1 Kings 8
Quite a long passage today, I trust you read all the verses as sometimes we are inclined to skip through scripture and miss some of the message. We often have to wait upon God for the revealing, this is the first point here in this passage.
Solomon has had to wait almost a year to reach this point of temple dedication since its completion, and it occurs at one of the established feasts in the Jewish calendar. The feast of tabernacles or booths depending on your translation from Leviticus Ch.23 v 33-43 was a remembrance of Israel living in tents during the exodus. So all the people came together to celebrate and feast at the appointed time. We often wonder why we are waiting sometimes, the ultimate wait is for the Lord Jesus return, but we have been tasked to bring all those called together into the Kingdom.
In the preparations of v 1 to v 11, the Ark of the Covenant is brought up (correctly this time by the priests) and the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) was dismantled and brought to the Temple with all the holy vessels. The Tabernacle had served its God ordained purpose and was no longer required but put into Temple storage. We so need to hear the prophetic word of God to know sometimes when to let go of the way we do things and be obedient to God’s direction. The Tabernacle was redundant, God was moving on and it had no further purpose other than prophetic insight to the Gospel later on.
The Ark was brought into the inner sanctuary of the Temple by the priests and a cloud filled the place; the cloud being the presence of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord filling the house. Solomon in v 12 to 22 blesses the Lord before anything else thanking him for his faithfulness to his word concerning his father David.
One point to make here is that the temple is referred to as a place for the name of the Lord and not to contain him. In v 27 Solomon asks rightly:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!
When we look at any illustrated reconstructions of the temple we often see a box like structure, man has being trying to put God in a box ever since. We need to focus on his character, our obedience to him, his love for us; but don’t try to constrain him with a religion of our own making.
The prayer of dedication then comes in v 22 to v 53 and seems strange to us for such a glorious event. Solomon focuses again on the Lord’s faithfulness to his word to his father David – v 26
Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father.
The rest of that passage reads like an inevitability of sinful events, certainly unlike any dedication service I have attended. Solomon knows despite all its splendour that the Temple isn’t the great hope for Israel but the symbolism of it points to “the hope of Israel” in Acts Ch.28 v 20 spoken by Paul. Solomon knows sin is inevitable and all the sacrifices will not atone for all the wrongs.
His prayer in v 60 “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.”
This is our great commission from Christ who came and dwelt (tabernacled) amongst humanity, died on the cross and rose again three days later. The true and better Temple, John Ch.2 v 18 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The prophet Ezekiel saw the cloud of God’s presence depart the Temple due to the sin of the people but let us praise God that he sent his son, the great hope to us. Let us not get side tracked regarding certain teachings about the Temple rebuilding etc. but focus on the sacrifice of God through Christ and the continuing presence through his Holy Spirit.