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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

2 Chronicles 7

 

 

Verses 1-3

FIRE FROM HEAVEN;

THE GREAT FEAST;

GOD WARNS SOLOMON;

THE FIRE FROM HEAVEN

"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Jehovah filled the house. And the priests could not enter the house of Jehovah, because the glory of Jehovah filled Jehovah's house. And all the children of Israel looked on, when the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah was upon the house; and they bowed themselves down with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and gave thanks unto Jehovah, saying, For he is good; for his lovingkindness endureth forever."

Other Biblical accounts of fire coming down from heaven to consume sacrifices are: (1) at the Mosaic tabernacle (Leviticus 9:24), (2) before Manoah (Judges 13:20), and (3) at the Davidic altar on Mount Moriah (1 Chronicles 21:26). Curtis (Madsen) believed that the Chronicler "invented" this;[1] but the mystery to this writer is not the the fire from heaven, which is not any more wonderful than a hundred other things recorded in the O.T., but, WHY WOULD ANY SCHOLAR WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE WHAT IS WRITTEN; WASTE A LIFETIME OF STUDY ON WHAT HE THINKS IS A FALSEHOOD? The attention that unbelievers bestow upon the sacred text is a tacit confession that they do believe it. If they think the Bible is false, why do they bother themselves about it? As Shakespeare stated it, "Methinks (he) dost protest too much."[2]


Verses 4-7

SACRIFICES PREPARED FOR THE GREAT FEAST

"Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before Jehovah. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests stood according to their offices; the Levites also with instruments of music of Jehovah, which David the king had made to give thanks unto Jehovah (for his lovingkindness endureth forever), when David praised by their ministry: and the priests sounded trumpets before them; and all Israel stood. Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of Jehovah; for there he offered the burnt-offerings, and the fat of the peace-offerings, because the brazen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt-offering, and the meal-offering, and the fat."

Solomon evidently felt free to make any changes in the sacred rituals that came to his mind. The use here of another altar, other than the official one, is only one of many innovations and changes initiated by Solomon. The tremendous numbers of animals sacrificed on this occasion is a problem in the minds of some; but there is no honest device by which men in the 20th century, three thousand years afterward, can make any dependable corrections for what is written. Our comment is simply: "That must have been some big barbecue"!


Verses 8-10

THE FEAST LASTED THREE WEEKS

"So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away unto their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that Jehovah had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people."

Here we have the information that explains the need for the tremendous number of animals sacrificed. The whole nation of Israel, perhaps a million or more, all the way from Hamath to the brook of Egypt attended this celebration; and they had to be fed for almost a month (twenty-three days).

"On the three and twentieth day of the seventh month" (2 Chronicles 7:10). "The seventh month was September/October. The dedication did not take place till after the work was completed (2 Chronicles 7:1) in the eighth month (Oct./Nov.) of Solomon's eleventh year (960 B.C.). So the temple was not dedicated till eleven months had passed, that is, in 959 B.C., at the time of the annual feast of the tabernacles (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:8-10)."[3] From this it is evident that Solomon delayed the dedication almost a year in order to make it coincide with the annual feast of tabernacles which the whole nation was required to attend, thus assuring the largest possible assembly.


Verses 11-18

GOD'S RESPONSE TO SOLOMON'S PRAYER

"Thus Solomon finished the house of Jehovah, and the king's house: and all that came into Solomon's heart to make in the house of Jehovah, and in his own house, he prosperously effected. And Jehovah appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people who are called by name, shall 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. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attentive unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and hallowed this house, that my name may be there for ever; and mine eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and mine ordinances; then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I covenanted with David thy father, saying, there shall not fail thee a son to be ruler in Israel."

"Thus Solomon finished ... all that came into Solomon's heart" (2 Chronicles 7:11). These are the ominous words in the paragraph. Solomon did not do everything according to God's Word, but according to everything he imagined, being guided, only in the most general sense, by the pattern that David had given him for the temple. Nevertheless, before giving Solomon the stern warning that he deserved, God announced his favorable response to Solomon's prayer. In a word, it merely stated that God would do the things Solomon had prayed for. Then came the warning.

"Jehovah appeared to Solomon by night" (2 Chronicles 7:12). There is nothing here to indicate that this was some kind of a dazzling personal appearance. The very fact of its having been at night supports the presumption that God appeared unto him in a dream, as he had appeared the first time at Gibeon.


Verses 19-22

GOD'S WARNING TO KING SOLOMON

"But if ye turn away and forsake my statutes and my commandments which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house, which is so high, everyone that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall say, Why hath Jehovah done this unto this land? And they shall answer, Because they forsook Jehovah, the God of their fathers, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them."

This heavenly warning Solomon ignored and continued to do exactly as he pleased without regard to anything except his conceited opinions; and when he became old, his many pagan wives turned his heart away from the Lord; and he built pagan temples for every one of them. This needs no further comment, except to note that the removal of Israel from Palestine and the destruction of their temple indeed took place, exactly as God had warned.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 7:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-chronicles-7.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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