 32 which was the national anthem of Israel. That was the song of Moses. There are two songs in the Bible said to be songs of Moses. One is the Exodus 15, I played Handel’s rendition of it, that’s the song of the Exodus. But at the end of his life, Moses taught another song to the people, and he asked the people to maintain this song, this hymn, as their national anthem. Our national anthem commemorates what went on in the harbor here in Baltimore, very defiant, has a military motif, it has salvation motif in it, as national anthems do. Every country has its own national anthem; it somehow depicts its past history, some momentous event, like with Russia her national anthem commemorates the victories of the Russian armies; out national anthem commemorating the episode here in the city, etc. But what is different about this national anthem, Deuteronomy 32, is that if you look at it, it’s not just the pat history of the nation, it’s a prophetic national anthem. Let’s stop and do an observation. When you look at the national anthem on page 3 and you compare it to our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, you see a prophetic element in it, and that distinguishes the biblical national anthem from a natural national anthem. Why is there a difference?
Why is it that God’s chosen nation has a peculiarity in its national anthem that we don’t have in our national anthem? What made the difference? The difference is that they are locked into a covenant relationship with God and God is speaking to them and He’s letting them know their national history. That’s an evidence empirically of revelation. God is revealing Himself to this nation in words that can not only be understood but they can be sung. Just imagine if our national anthem was prophetic… stanzas three and four were prophecy, maybe we wouldn’t want to sing it, but that would be like us singing our national anthem and stanza one would be the past, stanza two might be the present, stanza three would be the future. That’s how this song is structured.
Let’s observe the content of this national anthem. It says at the very beginning, the lead in to the song, that “Yahweh did lead him, And there was no foreign god with him.” Notice right there, this is the theology of that national anthem. How does it start? It gets back to this diagram that we’ve seen over and over. There is one God and one God only in the Scripture, there’s the Creator/creature distinction. There are no other gods. So right here, “there was no foreign god with him.” Now the blessing and we want to think in terms of Israel’s history as we read through this national anthem. We’re reading about the Exodus, we’re reading about Mt. Sinai, we’re reading about the conquest and settlement, we’re reading about all this history that went on.
“He made him ride on the high places of the earth, And he did eat of the increase of the field; And he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of the herd, and the milk of the flock, with fat of lamb, and the rams of the bread of Bashan, and goats,” this is prosperity, prosperity brought on by God’s blessing. How was God’s blessing measured? It’s agricultural, but what corresponds economically to these things? “The butter of the herd, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, And the rams of the bread of Bashan, and goats, With the finest of the wheat; and the blood of the grape thou drankest wine.” That would conclude the first stanza of the national anthem. That is economic blessing; those are assets, agricultural produce. So the first thing that’s characterized by a blessing of God is economic prosperity.
Then it says, “But Jehurun waxed fat, and kicked; Thou are waxed fat, thou art grown thick, thou art become sleek; Then he forsook God who made him, And lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They moved him to jealousy with strange gods…. And Yahweh saw it, and abhorred them, Because of the provocation of his sons and daughters…. I will heap evils upon them: I will spend mine arrows upon them; they shall be wasted with hunger and devoured with burning heat and bitter destruction…. I said, I would scatter them afar,” see this history, what’s going to happen at the end of the Old Testament? The exile. “I will scatter them afar.” Please notice how this national anthem depicts that nation’s history. “I would make them the remembrance of them to cease from among men;” remember I said there was a tension, a tension between that electing covenant with Abraham and the blessing/cursings of the Mosaic Law Code. Right here is an expression, theologically, of that tension. “I said I would scatter them afar, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men,” now if you just stop with that line, what does that sound like? They’re going to lose their salvation, they are going to be thrown out of history, cast aside as the Canaanites, and never recover again in all of history. But now theologically notice how the sentence goes on to say: “I would scatter them … Were it not that I feared the provocation of the enemy, Lest their adversaries should judge amiss, Lest they should say, Our hand is exalted, And Yahweh has not done all this….” In those last three lines there’s a whole powerful, they are packed theologically with great truths.
Let’s go through that slowly so you’ll see what’s going on here. We want to observe this because God is investing these words with a certain meaning. He says that I am holy, these people down here have sinned, they’ve gone negative, they have rebelled against Me, they have sinned, and My holiness comes down here and says “judgment.” That’s an expression of God’s righteousness and His holiness. But He says I won’t eliminate them, because if I eliminate them, then I have started something in history, and it has failed, and that casts aspersions upon My sovereignty, upon My omnipotence, and the enemies will say aha, the God of Israel is neither sovereign nor powerful, He can’t bring about what He has promised. So God says, for My glory… for MY glory I will carry on the program. What does this do to human merit? What does this do to somebody in Israel who thinks that we’re going to endure because we’re so good, we are so great, we are such a wonderful loving people, yes, we sinned but we do good works and our good works balance the bad works, so we earn our way down through history. See the theology here, it cuts that off, it brutally cuts it off. It says if I just considered your righteousnesses I’d eliminate you. But it turns out that I have a plan that I promised I would do, and I will carry out that for My glory. So who gets the glory in this operation, Israel of God? It’s God that gets the glory.
This is a lesson we want to learn in our Christian life. We can screw up, we can do everything else, but never be deceived into thinking that our salvation is secure because we are so religiously pious, and that we have this merit, etc. It doesn’t, the merit comes from an external source, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we remain saved because He’s promised it, and His name is at stake. So this changes things a little, it changes the perspective. This is what we want to look at we look at these stories, these aren’t just… I can’t say this often enough, the stories in the Old Testament are like beads on a necklace, they’re wonderful, you can study each bead, each is an artistic masterpiece, but for the sake of what we’re doing, we’re trying to take the beads away from our eyes, forget some of the details of each bead, and look at the necklace. We want to see how they’re all structured, and this structure is behind part four. “I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men; Were it not that,” that hinge that goes from that first line, “I would make them,” to the second line, “were it not,” that’s the tension in the Old Testament. The first line expresses Mosaic theology, a conditional righteousness, if they are righteous I will bless, if they are unrighteous I will curse. The second line brings up the Abrahamic election, but this is My program and I will continue. “Yahweh shall judge his people, And repent himself for his servants; When he seeth that their power is gone, And there is none remaining, shut up or felt at large.” This national anthem is a snapshot, a small picture, a review of Israel’s history.
What we want to do now is to prepare for the first chapter. On page 5 I suggest some reading for you. I recommend not to get bogged down in details, get an easy translation and read it like a novel. Go through it at a high pace. I want to take us to a passage in Kings, and we’re going to examine what Solomon did at one of the great high points of his career, when he ascended the throne, and after he ascended the throne he built the temple for God. David was going to build it and God said no, don’t build it, your son will build it. So we’re going to look at Solomon’s actions in Jerusalem. It says in 1 Kings 8:1, “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes,” so this is a national gathering together of the leaders again, just like we saw back in Samuel when David was on the throne. By the way, does anybody know the name of the prophet that ordained Solomon? Remember we said with David you can’t have a king without a prophet, the prophets were the king-makers. We facetiously as Americans talk about king-makers as the smoke-filled room guys in the back of the political parties and we call them the king-makers. In a way it’s true, because deals are cut between rich contributors and powerful interest groups, etc. and the people that win, usually, have the backing of pretty powerful groups, so they can call those people the king-makers. In the Bible there’s a king-maker, and the king-maker is God’s prophet. Who was the prophet that picked David as King? Samuel.
Then there came another prophet who confronted David, after Samuel was an old man; his name was Nathan. It’s interesting; all these guys have great names. Samuel’s named after [can’t understand word], and Nathan is the Hebrew verb, literally, Nathan means “he gave.” That’s why when you combine Jo + Nathan, Jo is short for Jehovah of Yahweh, Yahweh has given, that’s the name Jonathan that we have in the Old Testament. Then if you don’t like that, you can take the stem Nathan and tack “el” on the end for God, God has given, that’s Nathaniel. Learn to see these stems, you’ll see them again and again, the Hebrew has these, usually three consonant, stems, and it comes out in a lot of biblical names, you’ll see the same prefixes and suffixes. Solomon’s name is another one. Shalom comes from the word peace, so the very name of Solomon is peace, and he probably had twenty or thirty other names. This is why in archeology, when they try to find out who was this king, we don’t know which of the twenty-five or thirty names the person who wrote this inscription was using. Solomon might have been known by other names in history. But this is the name that the biblical writers chose to know him by because it means peace.
So Solomon assembled the people and all the men of Israel came and they assembled themselves in a certain month, and they took up the ark. The first thing we notice is, they are going to resolve the unresolved problem that in the land of Israel you have at Gibeah, the ark and the tabernacle where it was kept in Saul’s day, and then down here you have the city of David, Gibeah is just northwest up the road from Jerusalem, and David has this city and David brings the ark to the city, but the temple isn’t there and the tabernacle isn’t there. It’s a funny thing, the ark got moved down here and the tabernacle is still back here, and the people are worshiping God actually in two places. So this mess is going to be resolved right now.
1 Kings 8:5, “And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark,” notice, like his father, Solomon gets involved in the religious life of his country. The reason for this is that the Jewish Messianic King harps back to the old Gentile model, i.e. he’s a shepherd-king, he’s a king over the civil authority and he’s a shepherd or pastor over the spiritual area, so they kind of mix a little bit. Verse 6, “Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house to the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim.” So the temple was all built, there’s a tremendous story as to how this temple was built, it was probably to be considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world when it was built, it was a massive edifice, apparently beautiful. Scholars have said there are probably six or seven different parts to it, there’s the palace of Solomon, there’s the palace of Jehovah, there’s the palace of something else, and there was appendages. Nobody knows what it looked like except we know the foundation because the foundation is still there. When I visited Israel some 20 years ago, now I guess you can get closer to it, but they had this big massive manhole dug and a fence around it so you couldn’t fall in, and you looked down there and there was lights shining down on these rocks, and those rocks are the foundation of Solomon’s temple, they’re still there. So what happens in this chapter, when I was sitting there looking at these rocks I thought if the rocks could cry out what history those rocks have seen, because those rocks in that foundation that you can reach down and touch, those rocks saw what happened here, when God’s very presence came into that temple. Talk about… what could that rock say if it could speak?
Notice in verse 9 a description of the ark, “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.  And it came about when the priests came from the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,  so that the priests could not stand to minister,” at that point in verse 10, God, in a physical way, a physical observable empirical way says that He accepts the maneuver, He accepts the fact that His temple now will be at Jerusalem, and He shows it in a very visible way. Again, it would be great if someone had taken a video of this because what did the glory of God look like, I’m curious. Wouldn’t it be neat for an artist to figure out what does this glory look like. We have some tips later on in this passage.
Solomon says, and as he speaks we want to track what Solomon said, because what I want to do is show you how the Bible is one piece. We may be studying 1 Kings 8 but 1 Kings 8 is locked structurally into everything we’ve talked about before, and I want you to see how Solomon knows it, because when we start going in, we’re talking about prophets, there’s going to be fights, there’s going to be death, there’s going to be judgment, there’s going to be all kinds of things happening here. What I don’t want, I don’t want you to get the false impression that these are just random happenings, there’s no rhyme or reason to them. [blank spot verse 11, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.  Then Solomon said, The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.”]… it was a thick cloud, just like that thick darkness in Egypt. If you were an artist and you depicted this cloud coming into the temple, what you would depict is an ink black cloud coming in. Talk about something spooky, this wasn’t glowing, this was so dark, it’s like a black hole, and God dwells in it. Several people testify to that, Isaiah testifies to that. Verse 13, “I have surely built Thee a lofty house, a place for Thy dwelling forever.  Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel…”
Beginning in verse 15 Solomon is going to bless the people because of what he said, and then he’s going to warn the people. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled with His hand, saying,” fulfilled what? Watch the text. Solomon is speaking in front of these people and he says God has fulfilled… fulfilled what? What did God say to his father? That your dynasty would last forever, he would be in a father-son relationship, and then he made a little sub promise, 2 Samuel 7, there was a little adjunct, you won’t make the temple but your son will. That’s what’s fulfilled in this day. So Solomon consciously in verses 13-15, he is consciously thinking of 2 Samuel 7. Learn to read your Old Testament this way. You should always think when you see somebody’s speaking in the Old Testament that they are speaking out of a knowledge of what went before. When they pray you’ll notice this: these great prayers you read in Scripture, those prayers weren’t just made up; they didn’t just get up there and say oh Lord.… The prayer requests are locked into the clauses of the covenant. We’ll see something fascinating, when Elijah comes and announced the judgment, and the famine comes and all the other things, they were all there, they are back there in the covenant and all Elijah is doing is saying hey, this year at this time at this day in this week we are going to implement clause 35 of the Mosaic Covenant. When you don’t see that it sounds like these are mean guys and they’re just kind of going to be nasty. It’s not being nasty. They are officially administering and announcing the implementation of covenant sections. It’s all very legal, all very covenant structured. You see it here. You’ll see further, verse 16, “Since the day that I brought My people Israel from Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.”
Verse 17, “Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.  But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.  Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but the son who shall be born to you, he shall build the house for My name,” your son will built it. Do you see how he’s following? Your Bible should have numerous footnotes and cross references here to 2 Samuel 7, you can’t miss this thing, it’s so obvious that Solomon had studied the covenant that his father had with God, and he built his life on this covenant. This didn’t come out of the blue; he’s not making this up. Verse 20, “Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.  And there I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD,” which covenant is that? That is the Sinaitic Covenant. So now we’ve got two covenants going on. In verse 20, that’s the Davidic Covenant, now in verse 21 is the Mosaic Covenant, “which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt.”
Now he stands up and he prays. Here is a model of what he’s praying, and one of the neat aspects of all this is that we learn a little bit more about prayer and how to structure it. This is going to be the prayer of dedication. Solomon could have written this out and had some big glowing prayer, flower words, etc. He does have a lot of impressive words but let’s see if we can watch a structure to this prayer. Watch what he’s saying. Verse 22, “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.  And he said, ‘O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or in earth beneath,” how does he start? He starts with our favorite little chart; there is one God and one God only. Everywhere in the Scripture we start with the Creator/creature distinction. The Apostles Creed, “I believe in the Father, Maker of heaven and earth.” The Bible always starts with this, except our hymn book which starts out with this new creed starting with Jesus, but that’s more of a commentary on the nitwit who wrote it than it is on the theology of the Bible.
He starts in verse 23 and he says this is the God of creation. What else does he describe in verse 23, on which their history is going to be very, very contingent, very much dependent? “…who art keeping covenant” and then he uses a technical word, “lovingkindness.” We ran into this once before, chesed, remember, two words in the Hebrew for love, ahav and chesed. Ahav is boy dates girl, boy loves girl; chesed is boy marries girl, now he chesed’s her. What happened, what was the difference? Because of marriage there was a covenant made, so chesed is love inside a covenant. It is love that is surrounded by a covenant. It has love with a structure to it, so God has a structure to His love, you are “keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart,”  who hast kept with Thy servant, my father David, that which Thou hast promised him; indeed, Thou hast spoken with Thy mouth and hast fulfilled it with Thy hand as it is this day.  Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Thy servant David my father that which Thou hast promised him…” What do you notice about this prayer request? Why is this prayer request guaranteed to be answered? Right off the bat we know this prayer cannot go wrong; it will be answered and it doesn’t depend on how he feels about it. What did he do in his prayer request to guarantee an answer? He prayed according to the will of God. God said He would do this and Solomon is requesting something right in line with that covenant. So he’s designing his prayer request to fit underneath the plan of God. A key point! We’ll see this again and again, the prophets do this all the time when they make prayer requests. So he’s asking Him to keep His covenant, he’s already said God is a covenant-keeping God, verse 23, and not he prays that indeed this covenant will be kept in his day.
In verse 27 we see a little bit of Solomon’s wisdom. He says, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built?” Why do you suppose that’s in there? Solomon was a brilliant man; he was a man who was so multi-skilled he would remind you of Leonardo DaVinci, there’s nothing this guy couldn’t do, and one of Solomon’s great skills was to penetrate to the guts of an issue, to the real heart and foundation of an issue. The danger in building temples and setting up religious practices is that when we do those kinds of things we begin to subtly think that we’ve captured God, that God is now controlled because we’ve got it all aced. Instead God is always bigger than that because He’s infinite. And because He’s bigger than we are, we always have to confess that we know something of Him but not all of Him, in other words, the technical term is He is incomprehensible, not unknowable… NOT unknowable, just incomprehensible, meaning I can’t ever get a perfect, complete picture of Him.
Those of you who love children’s stories and if you have small children you ought to have The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, it’s a classic children’s story. In one of the Narnia chronicles Lewis has this tremendous thing. Lucy comes across Aslan, the God-figure, and she’s nervous when she sees this lion, and Lewis has her talking to the beaver, and she turns to the beaver and she says is that a tame lion? And the beaver looks at Lucy and he says, no Lucy, Aslan is not a tame lion, but he’s a good one. Do you see what Lewis did with that? What a neat way out of a child’s mouth… what’s the difference between a tame lion and a good lion? A tame lion is controlled from outside of himself; a good lion is self-controlled, he will decide what he’s going to do and all we can do is not trust the fact… see there’s two ways, if you’re afraid of God one way to handle the problem is make Him tame, but to do that means we put Him under our control, which is impossible. The other way if we’re afraid of God is to trust that His character is good enough so we won’t be harmed. What other choices do you have? Anyone think of a third choice. That little dialogue between Lucy and the beaver about Aslan captures it all. Either you tame God, make an idol out of him, or you have to trust that He’s good in all of His infinite power because if He isn’t good, we’ve got a real problem.
In verse 27 Solomon reminds everybody that he is the great architect, Solomon was, this temple is very great, but don’t get any foolish ideas that we’ve comprehended God here. God remain incomprehensible and “…heaven and the highest heaven contain Thee,” so Solomon hasn’t put God in a box, even though the Shekinah glory is now dwelling inside that temple. Verse 28, “Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee today;  that Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which Thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place.”
Verse 30 is where King Solomon administers spiritual leadership to the people. We said the Messianic leader not only is a civil leader, he is a spiritual leader. And here he begins to partition on behalf of his nation. This is a king who goes to God in prayer for His people, that’s a ministering Messianic leader. “And listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive.” Now he starts to go through the law.  If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Thine altar in this house,  then hear Thou in heaven and act and judge Thy servants,” by the way, do you notice, even though the cloud is in the temple, do you see how careful in this dedicatory prayer he is, “hear from heaven, O Lord,” he doesn’t want the people to think in terms that there’s something magic going on in this building. “Hear from heaven, O Lord,” whatever is in this building is a symbol and a finite replica of what goes on in reality, so “hear from heaven,” when people pray.
Verse 33, “When Thy people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, if thy turn to Thee again and confess Thy name and pray and make supplication to Thee in this house,  then hear Thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them back to the land which Thou didst give to their fathers.” Right there Solomon is struggling with something. Solomon knows that the terms of the Sinaitic Covenant, it has cursings and it has blessing, cursing for negative volition, blessings for positive volition toward God, and he knows that the people are going to get cursed because the people are sinners; this is what they are going to do. So how do they recover? What did we say last week? We dealt with spiritual first-aid—confession. That’s what Solomon’s dealing with, except this is not an individual confession, this is the national confession.
Hold the place and go back to what Solomon has on his mind. Turn to Leviticus 26. We covered this very briefly last year when we were going through the Sinaitic Covenant and I said we’d get back to it. Here’s one of those times. Here is a cursings and blessings formula. This is the fine print of the Sinaitic Covenant. The Sinaitic Covenant installed God as King. So we have God as King over the nation, when the people go on negative volition, when they sin, they King will discipline that, He will judge that, He will act as a righteous ruler. When the people are obedient He will bless them. In Leviticus 26 here’s the blessing section. The blessing section goes from verses 2-13, that’s the entire blessing section; the cursing section is from verse 14 on. What I want to do is look at the manifestations of blessing and the manifestations of cursing. Read the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 28. Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26, you want to read these because you’re going to see the manifestations in the rest of the Old Testament we’re studying. I don’t want you to think that those things just happen, that God just puts them there, they’re just a big surprise. They’re not surprises, it’s all forecast right here.
Leviticus 16:2, “You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD.  If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out,  then I shall give you…” let’s look at the blessings, let’s look at what a blessing looks like, “…I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” See it’s in terms of economics. What is one of the blessing signs in verses 4-5 as we would say today in our language? Let’s start listing these, and then we’ll list the cursings: Blessings, first of all economics, there’s an economic blessing in the kingdom of God. Keep in mind this is not the church, this is Israel, there’s going to be a difference in the church. Before you think because you’re an obedient Christian you should get a million dollars, it doesn’t work quite that way. This is Israel; this is national Israel in history. “I will give you rains,” and verse 5 the results, “Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.”
What’s the next kind of blessing? Verses 6-8, “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.  But you will chase your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword;  five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” How we enumerate the second blessing? It’s military victory, victory on the battlefield. Victory in business, victory in the military. Let’s read further.
Verse 9, “So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you.  And you will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new.  Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.” Being “fruitful and multiply you” is that you will have an expansion of the population. The population will grow. In the Bible population growth is a sign of blessing.
The reason they weren’t overpopulated, you’ve got to kind of balance this out today because we’re worried about over-population, the reason it isn’t a cursing in the Old Testament was that the blessing of God agriculturally and economically was in concert with the population explosion. So the productivity per person remained the same. As you increase people you increase the blessing. The problem in most cases, you go to school and you get some whiny person from the ecology movement and they’re always worried about over-population. Have you ever driven around this country? Is this country overpopulated? You drive through Maine you can’t find a person, you find moose but you can’t find a person, you can drive a hundred miles and not see a person. The world is not overpopulated. Another good example is, do you know what one of the most densely populated areas is? Hong Kong. How many people are starving in Hong Kong?
Where you have starvation you have stupidity. The reason people are starving is because their governments are stupid. We’ve had missionaries raise money to take water pumps to certain African countries whose population was starving and actually no water, these poor people were dying of thirst, let alone dying of lack of food, and that pump got on the dock of one well-known city in Africa and the missionaries couldn’t move it over the dock because the corrupt rulers wanted the missionaries to pay an exorbitant tariff on importing the free water pump to pump water for their people. Now you tell me who’s stupid? Where you have this kind of thing go on, and it goes on again and again, you have corrupt farm practices that ruin the land, you have idiots that rule the government, you have taxes that blast them to pieces.
Do you realize that if you go to Israel, the first thing you notice about Israel in the Arab areas, no trees? Do you know why there are no trees? There were trees there up till the 19th century. Where did all the trees go? The Turks took it over, Ottoman Empire; do you know how they taxed people? The number of trees per acre. Guess what happened to the trees? If you want to reduce your tax bill, chop the trees down; they did. Then what happened? All the soil eroded, now we can’t raise food. Duh! Why are we overpopulated? In the Bible increase in population is not a cursing; it is a blessing because it is accompanied by wisdom.
Let’s go to the other side, in verse 14, “But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments  if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant.  I, in turn, will do this to you:” now look at the particular things that He curses them with, “I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up.” In that one verse can you spot what’s happening. You have military defeat, another thing you have is a tremendous disease problem, disease is always a picture of God’s cursing; military defeat is a picture of God’s cursing.  “I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.” That is a psychological, gee, do these look familiar. This is when people go nuts in the head, have all kinds of psychological problems along with disease. It’s a sign of cursing.
Verse 18 says, “If also after these things, you do not obey Me, than I will punish you seven times more for your sins.  And I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze.” What’s that talking about? Famine. What is one of the afflictions that Elijah pulled off? It did not rain for a number of years. Was Elijah being just a nasty guy? No. Elijah wasn’t being nasty, he didn’t start this. This is the verse that Elijah was administering. The prophets were administering these curses. When the prophets saw defeat or when they told the king, “don’t go out to battle, you’re going to get defeated.” Why did they say that? Because the nation had apostacized spiritually, and they said that God is going to bring His cursing on. It wasn’t that they were being unpatriotic.
Verse 21, “If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins.  And I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.  And if by thee things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me,  then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.  I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant;” note the word “covenant,” it’s all structured according to the covenant, “and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands.  When I break you staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back you bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.” Starvation, another sign of God’s cursing. [blank spot]
[Verse 27, “Yet if in spite of this, you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me,  then I will act with wrathful hostility against you; and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins.”] Then he goes on to describe the intensity, and in verse 29 this was literally fulfilled twice in the nation’s history, once in 586 BC in the city of Jerusalem, and again in AD 70. “Further, you shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat.” When we get to those passages, I’m going to give you a passage out of Josephus where eye-witnesses, Jewish mothers were so hungry they ate the arms off their babies. That went on during this horrible climactic curse on Jerusalem. It was a sign. Those awful events of history aren’t random, they are all prophesied here.
Verse 31, “I will ay waste your cities as well, and will make your sanctuaries desolate; and I will not smell your soothing aromas.  And I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled over it.” Look at that one, what’s that saying? They’re going to be removed and the nation is not going to go down in military defeat, it’s going to be occupied by enemy powers. And the enemies are going to come in and they’re going to look at it and they’re going to say what a cursed land this is, what a cursed land, this is an awful land. That’s going to be pagans saying that of the land that was once flowing with milk and honey. Do you see why we’re saying that this is the period of the disciplinary truths of God? It’s all forecast here. Verse 33, “You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out with a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.  All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.
In verse 40, here’s what Solomon was thinking about. “If they confess they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness, which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me,” verse 42, “then I will remember My covenant,” what is the covenant that brings relief, the Abrahamic or Sinaitic Covenant? It says, “then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” That’s the Abrahamic Covenant. When they go to confess their sins, they’ve already violated the terms of the Mosaic Covenant by their sin; we’ve violated that covenant because of sin, so now our security to get back to blessing has to come about because of the Abrahamic Covenant of election. Eternal security always hangs on sovereign election. It doesn’t hang on God’s righteous commandments. It can’t. That eliminates human merit from the security issue. The security issue is not grounded on your merit, it’s not grounded on my merit, the security issue is grounded on God’s sovereignty, God’s omnipotence. He’s the One who’s going to move His program ahead. What He says is when you sin, you’ve violated the terms of the occupation, but I’ll remember My covenant.
Verse 43, “For the land shall be abandoned by them, and shall make up for its sabbath,” etc. Verse 44, “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them,” now look at the language in verse 44, here’s the language of eternal security, look at it carefully. “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.” What’s the issue here, their righteousness or God’s covenant? It’s God’s covenant and God’s glory. See where we want to get our heads? When we talk about confession, etc. It’s God’s program, that’s where out eternal security is, it’s not because we’re so great, it’s because God is great and He is not going to permit His name to be defaced and defamed. Once He’s committed to a task, He will bring it to pass. That’s the basis of our security, not the things we do. The things we do just don’t count. Obviously they count in the sense that He wants us to do them. But our little puny good works isn’t the glue that’s holding this whole thing together. It’s God’s sovereignty that’s holding it together. Verse 45, “But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD,” etc. That’s going to be the restoration, and that’s the whole story and that’s the basis for Solomon’s prayer of dedication in 1 Kings 8.
Do you see what I’m saying, is that when you read these prayers there’s a theology behind the prayers, very carefully constructed.