Captive, but Coming to Your Senses
Robert Wurtz II
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:36-39)
Solomon is making his great prayer upon the brazen scaffold he had made. knelt down upon the 7×7 by 5 foot high platform, He cries out to God with this prayer. What would follow would by God descending into His resting place, the earthly Temple that Solomon had made. The Fire fell and the Glory filled the House. Solomon had filled the altar because he understood the need for a full altar. What did God say? And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. (2 Chronicles 7:12) This would be the place where the priests wait upon the Lord and burn the sacrifices, lamp stand and incense to the Lord. The house of sacrifice is a house of burning. Albeit, it was not the Lord’s will to go on dwelling in such a place, for He said in Isaiah:
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Stephen takes up this great passage in Acts 7 and preaches men as the very temple(s) of the Living God. Jesus Christ turned the cross into an altar and we must also do the same. For He has said, And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27) Yet the cry of the world has never changed, for He has also said that the disciple would be no different than his Master. What said they unto our Master? Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (Mark 15:30) Come off the altar Jesus! Or in the very words of Satan himself, Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee. (Matthew 16:22b YLT) Pity thyself, is what Satan had said to Jesus through the mouth of Peter. Yet the reality of the cross has never been ‘pity thyself’ it has been ‘deny thyself’. If I pity myself I will follow me, but If I deny myself I will follow Thee. Come off the altar! says Satan. Get on the altar! says God. For He will not be a God to a people that refuse to live on the altar. It was on the altar that the Fire of God fell.
I will destroy this place
But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? (2 Chronicles 7:19-21)
In other words, if the children of Israel begin to burn for other things than for Me, then I will remove the place of My burning from among the people. He promised to destroy the place. We know historically that the children of Israel, sadly beginning with Solomon, eventually departed from the Lord and served other God’s. They even burned their children to Molech. What happened? Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple and several centuries later Vespasian and the Titus destroyed the second Temple that had been upgraded to become ‘Herod’s Temple.’ Not one stone was left on another, according to the prophecy of Jesus. To this day the only thing left is the Wailing Wall. It is not as it was designed for the Romans threw every stone down and now some of the oldest stones of the wall are at the top and the Roman stones are nearer the bottom. But between the outpouring in Solomon’s day and the final destruction of the Temple were many opportunities to totally turn back to God, all of which for the most part were squandered. God described the situation succinctly saying, But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:16)
In the land of Captivity
For all of Israel’s sin there was always a road back. God is a merciful God. But every time, time was allowed to run out and they met Him in the judgment in this world and in the world to come. What did Solomon pray? Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive. If they will come to themselves in their personal and national hog-pen then… This is the great obstacle. The words ‘bethink themselves’ could be translated, “If thy fear return to their hearts.” It is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. If while in their captivity to the enemy, they come to themselves in the fear of the Lord, there is hope. This is what the Prodigal Son had done. In the land of his captivity, living like an animal, he came to himself. Solomon continues, Saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly. Is this not the confession of the Prodigal Son? The second step after coming to ourselves we have to acknowledge our sins. Notice that while this is all going on the people are still captive to their enemies. For Solomon continues, If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives. Many want freedom but they don’t want to come to themselves and acknowledge their sin. They don’t want to return to the fear of the Lord. They want freedom from the oppressive hand of the enemy, but do not want the altar where God has called them to be a living sacrifice and to burn as did the priests in the Tabernacle and Temple. No one is truly free until they are burning for God. They hearken to the voice of the enemy, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (Mark 15:30) Come off the altar ______! Or they hear the very words of Satan himself, Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee. (Matthew 16:22b YLT) But it’s in the land of our captivity that we have opportunity to come to ourselves and get up out of the miry pit.
With all of the heart and soul
If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul… This is a huge IF. “God is the great Unbeliever. He doesn’t believe you. God has got to be able to believe us.” (G.W. North) We can’t fool God. For Solomon had already said, render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:) (2 Chronicles 6:30b) When a person turns to God in such a way that He can believe them, He will respond to their cry. Anything else is pretense and sham deliverance. It is temporary at best and non-existent at worst. We may fool the man of God, but we cannot fool God. God answered Solomon’s prayer with His own words, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Are you captive to the enemy? Are you in bondage unto him? Come to your senses and return to the Lord with all of your heart and soul- while there is still hope. For truly the day will come when He will destroy your temple even as He has done in Israel. Shadows are gathering and death beds are coming. It is not too late. Turn back with all of your heart and soul today and receive mercy and freedom from the enemy that takes you captive at his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)