HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, October 17, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “A House Fit for God”
Texts – 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, 2 Kings 23:1-27, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Hosea 6:1-6
A year into their sojourn away from Egypt, God gave Moses directions for building Him a Tabernacle—a sacred place through which the people could worship Him. Directions for its construction, the installation of priests and the sacrifices required were precise. And God wasn’t messing around about His expectations…when Aaron’s oldest two sons, Nadab and Abihu, attempted to burn incense using fire from a different source than had been instructed, fire came out from the Lord’s presence and they were consumed (Leviticus 10:1-2). Years later, we read how seventy men from the town of Beth-shemesh looked inside the Ark and paid for their transgression with their lives when God struck them down (1 Samuel 6:19). And yet again, in the process of moving the Ark to Jerusalem, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark when the oxen stumbled and jostled the cart and, he too, paid the ultimate price for handling the sacred objects dedicated to God as commonplace furniture (2 Samuel 6:6-7).
In the time of David, the Tabernacle was still in use at Shiloh. But this man after God’s own heart was bothered that he should have a permanent place to call home, when they still used a tent to represent God’s dwelling amongst His people. God was pleased with David’s desire, and even promised to build a great dynasty through him, but told him he would not be the one to build a Temple…his son, Solomon, would. But why not David? God told him that he simply had too much blood on his hands (1 Chronicles 28:3). He was no doubt disappointed, but He respected God’s decision. Once Solomon became king in his father’s place, he took up the task of constructing the Temple; it took a full thirteen years for the Temple to be completed. It was a magnificent piece of architecture. At its dedication, God showed up to give it His stamp of approval.
“GOD GETS A HOUSE”
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 – When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 2 The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!”
Solomon was quick to recognize, however, the perplexing reality that the God of the universe could live in a defined space – “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
But on that day of dedication, as impossible as it may have seemed, God made His presence seen and felt by all present. God was in deed in their midst!
God gave the Israelites the incredible gift of His covenant with them—to dwell with them as long as they remained faithful. But the Israelites were guilty of faithlessness time and again, in their treatment of God and of His sacred Temple. By the time of King Josiah, major ‘house cleaning’ needed to be done.
“GOD’S HOUSE IS DEFILED”
2 Kings 23:1-27 – Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. 3 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
4 Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens. 6 The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people. 7 He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the Lord, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole.
8 Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city. 9 The priests who had served at the pagan shrines were not allowed to serve at the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat unleavened bread with the other priests.
10 Then the king defiled the altar of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, so no one could ever again use it to sacrifice a son or daughter in the fire as an offering to Molech. 11 He removed from the entrance of the Lord’s Temple the horse statues that the former kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were near the quarters of Nathan-melech the eunuch, an officer of the court. The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
12 Josiah tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the upper room of Ahaz. The king destroyed the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. He smashed them to bits and scattered the pieces in the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the pagan shrines east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Corruption, where King Solomon of Israel had built shrines for Ashtoreth, the detestable goddess of the Sidonians; and for Chemosh, the detestable god of the Moabites; and for Molech, the vile god of the Ammonites. 14 He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. Then he desecrated these places by scattering human bones over them.
15 The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole. 16 Then Josiah turned around and noticed several tombs in the side of the hill. He ordered that the bones be brought out, and he burned them on the altar at Bethel to desecrate it. (This happened just as the Lord had promised through the man of God when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the festival.)
Then Josiah turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. 17 “What is that monument over there?” Josiah asked. And the people of the town told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted the very things that you have just done to the altar at Bethel!” 18 Josiah replied, “Leave it alone. Don’t disturb his bones.” So they did not burn his bones or those of the old prophet from Samaria.
19 Then Josiah demolished all the buildings at the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria, just as he had done at Bethel. They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the Lord very angry. 20 He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
21 King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple. 25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.
26 Even so, the Lord was very angry with Judah because of all the wicked things Manasseh had done to provoke him. 27 For the Lord said, “I will also banish Judah from my presence just as I have banished Israel. And I will reject my chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple where my name was to be honored.”
At the age of eight, Josiah had inherited the mess made by previous kings, his grandfather being one of the worst culprits to rule Judah. In his eighteenth year as king, the scroll of the law was found and when it was read, Josiah recognized the very dangerous position his kingdom had placed themselves in through their disobedience to God. He acted quickly and thoroughly, with a fully repentant heart. His reforms affected the whole of the country, but today, I’d specifically like to focus on the work that had to be done in the Temple itself.
What work did King Josiah have to order be done within and immediately surrounding God’s Temple? [discussion – the reading of the law; renewal of the covenant; destruction of idols to multiple gods; removal of the male and female prostitutes as well as the priests who had been disloyal to God; removal of altars to other gods; the reinstating of the Passover]
The Temple, though intended to be a sacred place of worship to God, had become thoroughly defiled. The Israelites may have had a beautiful building, but they no longer understood its purpose and had been sentenced to judgment.
Josiah’s reforms didn’t change the fact that God had rejected the Temple in Jerusalem during his grandfather’s reign, but he did buy the nation time and a fresh start…and if the nation had continued to live according to the reforms Josiah had made, the promised destruction could have been stayed. But true to human nature, the very next king, Josiah’s son, reverted back to the ways of his great-grandfather ensuring the soon coming destruction.
The time of the Temples that have stood in Jerusalem—Solomon’s and Herod’s—has long since passed. But, today, God has a new house. Paul, when providing the reasons for abstaining from sexual sin, draws his authority from the fact that each believer now has become a ‘temple’ of God’s.
“GOD’S NEW HOME”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Just as the Temple of old was a place for worship—our lives should demonstrate our reverence and worship of God. The Temple was a place of sacrifice and service—we should spend our lives in loving, grateful service to God. We must not fall into the same trap that the people of Israel did—believing that their acts of ritual sacrifice negated their need for full loyalty. It was not good enough for the Israelites to make God one of many deities they worshipped. And it is not good enough for us to choose to live as a ‘Christian’ one day out of seven!
The question must be asked, “How loyal am I?” The words of Hosea are as much for us as they were for the people of Israel.
“SACRIFICES FOR TODAY”
Hosea 6:1-6 –“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
2 In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
3 Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
4 “O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces--
to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.”
God’s first priorities for His children are that we show love and we come to know Him. Any other priorities indicate a need for an adjustment in our loyalties and motivations.
What further implications might our new reality, of having the Holy Spirit reside within us, hold?
· New Covenant - God has made a covenant with us today, too—to live with us through His gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in each one of us. And just as the Temple of old was to be treated as God’s sacred dwelling, we as God’s temple are not free to load up the premises with garbage, either. As a follower of Christ, we are God’s temple—are we each a fit dwelling or do we have closets that need emptied, shrines that need torn down, loves that need removed?
· New Purpose - Today, we’ve been reminded of God’s expectations of those who claim to love and serve Him. We must repent of the ways we have been less than fully loyal; recommit ourselves to living in obedience to His covenant; then with the help of the Holy Spirit, do housecleaning on our personal lives and begin to obey God fully once again.
· New Relationship - We must remain ever cognizant of the fact that, if we are God’s children, He has taken up residence in our lives—we are not our own, but owe everything we are and have and hope to be to Him!
Sunday, October 24, 2021- “Family Divisions” (1 Kings 12) - In-person and Online
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!