Yesterday I got to read through a portion of 1 Kings. My favourite part of what I read was Solomon’s building and dedication of the temple. After reading from Genesis all the way through to 1 Kings, it is a wonderful breath of fresh air!
I think sometimes we lose sight of just how momentous an occasion this really was. Finally… after slavery, the exodus, the 40 years of wandering, the failed conquest of the promised land, the pathetic time of the judges, the first king becoming a miserable failure, a lifetime of war and tumult under David… finally, peace! Finally, God’s people are able to construct a permanent fixture where God will be honoured and worshiped. It is the place where he has chosen to make his name dwell.
So Solomon has construction of the temple completed, he brings in the ark of the covenant, and offers his prayer of dedication. It’s a wonderful scene of celebration and worship of our God as innumerable sacrifices were offered. God is pleased to come down and dwell in his temple–so much so that the priests could not stand to minister in the Holy Place because the glory of YHWH filled the house.
The temple is the place where God dwells and where man can meet with him–the place where God and man dwell together. It is the place where God’s glory abides, where he reveals himself to his people.
Solomon’s prayer of dedication is then largely concerned with the request of God that whenever God’s people pray toward this temple–where God and his people can meet together, where God himself dwells–these prayers will be heard and answered. This is to be true, even when they have sinned, this will be the way they are to pray for reconciliation–pray toward the temple.
And so Solomon, the king, prays for his people. He intercedes for them before the Lord, pleading with God that their sins will be forgiven and that he will have mercy on them.
The glory of God had descended on this place, the Lord had met with his people and heard the prayers of Solomon–why? All of this is made possible–God’s people can approach God in his temple–because of the sacrifices they had made. They sacrificed before the ark as they brought it in, and once Solomon had prayed they offered more: 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep as peace offerings to God.
But all of this was still imperfect, in some sense, because we see that where the holiness and the glory of God dwell, the priests still aren’t able to be. After a while, the priests are forced to leave the Holy Place where they ministered because of the presence of God.
Of course, what I love the most about all this is Jesus. Where was he? Where wasn’t he?! Jesus is the temple–the perfect meeting place of God and man. In him the fullness of deity dwells bodily. He said, ‘destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.’ But of course, he was not referring to the temple of stone, but the temple of his flesh–where God and man truly come together. And because he is the fulfillment of the temple, he’s also the reason our prayers are offered freely to God now, because we pray through Christ.
But Christ is more than the temple and the reason our prayers are heard. He’s also the true Solomon—the true Son of David who will inherit the eternal throne and promises of God. As the true Son of David and the true King, Jesus is the one true intercessor for his people! Now he offers prayers to God on our behalf!
And of course, Jesus is the true sacrifice which makes God’s meeting with his people possible at all. Jesus is the perfect ‘once for all’ sacrifice for the sins of God’s people, that every single one of his people would be perfectly covered and able, finally, to meet with God.
And lastly, it has all been made perfect now, through Christ, because we no longer have to worry about imperfect priests, unable to draw near in the earthly temple, because the earthly temple was only ever ‘copy’ and a ‘shadow’ anyway! Now, Christ, who is the true high priest, draws near to God in the perfect, heavenly temple on our behalf.
I could go on and on, but this is too long already. What an absolutely wonderful God! What a wonderful Saviour! What a wonderful book that ties all these things so beautifully together. No wonder Christ said he’s the fulfillment of the whole thing! He well deserves the name that is above all names.