“LORD, Hear Our Prayer And Forgive!”(I Kgs 8:6-14&22-30).
Church – State relationship has been in perennial tension from the time of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was beheaded because his pronouncements as a prophet did not go down well with Herodias. Jesus called Herod a fox.
Scripture most quoted by political authorities is where Paul says Christians should obey the leaders for they are placed there by God for the good of the people.
Unfortunately we fail to reflect on how far Christians must obey the leaders. Christians should obey the leaders – be it in the sacred or secular – only in so far as the leaders do not contradict God. Otherwise, like Peter and John, Christians should be emboldened by the Holy Spirit to tell such leaders, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God…”(Acts 4:19).
All the above notwithstanding, we point out that once upon a time in Israel there was no outright dichotomy between Church and State.King David was at the forefront of the worship of God; to the extent of composing the many songs that were used in and out of worship. Besides, he gathered the materials for the construction of the temple. His son Solomon constructed the temple and at the dedication of the temple he was the one who blessed the people, it was neither a priest nor a pastor.
On that day the priests brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, “the Most Holy Place…”
Solomon said that he had “indeed built a magnificent temple ” for the LORD, he nevertheless acknowledged, “the heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you…”
Solomon’s desire was: “May your eyes open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer of your servant…Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people…when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.”
We can never claim perfection before the throne of God’s grace, that is why in Solomon’s prayer he said “…and when you hear, forgive.”
The Jews wherever they were prayed facing toward Jerusalem (the temple), even when they knew that God did not dwell there. His dwelling place is in heaven.
The Lord Jesus Christ abrogated this old law, emphasising that God is Spirit and can be worshipped anywhere in truth and in spirit.
It appears the Jews of Judaism even today still pray facing Jerusalem. This attraction of worshipping facing a certain central place of worship has also continued in Islam as Muslims worship facing Mecca.
As we know, these two places are strong centres of pilgrimage.
God cannot be contained in a house of worship, no matter how magnificient it is. But it is hoped that when we gather there and pray, he hears from heaven, and when he hears he forgives.
Since he is Spirit when we call on him in spirit and in truth – even in our bedrooms, in the farm, in the office or anywhere, he hears us and dispenses his grace upon us through the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: LORD in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.