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First Reading: 2 Chronicles Chapter 7 and 8
2 Chronicles 7
7:1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed
the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the
temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory
of the LORD filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and
the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their
faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
"He is good; his love endures forever."
4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. 5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God. 6 The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the LORD's musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the LORD and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, "His love endures forever." Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing.
7 Solomon consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions.
8 So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him-a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. 9 On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. 10 On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the LORD had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said:
"I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 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.' 19 "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' 22 People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them-that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'"
2 Chronicles 8
8:1 At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built the temple of the
LORD and his own palace, 2 Solomon rebuilt the villages that Hiram had given
him, and settled Israelites in them. 3 Solomon then went to Hamath Zobah and
captured it. 4 He also built up Tadmor in the desert and all the store cities
he had built in Hamath. 5 He rebuilt Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon as
fortified cities, with walls and with gates and bars, 6 as well as Baalath and
all his store cities, and all the cities for his chariots and for his horses-whatever
he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory
7 All the people left from the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites), 8 that is, their descendants remaining in the land, whom the Israelites had not destroyed-these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force, as it is to this day. 9 But Solomon did not make slaves of the Israelites for his work; they were his fighting men, commanders of his captains, and commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 10 They were also King Solomon's chief officials-two hundred and fifty officials supervising the men.
11 Solomon brought Pharaoh's daughter up from the City of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, "My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the LORD has entered are holy."
12 On the altar of the LORD that he had built in front of the portico, Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings to the LORD, 13 according to the daily requirement for offerings commanded by Moses for Sabbaths, New Moons and the three annual feasts-the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. 14 In keeping with the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise and to assist the priests according to each day's requirement. He also appointed the gatekeepers by divisions for the various gates, because this was what David the man of God had ordered. 15 They did not deviate from the king's commands to the priests or to the Levites in any matter, including that of the treasuries.
16 All Solomon's work was carried out, from the day the foundation of the temple of the LORD was laid until its completion. So the temple of the LORD was finished.
17 Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the coast of Edom. 18 And Hiram sent him ships commanded by his own officers, men who knew the sea. These, with Solomon's men, sailed to Ophir and brought back four hundred and fifty talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.
Praise the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,who finds great delight in his commands.
2 His children will be mighty in the land;the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house,and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 Surely he will never be shaken;a righteous man will be remembered forever. 7 He will have no fear of bad news;his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear;in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. 9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,his righteousness endures forever;his horn will be lifted high in honor.
10 The wicked man will see and be vexed,he will gnash his teeth and waste away;the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
Praise the LORD.
Praise, O servants of the LORD,praise the name of the LORD. 2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the LORD our God,the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 8 he seats them with princes,with the princes of their people. 9 He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD.
INFAMOUS PEOPLE OF THE BIBLE
Nebuchadnezzar (Nebo the Mighty) is encountered in the Bible several times. He is the king of Babylon (Chaldea) at the time that Judah is taken captive by the Babylonians. Daniel was among the Hebrew captives that were taken to Babylon and served in Nebuchadnezzar's palace as one of the wise men. In Daniel 2 the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the large image is recounted. It was Nebuchadnezzar who had an image of gold made and ordered everyone to worship it. When Daniel's three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, failed to do so, they were thrown into the fiery furnace only to be saved by God's angel.
Nebuchadnezzar raised his kingdom and city to the greatest splendor; the marvelous hanging gardens are ascribed to him, erected to please Amytis, his queen, by imitating the groves of her native country, Media. He died in B.C. 562, after reigning forty years. He was succeeded by Belshazzar, his grandson.
Even Nebuchadnezzar recognized that God is most high:
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:34-37 (NIV)
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