In 2 Chronicles 7:12 we read, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.” The Lord appeared to Solomon at night after he had completed the building of the temple and the building of his own house and spoke this truth to him. Solomon had prayed to the Lord at the dedication of the temple and had asked the Lord to bless the house he had built and to be with him and the people. We have Solomon’s prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42. The Lord answered his prayer that day with fire from heaven and the cloud of His glory filling the temple. I read 2 Chronicles 7:1-2 and in my mind I picture that day when fire came from heaven as a response to the prayers of Solomon. I see in my mind the cloud of the glory of the Lord filling the temple and His glory being so present and real that the priest could not even enter the temple. I imagine that day and that moment and I think, God, would you do that today? If Your people who are called by Your name really humbled themselves and came together without division and lifted up our sanctified hearts with one voice to praise and glorify You, would You send fire from heaven and the cloud of Your glory?
It would be thirteen years later before the Lord would specifically respond to Solomon’s requests in prayer with the words recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:12-22. As I studied this week in 2 Chronicles and have turned over the prayer of Solomon and the Lord’s answer to him over and over in my heart, the words of the Lord in chapter seven verse twelve resonated within me. God responded to Solomon and said I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. God heard and God chose. God then called the place a house of sacrifice. He didn’t call it a house of joy, a house of praise, a house of celebration, or a house of meditation. He called it a house of sacrifice.
This house was to represent a people who had turned away from the ways of the other nations and their gods. It was to be for a people who had turned from their own will and their own desires and chosen to walk in obedience to the Lord no matter the cost. It would be here in this place that the One True Living God would humble Himself to be in the presence of sinful man and forgive their sin and be there God. He would call them His own and make them a priesthood to the nations so that all the world might know His name. He would dwell among them in the cloud of His glory… that is, IF they remained faithful to Him.
This is what made the Lord different from all the other gods of the nations. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was more interested in the obedience of His people than the sacrifices they brought to Him.
Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22)
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:11-17)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:10-17)
The house of the Lord was to be a house of sacrifice for a heart of obedience. Samuel knew this. Isaiah preached the reminder of this to a stubborn and rebellious people who had forgotten this. King Saul and King David learned this the hard way. Saul lost his kingdom and his mind, but David repented and turned his heart back to His God and was forgiven, healed, and restored.
The house that Solomon built for the Lord was later destroyed by Babylonians. Then another house was built, Herod’s temple, but it too was destroyed by Rome. Yet, God had not forgotten His people. A house built by man for God could be destroyed by man, but a house built by God for God… no man could ever destroy.
For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Hebrews 3:4-6)
As God taught those who called on His name that He required a heart of obedience over multiplying sacrifices and as He allowed houses of man to be destroyed and His people scattered among the nations He illustrated that He was not bound by a house or a land but that He was present in the obedience of the hearts of His people. He clearly showed us this as He worked in the life of Daniel, in the life of Ezekiel, in the life of Esther and countless more.
Then one day many years later a man named Jesus would meet a woman at a well and she would ask,“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” (John 4: 19-20) Jesus would then answer her with, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) Beloved of God, the Lord’s place of worship is a house of sacrifice for a heart of obedience and you are to be that place for His house.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Here is the thing about the God we serve. We do not serve a God who makes requests of us that He Himself is not willing to make. God’s One and Only Son would teach us what it looked like to be a house of sacrifice for a heart of obedience…
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Our bodies are to be a house of sacrifice. Our lives laid down on the altar as an offering that is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of our God. The church is to be a house of sacrifice. A house where the sacrifice of praise is lifted up to a God who is worthy of nothing less than our complete surrender to His will, no matter the cost. Our body is to become a house of sacrifice for a heart of obedience.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:16-17)
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…” (John 14-15)
Here is the promise that the willing sacrifice of Christ made available to those who will believe. When we surrender our bodies, our lives, our hearts, our will to the One who surrendered His for us… He promises that He will never leave us and never forsake us and that cloud of glory that filled Solomon’s temple as the initial answer to His prayer fills our house as we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). Though our outer man might decay or be destroyed our lives remain… because we are more than flesh and bone. We are alive in Christ. Our worship is in spirit and truth and a new body, immortal and indestructible, awaits us.