The temple's preperation, building process, dedication, and God's response.
When we come to the part of the Bible where the temple is built in Jerusalem, we find a lot of similarities to the building of the tabernacle. You could choose to divide the event into four sections:
Like the building the tabernacle, there is a lot of repetition of details. However, this time we have 2 different accounts recorded (Kings & Chronicles) which means we have repetition of repetition of repetition. Occasionally there is a slight variance between accounts, and some of you may enjoy finding those and noting them.
David was not able to build the temple, because God forbid him. So, while David had a permanent home, God did not.
Solomon was given that task.
David set Solomon up for success. He gave him the bling and the blueprints.
IF you read the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles, you might remember that 1 Chronicles 28-29, the last two chapters of that book, talks about the way that David provided for all Solomon would need:
1 Chronicles 28:9–11 || 9 “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever. 10 Realize now that the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.” 11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans ... [CSB]
1 Chronicles 28:19–20 || 19 David concluded, “By the LORD’s hand on me, he enabled me to understand everything in writing, all the details of the plan.” 20 Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or abandon you until all the work for the service of the LORD’s house is finished. [CSB]
1 Chronicles 29:1–2 || 1 Then King David said to all the assembly, “My son Solomon—God has chosen him alone—is young and inexperienced. The task is great because the building will not be built for a human but for the LORD God. 2 So to the best of my ability I’ve made provision for the house of my God…” [CSB]
It was obvious that Solomon was picked by God to do a job that no one else had ever attempted – make a permanent place fit for God to live in.
When you read about it, David had exact measures/weights or gold and silver for each item in the temple. There are very specific instructions on how the walls were to be built. They took care to cut all the stone offsite so no hammering would be heard. TONS of details here!
If you are like us, you can get lost in all the details! Or you are trying to draw it out or imagine it yourself. Or perhaps you just tune it out and skip over it completely?
But we need to stop for a second and realize the significance. The temple is going to be the most significant structure in the lives of the Jews. It is going to be a symbol to the nations and a hope for Israel. It is going to be THE place where the God of all creation will choose to show up!
But WHY did God allow Solomon to build the temple in the first place when he said he did not ask for it?
TO TELL HIS STORY! The temple design is significant because it is a building that tells the story of God!
NOTE: 2 Chronicles 3-4 & 1 Kings 6-8 tell the account of the temple being built.
How about a cool video?
Some cool things we noticed:
You will see that the temple will remain significant as a physical structure as well as a figurative example of the presence of God, especially as you study the life of Jesus in the gospels.
But rather than unpack all of that now, we want to jump to the end of the 7 years of building, to the temple dedication. The prayer of Solomon is loading with theology and even some prophecy and totally worth looking at.
NOTICE the THEOLOGY of this passage:
But notice also how many times the words “pray”, “prayer” and “petition” are used! 20 times in this passage! The word “hear” appears 12 times!
2 Chronicles 6 || 1 Then Solomon said: The LORD said he would dwell in total darkness, 2 but I have built an exalted temple for you, a place for your residence forever. 3 Then the king turned and blessed the entire congregation of Israel while they were standing. 4 He said: Blessed be the LORD God of Israel! He spoke directly to my father David, and he has fulfilled the promise by his power. He said, 5 “Since the day I brought my people Israel out of the land of Egypt, I have not chosen a city to build a temple in among any of the tribes of Israel, so that my name would be there, and I have not chosen a man to be ruler over my people Israel. 6 But I have chosen Jerusalem so that my name will be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.” 7 My father David had his heart set on building a temple for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 8 However, the LORD said to my father David, “Since it was your desire to build a temple for my name, you have done well to have this desire. 9 Yet, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own offspring, will build the temple for my name.” 10 So the LORD has fulfilled what he promised. I have taken the place of my father David and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised. I have built the temple for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 11 I have put the ark there, where the LORD’s covenant is that he made with the Israelites. 12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire congregation of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 For Solomon had made a bronze platform 7½ feet long, 7½ feet wide, and 4½ feet high and put it in the court. He stood on it, knelt down in front of the entire congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said: LORD God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth, who keeps his gracious covenant with your servants who walk before you with all their heart. 15 You have kept what you promised to your servant, my father David. You spoke directly to him, and you fulfilled your promise by your power, as it is today. 16 Therefore, LORD God of Israel, keep what you promised to your servant, my father David: “You will never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons guard their way to walk in my Law as you have walked before me.” 17 Now, LORD God of Israel, please confirm what you promised to your servant David. 18 But will God indeed live on earth with humans? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain you, much less this temple I have built. 19 Listen to your servant’s prayer and his petition, LORD my God, so that you may hear the cry and the prayer that your servant prays before you, 20 so that your eyes watch over this temple day and night, toward the place where you said you would put your name; and so that you may hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the petitions of your servant and your people Israel, which they pray toward this place. May you hear in your dwelling place in heaven. May you hear and forgive. 22 If a man sins against his neighbor and is forced to take an oath and he comes to take an oath before your altar in this temple, 23 may you hear in heaven and act. May you judge your servants, condemning the wicked man by bringing what he has done on his own head and providing justice for the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness. 24 If your people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against you, and they return to you and praise your name, and they pray and plead for mercy before you in this temple, 25 may you hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel. May you restore them to the land you gave them and their ancestors. 26 When the skies are shut and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, and they pray toward this place and praise your name, and they turn from their sins because you are afflicting them, 27 may you hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants and your people Israel, so that you may teach them the good way they should walk in. May you send rain on your land that you gave your people for an inheritance. 28 When there is famine in the land, when there is pestilence, when there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, when their enemies besiege them in the land and its cities, when there is any plague or illness, 29 every prayer or petition that any person or that all your people Israel may have— they each know their own affliction and suffering— as they spread out their hands toward this temple, 30 may you hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and may you forgive and give to everyone according to all their ways, since you know each heart, for you alone know the human heart, 31 so that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days they live on the land you gave our ancestors. 32 Even for the foreigner who is not of your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your strong hand and outstretched arm: when he comes and prays toward this temple, 33 may you hear in heaven in your dwelling place, and do all the foreigner asks you. Then all the peoples of the earth will know your name, to fear you as your people Israel do and know that this temple I have built bears your name. 34 When your people go out to fight against their enemies, wherever you send them, and they pray to you in the direction of this city you have chosen and the temple that I have built for your name, 35 may you hear their prayer and petition in heaven and uphold their cause. 36 When they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin— and you are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to a distant or nearby country, 37 and when they come to their senses in the land where they were deported and repent and petition you in their captors’ land, saying: “We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked,” 38 and when they return to you with all their mind and all their heart in the land of their captivity where they were taken captive, and when they pray in the direction of their land that you gave their ancestors, and the city you have chosen, and toward the temple I have built for your name, 39 may you hear their prayer and petitions in heaven, your dwelling place, and uphold their cause. May you forgive your people who sinned against you. 40 Now, my God, please let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place. 41 Now therefore: Arise, LORD God, come to your resting place, you and your powerful ark. May your priests, LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and may your faithful people rejoice in goodness. 42 LORD God, do not reject your anointed one; remember the promises to your servant David. [CSB]
When Jesus ransacked the temple, not long before being crucified, he was upset and made this statement:
Luke 19:45–46 || 45 He went into the temple and began to throw out those who were selling, 46 and he said, “It is written, my house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” [CSB]
It was taken from Isaiah:
Isaiah 56:7 || 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” [CSB]
But it is obvious that Isaiah is referring to the temple and even the dedication of it by Solomon who talked about the prayers of God’s people as WELL AS the foreigners – anyone who would call on the name of the Lord.
GOD’s RESPONSE to the Temple Dedication:
2 Chronicles 7:1–3 || 1 When Solomon finished praying, fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests were not able to enter the LORD’s temple because the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD. 3 All the Israelites were watching when the fire descended and the glory of the LORD came on the temple. They bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground. They worshiped and praised the LORD: For he is good, for his faithful love endures forever. [CSB]
After 7 years of building and a grand celebration of praising God and worshipping him by declaring all the wonderful things God had done and all the promises he has kept, God shows up and floods the place with his glory.
The imagery of the fire descending and consuming the sacrifice takes us back to the dedication of the tabernacle in Leviticus 9:22-24. Moses and Aaron meet with God, then come out and bless the people and fire descends and consumed the offering on the altar.
After all of this settles, and Solomon is done building, God appears to Solomon a second time. We do not have an exact time reference. Though it is in 1 Kings, the passage in 2 Chronicles is more famous because it includes some words that are not in the Kings account:
2 Chronicles 7:12–22 || 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple of sacrifice. 13 If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, 14 and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15 My eyes will now be open and my ears attentive to prayer from this place. 16 And I have now chosen and consecrated this temple so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there at all times. 17 As for you, if you walk before me as your father David walked, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep my statutes and ordinances, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man ruling in Israel. 19 However, if you turn away and abandon my statutes and my commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and bow in worship to them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for my name I will banish from my presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples. 21 As for this temple, which was exalted, everyone who passes by will be appalled and will say: Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple? 22 Then they will say: Because they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They clung to other gods and bowed in worship to them and served them. Because of this, he brought all this ruin on them. [CSB]
SO, why so much time on the temple?