Explore The Bible Study: Repentance

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One of the largest privately owned houses in the United States is the Biltmore house in Asheville, NC.  The house is a 178,926 square foot mansion that took over six-years to build. During construction, over 1,000 construction workers and 60 stone masons worked on the project. The house contains over four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The building of the Temple during King Solomons reign was equally as grand. At the "grand opening" celebration Solomon's prayer of dedication included a petition regarding the anticipated sin of the people of God. This is what the Explore the Bible Study: Repentance will examine from 1 Kings 8:46-60.

The temple in Jerusalem was a grand dream placed in the heart of King David by God and was equally as challenging to build! 1 Chronicles 17 describes David’s desire to build the temple for God. Plans were developed and David was ready to move forward, but God said no. He promised David that his son, Solomon, would be the one who would build the temple.

1 Kings 8 marks the completion of the temple. Solomon led all Israel in dedicating the temple. This included the priests and Levites bringing the ark of the covenant into the temple as the king sacrificed many animals. God showed His approval by filling the temple with His glory (1 Kings 8:10-11). 1 Kings 8 continues to record the king’s blessing upon the people, testimonies of God’s work, worship, and a prayer of dedication. Solomon’s prayer continued with him asking God to forgive and restore the people of God when they confessed their sins. Solomon also asked God to let the temple be a witness of God’s glory to foreigners who visited Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:41-43).

Yet, Solomon reveals another important revelation regarding the temple. The temple was extremely significant to God’s chosen people because it stood as a constant reminder of God’s covenant and His presence with them. The temple and their worship of God and sacrifices to God were to remind them they were to be God’s holy people. The temple was not only a reminder of the presence of God, but it was also a reminder of the power of God to judge sin. Because of this, if the people ever turned away from God, God would judge them.

His prayer talks about a time when the people would no longer be coming to the temple but would be scattered to other lands because of their sin. Here is what Solomon’s prayer reveals regarding man’s sin, repentance, and God’s forgiveness. 

Nothing Keeps Man from Sinning - 1 Kings 8:46-48

What truth does Solomon reveal about sin that points to why Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for a payment of sin?

The temple practices of sacrifice and worship would serve as a continual reminder of God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, and God’s forgiveness through the blood sacrifices that were to be made at the temple on behalf of the people. Solomon’s prayer doesn’t mention “if” they sin, but “when” they sin. The completion of the temple did not mean the people of God were somehow immune from sin from that point forward – All men sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Roman’s 3:23). 

We sin because we live in a sin-broken world. Even Solomon, the one praying this prayer, would succumb to sin and fail God on many fronts. Solomon’s prayer before the people at the temple reveals the greater truth that there is only one way to be saved from sin, and that’s through Jesus Christ. Man cannot save himself, not even by the building of a great temple for God.

What truth does Solomon reveal regarding how God views sin?

Solomon’s prayer reveals the fact that God cannot ignore sin, even from the people who built this glorious temple. Solomon tells us that man’s sin results in God being angry. In this case, God would judge them by handing them over to the enemy and they would be deported to the enemy’s country. 

The Bible records multiple times when God used other nations as His instrument of judgment. In this case judgment was in the form of exile.

After they had built the temple and were now celebrating God’s presence, why would they continue to sin in the future? 

Why do professing believers today continue to sin? What motivates professing believers to assume God won’t discipline them when they sin because they have done so much for Him? 

Why do people who don’t believe in Christ assume God is going to give them a pass from judgment and that everyone will one day be in a “better place”?

The Bible tells us that all men will be judged regarding sin – the severest judgment or consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23) – physical death and eternal separation. Isaiah 59:2 reminds us that man’s sin separates him from God. This is the foremost consequence of man’s rebellion against God. Many want to believe that God is so “loving” that He will overlook our “little faults,” “lapses” and “indiscretions.” Though God loves us, His holiness is such that He cannot live with evil. Therefore, God cannot ignore our sin.

The Bible describes those who choose to indulge in sin as being “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:18-19). One of the consequences of sin, therefore, is more sin. There’s an insatiable “lust for more,” attended by a dulling of the conscience and a blindness to spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Solomon knew that the Israelites would succumb to sin, and it would separate them from the land, the city, and the temple—the very things that represented their covenant relationship with God. This was a picture of the separation all mankind experiences when separated from God by sin.

Yet we see in Solomon’s prayer something that is very important. It’s called repentance. Notice how Solomon describes the actions and attitudes of repentance:

  • Solomon asked for God’s mercy on His people when they come to their senses in the land where they were deported. 
  • A coming to their senses would lead them to realize their need to repent and petition God. 
  • Repentance included admitting they had sinned and done wrong, and had been wicked. They had to take full responsibility. 

They couldn’t blame anyone else for their actions.

  • Repentance also meant a heart change. 

They had to return to God with all their heart and all their soul.

  • This heart change had to take place right where they were – in the land of their enemies. They couldn’t say, “I’ll wait until I get back home to repent.” It had to be done right then and there!
  • Finally, repentance had to include a lifestyle change. Repentance means to turn. Praying in the direction of their land, the city, and the temple represented them turning toward the God who gave them everything. They had to turn to Him to repent.

Those who profess Christ as Savior today live under the new covenant based upon the sacrifice Christ made for our sins. But we too must continually strive to turn away from sin, just like the covenant people of Israel were to do. If we don’t, we too will face the anger or discipline of God like one might face the anger of a father toward a child who has done something wrong – for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. God will discipline us (Hebrews 12:6).

However, when one repents, God does respond.

God Responds to a Repentant Heart – 1 Kings 8:49-53

Solomon was asking God to hear and respond.  Solomon wanted God to respond favorably to the people’s repentant prayers.

Solomon also asked, may you forgive your people who sinned against you. The word translated forgive also can mean “pardon” and always refers to a work of God in setting aside an offense. By forgiving the people, God was choosing not to hold their sin against them.

Solomon also asked the Lord to forgive all their rebellions. The word rebellions denotes a willful defiance of God’s commands. The exiled people had sinned grievously against God, but Solomon asked God to forgive them if they repented. He also asked God to grant them compassion before their captors, so that they may treat them compassionately. God could guide the hearts of those who ruled His people to treat them gently. 

Solomon stressed a reason God should hear, listen, and forgive the Israelites: they are your people and your inheritance.  God’s covenant relationship with Israel was established with Abraham a thousand years earlier. Solomon began to build the temple 480 years after the Israelites left Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). Now, almost five centuries later, he highlighted the continuing relationship God maintained with His people.

Do you believe God hears the prayers of one who repents? What Scriptures assure you that God does hear and forgive?

God will hear our prayers. We are never so far from God that He cannot hear our cries of repentance, and when He hears them, He will respond. The apostle John echoed Solomon’s sentiment by telling us God wants to forgive us quickly when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).

Solomon ends this prayer with a blessing. Listen to the words of Solomon to the people of God. Consider how you would feel if Solomon blessed you in this manner.

A Blessing Offered – 1 Kings 8:54-60

Imagine you were in the crowd hearing this? First you heard Solomon pray regarding man’s sin and that God would forgive you if you repented. Now you hear him end with this very public blessing. How would you respond? What would it motivate you to do?

So That All the Peoples of the Earth Would Know That the Lord is God. There is No Other!

God did not choose Israel to be a reservoir of God’s blessing; He chose Israel to be a channel of His blessing. Likewise, God calls us today to be channels of His salvation, not to keep His salvation to ourselves. 

  • We should share the good news with others and live in such a way that people desire the faith we profess -- so all the people of the earth would know that the Lord is God. There is no other! (v.60)
  • We should honor God and demonstrate gratitude for our salvation by giving our lives totally to Him.

How seriously do you take the holiness of God? Is that reflected in how you live your life as a believer? 

Do the people of the earth know that the Lord is God by the way that you live? 

Do you recognize that you haven’t fully repented and turned to Christ for salvation? If so, talk with someone who can help you with this decision following this session.

We repent when we recognize the devastating effects of sin, both here and for eternity, and we turn to God and cry out to Him to forgive us. As we do, we will find forgiveness that God has provided through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Solomon’s prayer reminds us that God will accept our repentance and respond with forgiveness. May you turn away from sin and turn to God through Jesus Christ. May you then live a life that will demonstrate to the peoples of the earth that the Lord is God!

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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