Tonight, we begin our studies in the book of 2Chronicles. This flows directly from our previous studies in 1Chronicles, because as originally written, the two were one book.
As you recall, King David has died, leaving Solomon as king, with a charge to him and the people that they build the temple of God.
There had been a problem with Solomon receiving the crown. We saw in the book of 1Kings that when David was dying of old age, another one of his sons tried to ascend to the throne.
Ad-o-nee-YAH, the son of Khag-GHEETH, got some of David's key men to support him. Fortunately, Solomon was crowned king before David's death, and the new king had the key players in the rebellion put to death (1Kings 2).
Now, Solomon has established himself securely in the kingdom.
Not only was Solomon secure politically, but the Lord was exalting him greatly. The word "exalt" means, "to promote, to grow, to magnify and make great."
In the Scripture, we see that exalting ourselves is always a negative thing (Exo. 9:17; 1Kings 1:5; etc.). But when the Lord exalts us, it is a wonderful thing (Josh. 3:7; Psa. 75:7; etc.)
When the disciples were continually arguing amongst themselves as to which of them was the greatest, Jesus said,
Mark 9:35 ..."If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
When you strive to exalt yourself, you will end up diminished. But, as James said,
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Solomon's brother Ad-o-nee-YAH had tried to exalt himself, and was cast down. It was the Lord who exalted Solomon, and so he was magnified and made great.
Solomon took a huge group of people with him to offer sacrifices to the Lord. Question: Where should he do this? There were three options.
1) At Gibeon, six miles away, was the tent of meeting - the same one that Moses had made in the book of Exodus. Remember that God judged Shiloh (Jer. 7:12) for the sin of the priests and the people. In one day, the priests died and the ark was stolen by the Philistines (1Sam. 4). The glory had departed (1Sam. 4:21) from the tabernacle. After a brief time at Nob (1Sam. 21), the tabernacle was finally put in Gibeon (1Chron. 16:39), where it remained through the reign of David, and into the early days of Solomon's reign.
This was where the sacrifices had been offered since those days. But it was up on a high place, which was not pleasing to God, because it followed the model of the Canaanite offerings.
2) The second option for Solomon was right there at the tent in Jerusalem which housed the ark. The day that David had the ark brought back from Keer-YATH Yeh-aw-REEM, sacrifices had been offered there.
1Chr. 16:1 And they brought in the ark of God and placed it inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.
But then David...
1Chr. 16:37 ...left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required;
They did not offer sacrifices at this location afterwards, for we read,
1Chr. 6:49 But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.
3) The third option was just up the hill on the east side of Jerusalem. Most recently, David had been sacrificing up there on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. This was because the judgment of God was stopped at this location.
1Chr. 21:28-22:1 At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there. For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the LORD. Then David said, "This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel."
David was then afraid to go to the high place at Gibeon.
So which location would Solomon choose? The altar of sacrifice in front of the tent of meeting at Gibeon, which was on a high place; the tent in Jerusalem before the ark of the covenant; or the place where David said was the location of the altar for Israel?
1Kings 3:2-4 The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the LORD until those days. Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place...
This makes me think of people's choice of churches today.
- There is the high place at Gibeon, the church "that we've always gone to, even though there are aspects that are clearly not pleasing to God."
- There is the tent in Jerusalem, which is the church that is missing a lot of stuff, but it's a happy place with all the praise and music going on."
- Then there is the threshing floor. A place that has no "bells or whistles," but it's clearly the place that God has met me most recently, and so this is where I will worship.
Which one is the right place to go? Let me tell you: There is no one perfect church that is perfectly pleasing to God. You can't find the perfect church, it's impossible. But God's people still need to choose where they will worship, because you can't forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25) either.
And so my counsel is, make the best choise you can, pick a place, and worship the Lord. I believe that God will meet you there.
When they got to Gibeon, they saw the bronze altar. This is the very altar which had been designed by God, described to Moses, and built by Bets-al-ALE. God had chosen this craftsman specifically:
Ex. 31:1-5 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship."
Bets-al-ALE would make not only the altar of sacrifice (Exod. 38:1), but the ark of the covenant (Exod. 37:1), the table of showbread (Exod. 37:10), the golden lampstand (Exod. 37:17), the altar of incense (Exod. 37:25), and the bronze laver (Exod. 38:8).
The altar and the tent (2Chron. 1:3) have survived these past 475 years!
Solomon and the people offered a thousand burnt offerings on this ancient altar.
The night that Solomon offered this incredible number of sacrifices, God appeared to him in a dream (1Kings 3:7) and asked Solomon, "Ask Me to give you something."
Now, maybe you would have answered like Solomon did, but I know I wouldn't have. I'm almost certain that my first request would be, "Lord, please pay off my loans and get me out of debt. And while You're at it, I'm really tired of being able to do a lot of things, but not really mastering any of them. I want to excel and music and art and foreign languages and sports and... Oh, also, I'm really tired of these people that hate my guts. Can you arrange a little accident...?"
Solomon could have asked for wealth, long life, or vengeance upon people that had hurt him. But instead, he said, "My biggest desire is to be equipped with the ability to do this job that You've called me to do." This really is an amazing response.
Because Solomon asked for wisdom, God granted it to him. And yet, because he didn't ask for these other things, they would also be given to him.
Too many people ask God for stuff with the wrong motives. What are wrong motives? James said,
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
The wrong motive is the selfish motive. Instead, we should be busy about God's business, and letting Him bless us with whatever He wants to. Paul reminded us that God is...
Eph. 3:20 ...able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think...
I believe that we ask too much and serve too little. That we most often make requests for ourselves to be increased rather than for the kingdom of God to be increased.
Solomon was hugely blessed because he only asked to be equipped to do God's work.
1Kings 3:13 "I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.
Solomon was indeed very wealthy, as these verses show us. But with great blessing also comes great accountability. When we are faithful in the little things, God entrusts to us greater things. Solomon had been faithful, and God granted more to him. But what is he doing with it?
Amassing chariots, horsemen, and horses from Egypt. But God's command regarding Israel's king had been clear:
Deut. 17:16 "...he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.'"
Solomon had been entrusted with this wealth, but he is using it improperly. Jesus taught that,
Luke 12:48 ...From everyone who has been given much, much will be required...
What have you been entrusted with? What gifts or blessings has God given to you? Are you using them for the kingdom of God? Or are you fulfilling selfish ambitions instead?