Hear in Heaven…

Intro: Have you ever been to a dedication ceremony? The start of something big? We will visit such an occasion in tonight’s lesson.

  • Psalm 18:1-6 – God the Sovereign Savior (2 Sam 22) To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said: I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. 4 The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

The 18th Psalm was David’s cry to the Lord in times of trouble. He praised God for protecting him from Saul. In his darkest hour (The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me) he cried to God with an expectation to be heard from God in His Temple. This was, of course, before the physical Temple in Jerusalem existed. The temple to which David was taking his petition was heaven itself. So we do as well. God is in His Temple.

I. Petitioning to God in His Temple: David’s most ardent desire was to build a house for God in Jerusalem. But, as we remember, God said no to David, but gave that task to his son, Solomon. The temple that Solomon constructed in Jerusalem was a magnificent structure. As the tabernacle before, it was to represent the presence of God among His people. It was a place for approach… where sinful men and women could come to their holy God.

A. As a structure, the temple of Solomon was unsurpassed. Can you imagine the solemnity surrounding the day of its dedication? Turn to 1 Kings 8 – read v. 1-13. Solomon says he has built a house for God to dwell in forever. Had he? Interestingly, one thing Solomon is absolutely sure about, is that this Temple is not the true abode of God.

B. He praises Jehovah for keeping His promises to his father, David And then, just as His father, David did, he petitions God to hear his prayer from His true temple…. 1 Kings 8:27-30But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

II. Hear in Heaven… Did Solomon make it to heaven? That question was posed to me last week. Though the king of Israel was flawed in a number of particulars, his prayer of dedication on this occasion was a model of spirituality. What is clearly portrayed is the place of God in heaven as the ruler of all things. In a time when God was provided an earthly dwelling place, what is emphasized by Solomon is God’s transcendence and other-worldly character.

A. In the prayer of Solomon, on this momentous occasion, he calls on God to hear the prayers of His people – 8 times he asks God to “hear in heaven”. Read a portion of Solomon’s prayer:

• 1 Kings 8:33-36“When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers. 35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance…

• 1 Kings 8:44-52 – When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, 45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. 46 “When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; 47 yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness’; 48 and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: 49 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace), 52 that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You.

B. A review of this prayer reveals a “lexicon” definition of sorts of what is involved in genuine repentance. Solomon astutely recognizes the weaknesses to which the nation of Israel was prone, and he anticipates further departures on the part of his people. He knows that God will not overlook their sin,, but will discipline them, as He promised. Thus, on behalf of the Hebrews’ weaknesses, he petitions the Lord God. Notice these elements:

1. Sin, the persistent problem: Solomon says if they sin, but more likely, the sense actually is, “when they sin”. As he further comments, “there is no one who does not sin” (v. 46). The universal problem of sin is the beginning point of the gospel story. Rom 3:21-24But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, The temple, with its holy elements, and holy service, was a constant reminder of the sinfulness of those who approached it. How could this problem be remedied? Solomon’s petition for God’s forgiveness is based on Israel’s response:

2. Repentance defined… when they come to themselves… and repent and make supplication to you… when they return to you with all their heart and all their soul…There was to be a radical change in Israel’s basic attitude. They would be obliged to “turn their heart,” or to “repent” (47). Again it is said that they should “repent with all their mind and with all their heart” (48).This implies several things.

a. They must recognize intellectually (mind) the sovereignty of Jehovah, that is that he has the “right” to issue commands for one’s living and to enforce obedience (cf. Romans 9:21).

b. The people must be convicted of the fact that they have violated divine law.

c. They are required to be sorrowful for having rebelled against the holy God.

d. And the nation must resolve to desist from their lawless actions. No one can take the Lord’s forgiveness for granted, nor can one expect Heaven’s tolerance while he is planning to repeat the same sins for which he seeks pardon, as soon as opportunity presents itself.

3. “We have sinned…” Solomon emphasized that acknowledgement of wrong would be expected. The people would be required to confess, “we have sinned and acted perversely and wickedly” (v. 47) Solomon’s use of three terms may be designed to emphasize the plenitude of Israel’s wrongs.

a. “Sin” signifies to “miss the goal or path of right and duty.”

b. The term “perverse” suggests the idea of that which is “twisted” or “distorted,” thus not in line with sacred truth.

c. And “wickedness” suggests the idea of guilt in the violation of law — civil, ethical, or religious. The person who knows he has sinned, and refuses to concede that — either privately to God, or publicly before his peers, as the case may require, cannot be forgiven.

• Dan 9:3-6 –Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.

• 1 John 1:7-10But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

4. “when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul” (v. 48) – Genuine repentance involves a change of conduct. There are a number of biblical texts in which the change required in one’s life is represented under the terms “repent,” or “repentance,” which, in the immediate context is obviously something in addition to a feeling of guilt or sorrow (see Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Notice also the double use of “all,” which obviously emphasizes the comprehensive nature of one’s change.

a. There can be no “strings” attached, or exceptions to wrongdoing. The liar must stop lying, the thief must stop stealing, the adulterer must stop practicing sexual sin.

5. “and pray to You” (v. 48) – God expects His children to pray for forgiveness when they sin. Prayer is a general term that represents the idea of calling upon God as a source of help – whatever the need may be. In addition, Solomon employs the term “plead” (ESV, ASV-“supplication”). The latter word carries the idea of soliciting God’s favor, with the subtle contextual suggestion that, as a result of one’s sins, the Lord has turned away. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

C. How will God Respond? Solomon has every expectation that God will hear in heaven”. 1 Kings 8:49-51then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt,

1. The Hebrew term (hear) conveys the idea of hearing with a view to forgiveness and assistance. The word “forgive” is used in the Old Testament only of that which issues from the Lord. The term is found five times in this temple-dedication prayer. Solomon prays for what His people cannot survive without.

Conclusion: The dedication and celebration of this event continued for 2 weeks. After Solomon sent everyone home “joyful and glad of heart for the good that the Lord had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel.” (2 Chron 7:10), God appeared to Solomon for the second time… 2 Chron 7:12-15 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

God was ready to hear in heaven, what His people were speaking from the Temple Solomon had built. In the NT the Temple of God is a reference to the church – the dwelling place of God in the Spirit. God dwells in His people – those who are in Christ can petition God from His Temple, and have assurance that he will hear… and forgive.