In today’s passage, as Solomon continues to pray for the newly constructed temple, we catch a glimpse of God’s heart for His church. Yesterday we learned that God wants His church to be a place of hope for the broken and hurting. In today’s passage we see four other ways God sees His church.
1 Kings 8:41-43 (NIV) 41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name– 42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
On verses 41-43: Here Solomon prays that foreigners who hear about God’s work among His people would pray to God toward the temple and find that this God is indeed real. He prays for this, hoping “that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you” (v43).
What can we learn from this? The church is to be a centre for evangelism. It’s where people who do not know God and who are far from Him can come into a saving relationship with Him. The church is meant to be a place where lost people can find hope, where they hear God’s good news in Jesus Christ.
1 Kings 8:44-45 (NIV) 44 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
On verses 44-45: Solomon prays that when God’s people go to war against their enemies, God will “uphold their cause” (v45) and make them victorious when they pray to Him toward the temple.
What can we learn from this? God’s vision for His church is that it be place where people can find strength to fight their battles. It’s a place of discipleship and equipping where people grow stronger, where they learn to gain victory over their enemy Satan, and where they are built up into strong soldiers in God’s army.
1 Kings 8:48-49 (NIV) 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
On verses 46-51: Notice that in these verses the word “captive” is repeated over and over (v46, 47, 48). Solomon prays that if the Israelites sin and are taken captive by their enemies, they can pray toward the temple and God will come to their rescue.
What can we learn from this? God’s church is to be a place where captives are set free. Whether it’s being held captive to worry, to depression, to hopelessness, to addiction, God wants His church to be a place where people find freedom from bondage.
1 Kings 8:52-53 (NIV) 52 “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt.”
On verses 52-53: From these verses I am reminded that God wants His church — His people — to realize how precious and special we are in His sight and that together we are a family God has handpicked for Himself. The reason God brought you out of darkness and into His light, the reason He forgave you and set you free, is because He loves you and chose You to be part of His family. That is our identity as God’s church.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me through Your Word today more of Your vision for Your church. You see Your church as a centre for evangelism that leads people to Jesus, as a centre for discipleship that builds up strong disciples, as a place where people find freedom from captivity and become servants of God, and as a spiritual family with a special identity in You. I pray that my church would be all of these things more and more: alive, expectant, involved, out loud and united. May we never lose sight of Your vision for Your church. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!