EVEN A STRANGER!
1 Kings 8:41-43, "Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name."
Israel was God’s chosen people. It is obvious from the Old Testament that they had received many things. Paul spoke of the (Romans 9:4-5), "…Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." In a spiritual sense, the Church is considered Israel. Paul continued (Romans 9:6b), "…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." The Church then, as spiritual Israel, has received many things. In fact, the writer of Hebrews proclaimed that the things the Church can claim are “better things.” It is difficult to understand why God chose one nation of all the nations of the world to reveal His name and to bless all nations. Deuteronomy 7:6-8, "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." To many it is difficult to understand how Jesus could say that He alone was the way to eternal life. John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." They look at all the religions of the world and think perhaps there are many ways to God. The truth is, whether New Testament or Old, God has always had one plan for any given age of history. (The Garden of Eden, the flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.) Some might ask if that means only certain people can approach God. That is the question I wish to address today. Regardless of the age or the plan of God for any given generation, God always makes His salvation available to everyone that chooses His way.
Solomon built a great and beautiful temple to the LORD God. No doubt the Jews were extremely proud of the edifice they had raised. It took seven years to complete, and many thousands of workers. No expense was spared in the construction or the furnishings of this temple. Some may have felt that because they had built it, paid for it and labored for it that it was their exclusive property. Yet in three short verses Solomon disposes of that notion. Our text was taken from the middle of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. Solomon had asked many things of God concerning Israel and the temple. He asked God to hear the Israelites when they prayed, whether they were swearing an oath, going to battle, needing relief from famine, drought or pestilence, seeking relief from the oppression of other nations, or needing the forgiveness of sin. But is the midst of all this prayer for God to hear Israel, Solomon takes time out to pray for the stranger!