Statistics
1551 sermons as of November 19, 2018.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Jack Moesker
 send email...
 
Congregation:Canadian Reformed Church at Owen Sound
 Owen Sound, Ontario
 www.oschurch.ca
 
Title:There is no God like the Lord God of Israel
Text:1 Kings 8:22-53 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:God's Mercy
 
Preached:2010-10
Added:2018-10-30
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 84:1,2

Psalm 84:5,6

Psalm 122:1,2,3

Hymn 42:1,2,3

Psalm 27:2,3

Read: 1 Kings 8:1-21, John 2:13-22

Text: 1 Kings 8:22-53

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ;

No one has ever seen God. As a result of not being able to see Him, prove His existence, many today have excluded Him from this world. Many people today are pretty sure there’s no God. I read recently that there are even atheist churches where they celebrate that there is no God. However, Christians can also exclude God from their daily lives. Live as if God doesn’t exist, doesn’t see them, and doesn’t have much if anything to do with life here. They worship Him on Sundays but for the rest He’s not relevant to their everyday lives. They are what are called: functional atheists. People who claim to believe in God but live as if there is no God.

On the other hand, there has been growing interest in spirituality over the past number of years. People who believe there is more to life than can be seen, who believe that there are metaphysical powers at work in this world. And if they can connect with those powers, they can empower themselves through them. You can think of Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday sessions where she interviewed all sorts of spiritual advisers who have a similar idea about God as she does. God is basically spiritual energy inside you which you can tap into to make you happier even in hard times.

In the middle of this world with all kinds of ideas about God’s being or non-being, we listen this morning to the Bible. The Bible tells us that there is an almighty and glorious God and Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. His understanding is far above our understanding. And yet He is also directly involved with this world and with you and me. And He is even accessible to you and me. And we see that message about God in our text which is part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. I preach to you that text with this theme: There is no God like the Lord God of Israel. We see Solomon express three things about God:

1. He is great.

2. He is involved.

3. He is accessible.

 

1. God is great.

Solomon believed in the greatness of God. He had it made, Solomon did! He was a rich, middle eastern king who governed his land wisely. He was known all over the world of those days because of his wisdom. There was lots to eat and drink. His people were happy. It says in 1 Kings 4:20 that Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing. Solomon had built strong walls around Jerusalem and beautiful palaces and buildings in the city. With Solomon we find ourselves at the absolute climax of Israel’s development. God’s purpose for Israel seemed to be coming to wonderful fulfillment. Through that nation God showed the whole world what a gracious and glorious God He is. It looks as if it can’t get any better!

And the best thing of all is that King Solomon hadn’t forgotten the Lord, the God of Israel. He still wanted to serve and glorify Him as Lord and Redeemer of Israel. That's why he also wanted to build a beautiful temple for God. He wanted everyone to know that not Israel’s king but Israel’s God is above all. He is the real King of Israel who lives among His people. He is the reason for Israel’s peace and prosperity.

Well, the Lord, Israel’s true King, took up residence in that beautiful temple which Solomon had built. When the ark of God was placed in the inner room of that temple, in the most holy place, a cloud filled the temple. And the priests could np longer conduct their tasks there because of that cloud. The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, it says in 8:11.

And then, while that cloud continued to hang there in the temple, Solomon spoke to the people assembled in the temple court about the building of the temple. And then stood before the great altar in that court and spread out his hands toward heaven as was done in those days and prayed to God. And he began by praising God for His greatness. He said (vs. 23), O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on the earth beneath… God is incomparable. So, there is nothing or no one in heaven or on earth who even comes close to being like Him in faithfulness to promises and in mercy.

And then Solomon continued to praise God for His greatness in another way. While that cloud still filled the temple He asked in vs. 27, But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  But didn’t Solomon see with that cloud in the temple that God was able to visibly – almost tangibly – dwell here on earth? Didn’t he see how God had taken up residence in that temple there in Jerusalem? How could he question that God lived there at that time?

But Solomon wasn’t questioning God at all. No, his prayer shows a deep, deep respect and love for God. Solomon was wise. He knew who God is. God is so great, so full of glory and majesty that He cannot be shut up in a building. Yes, the temple Solomon built was a beautiful building. The three chapters before the one in which we find our text are all about how that temple was built. It was a kind of prefab structure. Everything was made to fit exactly together beforehand. It was built of huge stones and covered on inside with cedar wood carved with angels and covered with gold. But no matter how beautiful and impressive that building was, it couldn’t contain the fullness of God’s being. No, Solomon said that even the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Lord. Nothing in all creation can contain God, can enclose Him.

See, the pagan nations around Israel had temples for their gods, their gods were shut up in temples. And that’s how those pagans then could manipulate them so they would be favourable to them, as they thought. That's why they made images of their gods and placed them in those temples too. They wanted to control their gods so they would do their bidding. After all, their gods lived with them. So they could make them do as they wanted.

That whole idea of controlling or manipulating God was far from Solomon’s mind at the dedication of the temple. He knew that God can’t be contained or manipulated. He can’t be contained in a house or building. That's idolatry. No, no one can control God. And Solomon’s prayer is a warning to the people not to try to do that – to think that they have God because of the temple itself.

Unfortunately, later on in Israel’s history they did think that they owned God, so to speak, because they had that temple there in Jerusalem. Think of how the prophet Jeremiah had to warn Israel about their sinful lives in Jeremiah 7. They figured they were OK living as they did because they had the temple of God among them. They could sin and then sacrifice to undo their guilt again. No problem! But then Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 7, Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ No, if you don’t repent of your sins I will do to this place as I have done to Shiloh, namely destroy it! Solomon warned about that danger beforehand.

And let’s not think that this couldn’t be a danger for us today too, congregation! We don’t have a temple today but the church of Jesus Christ is the temple of the living God in the NT. And we should never think that because we belong to the true church of Christ that we can just accept certain sins in the church without any problem because we presume on His grace. If that’s how we think, remember how the Lord Jesus warned the church of Ephesus that unless they repented and changed that He would remove their lampstand from its place. No, God dwells with those who have humble and contrite hearts.

Congregation, also today we need to remember that earth and heaven can’t contain our God. He can’t be put in a box, so to speak. That also means that we shouldn’t limit Him to certain places or times, like Sunday worship or religious moments like devotions and then think He doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of our lives. What we do then is try to contain God in a special corner of our lives and keep Him out of the remainder of our existence. We can’t do that. God is way too great for that. We need to let His presence be a reality that we live with wherever we are. For, as Solomon said in the address of His prayer, earth and heaven cannot contain Him.

We come to the second part:

2. Israel’s God is involved.

So, the God of the covenant is great. But that greatness could also mean that people think He’s so mighty and glorious that He’s too far above this world to be involved with it and the people in it. How could we, finite people, come into contact with such a great and glorious God? He can seem so vague and distant and so other-worldly. Can there be a link between our small being and His great being? Do I have anything to do with God and does He have anything to do with me? Is God really involved with my little life here?

Well, the Bible is very clear about the existence of God. This God made heaven and earth and everything in them, everything that exists – visible and invisible. He is the origin of life, also your and my life. He is holy and exalted. But the Bible tells us that He has made contact with people here on earth. He spoke to Adam and Eve after the fall. He promised in love to work salvation for sinners who also seek Him. In the OT His love went out in particular to His covenant people Israel. He freed them from Israel and showed the whole world that He is mighty to save His people as he promised. And His wisdom, majesty and faithfulness became visible in Solomon’s kingship. He gave Solomon the task to build Him a house in Jerusalem, a beautiful temple. That temple was a wonderful link between God and His people Israel. In that temple, as that cloud that filled it at the dedication of the temple showed, heaven and earth came together. And then in particular in the most holy place where the ark stood with its mercy seat where the blood of atonement was sprinkled every time again. That God came among His people was something very, very special, in other words. God, as it were, took the risk that the people of Israel might think they could contain Him in that temple in order to try to manipulate Him. Nevertheless, He still promised at that time that that’s where He wanted to live among His people. That is where His Name would dwell, in that physical place here on earth.

And that’s also why Solomon said in His prayer that the people could ask Him whatever they needed to continue to live as His people. Listen again to what Solomon prayed, for instance, in verses 37 to 40: If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemy besieges them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house,  then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind,  that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.

Wonderful isn’t it? You could ask God to help you in any trouble. You could lay it before Him by praying in the direction of the temple. There was a link between God and His people centered on that temple in Jerusalem and on the work of atonement that went on in that temple. That's where heaven and earth came together. And that’s where God’s attention was focussed. Solomon prayed in verse 29 that His eyes would be open to that temple day and night. In other words, there, in the temple, the gate of heaven was open for the people 24-7, always. God would listen to His people in mercy and love.

But now there’s a problem, isn’t there? The temple no longer exists. All that happens on that mountain in Jerusalem today is conflict between Jews and Muslims. There’s a huge Muslim mosque instead of a temple today on that hill where God said His name would live forever. The OT temple project was a failure, we could say. Think of how the people in Jesus’ day went about with that temple yet. They had made God’s house a place of buying and selling, a house of merchandise as we read in John 2. A place to make profit from the worship of God. A place to manipulate God to their advantage. And God didn’t allow that to continue. Only a few decades later God sent the Romans to completely destroy that temple.   

But what about now? Is there no link between heaven and earth now that the temple is gone? Has God now drawn away from this earth and returned to heaven? No, thank the Lord we know the gospel of Jesus Christ! And Jesus spoke of His own body as temple. People tried to destroy that temple of Jesus’ body by nailing it to the cross. But they failed. After three days Jesus rose from the dead. And He ascended into heaven. Jesus Christ now lives and His body is a living temple with God. In Him, heaven and earth come together now. If we pray toward heaven in the name of Jesus, then God listens to us. And day and night God pays attention to what is asked for in Jesus’ name. He always hears our prayers today. He is great. And He’s also involved with our lives here. For Jesus always lives there in the temple of His body to intercede for us.

We’ll now touch on the last part of the sermon this morning. In this part we see that 

3. God is accessible.  

Congregation, we can pray to heaven in Jesus’ name and ask God for whatever we need to serve Him here. We’re connected to God on high through Jesus Christ. By His Spirit He connects us to Christ and via Christ then to Himself. In Solomon’s time in the OT the point of connection was the temple where God’s grace was played out on that altar in front of which Solomon prayed with uplifted hands. That’s where the point of connection was – via that altar where sacrifices were brought and where blood flowed. God was only accessible via that altar in that temple, when people prayed toward that beautiful temple in Jerusalem. And from Solomon’s prayer the people of Israel could know that if they prayed from the heart toward God’s dwelling place there, He would hear.

Today we don’t lift our hands to a physical temple on earth anymore, but we lift up our hearts on high, in heaven, where Jesus our advocate is at the right hand of God. He is our temple, our way to God’s ear and heart. And if God was willing to hear the prayers directed toward that temple of stone in the OT, how much more may we be that He will listen to our prayers directed to Him in the Name of Jesus, whose body was put to death and raised after three days for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. Through Him God is wonderfully accessible to us. Not to be manipulated, but to fill empty hands lifted up to Him.  

Do we make full use of that access to the God of grace and glory, congregation? In all the ups and downs of life? Do you enjoy prosperity? Well, do you then lift your heart to heaven and give your great and gracious God thanks for all He gives you to enjoy? Do you struggle with your sins and sinfulness? Well do you then dare to confess your sins to Him by name and plead for His forgiveness for Christ’s sake and for His Spirit to live a new life? Do you deal with sorrow or loneliness? Lift up your heart to heaven where Christ is and talk to God about it and ask for His help and comfort. Do you make daily use of God’s accessibility in your life? There is a link between heaven and earth, between you and God! That link is Jesus Christ. And God waits day and night, 24-7 for you to entrust yourself to Him, every time again. As James writes in James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

AMEN       

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jack Moesker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2010, Rev. Jack Moesker

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner