Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

Portal to Heaven


Door to heaven

by Dennis Pollock

The building of the temple was a huge event in the history of the nation of Israel. The concept of a temple for God was first envisioned by King David. As he thought more and more about it he became tremendously excited, and soon shared it with his friend, the prophet Nathan. It sounded like a great idea to Nathan, and he told him, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you" (2 Samuel 7:3). But even prophets can get a little mixed up when not under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and this time Nathan was a bit off. God brought correction to him in a dream and told him that it was not David who would build the temple, but rather his son Solomon. Although David loved God deeply, he had shed too much blood over the course of his life, and was not the man for the job.

David accepted this graciously. Although the temple construction could not begin in his lifetime, he began to gather building materials, with great amounts of gold and silver, so that his son Solomon would have everything he needed when the time came. David began receiving divine revelations concerning the size and nature of the temple – essentially the architectural plans for this magnificent edifice. Nothing was left to chance, and by the time David "rested with his fathers" and his son Solomon sat on the throne in Jerusalem, the new king was both equipped and motivated to fulfill the dream and passion of his father. He didn't waste much time. In the fourth year of Solomon's reign, construction began on the temple of God.

Using around 150,000 slaves and over 3,000 overseers, Solomon made sure his father's plans were followed to the letter. Gathering the finest woods and then overlaying them with gold, he built a house of worship such as the world has never seen before or since. Because of the enormous amounts of gold and silver used, in today's economy it would be worth many billions of dollars. It took seven years in the building, but at last the temple was complete, and it was time for a dedication ceremony.

Dedication of the Temple

Solomon summoned the leading men of Israel. As countless oxen and sheep were sacrificed, the priests solemnly brought up the ark of the covenant to place in that special small room at the back of the temple, known as the holy of holies. In the ark were the stone tablets Moses had received directly from the hand of God, with the ten commandments on them. As the priests filed silently out of this sacred place an amazing thing happened. The glory of God filled the temple. The priests who had been preparing and offering sacrifices could no longer continue.

Kneeling down before the altar of the LORD, Solomon lifted his hands toward heaven and began to pray, as he committed this incredible house of worship to YHWH, the God of Israel. He began by declaring, " LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts..."

But as he continued to pray Solomon quickly recognized that there was no temple, no religious edifice, no building on the earth, regardless of how grand or how costly, that could ever contain or house the Creator of the universe. In his prayer, he asked, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27).

Contact Point

As he continued it must have surprised some of those who heard him. Rather than praying that God would come and make His home there in the temple, as they might have expected, he asked that God would turn the temple into a kind of portal to heaven, a contact point by which men and women might touch God's heart and receive answers to their prayers. Solomon described various situations of desperate need: when God's people had sinned and offended Him, when they had lost all they had and desperately needed restoration, when famine or blight struck their nation, or when they were going out to battle their enemies, and asked that when they prayed in the temple, God would accept their prayers and grant them their requests. In cases where they weren't able to get to the temple, Solomon prayed that they might simply turn and face the direction of the temple, and also be heard in heaven. In essence he was asking that this temple they were dedicating would become a doorway to the favor of God. He prayed, "that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place" (1 Kings 8:29). He even prayed that Gentiles might receive answers to their prayers when they pray "toward this temple" so that "all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You…"

Afterwards Solomon held a great feast for Israel and sacrificed thousands of sheep and cattle. For a full week the Israelites feasted, rejoiced, and celebrated the inauguration of this new temple. Finally the party was over, the people went home, and things got back to normal. But when Solomon went to bed, God appeared to him in a dream and revealed His willingness to fully answer the king's dedication prayer. He told Solomon:

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. (2 Chronicles 7:15,16)

ark of the covenantThe temple Solomon had built became indeed a portal to heaven. The devout Jews always prayed facing the temple. It was while God was speaking to Solomon in this dream, that He made that declaration that has become so famous: "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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). There must be repentance, there must be prayer, but it must also be done "in this place" or "toward this place." Where the temple is combined with fervent, sincere prayer, God will hear and respond. The temple in Jerusalem became the key to answered prayer.

The Temple Replacement

All of this is exciting stuff and almost makes us want to locate the geographical direction of Jerusalem so that we can turn ourselves in the right position when we pray. What a wonderful thing to think that God has placed His own personal guarantee of blessing on something so simple as us facing Jerusalem and the temple as we pray! But alas, the temple is no more. There hasn't been a Jewish temple in Jerusalem since the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, a couple of millennia ago.

There is good news, in fact great news for those of us who are in Christ Jesus! The temple, as a portal to heaven, was never intended to be permanent. It was merely a physical object that served as a foreshadowing of a far greater means of obtaining the favor of God in our praying and in our living. Now that the substance has come, the shadow must give way. Even if the Jews could somehow rebuild the temple more beautiful, more elaborate, and more ornate than Solomon could ever have dreamed, it would have no power whatsoever. Today God has invested His favor and His guarantee of grace and blessing not in a building made with iron, wood, and precious metals, but in His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In His name prayers are answered, in His name demons must flee, in His name lives are transformed, in His name bondage is broken, in His name broken hearts are mended, and in His name the power and favor of God comes dramatically upon ordinary, flawed, stumbling men and women.

Throughout the gospels Jesus emphasized the power of His name to bring God's favor over and over again:

  1. Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them… (Matthew 18:20)
  2. In My name they will cast out demons… (Mark 16:17)
  3. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
  4. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)


Heavenly Ladder

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus told Nathaniel: "Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (John 1:51). He was clearly referring to the Old Testament story of Jacob's dream, where Jacob saw a ladder set on earth, but whose top reached all the way to heaven. In the dream Jacob saw angels of God ascending and descending on that ladder. Jacob awoke in amazement and figured he had discovered the portal to heaven, saying, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" (Genesis 28:17). He named the place Bethel, which means "house of God." But it wasn't that the physical place he slept that night was a gateway to heaven. Jesus tells us that He is the true gateway to heaven, the One who makes it possible for the angels of God to descend from heaven bringing answers to our prayers which we pray in Jesus' name.

It is Jesus Christ and His name exclusively that bring us into contact with our holy Creator. Peter proclaimed, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). When he and John were going to the temple to pray, a lame beggar saw them and asked them for a little money. Peter boldly declared, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). Peter took him by the hand and helped him rise to his feet. The power and strength of God surged into his lifeless limbs and he was instantly and thoroughly healed. Peter didn't have money, but he did have something. He had a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His name Peter had absolute confidence. Praying toward the temple long ago was good, but praying in the name of Jesus Christ was now far more powerful, infinitely more effective. There is no Biblical record of people getting healed by being in the temple, but miraculous healings were taking place right and left in the name of Jesus.

Key to Heaven's Storehouse

That name still works today! Many years ago I was teaching school in the mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico. While Albuquerque itself rarely sees a major snowstorm, in these mountains the weather could get pretty nasty. One day my daughter and I were driving to school on snow covered roads when our car failed to make it to the top of the next hill. It paused for a moment and then we began to slide backwards, spinning uncontrollably. We were in serious danger and I knew it. There was no time for a lengthy, formal prayer. I did not begin with, "Most gracious heavenly Father, Author of all good, Bestower of every blessing…" In that time of desperation I reacted instinctively with the simple phrase: "In the name of Jesus!" I said it several times. In a very short time the car stopped spinning and stood still. Amazingly, after all that spinning the car was in the proper lane, facing the proper direction. With tremendous relief I drove on and had no more problems.

It is, without contest, the most powerful name in the universe. All who are in heaven, all that are on earth, and all those under the earth must bow before the name of Jesus. It is the gateway of heaven, the portal to the realm of glory, the key that unlocks and releases the favor and grace of God. We have no further need of a gold-encrusted temple; we have something far better, or rather Someone far better. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, who because of His substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection from the dead has become God's guarantee of favor and grace to one and all. For "whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.