Revelation in Worship
St. Andrews MTC, NY
“Hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live.” –1 Kings 8:36
On the surface 1 Kings Chapter 8 seems to be all about a temple however, through this prayer we learn that it is much more about the nature of Israel’s (our) God and Israel’s (our) response to God. In this passage we see that God’s nature is trustworthy, forgiving, and gracious. He is a trustworthy God who can be counted on to stay true to His covenants and promises. He is also a gracious and forgiving God, allowing and desiring our access to Him at all times, despites our wrongs, so we can join with Him in bringing correctness to this world (the Israelites at the time believed they needed the temple rebuilt for this access and God graciously provided it for them even though all along God intended for each individual to be the temple in which He resided).
In this section we also see that our response to God should be to become a prayerful, obedient, and repentant follower. God is serious about obedience, and obedience becomes plausible in prayer. It is prayer and obedience, which acts as the acid test of faith. The people of Israel knew that God had chosen them to be a special people but they needed to be an obedient and prayerful people to lighten up this world as God intended and spread to others what made them special. God recognizes that obedience to His way often brings about rejection from the world (Jesus goes on to promise this to His followers). Yet God’s message is good news in the midst of this rejection and that good news includes knowing that our prayers will be answered, that our suffering and rejection is not in vain, and that victory is assured in the end.
During the time this passage was written there were some exiles that suffered due to their faith. They were sent away from their neighbors because of their obedience to the law of God. There were also many other exiles that were disobedient. Yet, even in the midst of disobedience, our God forgives us when we offer wholehearted repentance. We all fail to live His way, but God does not desire for us to turn away in these moments. Instead God desperately wants us to get back on (or to join, for the first time) the joyous kingdom building pursuit. Repentance is the bridge that brings us out of our failures into joyous and useful work that has positive, eternal consequences. The Israelite exiles embraced this as they confessed in prayer that it was not God’s oversight, weakness, or inconsistency that led to the old temple becoming a heap of ruins but there own wrongs and they acknowledged that God was right in allowing the appropriate consequences to unfold, and they also asked for from God to do what’s right. We also should embrace the cycle of prayer, obedience, and repentance as it provides the opportunity to live in God’s kingdom and to do His will and this joyous future we’re invited into is available at all times.
Triune God, we pray that You would come alongside us and help us do what we know to be right. Remind us of Your nature at all times so that we are encouraged to join with You in all things. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5