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2 Chronicles 6:18-31  (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

The impact of Solomon’s words in verse 18 is a reflection of the wisdom God gave to Solomon. In spite of all the great craftsmanship and the elaborate construction that went into the building of the temple, Solomon knew that the completed house of worship could never contain the totality of God himself. God’s spirit could indwell the temple and it would certainly be a holy place. But it could only limit God to expect him to allow himself to be contained in the temple.

Solomon continued to pour out his heart in prayer for the people who would come to the temple. He prayed for justice among his peoples and forgiveness for the repentant. He prayed that the people’s hearts would be teachable when God’s discipline brought famine or other afflictions upon them, bringing them to repentance, followed by God’s forgiveness and healing. Solomon prayed that as a result of their afflictions, repentance, and forgiveness, the people would learn to fear God and walk in his ways.

There are many truths we can take away from these verses.

  • We cannot put God into a box. We can search the scriptures to learn about him, and sometimes it may stretch our minds beyond where they want to stretch. But we must never assume that the almighty God we worship must fit into a shape or form that we can understand fully. If he could, he couldn’t be God – we would be greater because we could contain him.
  • We should regularly pray for God’s spirit to indwell our churches, that God’s presence would be so strong that it would bring conviction on those who would do wrong.
  • We should pray for teachable spirits among our church members so that they would recognize situations when personal hardships or disaster is brought on by the hand of God to bring them to repentance for some grievous sin. (I am not saying that every such disaster is caused by our own great sins, though more often than not God will use our hardships to teach us something we need to learn.)
  • We should pray for members to come to God with a repentant heart that they may know the cleansing freedom of his forgiveness.
  • We should pray that Christians will have a healthy fear of God, that they may always walk in his ways and enjoy a growing relationship with him forever.

Father God, may we never tire of praying for our churches that they may truly glorify you. May your spirit indwell every worship service, that those who are in your house will feel your presence. May those who worship you with a right heart be filled with your refreshing joy. May they leave your sanctuary as salt and light that will draw others to you. And Lord, may those who come into your heart with wrong motives, or with sins they are trying to hide, may they feel the conviction of your presence. May they feel their hearts laid bare before you that they will repent in shame, receive your forgiveness, and then discover the true peace that comes from having a clean heart before you, the same peace that had been waiting for them from the beginning.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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     1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)

     When the people shared with Jesus the news of the tragic and insulting death of the Galileans, Jesus asked them the question which was probably already in the backs of their minds. Did these men suffer in this way because they were worse sinners than other men? 

     No, came Jesus’ answer. But he challenged them to repent or they too would perish. Was Jesus talking about an earthly calamity that would end in death? Not hardly. He was warning them of the eternal consequences of rebellion against God, of failing to repent.

     Does God punish people through calamities today? People argue this point on both sides. This passage makes it appear that he does not. But there were many examples throughout scripture when God did use calamities to punish people for blatant sins. Noah’s flood was one of the earliest such instances. And in the New Testament Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Acts 5

     I don’t pretend to know the answer to whether or not any particular disaster of our day and time was the result of the sins of the people who died. I know we live in a fallen world in which sin abounds. People suffer for their own sins as well as for the sins of others.  God sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. 

     Having said that, I must add that it doesn’t really matter what you or I think about the answer to this question. The decision isn’t ours to make–God is the only one who gets the last word. If God chooses to punish a single person or a group of people for their sins, he is powerful enough to do it with or without our acknowledgement.

     Whether or not God is still using disasters to punish in this life, we must still take seriously Jesus’ warning to repent or perish. We will each come face to face with God at the end of our lives on earth, and if we have never repented and believed in Christ we will perish apart from God and his blessings.

     Lord, help us to repent of our sins and walk in newness of life with you.  Give us a compassion for those who still live in rebellion against God that we may extend a life line to them through Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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