Monday, April 20, 2009

Solomon - Fire from Heaven

"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lords’ house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever." II Chronicles 7:1-3

Just prior to Solomon’s prayer of dedication God had revealed Himself through the Shekinah filling the temple after bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple. Now God reveals Himself in a display of supernatural fire coming down to accept the sacrifices and the sacrifices of the hearts of the people. The people display their hearts by not running away from the fire and desiring to worship the God who sent the fire. II Chronicles 7:3

This positive response by the people of Israel is one of the remarkable stories in Scripture. When God revealed Himself to fallen Adam and Eve in Eden they ran away and hid. Genesis 3:8-11. When Israel heard the voice of God talking to them and the display of fire they were afraid and ran away from God. Exodus 20:19-21; Hebrews 12:18-21. When Moses came down to talk to the people, after talking to God, the people ran away from the brightness of God on the face of Moses. Exodus 34:29-35. Yet Israel, at the dedication of God’s Temple, remained, rejoiced, and worshipped God. Praise God for His ability to move upon the hearts of His people.

The Bible goes on to state that the people stayed at Jerusalem and continued to worship for seven days and the feast for seven days. And Solomon sent them home on the 23rd day of the seventh month. They went home into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people. II Chronicles 7:8-10 What a wonderful experience that must have been for God, for His people, and all of the visitors who were in attendance on this special day. What wonderful stories must have been told of the wonders of God and of the joys of His people. I wonder how many people made a decision that day to serve the God of Israel. Esther 8:17 "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast, and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."

As in many of the stories of Solomon there is the obvious story line, of dedication of the Temple, and the blessings of the Lord revealed for the sake of mortal man. But there are several other connections to this story in the Bible, which need to be explored. We know that the fire coming from heaven was very similar to that which Moses and Israel experienced at the dedication of the Temple in the wilderness. In Leviticus 9:22-24

"And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces."

This event is quite similar to the dedication at the Temple that Solomon built for God and praise God the people’s response was similar as well.

In the very next chapter there is the story of Nadab and Abihu who offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, or fire that God did not approve of, and fire went out from the Lord and devoured them. Leviticus 10:1-3. This story is similar in that rebellion called forth fire from God out of the Temple. In Numbers 16:35 fire came out of the Temple and consumed 250 princes of Israel who had presumed to offer incense before God. So fire from God is not always a pleasant activity.

When David numbers the people of Israel he is informed that he has sinned against God and is offered several ways of dealing with the problem of his sin. David throws himself on the Lord and the Lord chooses to send a pestilence that ends up killing 70 thousand men. When God concludes that sufficient punishment has been delivered allows David to entreat Him by sacrifice. When David offers the sacrifice God answers by fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and reveals His mercy to Israel. I Chronicles 21:18-30 especially vs. 26.

In the story of Elijah there was a call for all of Israel to gather at Mt. Carmel. After a lengthy display of apostate prophets asking for a sign of fire from Satan, Elijah brings the people together, sets up the Altar of Sacrifice on the top of the mountain and then asks God to reveal Himself in a display of fire to consume the sacrifice. God answers this prayer and consumes the sacrifice, the stones, and the water that Elijah had poured on the Altar. In response to this display the people declare "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God." I Kings 18:39

In the NT John the Baptist states that Messiah will come and "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Matthew 3:11. Jesus caused so much light to be revealed that sin was not comfortable in His presence, and either must be removed or the bearer of this sin would be destroyed. His Spirit could cleanse all who wanted to so that when Jesus comes the second time they will not be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. II Thessalonians 2:8.

In the church at Pentecost Jesus reveals Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit falling on His people with a display of fire. Through this fire His people are enabled to burn away the darkness of the heart so that the light of life could shine on people and 3000 people made decisions for God. The church grew in grace and truth that day under the display of fire from heaven.

But as we showed earlier not all displays of fire come from God. In Revelation 13:11-14 the two horned beast (kingdom) is able to call down fire from heaven in the sight of men to deceive people by those miracles that he has power to do in the sight of the beast. Revelation 13:13-14. This display of fire does not come from God for the express purpose of this fire is to deceive. Revelation 13:14. We must always remember that Satan has powers that he can use and he can even change himself into angel of light, and he can give powers unto his ministers as well. II Corinthians 11:13-15. God has also revealed that Satan will be able to do signs and lying wonders. II Thessalonians 2:9. So we must constantly be on guard to compare even miracles with the Word of God.

So in closing let us remember that Israel was blessed by the display of fire at the dedication of the Temple that God had built by His servant Solomon. We can study these things, we can meditate upon them, and learn the mighty lessons of God. We can learn the real so that if and when Satan seeks to deceive us we can discern the difference between the sacred and the profane. Let us be blessed so that we may bow our heads and worship in the presence of God.

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