Friday, April 20, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 22, 2018

Over 158,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

WORSHIP IN HEAVEN
(The vision of the throne room)
(Revelation 4)

   The second coming of CHRIST JESUS, and those years immediately following, are more vividly detailed in the book of Revelation than in the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel writes of that period from the days of King Cyrus of Persia to the time of the first advent of CHRIST. Daniel writes only briefly of the great Tribulation period and CHRIST JESUS’ Millennial Kingdom rule here on earth.
    The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John, after he received a revealing vision from CHRIST, while he was still exiled and imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian circa A.D. 95-96. After a few challenges from the early Church leaders and thinkers, the book of Revelation was widely accepted as being divinely inspired. And by the end of the third century, the book of Revelation was being widely quoted as Scripture.
    The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal those events which will take place before, during, and after the second coming of CHRIST JESUS. Revelation chapter 4 has come to be known as “The Vision of Heaven’s Throne Room” by most scholars. However, there are three basic interpretations of this particular chapter, and that is also true about most of this fascinating eschatological account by the Apostle John.
    The way a person views the book of Revelation, at least in regards the “second coming”, actually determines what group of bible enthusiasts you or I might fall into. Most people are “premilennialists” in their thinking, because they believe that these events in the book of Revelation will occur shortly “before” the second coming of CHRIST. They believe that John’s call in verse 1 to “come up here” is a representation of “The Rapture” of GOD’s people into the air before the great Tribulation period begins.
    “Amillennialists” believe the events in the book of Revelation are things that are occurring right now and are “a call to worship” or get things right with GOD before it is too late. They see the 24 elders in this chapter as representing the Old Testament “Twelve tribes of Israel” and “The twelve apostles” of the New Testament.
    The third group of scholars, the “postmillennialists”, believes that most of the events in the book of Revelation will occur, after the second coming of Christ. It is by far the least popular of all scholarly interpreters of the bible. However, no matter what group you may fall in, all agree that chapter 4 focuses on “praising and worshiping the Almighty GOD in Heaven.
    While many interpretations have been provided by various bible scholars, the only views that provide a cogent understanding are those which consider the book of Revelation, beginning here in chapter 4, as referring to eschatological (future) events. Any other train of thought gets lost in a mishmash of conflicting opinions.
    In the spectacular vision that is seen by the Apostle John, while he was “in the SPIRIT”, he tells us that, after being called up by a voice from Heaven’s Door, he is shown a vision of GOD HIMSELF, in all HIS brilliance, sitting on HIS throne, and being surrounded by 24 elders who are seated on 24 thrones of their own. All of the elders where clothed in white garments and wore gold crowns on their heads. And from the throne of GOD came flashes of lightning, and the rumble of thunder.
    In front of GOD’s throne were seven lampstands with flames burning in them. These lampstands represent the seven SPIRITS of GOD, and symbolize the perfection of the HOLY SPIRIT. Also in front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass sparkling like crystal.
    In the center, and around the throne, were four living beings, the body of each was covered with eyes front and back. These four living beings are reminiscent of the ones seen by the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 1:5-10), and most likely represent or symbolize various aspects of divine majesty.
    The first of these four living beings had the shape of a “lion” and could perhaps symbolize “nobility”. The ox figure probably represents “strength”, or even “faithfulness”. The third creature, the “human face”, could symbolize “wisdom”, while the fourth creature, the “eagle” probably symbolizes, or represents “control”.
    There is, however, another popular view among scholars concerning the four living beings here in this chapter of Revelations. Some believe they represent JESUS CHRIST in the four gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, perhaps “the lion” symbolizes JESUS as “the lion of the tribe of Judah”; in Mark’s Gospel, “the Ox” symbolizes JESUS as “the servant of GOD”; in Luke’s Gospel, JESUS is portrayed as “the 100% human being” who, through the way HE lived HIS life here on earth, and overcame it, qualified HIMSELF to be a “perfect sacrifice” for the sins of all mankind; and finally, in the Gospel of John, JESUS is symbolized by “the eagle” as the only divine begotten SON of GOD, or, “Monogenus Theos” in the Greek, which means “The only begotten GOD”, the only man that was born of woman, and then became GOD.
    In the final analysis, we can certainly all agree that the worship of all who were present was bestowed by them upon the only wise, sovereign GOD, the CREATOR of the whole universe. It is only through GOD’s Will and purpose that all things exist, and only HE can make “something” “from nothing”.
    The great truth is that, in every sense, everything in the world belongs to, and was made by, GOD. And everyone here in this divine glimpse of the future by the Apostle John, submitted themselves totally unto the LORD Almighty. Isn’t that the way it all began? And now we see here in Revelation 4, that, this is the way, it will all end. And even now, there can be no Christianity, unless there be total submission to GOD, in life, in worship, and, in prayer.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




    


   
     

Friday, April 13, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 15, 2018

Over 157,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FOLLOW JESUS
(We are called to be shepherds)
(John 21:15-25)

   In John 18:27, Peter denied JESUS for the third and final time. It was H.G. Welles who said, “A man can be a bad musician, and yet, be passionately in love with music”. And so, for whatever Peter did, and no matter how terrible his failure was, there was never truly any doubt that he was passionately devoted to JESUS. He may have been overconfident at times, as he was when he told JESUS that he would never deny HIM. However, sometimes when a man says, “That’s the one thing I will never do”, then, that’s the very thing that he needs to carefully guard against doing.
    Satan often attacks a person at a point where they seem most sure of themselves, because he knows that it is there, where they are most likely to be unprepared. The shame of failure and disloyalty may not always have to be chalked up as a total lost, because, often it can serve us, with a lesson in sympathy and understanding, that, otherwise, we may have never came to know.
    Do you love ME?” is what JESUS asked Peter, three times, here in John 21, and I guess, the only way that we can ever prove our love for JESUS is by loving others. Love is the greatest privilege in the world, yet, it brings with it, the greatest responsibility. And for Peter, it brought a cross (Vs.18-19), and he did die for the LORD, because he too, eventually died on a cross, and according to Jewish tradition, he requested to be nailed “upside down”, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as CHRIST (right side up).
    JESUS sought to teach Peter and the other disciples, and us, here in the 21st century, that, “love” always involves “responsibility” and it always involves a “sacrifice”. In fact, we don’t really love JESUS, unless we are willing to take on HIS task (HIS “Great Commission”), and, take up our own cross (repent and take responsibility for our own sin).
    After disclosing to Peter by which manner of death he would glorify the LORD, Peter turned and looked at the Apostle John and asked JESUS, “What about him?” JESUS then replied to Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow ME”. And so, because the people misunderstood what JESUS meant by that statement, they started a rumor that the Apostle John would not die.
    As Christians, it is very important that we focus on where JESUS is trying to lead us, and not on where HE’s attempting to lead someone else. The Christian Church is not a place of hierarchy where rulers tell other people in the church what GOD’s plan is for them. The Church, however, is an organism, where each member is connected into a personal relationship with CHRIST, and we are each required to love and follow HIM, all of the remaining days of our lives here on earth.                                                                                              
    We may never be able to write, or think, like the Apostle John, and in fact, we may never even be able to travel to the ends of the earth and preach like Paul. But here’s where we can all follow in the footsteps of Peter. If we love JESUS, each of us can help someone else guard against going astray. And if we love JESUS, each of us can love one another. And finally, if we love JESUS, each of us has an open opportunity to feed JESUS’ sheep, with the loving and nourishing food, of the “Word of GOD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




     









Friday, April 6, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 8, 2018

Over 156,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE RISEN LORD APPEARS
(JESUS appears to seven of HIS disciples)
(John 21:1-14)

   In the epilogue to the gospel account of the Apostle John, he seeks to show us how JESUS re-instated Peter, following his latest bout with failure, namely, his blatant denial of even knowing our LORD and SAVIOR, during HIS “passion” hours in Jerusalem. JESUS had already promised to meet with HIS disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:7), and so, here in the opening lines of this final chapter, John invites us into this reunion scene at the Sea of Galilee, otherwise known as the Sea of Tiberias.
    Here in John 21, we find that Peter had led many of the disciples back into the fishing trade from which JESUS had called them some three years earlier. However, their lack of success in their old profession stands as evidence as to why we should not try and return to a place where the LORD has already removed us from. JESUS moves us so that HE can better use us for HIS purpose, and HE doesn’t expect us to keep looking back at the old places.
    When JESUS calls us, not only does that often call for a change of occupation, it also always calls for us to change our ways and our thinking completely, so that we will no longer feel any real satisfaction in the old lifestyle. Peter must have, no doubt, been feeling pretty low about his denial of CHRIST JESUS, and was desperately seeking to find acceptance back in his old fishing career. We should never allow our sin to drive us away from the LORD, but rather, one should let their sins stand as proof that we cannot live life correctly, apart from the LORD.
    After Peter and the other disciples had been out all night fishing without catching a single fish, JESUS instructs them to cast their nets on the “right side” of the boat (v.6), where they would catch plenty of fish. The disciples were obedient to that suggestion by the LORD, and as a result, they were overwhelmed with success.
    This incident prompted the men to recognize that the LORD was still with them. HE had given them a commission to obey, and their old style of fishing was not going to work for them anymore. They were to now lay down their old nets that were used to catch fish for physical food, and pick up their new “spiritual nets”, and become “fishers of men”.
    JESUS had shown them during HIS three-year ministry, how to fish from the “right side” of the boat, and now, it was time for them to implement those teachings, and the whole world would serve as their new fishing waters, where their harvest would be exceedingly great. Then in verse 7 the Apostle John recognizes that the man shouting to them from the beach was actually JESUS, and he said to Peter, “It is the LORD!”
    When Peter saw that it really was the LORD, he hurriedly put on his tunic (for he had stripped himself for work), jumped into the water and swam to the shore. The other disciples stayed in the boat and pulled their heavy catch to the shore, which was only about 300 feet away. When they arrived at the shore they saw that JESUS already had a fire going which fish frying over it. HE also had plenty of bread.
    JESUS instructed Peter and the men to bring over some of the fish that they had caught and Peter ran and grabbed the net and dragged it over. Inside the net there were 153 large fish yet it did not break apart. JESUS invited them to come and have breakfast with HIM and no one dared to ask HIM if HE was really the LORD, for in their heart they knew that HE was. This was the third time that JESUS had appeared to them following HIS crucifixion on the cross at Golgotha.
    This 21st chapter of the Gospel of John was added to clearly demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. The appearance of CHRIST to HIS apostles was not just a figment of their imagination, nor was it a ghost or spirit, but rather, it was a real person in human flesh that they gazed upon several times after HE had died on the cross and been raised from the dead by GOD the FATHER.
     As a real human being, JESUS, in this chapter, instructs HIS faithful how to catch fish, after an unsuccessful night on the waters of Galilee. It was a resurrected CHRIST who set the fire on the shore, cooked, and invited them to come and eat with HIM early that following morning. It was a risen CHRIST who still bore the scars of HIS crucifixion, who, showed them HIS wounds, and then, invited them to feel them for themselves. Yes! It was really a resurrected JESUS who had not only overcome the gravitational pull of satan in this world, but had also conquered death, and then, come back into the world, to prove what HE had done. And HE is still alive today to show us in this 21st century, that we too, if we follow HIS instructions, can do the same thing, here in our lifetime.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




     
   






Friday, March 30, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 1, 2018

Over 156,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

HE HAS RISEN!
(The evidence of the Resurrection)
(Luke 24:1-34)

   Unlike the other three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke’s Gospel account of the life and Resurrection of CHRIST JESUS is related to us in the light of Old Testament teachings about the MESSIAH, and, in JESUS’ own view of HIS 33-year mission here on earth. Also unique to Luke’s Gospel, is the fact that he ends it, not with the Resurrection, but rather, with the ascension of CHRIST JESUS back into Heaven.
    People often think of JESUS and Christianity merely as something or someone to be studied, and in a large sense, that is true, and necessary. However, in a greater sense, JESUS and Christianity are not only someone and something to be studied, but also must be met and experienced in everyday life. JESUS is not just a character in a book, albeit the book, which is “the Bible”, is the greatest book ever written. JESUS CHRIST, WHO is the origin of Christianity, is also a living, eternal presence in the world.
    The Jews observe Saturday as the Sabbath because it is the last day of the week, and Scripture tells us that the seventh day is the day that GOD rested from all HIS labor of creating the Heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). Church-age Christians, however, observe Sunday, because it is the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and the day that Scripture says that it was discovered that JESUS had been raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-2).
    It is at the very heart of Christianity that we find the Resurrection of CHRIST JESUS. If you remove this concept from it, Christianity becomes literally null and void. The fact of the Resurrection of CHRIST, affirms to all Christians that HE is truly the SON of the LIVING GOD. It also proves that JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha was accepted by GOD the FATHER on behalf of all people who believe on HIM, past, present, and future, as payment for our sins.
    We as Christians must continue to preach about the Resurrection of CHRIST, because, as humans with sin nature, we continue to voluntarily and involuntarily suppress the truth about a Holy GOD in Heaven, and HIS Word. We must often be prompted to “remember” (Vs.1-8), “trust” (Vs.36-40), “understand” (Vs.44-46), and then, we must “follow through” (Vs.47-53) on what we say we now believe. And that is exactly the message that is being conveyed here by Luke in the final chapter of his Gospel account.
    Taking up at verse 1 we see that, early one Sunday morning, a group of women that had been following and rendering aid to JESUS and HIS disciples during their travels of preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons throughout Palestine, return to the tomb where they had seen JESUS’ body interned three days earlier. However, when they arrived they found that the stone, that had once covered the entrance to HIS tomb, had been rolled away, leaving it open.
    Puzzled by what they saw, the women then entered the tomb, and much to their surprise, the body of JESUS was no longer there. Suddenly two men (angels) appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were somewhat frightened by the figures, and they fell down and bowed low before them. The men then asked, “Why are you looking in the tomb for someone who is alive? HE isn’t here! HE has risen from the dead!”
    After being reminded of what JESUS had told them about being betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and then, being crucified, HE would rise from the dead on the third day, they ran into the city and told the apostles what had happened. At first, the apostles all thought it sounded like nonsense, but then Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. After reaching the tomb Peter looked inside and saw only linen wrappings. Not knowing what to think (he apparently hadn’t taken to heart what JESUS had told them concerning HIS resurrection), he walked slowly back to the city, pondering about what he had just seen.
    When GOD gave people wills that are free, HE undoubtedly gave us the greatest, and, perhaps, the most perilous gift, the world has ever known. With freewill, a person can choose to either invite CHRIST into his or her life, or, they can choose to allow Christ to pass them by.
    In Luke chapter 24, verses 13-34, he writes of the seven-mile walk, of two of JESUS’ followers, from Jerusalem to Emmaus, just hours after JESUS’ Resurrection victory over death and satan had been realized. Here, Luke gives his unique and, now famous account, of the story of Cleopus and an unnamed follower of JESUS, who were walking along the road to Emmaus, a town just west of Jerusalem. As they walked along, they were discussing all of the events surrounding JESUS’ arrest, trials, Crucifixion, death, and now, reported Resurrection, that had all occurred over that historic weekend in Jerusalem.
    Suddenly, JESUS appeared and began walking along with them. Here Luke tells us that GOD kept the men from recognizing who JESUS was. Knowing that the two were discussing HIM, JESUS asks the men, “What are you so concerned about?” They looked at JESUS with sadness in their face, and one of them, Cleopus replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem, who has not heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days”.
    When JESUS replied, “What things?”, the men went on to tell HIM about all the events that had taken place in the previous three days. JESUS then says to them, “You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the Prophets wrote in Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the Prophets that the MESSIAH would have to suffer all these things before entering HIS time of glory?” JESUS then began to quote Scriptures explaining those writings of Moses and all the Prophets, that where pertaining directly to HIMSELF.
    As they neared the end of their journey, the men begged JESUS to stay and have a meal with them, and perhaps, stay the night, because it was almost dark and too late to travel back to Jerusalem. JESUS accepted their invitation, and as they sat down to eat, HE took a small loaf of bread, asked GOD’s blessing on it, broke it, and then gave it to the two men.
    Suddenly, their eyes were opened (spiritually), and GOD allowed them to recognize who JESUS was, and, at that same moment, JESUS disappeared. Within the hour, the men were on their way back to Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was now dark.
    The word “Emmaus”, means “despised people”, and Jerusalem means, “possessor of peace”. These two men, even though they were followers of JESUS, didn’t really know JESUS until that day, during their walk along the Emmaus road. Once their spiritual eyes were open to JESUS, HE allowed them to see their way through the darkness back to Jerusalem. In fact, that very night they went from the place of “despised people” (believers in CHRIST), to being “possessors of peace” (true followers of CHRIST), if you get my drift.
    By the time JESUS was killed, HE had become a “despised person” in Jerusalem. He was despised by the Jewish leaders, and most of the Jewish populace. After HIS “passion week” (suffering in Jerusalem), HE once again fulfilled HIS role as the “possessor of peace”, as HE prepared to ascend back into HIS glorious place of eminence in Heaven.
    JESUS always knew that HIS only way back to glory was through the “cross”, and so it is with those of us, who follow HIM. With “open eyes”, JESUS accepted the circumstances of the cross, so that whosoever believes in HIM, would not perish, but rather, would be able to possess the peace of “Eternal Life” in the presence of the almighty “GOD the FATHER” in Heaven.
    In verse 25, as expressed in the original Greek, the word Luke uses for “fools” is “anoetos” (an-o-ay-tos). It is used only six times in New Testament Scripture. Five of those times it is used in reference to those who are believers, not unbelievers. Unlike the use of the word “fool” in the Old Testament, which is used to describe a person whose problems are moral, this word describes an individual who sees things from a distorted perspective. It describes “one who has “not fully adopted” the “Divine Viewpoint” of CHRIST.
    It is imperative that, we as Christians, not only be believers in JESUS, but also, get to know JESUS on a personal level. In doing so, we can develop a “Divine Viewpoint”, through that personal, experiential relationship. It is not enough, just to have correct information, but we must also be able to discern and use that information correctly. And when we are able to discern it correctly, it is our Christian duty to then, share it with others. In other words we must first begin to share the mind of CHRIST (the Divine Viewpoint), and then, share that idealism with others. And always remember, the Christian message is never fully ours, until we have shared it with someone else.

 A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




  
   


Friday, March 23, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 25, 2018

Over 155,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

KEEPING GOD’S STATUTES AND ORDINANCES
(The LORD’s response to Solomon)
(2 Chronicles 7:11-22)

   In 2 Chronicles 7, verses 11-22, after King Solomon had ended the dedication ceremonies for the new Temple of the LORD, which he had built at Jerusalem, the LORD appeared to him one night to confirm to him that HE had heard his prayers, and had indeed chosen the Temple as the place where sacrifices to HIM would be accepted. However, the LORD told Solomon that, from time to time there would be tests of their faith and obedience, through droughts, pestilence, famine, or plagues, that will help to keep them humble and committed to serving HIM (Vs.11-13).
    As always, with GOD, HIS blessings become effective only if we, who are obedient and committed to doing HIS Will, are consistent in our loyalty and behavior towards HIM. And so, staying true to HIS ways, the now famous, verse of Scripture, 2 Chronicles 7:14, is told to King Solomon by the Almighty GOD of Heaven and earth. There HE states; “Then if MY people who call themselves by MY name will humble themselves and pray and seek MY face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land”.
    This prescription for answered prayer that is presented here in this passage, and indeed, throughout Scripture, is a concept that permeates the Christian Faith. First, the supplicant, or, the person who is praying, must be willing to commit themselves to the Will of GOD at all times, and must not be ashamed to “call themselves by HIS name” (Christian), or, be willing to publically confess their faith and belief in HIM to others. We must confess our need for GOD, even before we can repent of our wrongs before GOD.
    Secondly, we must “humble ourselves”, pray and seek GOD wholeheartedly, and actually be willing to “turn from our wicked ways”, which is what humbling ourselves really means. We have to totally abandon the hope we have in ourselves and begin to totally rely on GOD, just as an infant, or young child, relies on his or her parents for survival.
    In all actuality, these conditions that we must follow as Christians are not so much to be viewed as conditions that GOD requires, as they are a description of the person who is most likely to pray in the first place. Only a person with the faith and desire to have a personal, experiential relationship with GOD will actually turn to GOD in those moments when we need supernatural help that seems to be beyond our own human capacity.
    As GOD tells King Solomon in this passage, and as HE told his father David before him, HIS promises are “conditional”, and they always hinge upon our willingness to be obedient to HIM. Whenever we decide to become disobedient and begin to seek our own ways, we automatically put ourselves on a track, moving in the opposite direction from GOD (toward evil). If, over time, we continue to move farther and farther away from GOD, eventually, the gap between us and GOD will become so wide, that GOD will become like this obscure figure in our lives, whom we once knew.
    In other words, the farther we move away from GOD, the smaller GOD will appear to be to us in our lives. We will begin to render HIS influence less significant, and some of us will even choose to avoid GOD altogether, opening up opportunities for the devil to wreck all kinds of havoc in our lives.
    GOD doesn’t force HIMSELF into our lives, HE has to be invited in. And although HE may knock often, HE won’t break the door down and force HIMSLF into our lives. Surely GOD has to choose us, but HE still gives us “wills that are free” where we can either accept or reject HIS invitation at any time, while we yet live.
    Although GOD’s covenant promise with David did have certain conditions, there was, however, no chance that the covenant itself would ever be discontinued due to the lifestyle choices of his descendants. Solomon, and all of the Davidic kings who followed him, would have an opportunity to enjoy the blessing of that covenant, but only if they were, and continued to be, obedient to GOD in their perspective lifetimes. It was incumbent upon each king to personally choose to do the right things toward GOD.
    The Davidic covenant itself is a permanent one, and it transcends generational lifestyles and choices of obedience or disobedience. The promise is that King David will always have a descendant on the throne of Israel, however, how things went for the respective descendants to the throne in each generation, was up to that individual king himself. They were always free, at any time, to choose who they wished to serve. If they abandoned the GOD of their ancestor David, they would wreak disasters upon themselves, however, if they remained obedient to GOD, they would reign in peace and security throughout their lifetime, but the Davidic covenant promise itself would continue, uninterrupted, for all time.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




  

Friday, March 16, 2018


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 18, 2018

Over 154,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GIVING THANKS TO GOD
(Responding to GOD with thanksgiving and sacrifice)
(2 Chronicles 7:1-10)

   In 2 Chronicles 7, verses 1-10 GOD responds to Solomon’s prayer with a supernatural fiery exhibition that consumed all of the sacrifices (142,000 peace offerings) that the king himself had to offer, and, the unspecified amount that the people of Israel had offered up on the altar and in the pre-dedicated space (v.7) in the courtyard of the temple of the LORD (v.4). This distinctive act of GOD symbolized HIS acceptance of Solomon’s prayer for Israel.
    Then the glorious theophanic presence of the LORD HIMSELF filled the temple, preventing even the priests from entering into it (v.2). And when all of people saw the fire coming down from Heaven, and the glorious presence of the LORD filling the temple, they all fell face-down on the ground worshiping and praising the LORD, saying, “HE is good! HIS faithful love endures forever!” (v.3)
    After the sacrificial offerings were made, all of the priests and the Levites took their assigned positions. They took the musical instruments that King David had made specifically for worship, and played and sang to the LORD, these words, “HIS faithful love endures forever”.
    For the next fourteen days Israel celebrated the “Festival of Shelters”, or, “Feast of Tabernacles” (7 days) with the inauguration and dedication of the opening of the temple of the LORD (7 days). Solomon had timed it that way to take advantage of the massive crowds of people that would be in Jerusalem at that time. People came from as far north as Hamath, or, Lebo-hamath, Israel’s northernmost border towards the Euphrates River, and from as far south as the Wadi Valley of Egypt.
    The Feast of Tabernacles traditionally began on the fifth day after the “Day of Atonement”, and all Israelite adult males were required to attend. It opened up with a sacred assembly on the first day, and all regular work ceased on that day. And the same was done on the special day of closing (the eighth day).  On each of the seven days during the Festival, offerings by fire were presented to the LORD.
    The Feast of the Tabernacles became known as the Feast of Shelters, because all native-born Israelites had to live in tents for the duration of this seven-day period. Through this GOD-appointed festival the people of each generation would be reminded of the time when Israel had to live in tents after GOD rescued them from slavery, out of the land of Egypt.
    The portion of the sacrifices, that were set aside to be eaten by the people, provided them with nourishment throughout the duration of the festival. In that way, GOD was literally viewed as the “Host”, and the eating of this food placed the worshipers under HIS protection and dependence.
    On the eighth day after the Festival of Shelters began, the people held the traditional closing ceremony and then Solomon sent the people home. They were all filled with joy and happiness because the LORD had been very good to David and Solomon and, to them as a nation. In all, the festivities lasted for fifteen days. It had begun in the seventh month (2 Chronicles 5:3), and probably on the fifteenth day of the month (Leviticus 23:39).
     These GOD-appointed festivals and gatherings, such as the “Festival of Shelters” (Feast of the Tabernacles), “Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread”, “Festival of First fruits”, “Festival of Harvest” (Feast of Weeks), “Festival of Trumpets” (Rosh Hashanah), and the “Day of Atonement” (Yum Kippur), are not just for the Jews, but rather they are for all “GOD’s people” to share in worship, and, in praise. They are meant to help us to focus on “our commonalities under GOD”, rather than on “our self-created differences”. Our aspirations as professed Christians should be to “unite as one under GOD”, and not, as one under our own various “so-called” “Christian denominations, which are all, by the way, a product of our own minds, not GOD’s.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander