Day 165: Toward this Temple: A Spurgeon Snapshot (2 Chronicles 6:29-30)

Through the Bible: 2 Chron 6-7, Psalm 136

29every prayer or petition
that any person or that all your people Israel may have—
they each know their own affliction and suffering—
as they spread out their hands toward this temple,
30 may you hear in heaven, your dwelling place,
and may you forgive and give to everyone. (2 Chronicles 6:29-30)

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how Solomon worked hard to remind people that the Temple was not where God lived. His prayer recorded in 2 Kings 8:27 emphasizes that the highest heaven can't contain the presence of God, much less any "house" we could build (see Day 163: Hear from Heaven, Your Dwelling Place). This same thought is repeated in the 2 Chronicles version of the prayer (compare 2 Chron. 6:18).

So why would Solomon so clearly clarify that the Temple did not contain God's presence, only to repeatedly tell people to pray toward it (see 2 Chron. 6: 20, 21, 26, 29, 32, 34, 38)? There's at least two reasons I can think of.

1. Every Navigator Needs a Fixed Point

Most kids (me included) grew up thinking there was a literal North Pole. We pictured it painted like a candy cane. We believed Santa lived close by. We wrote letters to Santa with the only address being the North Pole. And when we needed a reminder to be good, usually Santa, watching from the North Pole, figured into the encouragement (threat).

Later we learned that there was such a thing as magnetic north. And even though there wasn’t an actual pole stuck in a snowbank and surrounded by elves, arctic puffins, Tom Hanks, and Will Farrell, true north was still what we aligned our compasses to when we were in Scouts. If we knew where north was, we could get our bearings and find our way back home when we were lost.

I think the Temple was very much like that for the Jews in Solomon’s Day. Even though they knew God was everywhere, not contained in a temple built by human hands, praying toward the temple reminded them of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. It gave them their bearings. It could help them find their way home again.

2. For Christians, There is Still a Temple to Turn To

Charles Spurgeon suggested an even more profound understanding of Solomon’s repeated reminder to pray toward the Temple. He wrote:

We have no sacred spot now toward which we can turn when we pray. As Cowper [William Cowper, an 18th century Anglican hymnwriter] sings, ‘Jesus, wherever Your people meet, there they behold Your Mercy Seat! Wherever they seek You, You are found, and every place is hallowed ground.’ Our temple is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though he is to us of the same use as the temple was to Israel, yet he is infinitely more precious and far greater than the temple. Whatever his trouble is, whoever will pray unto God with his face toward Jesus… he will be helped, he will be forgiven, whatever his trouble or whatever his sin.

Lord Jesus, you are no made up children’s story used to remind us to be good. You are our immovable center point. You are the House Your Father built for His servant David. You are our True North. And Lord Jesus, You will always help me find my way home.

I am using the Spurgeon Study Bible for my Bible Read Through in 2023. All of the study notes are quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writing. For more on Charles Spurgeon, click here. The Spurgeon Study Bible is available from Lifeway, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.


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