Introduction: This chapter tells about the dedication of the Temple. After the dedication of the Temple, God’s presence returned to dwell with Israel (1 Kgs. 8:11; 2 Chr. 7:1). This was the peak of the nation of Israel’s history before Jesus. Exactly fifteen generations passed between Abraham and Solomon. At this moment, Israel reached its full glory as God’s presence served as a light to the nations. Yet, fourteen sad generations of spiritual decline then passed until the last Jewish king Zedekiah. Jesus, the true light of the world, came exactly 15 generations after Solomon (Matt. 1:17). Prior to Jesus’ arrival, the Temple was meant to spread God’s light amongst God’s people and throughout the world. It was also the central place for the Jews to worship Him and find fellowship with Him. From Solomon’s dedication, God reveals seven lessons on true Spirit-led worship. Spirit-led worship is: (1) centered on God’s Word; (2) praises His faithfulness; (3) humbly praises His greatness; (4) seeks His forgiveness; (5) seeks the strength to obey Him; (6) praises Jesus’ atoning sacrifice; and (7) celebrates your God-given joy.
First, Solomon began the dedication process for the Temple, the center of all worship, by bringing the Ark of the Covenant inside. The Ark housed the Ten Commandments. From this, God reveals that Spirit-led worship is centered around God’s Word and His Commandments. Second, Solomon next celebrated God for His faithfulness in bringing the Jews out of Egypt to the Promised Land and in establishing an eternal dynasty through King David. God wants you to know that you can also trust His promises. In recognition of this, Spirit-led worship should praise God’s faithfulness. Third, Solomon’s dedication included humble praise for God’s unique greatness and power. Solomon humbled himself before all of Israel to demonstrate in humility that there is none like God. Spirit-led worship also approaches God in humility and praises God’s unique and amazing character. Fourth, the longest part of Solomon’s dedication included an acknowledgement of the Jews’ sins and a request for God to show mercy and grace with Him. From his example, God reveals that Spirit-led worship praises God for His forgiveness and His mercy and grace. Fifth, Solomon sought out the strength to be obedient. From his example, God reveals that Spirit-led worship seeks the strength to be obedient. Sixth, Solomon’s dedication of the Temple included the sacrifice of many animals to atone for the Jews’ sins. Jesus fulfilled the need for further animal sacrifices with His death. In response, Spirit-led worship should praise Him for the atonement of your sins. Finally, Solomon’s dedication concluded with a joyful celebration during the feast of Tabernacles. Today, Spirit-led worship should also praise God for the joy that comes from Him and by living a life filled with His joy as a light for others to see.
The Ark is brought into the Temple. Solomon’s dedication process began with the most important item in the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant: “1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion. 2 All the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 Then all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 They brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the holy utensils, which were in the tent, and the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered. 6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim made a covering over the ark and its poles from above. 8 But the poles were so long that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen outside; they are there to this day. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (1 Kgs. 8:1-11). Solomon assembled the elders of Israel (1 Kgs. 8:1) during the “feast” during the seventh month of Ethanim (1 Kgs. 8:2). This would have correlated with the Feast of Tabernacles /Booths or Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43). Solomon finished the Temple during the eighth month (1 Kgs. 6:38). Yet, because of the important connection between Sukkot and the dedication of the Temple, Solomon had to wait 11 months until the seventh month of the following year to dedicate the Temple. The Sukkot was one of three times during the year when the people would have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for worship (Dt. 16:16). More importantly, it marked the celebration when God dwelled with the Jews in the wilderness. The dedication also took place during a Jubilee year, when God restored what the people had lost due to sin (Lev. 23:33-36, 39-43; Dt. 16:13-15). The entry of the Ark into the Temple would have happen on the first day of the eight-day festival. To avoid the mistake that Uzziah made when he died after touching the Ark while transporting it on a cart (2 Sam. 6:1-7), Solomon had the priests properly carry the Ark using poles on both sides (Nu. 7:9; 1 Kgs. 8:6). Inside the Ark were the tables of stone with the Ten Commandments (1 Kgs. 8:9). The Commandments established First Covenant (Dt. 9:9; 10:1-5, 8). Yet, the jar of manna (Ex. 16:33) and Aaron’s budding rod were no longer in the Ark (Nu. 17:10; Heb. 9:4). These things may have been lost when Philistines captured the Ark (1 Sam. 4:11). The Philistines must have looked at the tablets of stone and considered them to be worthless. In some ways, many believers also consider God’s Ten Commandments to be worthless.
Spirit-led worship cannot happen without God’s Word at its center. Worship that is not true to God’s Word and His Commandments is an abomination to Him: “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:9). “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Heb. 13:9). Although Jesus is the only means to salvation, many ignore the importance of the Ten Commandments as His standard of morality. Jesus is the “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). When you break His Commandments, you are showing neither love nor appreciation for what Jesus did for you: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Thus, Spirit-led worship should be centered on Jesus’ Commandments and His Word.
God’s cloud spoke to His presence amongst His people throughout history. The first thing that the Jews observed was that “the cloud filled the house of the Lord,” (1 Kgs. 8:10). As one commentator observes, this was the sign of Yahweh, who had been with the Jews since He freed them from bondage in Egypt: · This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22). · This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10). · This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42). · This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10). · This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2). · This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4). · This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). · This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35). · This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9). · This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7). There is a parallel to this event in Acts 2:1-4 in which God marks the inception of the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit by making his presence known through the sound of a mighty rushing wind and by filling those present with the Holy Spirit.” (David Guzik on 1 Kgs. 8). His cloud today is now part of the Holy Spirit inside of you (Jo. 14:16).
The glory of God filled the Temple. After Solomon brought the Ark into the Temple, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (1 Kgs. 8:11). His glory was so bright that the priests could not stand to minister (1 Kgs. 8:11). His Shekinah glory previously came and entered the Tabernacle after Moses dedicated it (Ex. 40:34-35). Yet, sin would later cause God’s Shekinah glory to leave Israel (Ezek. 10:18-19). His glory, however, returned again with Jesus (Jo. 1:1, 14). His Shekinah glory will return again to the rebuilt Temple during the Millennial Reign (Ezek. 43:1-5). Believers will then be able to experience His Shekinah glory throughout all eternity (Rev. 21:2-3).
You can experience part of God’s glory through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus allows believers to experience part of His glory: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” (Jo. 17:22). Today, God’s Holy Spirit dwells within you (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22; Heb. 3:6; Rom. 13:14; 2 Tim. 1:14). Whenever two or more are gathered in His name, His presence is also there: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20). Thus, a believer must therefore not forsake the fellowship of other believers (Heb. 10:25). Are you also making yourself accountable and growing in a small group? Are you also keeping the temple of Holy Spirit holy by renewing your mind and staying pure? (Rom. 12:1-2; Jam. 1:27).
Solomon praises God’s faithfulness. Solomon’s dedication speech began with his praise for God’s faithfulness in delivering Israel and in establishing an eternal dynasty through David: “12 Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud. 13 ‘I have surely built You a lofty house, a place for Your dwelling forever.’’” 14 Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. 15 He said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hand, saying, 16 ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel from Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes 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 house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.’ 20 Now the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 There I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt.” (1 Kgs. 8:12-21; 2 Chron. 6:1-11). Solomon began by recognizing God’s grace that He would bless the Jews by occupying a land of darkness (1 Kgs. 8:12). Solomon then expressed his hope that God would occupy the dwelling and live with His people forever (1 Kgs. 8:13). Although the building that Solomon dedicated would later be destroyed, God will honor this request with a similar Temple in heaven where He will dwell with His people forever (Rev. 21:2-3). Solomon then addressed the people of Israel (1 Kgs. 8:14). His words repeated many of the themes that Nathan gave to David when God formed His Covenant through David (2 Sam. 7:12-16). Solomon celebrated God’s faithfulness in bringing the Jews out of captivity in Egypt and His sacrifice in waiting until the Promised Land was secure before building a house for Him (1 Kgs. 8:16). Solomon then celebrated God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promise that a son of David would build the Temple (1 Kgs. 8:19-20; 2 Sam. 7:20-21). Solomon then returned to the Ark and what it represented. It represented both God’s promise of His Covenant with His faithfulness to deliver His people, just as He did in Egypt (1 Kgs. 8:21).
Praise God because He is faithful even when you are not. Solomon did not deserve to receive God’s covenant. He violated many of God’s laws. Yet, God remained faithful, even when Solomon was not. He will also remain faithful to you when your faith fails you: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Are you singing God’s praises for remaining faithful to you when you are not?
Praise God to non-believers around you. Like Solomon, David promised to go “among the nations” and “sing praises to Your name.” (2 Sam. 22:50). Also like Solomon, David knew that God’s victories were for His glory so that other nations would also bow down in reverence to the true King of Kings. Paul later quoted David to state that he would also proclaim Jesus to the nations: “ . . . as it is written, ‘Therefore I will give praise to you among the gentiles, and I will sing your name.” (Ro. 15:9). In response to Jesus’ faithfulness, will you also praise Him to non-believers (Matt. 28:16-20)?
Solomon’s humility in praising God. At the altar, Solomon then offered a humble prayer of dedication that began by praising God for His lovingkindness and His unique qualities: “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 He said, ‘O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, 24 who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day. 25 Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David. 27 ‘But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kgs. 8:22-27). Solomon raised up his hands in a statement of humility and submission before all of Israel (1 Kgs. 8:22). He was also kneeling as he prayed (1 Kgs. 8:54). Unlike the Egyptian kings who considered themselves to be gods, Solomon was publicly demonstrating to all the people that he was nothing like their magnificent Creator. Because the Jews had repeatedly followed after false gods, Solomon then reminded the people that no one could compare to God in His greatness, His omnipresence, and His faithfulness (1 Kgs. 8:23-24). Part of what made God unique was His lovingkindness towards His people (1 Kgs. 8:23). Just as Jesus did in His model prayer, Spirit-led worship should pay tribute to God’s greatness (Matt. 6:9). Just as his father David had done when he received God’s Covenant, Solomon then prayed in humility for God to confirm His Covenant through Solomon (1 Kgs. 8:25-26). Solomon did not speak to God out of a sense of entitlement or pride. Solomon concluded this portion of his dedicatory prayer by recognizing that the Temple was not like the pagan temples where their gods physically resided. God’s presence was in the Temple. Yet, the heavens and the Earth could not fully contain His amazing presence (1 Kgs. 8:27). He exists outside of space and time as the Creator of the universe and everything within it.
God exalted Solomon as king because he was a humble servant. Because Solomon was humble in his words, his beliefs, and in his service as king, God rewarded him by exalting him to become a great King of Israel. God promises to resist those who are prideful and exalt those who are humble. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk. 14:11). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). If you are humble in your walk, God will also bless you by exalting you in heaven.
Solomon’s praise for God’s mercy and forgiveness. The longest part of Solomon’s prayer recognized mankind’s inherent sin and God’s need to judge sin as a just and righteous God. Recognizing their need for God’s mercy, Solomon prayed that God would forgive the Jews’ sins: “28 Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 30 Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive. 31 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness. 33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against You, if they turn to You again and confess Your name and pray and make supplication to You in this house, 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. 35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name and turn from their sin when You afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and of Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land, which You have given Your people for an inheritance. 37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each 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 have given to our fathers. 41 “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. 44 “When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name, 45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. 46 “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; 48 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; 49 then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, 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 make them objects of compassion before those who have taken them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Your people and Your inheritance which You have brought forth from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace), 52 that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and to the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You. 53 For You have separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance, as You spoke through Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord God.” (1 Kgs. 8:28-53). Also from a position of humility, Solomon recognized how amazing it was that the Creator of the universe would hear the prayers of sinful people (1 Kgs. 8:28). Solomon then cried out as an intercessor for God to hear the prayers of His people and forgive them their sins ( Kgs. 8:30). Knowing that God promised 40 progressively severe curses for a nation in open sin and rebellion (Dt. 28:15-68), Solomon prayed that God would overlook past and future sins that would normally cause God to withhold His blessing and discipline the nation. He then listed seven prayers for which he pleaded for God to hear and respond to their future prayers (1 Kgs. 8:31-54). First, Solomon prayed that God would provide the wisdom for mankind to judge between the wicked and the righteous (1 Kgs. 8:31-32). Second, he prayed for God to forgive the Jews’ sins that had in the past led to their defeat in battle (1 Kgs. 8:33-34). Third, he prayed for God to forgive the Jews’ sins that had in the past also brought drought and famine to the lands (1 Kgs. 8:35-36; Lev. 26:19.). Fourth, he prayed that God would forgive the Jews’ sins that had resulted in other calamities in the past (1 Kgs. 8:37-40). Fifth, he prayed for God to show mercy to God-fearing foreigners who would not have fully complied with the laws given to Moses (1 Kgs. 8:41-43). Even though the Jews were privileged to have God’s Temple, it was meant to be a place of prayer for all the nations (Is. 56:7). Sixth, he prayed for God to forgive their sins and grant them victory in battle (1 Kgs. 8:44-45). Finally, in a prophetic recognition of their future exile, Solomon prayed that God would forgive the Jews’ sins and restore them after their future captivity (1 Kgs. 8:46-54).
The universal nature of sin should normally disqualify God’s response to prayer. As part of his prayer, Solomon recognized that all have sinned and fallen short before God: “46 When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) . . .” (1 Kgs. 8:46). Sin has also separated you from God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God . . .” (Is. 59:2(a)). The universal nature of sin is repeated throughout the Bible: “[I]t is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”’ (Rom. 3:10-11; Ecc. 7:20). “[T]here is no one who does good.” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Ps. 143:2). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). In the Old Testament, God warned that as a consequence of the separation caused by sin, He would not hear the prayers of sinners: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” (Is. 1:15). “And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters wickedness.” (Is. 59:2-3(b)). “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but He does listen to anyone who worships Him and does His will.” (Jo. 9:31; Prov. 15:29; 8:9; Ps. 66:18). In the New Testament, He warns that sin can “hinder” a believer’s prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). God wants you to regularly pray for Jesus to cleanse and forgive your sins so that your prayers are not hindered.
God blessed the Jews with forgiveness. In response to Solomon’s prayer, God created a clean heart in both him and in the people: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). Yet, both Solomon and the Jews would soon squander God’s forgiveness with open sin.
Jesus can also clean your heart of sin and allow you to go boldly into the throne room. If you repent, Jesus will also bless you by forgiving you (1 Jo. 1:9). Through His death on the cross, He has made you blameless with His righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21). Through His righteousness, you can now approach God the Father in the throne room in boldness as you pray for others, just as Solomon did for his people (Heb. 4:16). Are you praying boldly for others who are caught in sin and in need of forgiveness?
Solomon’s benediction and his request for God to help the people to obey. In recognition of mankind’s inherently sinful nature, Solomon then prayed as a benediction to the people for the strength to obey God’s Word: “54 When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven. 55 And 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; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 57 May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or 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 ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. 59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to 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 requires, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else. 61 Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”’ (1 Kgs. 8:54-61). Solomon’s benediction included a reminder to the Jews that God had been faithful to them (1 Kgs. 8:56). In response to God’s faithfulness, Solomon urged the people to be faithful and obey. Yet, because mankind is inherently sinful, he prayed for God to give the people the wisdom to know His will and the strength to obey God’s Word (1 Kgs. 8:57-61). If the people exhibited obedience, God’s people would be a light to all the world (1 Kgs. 8:60). In a similar way Jesus’ followers today are a light to others through their holy conduct (Matt. 5:14-16).
God desires obedience more than sacrifice. God wanted the Jews’ obedience more than their sacrifices. “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22). David previously learned that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). Are you obedient in your walk with Jesus?
Jesus is not your Lord if you refuse to do what He says. A believer may proclaim Jesus as Lord. Yet, Jesus is not your Lord if you disobey Him: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26). If you call Jesus your Lord, is there any area of your life where you are refusing to obey Him?
Solomon’s 144,000 dedicatory sacrifices. Solomon’s dedication ceremony also included the sacrifice of a staggering 144,000 animals to atone for the Jews’ sins: “62 Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the Lord. 63 Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. 64 On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.” (1 Kgs. 8:62-64). These sacrifices that came in connection with both the dedication of the Temple and the concurrent Feast of Tabernacles / Sukkot. To atone for the nation’s sin, Solomon sacrificed both 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep (1 Kgs. 8:63). With the shedding of blood, there could be no atonement of sin. And without the atonement of sin, salvation, fellowship with God, and His willingness to hear your prayers would not be possible: “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22).
Celebrate that Jesus was the final and complete sacrifice. During the Feast, the Jews made an offering by fire to the Lord (Lev. 23:37). Including two lambs that were normally sacrificed each day (Nu. 28:2), the normal number of burnt offering included 215 animal sacrifices: (1) 71 one-year old bulls without defect; (2) 15 rams without defect; (3) 121 lambs without defect; and (4) eight goats without defect. In addition, the meal offerings included oil offerings, wine offerings, and 336 tenths of “ephahs” of fine flour (Nu. 29:12-39). Solomon’s sacrifices totaled 144,000 animals (1 Kgs. 8:63). This was more than 669 times the normal number of sacrifices. Although the Jews had to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins, Jesus was a one-time sacrifice who forever freed us from the obligation to sacrifice animals in order to have our sins forgiven (Heb. 10:14). If God was willing to accept the sacrifice of animals on our behalf, we have no reason to doubt Jesus’ ability to atone for even the worst sinners (Heb. 9:14). Have you given thanks for Jesus’ death and the atonement of sin that He makes possible?
The 144,000 saved during the end times. Everything in the Bible has meaning. There were 144,000 sacrifices during the dedication of the Temple (1 Kgs. 8:63). This may correlate to the 144,000 who will be saved during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:5-8). Or, there may be some other meaning that God will reveal in heaven.
Solomon and the people celebrate during the Feast of Tabernacles / Sukkot. The dedication process concluded with an eight-day celebration during the Feast of Tabernacles / Sukkot: “65 So Solomon observed the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, for seven days and seven more days, even fourteen days. 66 On the eighth day he sent the people away and they blessed the king. Then they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people.” (1 Kgs. 8:65-66). The peoples came from the furthest most places in Israel from the south to the north for this moment (1 Kgs. 8:65). It was a time of joyous celebration across all of Israel (1 Kgs. 8:66).
Give thanks for your new beginnings in Jesus. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days (1 Kgs. 8:66). After the seven-day festival, the people were together for a holy convocation on the eighth day (Lev. 23:36). Seven is a number of completeness in the Bible. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Ex. 20:11). The ordination of the priests also lasted seven days (Lev. 8:35-36). The number eight in the Bible symbolizes new beginnings. The priest’s new duties began on the eighth day (Lev. 9:1). The eighth day was also the day that a child was to be circumcised as being part of his covenant with God (Lev. 12:3). Christ also rose from the dead on a Sunday, the eighth day or the first day of the new week (Matt. 28:1). If you are excited for the new beginnings that Jesus made possible, this is the appointed time to celebrate it.
Jesus also came to bring joy. God’s holy days revealed the “shadows” of Christ (Col. 2:17). Sukkot was the most joyful holy day. It celebrated when God came to dwell or “tabernacle” amongst us. It also foreshadowed both when Christ dwelled with us and when He will again “tabernacle” with us during His 1,000-year reign on Earth. It also foreshadowed the joy that comes from Him alone (Lk. 2:10-11). This Feast was a “perpetual statute throughout your generation. . . ” (Lev. 23:41). If you celebrate it, “your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands. . .” (Dt. 16:15). Thus, you can receive a blessing when you celebrate Jesus on this day.
Be filled with the joy of the Spirit. Jesus offers you an abundant life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The abundant life that He offers include the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide: “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “[I]n Your presence is fullness of joy;” (Ps. 16:11; 21:6). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Ro. 14:17; 15:13). Living your faith and walking with Jesus also involves sharing the joy of the Spirit with others: “ . . . I rejoice and share my joy with you.” (Phil. 2:17(b)). “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Phil. 2:2). When you suffer setbacks, do others see in you the joy of the Spirit? If you are only filled with anger or resentment, what kind of a witness are you?