Solomon has had the Temple built, started on his own palace, and had Huram the craftsman oversee the making of the holy implements and the decorating and furnishing of the inside of the Temple.
Now it's time for the formal dedication of the Temple.
I Kings 8: 1-11
Solomon starts off well. He takes a note from his father and he assembles all of the elders of the nation and the leaders of the tribes and the fathers' households to Jerusalem for the transporting of the Ark to the Temple. (v. 1-2)
According to the Ryrie Study Bible footnote this took place about a month after the completion of the Temple--in the month of Tishri, which is September/October to us.
David did the same thing whenever he brought about a major change. And he usually had a reason to try and bring them onboard with his change, in the case of David moving the Ark- he wanted his people to see that they were a holy nation and this Ark of the Lord was part of that.
I wonder if Solomon did the same thing for the same reason, or if he just saw the wisdom of it and followed suite?
The priest brought the Ark and the tent of the meeting, along with the "old" holy utensils. If I'm correct, I think this is the remains of the Tabernacle that had been left untouched by David. If this is correct, this is a pretty big deal. To do even greater than David in restoring God's "home". And to have the holy pieces together again after such a long separation. It seems like the symbol of a golden age. Which it might have been...
The congregation brought so many sacrifices to offer to the Lord it could not be counted. (v. 5)
I think that is so interesting. Despite Solomon's slave labor and taxing programs, the people are hungry to sacrifice to the Lord in the holy place designed to receive their sacrifice. After generations of losing their way, being under the judges and doing what was right in their own eyes, and then the constant civil unrest under David...the people were hungry for the Lord and His forgiveness and relationship. I'm sure they all had their own reasons; but the countless number of sacrifices indicates that there is a story to tell.
And, this is what David wanted. Not just for the Lord to come down and have His presence with the people- but also that the people would WANT and SEEK that presence.
v. 6 They make a very big deal about the Ark being set under the wings of the cherubim and their wings covering the Ark. It makes me curious about angels. I try not to focus on those types of issues because they have been so corrupted by the world; but the way it's described in such detail in the building and decorating of the Temple, and now the placing of the Ark, it makes me want to know more. I think of them as worker bees; but they are given such a display of honor and symbology, I think my understanding of them is wrong.
v. 9 The only thing in the Ark were the two tablets with the Ten Commandments brought down from the mountain at Horeb (the second time).
The Lord's Presence
v. 10 Here we go, folks... This is the moment you've been waiting for.
Once the priests left the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord.
The priests couldn't even minister because...
...for the Glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord.I King 8:11
This is so significant, I had to walk away just to contemplate it for awhile.
- After generations apart, the people and their many sacrifices are in the Lord's physical presence.
- After decades of obsession with this very moment, David's goal of the people being in the Lord's presence was fulfilled. This is what he imaged, worked and planned for and it happened.
- This is what happened at Pentecost
- This is what happens every time a new believer accepts Christ as their savior.
- It's too wonderful to even understand.
- And yet, we take it so lightly...
- It's the Glory of the Lord. People couldn't even continue with the tasks they were doing. It changes us. It's the Glory of the Lord who fills our Temple of the Lord. Walk accordingly.
Any one of those topics could be its own blog post. There is so much there.
I just want to worship Him with my whole life.
My head knows how; but the world puts up a good battle for my attention and affections.
The Glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord.
And now we all have to answer the age old question, "So What?"
We have to answer this. This answer will reveal our spiritual health and direction.
You accepted Jesus as your Savior (hopefully); and now as a Christian, the Holy Spirit has once again descended and filled His Temple (you and me).
Do we celebrate the rest of the festival, eat our offered sacrifices and go home full and happy- resuming regular life tomorrow? Or is the newly restored and refilled Temple suppose to accomplish something? God has a plan and He filled that Temple a few thousand years ago as part of that plan to take His Light and Life to the world.
That's the same plan when he descended to your heart. It wasn't just for you. It was including you in His plan.
How do you know your part? The hard way. Daily discipleship- reading the word, prayer, fellowship, obedience.
Otherwise...it's just a sideshow at a county fair and the world is full of despair instead of His Hope.
You have to choose. It can't be both.
II Chronicles 5: 1-14
Verse 1 seems to support the theory that the dedication took place after all work had been done, which would have been much longer than the 7 years to build the outside.
Verses 2-4 repeat I Kings in the assembling of the leaders and the Levites bringing up the Ark.
Verse 3 refers to everyone assembling at the feast. The Ryrie footnote indicates that this was the feast of the Tabernacles, in which all of the people sleep in tents to remember their exodus from Egypt.
Verse 6 reiterates the countless sacrifices and verse 7-10 describes the priest setting the Ark under the Cherubim wings and the cherubim covering the Ark, and the pole being too long; and the Ark only holding the two stone tablets of Moses.
Sidenote: The NIV Chronological Bible sidebar reiterates that the Temple site is associated with the Mount Moriah where Abraham was to sacrifice Issac. This was north of Jerusalem proper, so the whole area between was annexed into Jerusalem, making Zion part of Jerusalem. Although, the Ryrie Study Bible footnote, alluding to the same topic, points out that, mostly, when people refer to the earthly Zion, they mean Jerusalem.
Be Silent before the Glory of the Lord
Then the is a tremendously interesting difference in telling of the key scene of the story: The Lord filling the Temple with His cloud.
In the I Kings 8:10-11 version, the priest came out from setting down the Ark and the Glory of Lord filled the house of the Lord and "the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud."
That's amazing and stopped me in my tracks yesterday when I read it. I was so amazed that I told my husband about it and he said it reminded him of what he had just read in Habakkuk 2: 20:
But the Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.Habakkuk 2: 20
This brings me to the II Chronicles version of the same story.
While some Levite priests were bringing the Ark into the Holy of Holies, many others were standing outside ready to sing, play instruments and blow trumpets unto the Lord. As the priests came out, in unison, everyone else prepared to sing and strum and blow. Then the cloud filled the place and everyone fell silent. So when the author of I Kings wrote about not being able to minister, this was that ministry. Their singing and playing. They all fell silent before Him, just like the verse my husband thought of the night before.
We looked at the cross references in Habakkuk and found two other verses referring to the House of the Lord and everyone going silent before Him: Zachariah 2:13 and Zephaniah 1:7. I think the Temple or House of the Lord in those verses refers to heaven and the whole earth going silent in the Day of judgement; but this is small sample of the same phenomenon: When the Lord shows up, that's a show stopper. There isn't anything anyone can say, or play, or do, or even think, except to marvel at His Glory.
They do seem raise their voices in prayer, "He is good; His love endures forever." So either I read the silent part incorrectly or they picked up with song and praise before David's dedication.
Wiersbe states that the dedication took place in Solomon's 24 year, not the end of the seven years of construction. He says the temple took four years and Solomon's palace took 13 years, meanwhile Huram was working on the inside and furnishings for the Temple. He uses evidence from chapter 9 in the conversation with God, but I haven't gotten there, so I'm holding judgement on his theory.
He also points out that David in directly or indirectly referred to 12 times in this section. (v. 1-66) That shows how much of this was the obsession of David to bring the Lord to his people.
The House of God
Wiersbe points out that
- God ordered the Temple to be built.
- He assigned Solomon to be the one to build it
- He gave detailed plans for to David
- He collected the wealth to build it
- Also from me: He provided the circumstances for a nation to learn immense amounts of new technology, and live in a wealthy, war-free nation that was able to focus on a project of this magnitude.
But aside from all of that, what it finally took to be the House of God was His presence.
What a profound lesson to meditate on and let it sink deep into our bones: God provides much for us. His blessing run deep and His care and provision cannot be overstated. However, all of that pales in comparison to having God's presence live inside us as believers in our savior Christ Jesus.
Other Thoughts from Wiersbe
- Solomon was wise enough to learn from David's mistake and had the Levites carry the Ark from Jerusalem to the Temple. HOWEVER, sadly, there is no word about Solomon's part in the procession. H does not dance before it, as his father did- even though he had even more cause to celebrate. The Ark and Tabernacle were to be rejoined IN GOD's TEMPLE! This was decades in the making. But Solomon's soul doesn't seem to have been stirred the same as David's.
- I knew the feast of the Tabernacle must be significant, but couldn't come up with the symbology. Wiersbe points out that the Ark led them from Horeb until the promise land. God's law and God's throne led the way during their season of traveling and living in tents.