John Carter – May 26, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 17:1-27 – 1&2 Chronicles The Messiah-King
Waiting & Praying
Waiting patiently is not a concept children understand. They cannot wait patiently for anything. Mom, Dad, the weekend, Christmas, their birthday, the end of a boring sermon. When a child is aware of an upcoming event their ability to comprehend time is severely deficient. Not only is this expressed in their behavior, but it is most acutely expressed in their language. Everything they speak about is wrapped up in trying to understanding how their daily activities relates to what they are waiting for. When will it happen? How many sleeps? Is it today? Is next week ‘two sleeps’? They want to know, and they don’t want to wait. Thankfully kids grow out of this behavior and become adults who are better able to wait. We are better able to focus on something worth waiting for and are able to articulate our patience.
King David displayed this waiting and expressing his feelings about waiting in 1 Chronicles 17.
After David finished building his house of cedar he felt a burden to build God a house a cedar as well. For roughly the previous 500 years the ark(box) of the covenant has found its home in a tent. It would be understandable that the ark would be housed in a tent while Israel was a nomadic people. But wouldn’t it make better sense to place the object of Yahweh presence, the everlasting God, in a beautiful building and not some old tent? Of course the tent was a beautiful piece of work but if the nation no longer lives in tents then why should God? David was moved to address this dilemma. He sought the counsel of Nathan the Prophet and Nathan prematurely gave David the go ahead to build a house of cedar for Yahweh.
Immediately Nathan is spoken to by God to tell David, “You shall not build a house for me.” God asks with the rhetorical question, “Who have I commanded to build me a house of cedar?” The only answer is no one! God will determine where he shall dwell. No man shall make this decision for Him. God declines David’s offer and then makes him an offer he can’t refuse. God announces that it was Him who picked David to Shepherd Israel. Yahweh will make David’s name great. Yahweh will appoint a place for His people Israel. Yahweh will plant them. Yahweh will subdue Israel’s enemies.
But that’s not all! Instead of David building a house for God, Yahweh will build a house for David. Yahweh will set up one of his descendants. Yahweh will establish his kingdom. This son will build Yahweh a house. Yahweh will establish this kings throne forever! Yahweh will be His father, and he a son to Yahweh. Yahweh will not take his loving kindness from him. The same everlasting lovingkindness that was the reason to give eternal praise in 1 Chronicles 16:41. Yahweh will set this king in Yahweh’s house and kingdom forever. Yahweh will establish this kings throne forever! How’s that for a, ‘no, you may not build God a house of cedar’?
In light of this word and vision David is quick to go sit before the Lord and pray a courageous prayer. David acknowledges his insignificance and Yahweh’s gracious act. David is wise to point out that Yahweh is doing this for David’s sake and according to God’s own heart. David declares the uniqueness of God, and his monopoly on the God market, (there is no other God). David makes a prayer that reflected on the redemption of Yahweh’s chosen people to make Yahweh name great. They became his people forever. David prays that Yahweh should do what he has spoken. David magnifies Yahweh by praying that Yahweh’s name be established and magnified forever. David states who Yahweh is. Because of what was revealed to David he was able to pray with courage before Yahweh. Finally David verbalizes his trust is his Yahweh words. When’s the last time you prayed like that?
As we progress through Chronicles we will see that it is David’s son Solomon who is spoken of in this chapter. But by the time we reach the end of 2 Chronicles we will quickly realize this promise is not pointing towards just any king who sits on the throne of David. Rather, this eternally reigning king is still yet to come. The writer of Chronicles is very clearly saying, ‘we are still waiting. We are still waiting for a king who will rule over from the throne of David. We are waiting for someone. We are waiting for someone greater than David. Greater than Solomon, and someone greater than all the kings we will see in chronicles. We are waiting for the coming Messiah-King.” Think of the wait David endured and he never saw the temple or he son build it.
Solomon came, reigned, built a temple and died. So we know that Solomon was not the Son Yahweh was speaking of. The temple Solomon built came and went. Then another temple came and went. What happened to this house that was going to be built and endure forever? Anyone can visit Israel today and see that there is no Temple in Jerusalem. So what do we make of this lofty promise. Are we to wait for this promise to be fulfilled?
Zechariah 6 points us to a man whose name is Branch (Mr. Branch) and tells us that it is this branch who will build the temple of God. Not only will Mr. Branch build this temple but he will sit on the throne of the temple and have honor and rule. It should perk our ears to hear that a throne will be in this temple. Because Throne rooms have thrones, temples do not. This language implies that the office of High Priest and King are being merged into a single office. Which is why it says that Mr. Branch “will be a priest on his throne” and “the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” This promise comes after Solomon has died and Solomon’s temple has been destroyed. So who is this Branch who will not only rule but also reign from the throne in this temple? We should see Mr. Branch in this passage as Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, and our King whom we call Lord. Just like we should see the son who is spoken of in 1Chronicles 17.
It is right to view Christ as being the true Messiah-King of Israel who is spoken of in 1 Chronicles 17 but what do we make of this house that is to be built. Not only did multiple tents house the earthly presence of God, but so did two temples of cedar. Many people are still waiting for this eternal dwelling place of God to be rebuilt. But why are we waiting for what has already come? Jesus is the Dwelling place of God. All previous tents and temples find their fulfillment in Christ. We are not waiting for a third temple. In fact we are not waiting at all. We are not waiting because when Jesus came, he came to “dwell among us” which is the same language used to describe the temp and the tabernacle. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the final Temple.
Revelation 21 has some very striking similarities to 1 Chronicle 17. In verse three of Revelation 21 we learn that the tent of God is among His people, and God is dwelling among his people. The eternality of Christ is spoken of in the familiar verse, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”. The idea of cowardice being associated with unbelievers and courage being associated with believers is expressed in verse eight. Then in verse ten we are introduced to the holy city Jerusalem. With the pinnacle of excitement landing on verse 21 when we see that it is the Lord God the Almighty and Jesus the Lamb who are together the temple of God. This imagery of Christ himself being the final temple found within the holy city which is made up of his people, where the nations come to worship is described way back in a very neglected portion of Ezekiel. To understand the temple in 1 Chronicles 17 we need to see its fulfillment in Revelation 21. And to fully grasp Revelation 21 we need to see Ezekiel 40-48, especially 48:35 when God names this heavenly city “The LORD is there.” Which is speaking about Christ.
Our wait is over. Jesus has fulfilled what Yahweh promised in 1 Chronicle 17. Encountering and understanding the fullness of this truth must invoke a sense of awe and desperation as we meditate on the supremacy of who God is, what he has done, and what that means for a fallen, rebellious, and sinful people such as ourselves. This is why David prayed as he did. When we come to our Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus his Son, we are coming to receive an immeasurable expression of grace and mercy drenched in blood and love.
So what? How does this chapter change the way we live? Hopefully in many ways but I will point out two:
#1 What are you waiting for? To obey? For Christ, who has already come?
What is holding you back from making disciples and building upon the foundation of the Kingdom of God? Why do you wait for money, kids to age, a better job, job security, a more comfortable lifestyle. At what point will you turn from the selfishness that plagues American Christianity and obey the commands of God. There is nothing you have been commanded to do that you are not empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish. Stop waiting for the right timing to obey God. People are dying and we are still waiting for it to be fashionable to make disciples. An effective method of determining how well you wait is to analyze your conversations with God. Which leads us to application number two.
#2 What are you praying for?
When will you turn to God and make the prayer of David your prayer? A prayer of humility. A prayer of awe. A prayer of repentance. A prayer of redemption. A prayer that seeks the glory of God. The letter of James makes some very cutting remarks about our prayers as Christians. James says that the person who asks for wisdom in the midst of trials and then doubts his prayer is double-minded and unstable. These are his kinder remarks.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
My wife and I were talking about the future coming of Christ and about the reality that the last days began when Jesus Christ died of the cross. She said, “we quit waiting when Jesus came”. This is so true. When will you stop waiting and begin praying like Jesus Christ actually lived, died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father? When will you stop waiting for Jesus to never leave us, or forsake us and pray for the grace to have your eyes opened to the reality of who God is and what he is doing? When will you stop waiting and praying with selfish motives and begin to make disciples and glorify God for the sake of the gospel?