WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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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