My reading this morning was from 1 Kings chapter 8:
35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— 42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple,43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
Living in California now, with the climate situation as it is, I can’t help but read biblical references to drought into this situation. This is a place where there is hardly any rain (and in recent winters, hardly any snowfall, which supplies much of the water for the rest of the year). In the biblical context, problematic weather was supposed to be addressed with prayer. The people saw God as disciplining them through adverse climactic conditions, and so would pray to God on behalf of the nation, asking for forgiveness and relief from the drought.
Now, I’m not saying that the current California drought is a direct result of the sin of the nation, but this does prompt me to pray larger prayers. Often my intercessory prayers are for my needs, the needs of my family, friends and church members. But here we see Solomon praying for a whole nation.
Recently, our Associate Pastor Gary Taylor came on board and has spoken about God giving us a heart for our city. His dad had a practice of going to the city entrance sign (where the city name and population are written), placing his hands on it and praying for the city. This passage, and that practice, encourages me not just to pray for those close to me, but for the city I live in. And there’s a very good reason to do that, a hint of which we find in v41: As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name…
Admittedly, the name they have come for, in our context, is the name “Silicon Valley.” People from all over the world come to study, and work here, and many return home afterwards, or still have some type of influence or reach into their home country. What a great opportunity for the churches in San Jose and the Bay Area. The “foreigners” may come for Silicon Valley, but we might reach them for the Lord, and they might return to their home country with a vibrant faith, to a country that could well be closed to foreign missionaries.
San Jose is a gateway city. If revival happened here, there would be repercussions around the world. Like a good plague, Christianity could spread from this place and propagate in other nations.
Of course, this is contingent on the Christians in Silicon Valley and San Jose having such a vibrant, alive faith that it is hard to ignore it. So my encouragement to all of you, wherever you are, in offices, coffee shops, cubicles, gyms… or wherever else you might be today – live it out. Be bold with your faith, unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s much less offensive to people than we fear it is. Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from shining with the light of Christ.
Amen and Amen!