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By MAX LUCADO
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
IntroductionSolomon beamed. This was the greatest day of his life-arguably the greatest day in the history of Israel. The temple, the long-awaited temple, the vision of his father David, the dream of his ancestors, the temple of Israel was finally complete. The work of 70,000 laborers, 80,000 stonecutters, and 3,600 foremen-finished. Pure gold covered parts of the interior. Precious inlaid stones sparkled. The ark of the covenant inhabited the Holy of Holies. From the golden altar to the woven curtains-the work was finished.
ONLY THE PRESENCE OF GOD WAS MISSING.
SO SOLOMON REQUESTED IT.
In a passionate prayer of dedication, the king cried out,
"Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, And let Your saints rejoice in goodness." (2 Chronicles 6:41, NKJV)
The king of Israel requested the arrival of the King of the universe. And how did God respond? "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 Chronicles 7:1).
God Himself entered the temple. The people fell face-first on the pavement, declaring, "He is good; his love endures forever" (7:3). They stayed, not forone day, or two, but for fifteen days. They ate. They worshiped. They prayed and then, finally, "[Solomon] 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" (2 Chronicles 7:10).
Solomon retreated to his palace, probably anticipating a welcome rest.
But God had other plans.
In the privacy of the royal chambers, God spoke again. "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 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" (2 Chronicles 7:12-13).
Shut up the heavens? Command locusts? Why would God use such language? Why the harsh words? Because he heard the prayer of Solomon. In his prayer of dedication Solomon had pleaded,
"When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them." (2 Chronicles 6:26, NKJV)
The king understood the frailty of people's faith. And he knew God's justice does not slumber forever. God chastens His children. And when it awakens, Solomon in essence prayed, and when You chasten, call us home.
God said yes. And more than yes. He answered Solomon-and men and women down through the millennia-
in what has become one of the most beloved verses in the Bible:
"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." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
What stirs God to heal a land?
What conditions trigger refreshing rains?
What prompts the Almighty to cure a country?
The answer is the same today as it was in Solomon's time. God simply asks us to turn. He asks us ...
TO TURN FROM SELF-PROMOTION TO GOD-PROMOTION ("CALLED BY MY NAME").
TO TURN FROM SELF-RELIANCE TO GOD-DEPENDENCE ("HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY").
TO TURN FROM SELF-DIRECTION TO GOD-DIRECTION ("SEEK MY FACE").
TO TURN FROM SELF-SERVICE TO REPENTANCE ("TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS").
WHEN WILL GOD HEAL THE LAND? WHEN PEOPLE TURN BACK TO HIM.
The verb implies a decision, a redirection. I was going south, now I'll go north. Rather than drive toward a building, I'll turn and drive away from it. Turn. We understand the term. But are we willing to apply it?
More times than I care to admit, a scenario something like this has played out in our family car. Denalyn, my wife, says: "Max, you missed the turn."
My reply: "I don't think so."
"I'm looking at the map," she says.
"Let's ask for directions," she suggests.
"Are you kidding? Did Columbus ask for directions? Did Lewis and Clark ask for directions? Do I need to ask for directions? I don't think so."
"If you don't need directions, Mr. Navigator, tell me, why are we [select the phrase according to trip]:
in the Everglades instead of Miami?"
headed to Knoxville rather than Atlanta?"
seeing mountains when we should be seeing the beach?"
What response can you give to such a question?
If the terrain tells you you've made the wrong turn, it's time to make a right one. As a country, we've been traveling some rough terrain. And it's getting rougher.
In one year in America ...
Over 957, 000 marriages end in divorce.
Over 15,000 people are murdered.
Up to 1,800,000 pregnancies are aborted.
God tied His promises to Solomon (and to us) to four distinct turns:
1. TOWARD GOD'S GLORY.
2. TOWARD GOD IN PRAYER.
3. TOWARD GOD'S WORD.
4. TOWARD GOD IN REPENTANCE.
God offers to heal our land. He tells us what to do. He's done His part. Now, it's up to us.
IT'S OUR TURN.
Excerpted from TURN by MAX LUCADO Copyright © 2005 by Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission.
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