Old Testament: 1 Kings 8:1-66
1 Kings 8: 1 -45 Prayer About Prayers
Wierbse points out that David’s two greatest sins brought about the great achievement of Solomon’s Temple. David sinned in his relationship with Bathsheba and in the numbering of the people. The census resulted in the purchase of the area the Temple was built on. The sin with Bathsheba resulted in Solomon who got the project done. Can God use sin? Yes, He can (Rom. 5: 20). But that is not an excuse to sin! (Rom. 6: 1-2).
Solomon had the ark brought up to the Temple and sacrificed huge amounts of sheep and oxen, so many that they couldn’t be numbered (v. 5). There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of the law given to Moses by Yahweh. Once the ark was put in its place in the Holy of Holies, the glory of the Lord filled the entire Temple.
Solomon lifted his hands to the Lord, the normal posture of prayer in that day, and dedicated the Temple to Yahweh.
Solomon reiterates that it isn’t possible for God to dwell in a particular place (v. 27). He reminds everyone that a descendant of David will always sit on the throne (v. 25). He enumerated the prayers that would be prayed in the Temple 1) Justice (31-32) 2) Military Superiority (v. 33-34) 3) Rain (35-36) 4) Security against nature disasters (v. 37-40) 5) Prayers of foreigners (v. 41-43) 6) Victory in Battle (v. 44-45) 7) Release from Captivity (v. 46-53).
1 Kings 8: 46 -66 A Gigantic Potluck Dinner
Something our generation needs to remember is stated by Solomon in v. 46, “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin).” We may be so self-centered in our generation that we do not remember that we sin (Rom. 3: 20; 1Jn. 2: 6, 8, 10). The penalty for Israel for sinning was drought and ultimately captivity. In our day, we may have a drought of spiritual blessing in our relationship with the Lord though He may use physical droughts to get our attention. Ultimately, He could call us home prematurely (1Jn. 5: 16-17; Ja. 5: 14-15; 1Cor. 11: 27 -32). The Temple was a place to confess sin.
Solomon offered so many sheep and oxen that the small Temple could not accommodate all the animals. The people had brought all the sacrifices for the Dedication and Celebration. There were 22K oxen and 120K sheep slaughtered that day. Solomon had to consecrate the middle of the court to provide an area for all the sacrifices for that day.
Israel feasted for a week for the dedication of the Temple. They followed that with a week of feasting in celebration. After that, Solomon sent them home and they would have been able to bring some of the meat with them. They did not often have meat. They all went home very happy.
New Testament: Acts 7: 51 – 8: 13
Acts 7: 51 – 60 Spirit Resistors
Back to the trial of Stephen. Now things really break loose. There is a Christian cult that believes that it is not possible to resist grace. Verse 51 would indicate that this is not true, “You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, . . . just as your fathers did.” People often resist the Holy Spirit, even saved people. The Holy Spirit’s job in this time period is to “convict” people of sin (Jn. 16: 8) but people often reject the Holy Spirit’s advice. The way out of the sense of pressure brought by the Spirit is always to “repent” which means to have a “change of mind” (metanoia is the Greek term and is translated “repent” and means literally “change mind”). There is always a way out (1Cor. 10: 13) but it always involves humility and change (cf. Ja. 4: 6-10; 1Pt. 5: 5-6).
Here’s where a little diplomacy might have come in handy. Stephen called them, “stiff necked.” He also said that their hearts were “uncircumcised” as were their ears. I don’t think he realized what that would do to their self-esteem. Verse 54 says that the religious leaders were “cut to the quick.” We usually think of elders in the church as being the really spiritual ones. Stephen was “only” a deacon but was “full of the Holy Spirit” (v. 55). He was able to see into Heaven and could see Jesus at God’s right hand. He told the religious leaders what he was seeing but they did just what you’d expect people with “uncircumcised ears” to do. They covered their ears and said, “lalalalaalalalalalalalala” so they couldn’t hear him. Then they “rushed” him and forcefully took him out of town and stoned him.
The Great Apostle Paul was there but, of course, went by his unsaved name of Saul. He was one of the primary persecutors of the church. Many of those approving of Stephen’s death laid their robes at Saul’s feet meaning that they were with him in this crime.
Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (v. 59-60). After he said these things, he died.
Acts 8: 1 – 3 Saul Appauling
There is no doubt that Saul was in favor of Stephen being stoned. After such a great start to the Church on Pentecost, now all Hell had broke loose against them. As Jesus had commanded them (Acts 1: 8), the church moved into the surrounding regions of Judea and Samaria. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem as Saul began his rampage against all Christians. He went house to house “dragging” Christians off and imprisoning them.
Acts 8: 4 -13 Philling the Gap
Philip, having been scattered with the rest, was preaching the Word and having it validated with miracles. He was casting out demons who were shrieking and absconding. He was also healing the paralyzed and the lame. People were happy.
Simon had been doing magic and calling attention to himself with it before Philip got there. He believed and was baptized. We’ll learn more of him tomorrow.