“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’” (2 Chronicles 7:12-14).
In regard to the background of the above verses, Solomon had just finished building God’s temple and called a great assembly of the leaders of Israel to Jerusalem to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the temple (2 Chronicles 5:1-3). After the ark is brought into the temple, God’s glory fills the temple, and Solomon speaks to the assembly and proclaims God’s faithfulness to keep the promises which He made to Israel (2 Chronicles 5:4-6:11). Then in the presence of all the people, Solomon calls upon God in prayer. As he finishes his prayer Solomon says, “Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place. Now therefore, Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Your saints rejoice in goodness. O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed; remember the mercies of Your servant David” (2 Chronicles 6:40-42).
Now all of the people witness an awesome sight: “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). God had accepted Solomon’s prayer and the sacrifices of the people. What an awesome sight this must have been to behold on that day!
God wasn’t done showing His approval. As the opening verses above indicate, God appears to Solomon by night saying He had heard Solomon’s prayer and chosen this special place (i.e. the temple) for Himself as a place for sacrifice (2 Chronicles 7:12). Moreover, God understood the weaknesses of His people. Even though they had performed this great gesture in building God a house and made great sacrifices to Him that day, He knew they would struggle with sin. When they fell into sin, God would try to gain their attention to the error of their ways by: (1) causing it not to rain, (2) causing insects to devour the land, and (3) sending pestilence among the people (2 Chronicles 7:13). God did this because He loved His people and wanted them to turn back to Him and restore their relationship with Him by: (1) humbling themselves, (2) praying and seeking His face, and (3) repenting of their wicked ways. If they did this God assured them He would: (1) hear them, (2) forgive them, and (3) heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
As I think about this awesome occasion where God spoke to Solomon that night, I am struck by God’s love, understanding, grace and mercy He shows to His people. He earnestly desire for His people to “seek His face”. As I think about my loved ones, it is nice to “text” them and speak to them on the phone, but it is better to see them face to face and be able to embrace them! God wants His people not only to seek Him in the text of His Word by studying the Bible, or speak to Him by calling upon Him in prayer, but He wants them to pursue Him even more by “seeking His face”. Today, I rejoice in the great and awesome God I serve and will “seek His face”!
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)