In several recent messages, I shared that I have been wrestling with some standards that are stated quite plainly in the Scriptures. What I am trying to say is that we don’t have to understand how or even why our God, our Father, has chosen to live and exist in these corrupt Temples we call our bodies. I am not even going to question or try to understand how He can be present with all Believers, everywhere, and, at the same time be in heaven (or everywhere else He chooses)
As I stated, we do not have to understand this, in order for us to believe it. And yes, some accuse me of being too cerebral in my faith, but I completely argue that. I am far more concerned about how our hearts are established in our faith!
Let’s look at another section of I Kings Chapter 8. This one revolves around the Temple dedication ceremony, itself and features King Solomon’s prayer that presents many things we need to understand regarding our own faith.
One of the major themes of Solomon’s prayer is that Yahweh’s kindness to those who worship Him is indeed dependent on their obedience and how devoted they are to Him.
Now, that scares people off. When you say things like that you will immediately have someone ready to throw stones at you for advocating legalism. Well, that is not the case. This isn’t at all out of line with the ancient Middle Eastern mindset, and how humans relate to their gods, so it was easy for the Israelites to accept this idea.
However, for modern-day Christians, we are taught that a Believer’s behavior and faithfulness are irrelevant. That once we have Salvation and all the dues are paid and tickets are in hand, every consequence of our sin and bad behavior end; every link between our actions and how our God responds, is severed. Ultimately, the thought is that Believers have the right to only expect the Lord’s mercy and kindness, no matter how far away we travel from Yahweh’s ways and commands, and no matter how rebellious we become.
This is a dangerous and erroneous doctrine that I have continually challenged because it is one of the primary reasons the Church lacks the power and victory it was always intended to possess. Many of us have joked that once we gain our Salvation in Christ, we say we have purchased our Heavenly Fire Insurance. Yeah, it may get a chuckle, but it is sadly reinforced from most pulpits and TV preachers, and, unfortunately, lived out in the lives of Believers all over the world.
Not too long ago, I showed you the precise text from the New Testament the proves the conditional nature of God’s kindness. I had you turn to the eleventh chapter of Romans, and in the twenty-second verse (and it doesn’t matter what Bible version you use), Paul, who was writing to a group of gentile Believers, came right out and stated that we, even those of us under “Grace,” are still subject to Yahweh’s punishments if we choose to be disobedient enough. Yes, I realize that it will ruffle many of your feathers and you will want to take me to the nearest cliff and throw me off, but I didn’t write the passages, Paul did.
So take a good look at God’s kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God’s kindness toward you – provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off! ~Romans 11:22
Where it says that they will be “cut-off,” it means that they are separated from God — at God’s choice. Sobering, isn’t it? However it does not mean that their separation will be permanent. If they are willing to repent, and return to their God, He will receive them back. Although, and don’t miss this, there will be, almost without fail, punishments and dire consequences. There are two reasons for the punishments: first, to fulfill Yahweh’s justice. And secondly, to cause the one who is in rebellion to return to their God.
Then, if you turn to the twenty seventh verse, you see another principle addressed where King Solomon acknowledged that despite the Lord saying that He would dwell in the Temple that was built for Him, Yahweh’s true home was Heaven.
Also, the Lord’s definition of a Temple was much different from what humans of that era imagined. In their minds, a temple housed and even shut-in the gods who chose to reside there. Imagine a bottle that imprisons a genie. But Solomon realized that for Yehoveh, and for those who worshiped Him, the Temple was a place of meeting. Where He met with His people, and they met with Him! While the Torah Law did require them to come to the Temple for specific events, prayers directed from anywhere toward the Temple, were just as effective as if they were standing in its courtyards.
So how does this affect our modern lives? Well, if our hearts remain pure and we continue to seek to honor our Lord, we don’t have to search for specific events or be in specific settings to worship and pray. Rather, wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can stop and pray and worship!
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