David wanted to constructed the temple of God in Jerusalem. God told him that He did not want David to do this, but that David should make preparations for his son, Solomon, to build the temple instead. Solomon build the temple according to the command of God. The temple was a larger and more permanent structure built on the pattern of the portable tabernacle/tent that Moses built in the wilderness.

Will God Dwell on Earth

Once Solomon completed the construction he asked a very important question:

But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? (2 Chronicles 6:18)

Solomon knew that God wouldn’t be contained inside of a building. How could the God who made the heavens and earth inhabit a man-made temple? But two things happened.

First, we see in 2 Chronicles 7:1 that “the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” This is amazing in and of itself. God, who’s glory fills heaven itself, chose to manifest His glory in a man-made temple. This shows that it really is God’s desire that this is His people and He will be their God.

Second, the answer to Solomon’s question is indeed, yes! Jesus did exactly what Solomon thought was impossible. God, through the incarnation of Jesus, came to actually dwell among His people on earth. In the Gospel of John it says that Jesus dwelt among the people. Literally it says that He “tabernacled” among the people. He pitched His tent among them. Jesus is the temple of God among the people of God.

Blessing, Curse, Grace

Solomon’s prayer echoes the third part of the covenant of God with Israel. Remember, God promised blessing for obedience, curse for disobedience and forgiveness for repentance. Solomon seems to understand this pattern. He understands that the people will turn from the Lord, as they have done in the past, that the Lord will discipline them, the people will again turn to the Lord in repentance, and the Lord will turn to them in forgiveness.

2 Chronicles 6:24–25
If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers.

The Foreigner’s Prayer

This is the whole purpose of Israel. God is not merely saving a specific people for Himself for their good. He is creating a people that will bear His name among the nations. The reason Israel must be holy isn’t so that God will see how good they are, but so that the nations will see how holy God is. This is the purpose of God’s people in all times and places. We are to reflect something of the character of God among the neighborhoods, communities and nations where we live. Our desire is that the people who are far from God will see God’s great name among us and come to worship Him as well. What a glorious reality that there is no one on earth who is not invited to come and worship! There is no one, who will repent and believe in the name of the Lord, who will be turned away from worship.

Repentance in Captivity

In verses 36-39 Solomon prays for the people whom God has sent into exile and captivity because of their sin. This has not yet happened. In just two weeks we will see the people of Israel carried off into captivity because of their sin. This prayer of repentance, in time, will become their prayer. In a matter of a few generations the Lord will answer their prayer and restore the people to the land.