Saturday, May 21, 2016

Touching the House of God

This morning, I read the sections in 1 Kings 3-6 and 2 Chronicles 2-3 about the temple Solomon built. As I read, I pondered the appearance of cedar walls and cypress floors. A few verses later, I was reminded that, though Solomon imported cedar and cypress for walls and floors, the boards were not left bare. They were carved with images of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, then overlaid with gold. As I read it, all the floors and walls were covered with gold.

I hate to admit this, because I do plan to spend eternity with God in heaven, but, for the tiniest of moments, I wondered if that looked a little gaudy. Of course it didn't, because, instantly, I was reminded of those heavenly streets paved with gold. Heaven is a breathtakingly beautiful place, and Solomon's temple was, too.

You know it was, because God dwelt there. Of course, He's everywhere, but His Spirit filled that temple, and the Presence must have been overwhelming

You probably remember that Solomon's temple was destroyed. The second temple (really the third temple, but we call it the second temple) was built by Herod. It, too, has been destroyed, but the Western Wall remains today, as does the Western Wall tunnel. It's the closest we can get to what was once the Holy of Holies.  

As I read about the temple this morning, I realized I have touched the literal stones of Herod's literal temple with my very own hands. 

I have touched the back wall of the Holy of Holies. 

I have touched the house of God.

That fact astounds me. 

I went to Israel for one main reason. (There were many other reasons, of course, but this is the one that made up my mind for me.) 

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed the biggest prayer he could pray, and he included me in it.

"Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Thy people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Thy great name's sake and Thy mighty hand and Thine outstretched arm, when the come and pray toward this house, then hear Thou from heaven, from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name." 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 nasb

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I certainly don't believe that God hears my prayers any less because I pray in Mississippi instead of in Israel, nor that touching an old stone would guarantee an answer to my prayer. 

I saw those verses, realized I was the foreigner who could come from a far country. I was the one who could pray in that place. Those words rang in my heart and I felt God might use my trip, and my time of prayer, to do something special. 

And He did. 

He did a profound work in my heart. He hasn't answered all the prayers I prayed at the Western Wall Tunnel. Yet. But I still believe He will.

I believe that, because I believe God answers all prayers. Yes. No. Later. I believe He hears our prayers and answers them. One way or another. I believe He will respond to the prayers I've prayed this morning and the ones I prayed as I laid, face-down, on the stones of the Western Wall Tunnel three years ago. 

"O Thou who dost hear prayer, to Thee all men come." Psalm 65:2 nasb

God responded to that big prayer Solomon prayed, and it's one of the verses I depend upon. Especially in these tumultuous times.

"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb

When we pray, God hears us. When He hears us, He responds. Regardless of the "size" of our need, our burden, our hurt, or our guilt, we can take it to our God and know that He can handle it. He will help us. He will carry us through. 

Today, let's take all the burdens in our heart to our Heavenly Father and leave them with Him. 

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:6-7 nasb

This is the Western Wall, the most sacred site in Judaism and in Christianity. You can see that the area is divided into two sections. Men pray in the area to the left and women pray in the section to the right. Many people write prayers on slips of paper and slip them between the stones. More than a million prayers are left there each year.

Western Wall tunnel stones.
Women sit in the tunnel throughout the day as they read the Psalms and pray.

If you're interested in a "virtual tour" of the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnel, here are a couple of links you can follow:
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Shepherd's Shepherd 
If you're following the Hosea study, the link for Chapter Four will be available later today. 
#prayer #Israel #temple #westernwall