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The People Gave Thanks to God - 2 Chronicles 7:1-11

Follow In My Ways  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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To express our thankfulness to God with heartfelt, awe-inspired worship.

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Introduction

In today’s lesson we see the important role that giving thanks played in celebrating the dedication of Solomon’s temple. The nation of Israel observed no just a day of thanksgiving (as is commonly done in countries such as the United States and Canada) but a celebration that spanned two weeks ().
The background for last week’s lesson on Solomon’s dedicatory prayer also applies to this week’s lesson, so that information need not be repeated here. The conclusion to Solomon’s eloquent prayer, which immediately precedes today’s lesson text, is of such power that its wording is also closely reflected in a psalm:
“Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may you faithful people sing for joy.” For the sake of your servant David, do not reject your anointed one.
Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness. Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant. , .

Fire from God -

2 Chronicles 7:1–3 NRSV
When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Solomon had concluded his dedicatory prayer with the plea that the Lord would “arise” and come to his “resting place”. The immediately ensuing fire …from heaven is dramatic evidence that the Lord is pleased with the sentiment. As the ark of covenant was brought into the temple, so many sacrifices had been offered that it became impossible to keep track of their number (, ). What is consumed after the completion of Solomon’s prayer is apparently whatever remains on the altar at this point. The fire signifies God’s acceptance of the offerings given. So it is with the fire that consumes Solomon’s sacrifices.
The phrasing here, “and the glory of the Lord filled the temple,” echoes what took place when the assembling of the tabernacle was completed. God’s blessing upon and approval of Solomon’s temple is obvious to all present.
As a congregation, how can we know when our sensing of God presence is genuine? Regarding his love, and regarding his correction.
In verse 3 when all people saw the fire come down, they fell facedown to worship and together thanked God. They brought sacrifices to the altar, and sang praises as they celebrated God’s presence. They cried out “He is good; his love endures forever.” We may never see flames of fire coming down, but we should feel the warmth of God’s presence with us. Here we see the people utter words of worship that become a pattern for worship.
This pattern seeks to speak important truths to us about God and ourselves. First, by worshipping with patterns, we lay claim to the constancy of God. Despite changes in time and place, our God remains. Second, it links us to the people of the past. Such commonalities in worship give us a longstanding tradition on which to stand. Our consistent pattern of worship is comforting.
What is your favorite element of worship? How does it help you to connect to God?
What changes might we experience by being more mindful of God’s goodness, mercy, and love, Why? In our families, in our churches, in our workplace.

Worship by People -

2 Chronicles 7:4–6 NRSV
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the Lord. King Solomon offered as a sacrifice twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry. Opposite them the priests sounded trumpets; and all Israel stood.
The people sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep, plus grain offerings and fat offerings. They worshiped together for seven days. None of this sounds like our worship today. This all sounds like worship that made sense in an ancient agrarian society, not a globalized technologically centered one. When it comes to expressing awe-inspired worship, we need both the elements of tradition and localization - Tradition connects us to all believers; and Localization allows us to bring our particular selves meaningfully before God.
If there is one general issue that routinely divides a congregation, it is the issue of worship styles. If a church has only one type of worship, pastors will hear complaints that they need to add more styles. If a church has more than one style, pastors will hear complaints that those other services are not true worship.
We need to remember that worship is a corporate event. It should, on the whole, reflect the community’s (not the individual’s) offerings to the Lord. More important than styles is passionate worship before the Lord. More important than whether there is organ or guitar is that we all kneel down and worship the one true God.
What steps can we take to better express our reverence and thanks to God? In worship, in prayers, and in conversation

Further Actions -

2 Chronicles 7:7–9 NRSV
Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord; for there he offered the burnt offerings and the fat of the offerings of well-being because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat parts. At that time Solomon held the festival for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they had observed the dedication of the altar seven days and the festival seven days.
2 Chronicles 7:7-7
Here we see Solomon consecrates additional sacred space for the various sacrifices of the occasion. The types of offerings noted reflect the totality of the people’s worship and devotion to God. These offerings symbolize thanksgiving, and the regulations for presenting them are found in .
The celebration lasted two weeks and the people were celebrating the dedication of the Temple. They were also celebrating this moment during the reign of Solomon, a king described in this passage reflects the profound importance of the time and the abundant wealth of the king. It also reflects the God they served. Here is a God who had brought them out of Egypt and established them in new homeland. This God promised to dwell with the people permanently, and the Temple would for hundreds of years be representative of that promise. These were God’s people, and as such they were called to bring themselves in worship before God.
Our worship reflects who we are. What makes for passionate worship is worship that keeps God as the focus and allows us to bring our own personalities and passions to the foot of the Lord as our own abundant offering. We are often passionate when it comes to special times in the lives of our churches, such as the dedication of new buildings, or occasions such as Christmas and Easter. We should also be passionate about worship in those everyday moments as well, because those moments are when we bring who we are to God.
What is unique about our community, and how is that reflected in how we worship each week?

Prayer

Holy Spirit, bring your fire among us so that we might worship passionately and honestly before God; in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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