Dedicating the Temple

Posted: March 24, 2010 in 1 Kings

1 Kings 8, “Dedicating the Temple”

It’s always exciting to go to a grand opening…especially if it’s a church building dedication. However grand it may be, it surely doesn’t even begin to compare to the mother-of-all building dedications that we’re looking at tonight! After 7 years of a massive building project – enlisting the help of people all over the kingdom & many craftsmen outside the kingdom – finally the Temple is completed! It’s a grand building…but without the presence of the Lord there, in the end it’s just a building. That all changes in Ch 8 as Solomon dedicates it unto the Lord.

1 Kings 8 (NKJV)
1 Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the City of David, which is Zion. 2 Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

A. This is a national assembly – the biggest event that’s taken place since Israel came into the land & renewed the covenant. In a sense, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing again by dedicating the temple. It’s a renewal of national faith & a revival of the commitment they had made to serve the Lord & to trust the Lord to provide for them.

B. Probably took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. No longer did the people need to wander from place to place to worship God; there was a permanent Temple.

3 So all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 Then they brought up the ark of the LORD, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up.

A. Actually brought the old Tabernacle into the new Temple. Some believe that this wasn’t the original tabernacle made by Moses, but a different tent made by David…

5 Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude.

A. Later we’ll see Solomon counting the sacrifices which numbered in the thousands. So when there’s so much sacrifice taking place that even Solomon’s court can’t count it, you KNOW there are a lot of sacrifices going on!

B. The point here is not for Solomon & the rest of Israel to put on a show; it’s to give God the worship of which He is worthy – the worship God properly deserves. The amount of sacrifice was no object… …
__a. Do we treat our own worship of God in a similar fashion? We don’t bring sacrifices of sheep – but we do bring sacrifices of praise…we do bring the sacrifice of our life…we do bring psalms, hymns, & spiritual songs… Do we hold back? Or do we give Him everything we’ve got because He’s worthy of nothing less? …

6 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8 The poles extended so that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.

A. Little side-note here from the author – this wasn’t ancient history to him; this was real life. The ark was exactly where the priests of Solomon’s day had put it when dedicating the temple. If people somehow had the ability to walk inside & see the temple, then they would still see the poles of the ark in the Holy of Holies.

B. Why the cherubim? Remember, this was representative of the throne room of God… [] Today, we don’t go to a physical building as a temple; we ARE the temple of the Holy Spirit! As wonderful as it would have been to have the privilege of walking through Solomon’s temple, every believer in Christ has something that Solomon himself would have envied: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. …

9 Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

A. Interesting historical note here, because at one point there was a lot of other stuff in the ark. Where did it all go? No one knows…

B. It’s significant that the only thing that remained was the Law. The 2 tablets of stone carved by the finger of God & given to Moses. Everything else had served as a witness of God’s provision in the wilderness; but the Law was still just as needed in Israel with Solomon as it was in Israel with Moses…it was the basis of their covenant relationship with God.
__a. Today, the Law finds it’s fulfillment in Christ (Matt 5:18); our covenant is based not upon the 10 Commandments, but upon the broken body & shed blood of the Lord Jesus. The Law’s purpose is to show our sin & take us to the feet of the Savior.

10 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

A. This was the chabod glory of God…the weighty presence of His glory, manifested as smoke or a cloud. Descended upon Mt. Sinai at the giving of the 10 Commandments… Descended the exact same way upon the original Tabernacle: Exodus 40:34-35 (34) Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (35) And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. [] Would have been quite a sight!

12 Then Solomon spoke: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. 13 I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

A. Is Solomon getting a bit over-excited here? Perhaps. He modifies this a bit when he starts to pray & realizes that even the most exalted house cannot contain God.

14 Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 15 And he said: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David, and with His hand has fulfilled it, saying, 16 ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there; but I chose David to be over My people Israel.’ 17 Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. 18 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’ 20 So the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised; and I have built a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. 21 And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

A. Recounting a bit of history here. God had made a covenant with David to provide a lineage through him, of which someone would always sit on the throne. Solomon (rightly) sees himself as the immediate fulfillment of that (per vs. 15) – ultimately the prophecy speaks of Christ Jesus as the Son of David. … But the messianic prophecy wasn’t the only thing included in God’s meeting with David that day; God promised that David’s successor would build the temple. And that’s exactly what Solomon did.

B. The acknowledgment here is that God is faithful to His word! Back in vs. 12 Solomon takes credit for building the temple, but ultimately he realizes that it only happened according to the will & promise of God. God’s word always proves true.

C. The result of this acknowledgment? Solomon blesses the Lord (vs. 15). When we understand what God has done, it always ought to lead us to praise. …

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven; 23 and he said: “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. 24 You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.

A. Starting the prayer of dedication. He’ll get to his requests in a minute, but he begins by acknowledging God for who He is:
__a. God is God alone: there is none besides Him…
__b. God is faithful: He always keeps His promises…

B. Jesus gave us the same example in the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father, who are in Heaven, hallowed be your name…” Before we ever get to our requests (even that of seeking the Lord’s will & the Lord’s glory), we are taught to give God praise for who He is, first & foremost. Understand that the bulk of praise taking place in Heaven right now by the cherubim & seraphim is comprised of the same thing: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8) – “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isa 6:3). This is no different than what Solomon was doing by sacrificing an innumerable amount of animals while moving the ark into the sanctuary: giving God honor, worship, and praise because of who He is simply because He is worthy.
__a. Without getting legalistic about it, how much time in our prayers do we spend time giving God praise & glory for who He is? Or do we simply leap to the list of the things we need? … Our God is WORTHY of praise! Of ALL people & of all things in Creation, those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus ought to be the 1st to give God glory & praise! Why should angels praise God more than those who have been born again? …

25 Therefore, LORD God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me.’ 26 And now I pray, O God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David my father.

A. God had been faithful to His word in the past, so Solomon appeals to God’s faithfulness in the present & future. Asks God for the Davidic covenant to continue – which was a God-honoring prayer because it was founded upon the word & promise of God Himself. [] We ought never hesitate to pray & lay hold of the promises of God in the Scripture. It doesn’t mean that we can make any promise mean whatever we want it to mean – but we CAN have faith that if God promised it, God will fulfill it…especially when His own children ask in faith by the name of Christ Jesus.

27 “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!

A. Solomon may have taken credit for building a house for God in which to dwell – but even he realizes that God doesn’t dwell in buildings. No building (no matter how grand or how big) could ever contain Infinite Almighty God. Stephen pointed out the same thing just before his martyrdom in Jerusalem… [Acts 7:48-50]

B. The problem is that the people end up forgetting this. They start out well (including Solomon), and they understand that God is bigger than buildings – but over time, they tend to think God is just at the building over there, so we can just engage in our sin & idolatry over here & everything will be just fine. Wrong. The heavens cannot contain Almighty God; He gave Israel a temple for their benefit, not for His. God didn’t need a house to keep out the rain; God’s people needed a place where they could worship God & seek forgiveness for sin. … Today we worship God in spirit & truth… …

28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 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. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

A. Basically a summary statement of the prayer to follow. Hear & Forgive.
__a. “Hear”: Hear from heaven – hear Your people – hear our supplication, etc. The 1st thing needed in prayer with God is an audience with God, so Solomon will repeatedly ask that God will grant that audience.
__b. “Forgive”: Once we have an audience with God, our most important need is always forgiveness. Every single human being throughout all history will one day stand before God for judgment (they’re granted at least ONE audience). But only those who have received forgiveness from God through Christ Jesus will go beyond that point. The entirety of our relationship with God is based upon the forgiveness He grants us through His grace.

B. For believers in Christ, these two things are exactly what we have received through the Lord Jesus! Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [] We have unfettered access & unlimited audience at the throne of God… We have abundance of grace given to us at our deepest needs…

– Going to go through 7 various scenarios in which forgiveness or help is needed…
31 “When anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, 32 then hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked, bringing his way on his head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.

A. Oaths. The law required people to keep their oaths… God would be the judge of the oaths of Israel…

33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers.

A. Most of Israel’s early military defeats had nothing to do with strategy; it had everything to do with sin in the camp. [Ai – Josh 7] Upon the people’s repentance, Solomon asks for divine forgiveness.

35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

A. Similarly with droughts. God had promised to provide for the people as long as the people kept their part of the covenant. Droughts in the land were meant to send the people into national repentance…

37 “When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; 38 whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: 39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), 40 that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.

A. Similarly with famine. All these things tie back to Deut 28 when Moses informed the people on the blessings & curses that came with keeping/disobeying the covenant of God.

41 “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

A. Solomon didn’t only pray for the people; he prayed for the Gentiles…that God would even hear the foreigner who truly sought after God. Note this isn’t a prayer for God to honor any pagan religion; this is a prayer for Gentile who would honestly seek after the one true God in the only way God prescribed. Israel was supposed to be a light to the rest of the world in order for everyone else to understand who God is & understand His holiness; the problem is that they often forgot this & lived the lives of the pagans rather than showing the pagans how to seek after God.

44 “When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, 45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

A. Prayer for blessing during military campaigns. Not that the temple made for any “magical” prayers, but it was a reminder that Israel’s strength was found in the Lord alone.

46 “When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; 47 yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness’; 48 and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: 49 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace), 52 that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You. 53 For You separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be Your inheritance, as You spoke by Your servant Moses, when You brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.”

A. In all of the sin in which Solomon had known was to come, note who it was that was being sinned against: God. “against You” 5x in Ch 8… Their sin may have had various consequences, but it was all against God. [] In the end, that’s what all sin is: it is rebellion & transgression against God. Certainly other people might be affected, but in the end, it is God with whom we need to be reconciled.

B. That reconciliation comes with repentance – where does it begin? In the heart. (vs. 48) “when they return to You will all their heart and with all their soul…” When we come to the understanding what it is we have done – when we’re grieved by the fact that we have grieved our Heavenly Father – THAT’s the point of which true repentance begins. Many people attempt to change their behavior without changing their heart & it never works (at least for very long). Our behavior certainly has to change, but the 1st step is to humble ourselves before God & fall upon the grace of Jesus Christ. …

C. Keep in mind God had always known that the people would sin & end up in captivity… As much as God knew that they would eventually be taken into captivity because of their sin, God also knew that they would repent & one day be brought back (Deut 30:2-3). Solomon holds fast to the promise & asks God to fulfill it. Interesting to imagine what might have been going through Solomon’s mind looking at this beautiful temple on one of the greatest days in Israel’s history after the glory of God had fallen on the place & huge displays of worship taking place…yet all the while knowing that one day the people would forget, invaders would come in & the place would be destroyed. Yet even knowing what was still to come, Solomon doesn’t despair; instead he holds fast to the promises of God & trusts God.
__a. There are many things the Scripture tells us about the future: apostasy – antichrist – massive destruction in the Great Tribulation. Looking ahead, it would be easy to despair (and many people do). Just looking around at our culture, we can find many reasons to despair… Don’t do it. Be like Solomon & trust the promises of God! Yes – there will be hard times to come (and things will only get harder), but every day that passes is another day closer to the trumpet of Christ. THAT’s a promise in which we can rejoice! Trust God!

54 And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, that he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

A. Interesting note on posture: Solomon started the prayer by standing & lifting his hands (vs. 22); he ends with his hands still lifted but on his knees…

55 Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses. 57 May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, 58 that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. 59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.

A. God had been faithful (vs. 56) – not one word had failed. Everything God said would come to pass did indeed come to pass. Because God had already been faithful, Solomon could proclaim in faith that God would continue to be faithful.

61 Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”

A. Exhortation to obedience. Solomon obviously knew that the people were going to sin in various ways (hence the prayer!), but that didn’t relieve the people from the responsibility to walk in obedience. Likewise with us. We have glorious promises of forgiveness from God because of Jesus Christ – and we know that none of us will walk perfectly until the day we see Jesus face-to-face – YET none of us have an excuse to simply dive into sin. BECAUSE of everything God has promised us through Christ, we have even more reason than before to walk in obedience.

62 Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. 63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. 64 On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the LORD; for there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.

A. They counted the offerings this time – but it was still too many for the priests to keep up with. No time like the present to “break in” all the instruments of the temple.

65 At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven more days—fourteen days. 66 On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the LORD had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.

A. Huge celebration for the entire nation. From border to border, the people rejoiced…

What a day! Celebration & worship & prayer…this was the event of the decade! This was a fulfillment of covenant promises & a rededication of the people to seek wholeheartedly after the Lord. In the process, Solomon did several things:

A. Pleaded with God to hear their prayers. For the children of Israel, this was something they needed constant assurance of. We have something far better in that we have bold assurance that God DOES hear us. We have an intercessor in Christ & another in the Spirit… We’ve been given bold access to the throne of God to find grace… At any time, we can go before God & give Him praise for who He is!

B. Understood the need for repentance. Over & over again, Solomon saw that people would sin & require forgiveness. That was one of the two primary reasons for the whole sacrificial system: worship/fellowship & atonement. [] In our own prayers, we ought to keep our own need for forgiveness at the forefront of our minds. It’s because we’ve been forgiven that we can pray – it’s because we constantly need forgiveness that we continue to forgive others…

C. Celebrated that God is faithful to His word. God is ALWAYS faithful to His promises! What a blessed assurance we have when we pray, knowing that God will always answer according to His will & His word.

What do your prayers look like? Are they like Solomon’s? Do you have faith that God hears? (Is there anything in your life that would get in the way?) Are you humble enough to understand your need for continual repentance? Do you have faith that God will be faithful to His word, no matter what?

Our prayers don’t take place at a physical temple – they take place somewhere far better: in our own hearts – the temple of the Holy Spirit. May our attitude be that of Solomon as we humbly & worshipfully seek the Lord in prayer!


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