“‘As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.’” (2 Chronicles 7:17-18)
I have always enjoyed exploring the Old Testament (OT). Sitting in on the College’s ‘Encountering the Old Testament’ module has refreshed and reinforced that love. I fear that apart from a handful of select stories, beloved of Sunday Schools, many believers seem to view the OT as outmoded, violent, obscure and essentially irrelevant. They may view it as only of interest to academics and historians. Yet I am constantly astonished at how contemporary and relevant and prescient the texts are.
This last week we have explored the significance of the Temple. 2 Chronicles outlines the interactions between Solomon and the Lord around the building and dedication of the Temple. To put it simply: God sets one basic condition (“walk before me…and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws”) that will have three benefits – stability on the throne, security for Jerusalem, and the God’s presence in the Temple. As the OT timeline unfolds, kings and commoners alike ‘forget’ the Lord their God. The inevitable result across the centuries is a temple without glory, a city without walls, and a throne without a king.
‘Encountering the Old Testament’ lets us see that this is not simply a cautionary history lesson of no relevance to us. It is actually a message that describes and charts our own experience of God. If we ‘forget’ the Lord, if we do not ‘walk’ before Him, if we fail to ‘do all’ He commands, if we fail to ‘observe’ His decrees and laws, then the same consequences follow. A temple without glory? Our lives are emptied of God’s glory and power. A city without walls? We are left defenseless against every assault of chance and circumstance. A throne without a king? We become separated from the One who loves us and leads us.