2 Chronicles 6-8 The Message Bible

The Dedication of the Temple

6 1  Then Solomon said, God said he would dwell in a cloud, 2  But I've built a temple most splendid, A place for you to live in forever. 3  The king then turned to face the congregation that had come together and blessed them: 4  "Blessed be God, the God of Israel, who spoke personally to my father David. Now he has done what he promised when he said, 5  'From the day I brought my people Israel up from Egypt, I haven't set apart one city among the tribes of Israel in which to build a temple to honor my Name, or chosen one person to be the leader. 6  But now I have chosen both a city and a person: Jerusalem for honoring my Name and David to lead my people Israel.' 7  "My father David very much wanted to build a temple honoring the Name of God, the God of Israel, 8  but God told him, 'It was good that you wanted to build a temple in my honor - most commendable! 9  But you are not the one to do it. Your son, who will carry on your dynasty, will build it for my Name.' 10  "And now you see the promise completed. God has done what he said he would do; I have succeeded David my father and now rule Israel; and I have built a temple to honor God, the God of Israel, 11  and have secured a place for the Chest that holds the Covenant of God, the covenant he made with the people of Israel."

12  Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took his position at the Altar of God and stretched out his hands. 13  Solomon had made a bronze dais seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet high and placed it inside the court; that's where he now stood. Then he knelt in full view of the whole congregation, stretched his hands to heaven, 14  and prayed: 15  You kept your word to David my father, your promise. You did exactly what you promised - every detail. The proof is before us today! 16  Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, "You'll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel's throne, on the one condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have." 17  O God, God of Israel, let this all happen - confirm and establish it! 18  Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built. 19  Even so, I'm bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I'm setting before you right now. 20  Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. 21  And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive. 22  When someone hurts a neighbor and promises to make things right, and then comes and repeats the promise before your Altar in this Temple, 23  Listen from heaven and act; judge your servants, making the offender pay for the offense And set the offended free, dismissing all charges. 24  When your people Israel are beaten by an enemy because they've sinned against you, but then turn to you and acknowledge your rule in prayers desperate and devout in this Temple, 25  Listen from your home in heaven; forgive the sin of your people Israel, return them to the land you gave to them and their ancestors. 26  When the skies shrivel up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, but then they pray at this place, acknowledging your rule and quit their sins because you have scourged them, 27  Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Then start over with them; train them to live right and well; Send rain on the land you gave as inheritance to your people. 28  When disasters strike, famine or catastrophe, crop failure or disease, locust or beetle, or when an enemy attacks their defenses - calamity of any sort - 29  any prayer that's prayed from anyone at all among your people Israel, their hearts penetrated by disaster, hands and arms thrown out for help to this Temple, 30  Listen from your home in heaven, forgive and reward us: reward each life and circumstance, For you know each life from the inside, (you're the only one with such inside knowledge!), 31  So they'll live before you in lifelong reverence and believing obedience on this land you gave our ancestors. 32  And don't forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation - people are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonderworking power - and who come to pray to this Temple. 33  Listen from your home in heaven and honor the prayers of the foreigner, So that people all over the world will know who you are and what you're like, And live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do, So they'll know that you personally make this Temple that I've built what it is. 34  When your people go to war against their enemies at the time and place you send them and they pray to God toward the city you chose and The Temple I've built to honor your Name, 35  Listen from heaven to what they pray and ask for and do what is right for them. 36  When they sin against you - and they certainly will; there's no one without sin! - and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken off captive to the enemy's land, whether far or near, 37  but then repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, "We've sinned; we've done wrong; we've been most wicked," 38  and they turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name, 39  Listen from your home in heaven to their prayers desperate and devout; Do what is best for them. Forgive your people who have sinned against you. 40  And now, dear God, be alert and attentive to prayer, all prayer, offered in this place. 41  Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose, you and your mighty covenant Chest; Dress your priests up in salvation clothes, let your holy people celebrate goodness. 42  And don't, God, back out on your anointed ones, keep in mind the love promised to David your servant.

7 1  When Solomon finished praying, a bolt of lightning out of heaven struck the Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices and the Glory of God filled The Temple. 2  The Glory was so dense that the priests couldn't get in - God so filled The Temple that there was no room for the priests! 3  When all Israel saw the fire fall from heaven and the Glory of God fill The Temple, they fell on their knees, bowed their heads, and worshiped, thanking God: Yes! God is good! His love never quits! 4  Then the king and all Israel worshiped, offering sacrifices to God. 5  King Solomon worshiped by sacrificing 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep at the dedication of The Temple. 6  The priests were all on duty; the choir and orchestra of Levites that David had provided for singing and playing anthems to the praise and love of God were all there; across the courtyard the priests blew trumpets. All Israelites were on their feet. 7  Solomon set apart the central area of the courtyard in front of God's Temple for sacred use and there sacrificed the Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, and fat from the Peace-Offerings - the Bronze Altar was too small to handle all these offerings. 8  This is how Solomon kept the great autumn Feast of Booths. For seven days there were people there all the way from the far northeast (the Entrance to Hamath) to the far southwest (the Brook of Egypt) - a huge congregation. 9  They started out celebrating for seven days, and then did it for another seven days, a week for dedicating the Altar and another for the Feast itself - two solid weeks of celebration! 10  On the twenty-third day of the seventh month Solomon dismissed his congregation. They left rejoicing, exuberant over all the good God had done for David and Solomon and his people Israel. God's Confirmation

The LORD's Covenant with Solomon

11  Solomon completed building The Temple of God and the royal palace - the projects he had set his heart on doing. Everything was done - success! Satisfaction!

12  God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, "I accept your prayer; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. 13  If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, 14  and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I'll be there ready for you: I'll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. 15  From now on I'm alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. 16  Believe me, I've chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. 17  As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I've set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, 18  then I'll back your kingly rule over Israel - make it a sure thing on a sure foundation. The same covenant guarantee I gave to David your father I'm giving to you, namely, 'You can count on always having a descendant on Israel's throne.' 19  "But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, 20  then the guarantee is off: I'll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I've just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will be nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world. 21  And this Temple, splendid as it now is, will become an object of contempt; tourists will shake their heads, saying, 'What happened here? What's the story behind these ruins?' 22  Then they'll be told, 'The people who used to live here betrayed their God, the very God who rescued their ancestors from Egypt; they took up with alien gods, worshiping and serving them. That's what's behind this God-visited devastation.'"

Solomon's Further Activities

8 1  At the end of twenty years, Solomon had quite a list of accomplishments. He had: built The Temple of God and his own palace; 2  rebuilt the cities that Hiram had given him and colonized them with Israelites; 3  marched on Hamath Zobah and took it; 4  fortified Tadmor in the desert and all the store-cities he had founded in Hamath; 5  built the fortress cities Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, complete with walls, gates, and bars; 6  built Baalath and store-cities; built chariot-cities for his horses. Solomon built impulsively and extravagantly - whenever a whim took him. And in Jerusalem, in Lebanon - wherever he fancied. 7  The remnants from the original inhabitants of the land (Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites - all non-Israelites), 8  survivors of the holy wars, were rounded up by Solomon for his gangs of slave labor. The policy is in effect today. 9  But true Israelites were not treated this way; they were used in his army and administration - government leaders and commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 10  They were also the project managers responsible for Solomon's building operations - 250 in all in charge of the workforce. 11  Solomon brought Pharaoh's daughter from the City of David to a house built especially for her, "Because," he said, "my wife cannot live in the house of David king of Israel, for the areas in which the Chest of God has entered are sacred."

12  Then Solomon offered Whole-Burnt-Offerings to God on the Altar of God that he had built in front of The Temple porch. 13  He kept to the regular schedule of worship set down by Moses: Sabbaths, New Moons, and the three annual feasts of Unraised Bread (Passover), Weeks (Pentecost), and Booths. 14  He followed the practice of his father David in setting up groups of priests carrying out the work of worship, with the Levites assigned to lead the sacred music for praising God and to assist the priests in the daily worship; he assigned security guards to be on duty at each gate - that's what David the man of God had ordered. 15  The king's directions to the priests and Levites and financial stewards were kept right down to the fine print - no innovations - including the treasuries. 16  All that Solomon set out to do, from the groundbreaking of The Temple of God to its finish, was now complete. 17  Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the coast of Edom. 18  Hiram sent him ships and with them veteran sailors. Joined by Solomon's men they sailed to Ophir (in east Africa), loaded on fifteen tons of gold, and brought it back to King Solomon.

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