Fire comes down from heaven

Chapter 7

Fire comes down from heaven – 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

v1 When Solomon had finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven. The fire burned up the *sacrifice by fire and the other *sacrifices. And the *LORD’s *glory filled the *temple. v2 The priests could not enter the *LORD’s *temple, because the *LORD’s *glory filled it. v3 All the *Israelites saw the fire that came down from heaven. And they saw the *LORD’s *glory above the *temple. They bent down on the footpath with their faces to the ground. They *worshipped and they gave thanks to the *LORD. They said, ‘The *LORD is good. His love continues for all time.’

Verse 1 The priests had prepared *sacrifices for the *LORD. As Solomon ended his prayer, the *LORD sent fire to burn all the *sacrifices. This included both those that would be by fire and other *sacrifices.This showed that the *LORD had heard the prayers of Solomon and the people. The *LORD accepted the *temple. He came in his *glory, and he filled it.

It was the same when Moses *dedicated the special tent in the desert. The *glory of the *LORD appeared to the people. And fire came from the *LORD and it burned the *sacrifices (Leviticus 9:24). Later David built an *altar at the place where Araunah used to prepare his grain. There David prayed to the *LORD. And the *LORD answered him with fire on the *altar (1 Chronicles 21:26).

The *LORD answered by fire to show that he approved of the tent. He answered by fire to show that he approved of the *altar. Now he answered by fire to show that he approved of the *temple. He accepted the prayers and the *worship of his people.

Verse 2 The *glory of the *LORD filled the *temple. Even the priests could not remain in the *temple. It was the same when they brought the *ark into the *temple. The priests had to go out of the holy place because the cloud of God’s *glory filled the place. (See 2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 1 Kings 8:10-11.)

Verse 3 The people stood in the areas round the *temple. They all saw the fire as it came down from heaven. Also, they saw the *glory of the *LORD above the *temple. The *glory of the *LORD was probably like a bright cloud over the *temple.

They all bent down with their faces to the ground. This is the way that the *Israelites *worshipped God.

Solomon and the people give *sacrifices and they praise the *LORD – 2 Chronicles 7:4-10

v4 Then the king and all the people gave *sacrifices to the *LORD. v5 King Solomon gave a *sacrifice of 22 000 *oxen and 120 000 sheep. So, the king and all the people *dedicated the *temple to God.v6 The priests stood ready to do their work. The *Levites stood with the instruments for music to the *LORD. King David had made these instruments for them. When he praised, they gave thanks to the *LORD. They said, ‘His love continues for all time.’ Opposite the *Levites, the priests sounded their *trumpets. And all the *Israelites stood.

v7 Solomon made holy the middle part of the area in front of the *LORD’s *temple. Here he gave *sacrifices by fire and he burnt the fat of *sacrifices for peace. He *sacrificed there because the *bronze *altar was too small. The *bronze *altar, which Solomon had made, could not hold all the *sacrifices by fire, grain *sacrifices and fat parts.

v8 At that time, Solomon and all the *Israelites obeyed the rules of the *feast for 7 days. There was a vast crowd of people. Some people even came from places a long way away, like Lebo Hamath and the Valley of Egypt. v9 On the 8th day, they met together for a special *feast. For 7 days, they had *dedicated the *altar. And for 7 days, they had obeyed the rules of the *feast. v10 On the 23rd day of the 7th month, Solomon sent the people to their homes. They went with joy and their hearts were glad. They were happy because of the good things that the *LORD had done. He did those things for David, for Solomon, and for his people, the *Israelites.

Verses 4-6 The king and all the people brought their *sacrifices to the priests. The priests gave these *sacrifices to the *LORD.

The large number of animals that Solomon gave provided meat for the people. They had a great *feast to *dedicate the *temple to the *LORD. This *feast lasted for two weeks. The second week was the *feast when the people lived in shelters.

The priests and *Levites performed the duties that David had appointed for them. The priests gave the *sacrifices on behalf of the king and of the people. The *Levite musicians made music. They played the instruments that David had made for them. And they sang about God’s love for them. They led the people as they praised the *LORD. Also, the priests sounded their *trumpets.

Verse 7 In this middle area in front of the *temple was the *altar. But because of the number of *sacrifices, it seems that Solomon made the whole area holy. There may have been several *altars for this special event. Solomon gave *sacrifices by fire to the *LORD. The priests burned these *sacrifices on the *altars. Also, Solomon gave *sacrifices for peace. On the *altars, the priests burned the fat and certain pieces of the *sacrifices for peace. The rest of the animal was meat for the people to eat.

Verses 8-10 The *dedication of the *temple happened just before a special *feast. The *feast for the *dedication of the *temple was from the 8th to the 14th day of the month called Tisri. Tisri was the 7th month; it is about our month of October.

Each year the *Israelites came to Jerusalem for the special *feast. This *feast was from the 15th day to the 22nd day of Tisri. And they lived in shelters for that week. They had this *feast to remember how God brought their families out of Egypt. The *Israelites lived in tents for 40 years in the desert (Leviticus 23:34).

Lebo Hamath was in the extreme north of *Israel. The Valley of Egypt was in the extreme south of *Israel. So, people came from all over the country called *Israel. They gathered in Jerusalem every year for the special *feast. But this year, they came a week earlier for the *dedication of the *temple.

The special *feast ended with an extra special day (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35). This 8th day of the *feast was the 22nd day of Tisri. After the *feast, on the 23rd day of Tisri, Solomon sent the people to their homes.

There was another special day on the 10th day of Tisri. On this day, the chief priest went into the most holy place. He took some blood from a *sacrifice for his own *sins. Then he took blood from a *sacrifice for the *sins of the people. He asked the *LORD to forgive their *sins. On this day they believed that the *LORD removed the *Israelites’ *sins (Leviticus chapter 16).

The *LORD’s answer to Solomon’s prayer – 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

v11 So, Solomon finished the *LORD’s *temple and his own royal palace. He had done all that he had intended to do in both the *LORD’s *temple and in his own palace. v12 Then the *LORD appeared to Solomon during the night. The *LORD said, ‘I have heard your prayer. I have chosen this place for myself to be a *temple for *sacrifices.

v13 I may close the skies so that there will be no rain. I may order the *locusts to ruin the land. I may cause the spread of a disease among my people. v14 My people are called by my name. They must be humble and they must pray. They must look to me and they must stop their evil behaviour. If they do these things, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their *sin. And I will cure their land. v15 Now my eyes will be open to see. My ears will listen to the prayers that people pray in this place. v16 I have chosen this *temple and I have made it holy. So, my name will be there for all time. I will always watch this place, and my thoughts will always be there.

v17 But you must serve me as your father David did. You must do all that I order you. And you must obey my laws and my rules. v18 Then I will establish your *kingdom. This is the promise that I made to your father David. I said that someone from your family would always rule over *Israel.

v19 But you (and your people) must not *turn away from me. You must not neglect the laws and commands that I have given to you. You must not serve or *worship other gods. v20 If you do *turn to other gods, I will send the *Israelites out of my country. I had given this country to them. Also, I will leave this *temple, which I have made holy for my name. And all the nations will laugh at it. They will speak evil things about it. v21 Now this *temple is magnificent. But then it will be a shock to everybody who passes by. They will ask, “Why did the *LORD do this terrible thing to this country and to this *temple?” v22People will answer them, “The *LORD did this because his people *turned from him. The *LORD is the God of their *ancestors; he brought them out of Egypt. But his people have *turned to other gods. They serve those gods and they *worship them. So, the *LORD caused all this *disaster to happen to his people.” ’

Verses 11-12 After the *dedication of the *temple, Solomon built his palace. It took him 13 years to complete the palace (1 Kings 7:1). After he had finished the work, the *LORD appeared to him. This was in Solomon’s 24th year as king (947 or 946 *BC).

Although it was 13 years later, this was an answer to the *dedication prayer (6:14-42). The *LORD appeared to Solomon during the night. He told Solomon that he had accepted the *temple. It would be a place for *sacrifices to the *LORD. God chose this place for that purpose. The *Israelites must come here to *worship him (Deuteronomy 12:5-7).

This was the second time that the *LORD appeared to Solomon (1 Kings 9:2). The first time was at the town called Gibeon at the start of his rule as king (2 Chronicles 1:7).

Verses 13-16 Solomon had prayed about the effects of *sin in *Israel. Because of their *sins, maybe God would stop the rain (6:26). Here God says that he may stop the rain. Also, he may send *locusts and he may make his people sick. God would allow these terrible things to happen in order to punish his people for their *sins. But God’s purpose is not to hurt his people. His purpose is to persuade them to stop their *sin. They must become loyal to him again. If they do that, he will show his kindness to them again.

Of course, such troubles are not always the result of *sin (John 9:1-3). But this passage is about the occasions when such troubles happen because of *sin.

These people were God’s people. He had chosen them to be special to himself. In a similar way, he has chosen us in Christ to be his special people. So, the attitude in prayer that the *LORD desires here is for us as well.

This attitude consists of 4 parts. Those who pray must be humble. They must trust in the *LORD. They must confess that they have *sinned. And they must stop their evil behaviour. Then the *LORD will hear their prayer. And he will forgive their *sins.

When a nation *turns to the *LORD in this way, he will cure their land. Here the subject is the nation called *Israel. When they *turn to the *LORD, he will rescue them from the effects of their *sin. He will send the rain. He will remove the *locusts. He will cure the people.

The prayers of *Israel’s people must be in or towards the *temple.

Verses 17-18 The *LORD made promises to David. But the promises depended on the actions of people. The *LORD would establish Solomon’s *kingdom if Solomon obeyed him. Solomon had to serve the *LORD as David had done. Solomon had to do all that the *LORD said. He had to obey the laws and the rules of the *LORD.

Solomon started well but afterwards, he chose to do wrong things. Solomon and several kings who ruled after him *turned from the *LORD. The *LORD had promised to support them, but only if they remained loyal to him. So, the *LORD could not do as he had promised. Instead, as the judge of the king and his people, the *LORD had to punish them.

Verses 19-22 The *Israelites neglected to obey the laws of the *LORD. Instead, they *turned to other gods. They *worshipped and served those other gods. Then the *LORD did as he had said. He had given this country to them. However, the *LORD sent the *Israelites away from the country. They went into *exile in Babylon (36:20).

So in the end, the *LORD left the *temple (Ezekiel 10:18). The *temple was magnificent but soldiers from Babylon destroyed it.