Tissot's depiction of Solomon praying at the dedication of the Temple
Praying and making extravagant offerings to God in ancient Israel, as seen from the perspective of the 19th century

The Uniform Series text for Sunday, March 18 is Chronicles 7:1-11, which continues the narrative of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem – the first Temple, the “Temple of Solomon.” Here are a few questions we might find helpful to consider in class:

In verse 1, fire comes down from heaven and burns up the offerings, and the glory of the Holy One fills the Temple. It’s probably fair to note that this doesn’t seem to have been a routine occurrence in the worship of ancient Israel, but it wasn’t completely unprecedented. Has anything similar, or comparable, ever happened in worship we have participated in? When was that and what were the circumstances? What made it similar, or comparable?

In verse 2, the people bow face down on the pavement, and “gave thanks” to God. How would you describe the impact of the worship event on the people? What feelings does the response suggest: awe-struck? Grateful? Afraid? Something else? How typical are these responses to the worship we are familiar with? How desirable? Why, or why not?

Do we think there are outcomes or results worship “ought to” produce? What are those? Why do we think that? How do those outcomes or results compare to the worship described in 2 Chronicles 7 – similar, different? What explains that pattern of similarities and differences? How desirable do we feel that is? Why, or why not?

What is the role of God’s presence in the worship described in 2 Chronicles 7? To what do we attribute that presence: the special occasion, the people involved, the things people did, other? Why do we think that? What implications does that have for our own worship?

Offerings seem to be the climax of the worship described in 2 Chronicles 6 & 7, and specifically offerings of sheep and oxen. Does this emphasis on animal sacrifice tell us more about God, or more about the people, or both equally, do we think? What does it tell us? Why? What are our own thoughts about animal sacrifice? What does that response tell us about ourselves?

Animal sacrifice is a very concrete “offering” to God – and, perhaps incidentally, a mechanism for supporting the priests and their families in their work. What “offerings” or “sacrifices” do we make today? How do those compare to the offerings described in this passage? Do our offerings seem to be the high point of worship for us? Why or why not?

The passage notes that the worship gathered a great congregation from a very wide territory. What is the purpose of a great assembly for worship like this? What effect does being part of a huge group have on the people involved? How important does the size of the group seem to have been in this case? Why? What are our own feelings and thoughts about participating in a festival like this? Why?

The worship described here in 2 Chronicles also constituted “national” worship, led by the nation’s monarch. What are our thoughts and feelings about this in the context of ancient Israel? Do we see it as something positive, negative, both, and why? What would be our thoughts and feelings about this in our own context today? What differences or similarities do we notice – and why, do we think?