Solomon led the laborers of Israel as they built the first temple in Jerusalem. It took them over 7 years to complete and was finally finished around 960 BC. When the construction ended, King Solomon organized and conducted a massive ceremony to worship the LORD and to dedicate the temple to His service. This event included several different components, details of which have been preserved on the pages of Scripture.
The message this morning is titled “The Dedication of the Temple”. It took place immediately after the temple was finished and before Solomon’s palace was built. It was a national celebration which marked an important moment in Israel’s history. The temple was more than just a building, but rather it became the center of Jewish life and religion.
As usual, the sermon outline today has 3 main points. Each of these will highlight various aspects of the temple’s dedication. We will see over the course of our study that it was a spectacular event. Are you ready? Let’s dive right into it...
I. THE ARK’S ARRIVAL (1 Kings 8:1-9; 2 Chronicles 5:1-10)
When work on the temple was done, Solomon assembled all of Israel’s prominent elders and leaders together in Jerusalem. He ordered that the Ark of the Covenant, which resided in a special tent in Jerusalem where David had placed it some 40 years earlier, be brought up to its new home. The Levitical priests carried the Ark through the city and up to the temple. It was a grand procession.
When they arrived, the priests took the Ark into the inner sanctuary of the temple. They placed it between the 2 large cherubim that stood in the Holy of Holies. The outstretched wings of the cherubim formed a covering for the Ark. The only artifacts inside the Ark were the 2 tablets on which the 10 commandments were written. Apparently the budding rod of Aaron and the small jar of manna that had once been placed inside the Ark of the Covenant during the days of Moses were either lost or removed.
The Levites also carried up many other smaller items from the tabernacle that David had dedicated before his death. These included silver, gold, and numerous holy utensils. All of these things were placed in the temple’s treasury.
Almost all of the major furnishings of the temple were new. Though they had the same functions as their older counterparts from the tabernacle, each piece had been remade and modernized. Most were given an elaborate upgrade. The only original item of significance found in the temple was the Ark of the Covenant. It was the same Ark that Moses had crafted at Mt. Sinai and placed in the tabernacle a few centuries before. Perhaps in this generation of modern, state-of-the-art, auditorium-style megachurches it would be wise to remind ourselves that not everything has to be new. In fact, the most important things are often the oldest.
II. THE KING’S ADDRESS (1 Kings 8:12-61; 2 Chronicles 6)
Solomon made an elevated platform which he used on this special occasion. It was situated in the midst of the temple courtyard. Solomon stood on it so the people could see and hear him more easily. He told the crowd that his father David had originally planned to build a temple for God. However, the LORD forbade him from doing so and pledged that someday his son would complete it instead. This celebration formally recognized the fulfillment of God’s promise.
After delivering his opening speech, Solomon knelt down on his knees, spread his hands out to heaven, and offered an audible prayer of dedication. Solomon asked God to honor the covenant He’d made with his father, ensuring that a descendant of David would always sit on the throne of Israel. He urged the LORD to hear and heed all of the prayers that would be offered in the temple over the years to come. He pleaded with God to be ever-merciful with His people and to forgive and restore them whenever they acknowledged and turned from their sin.
When he finished praying, Solomon stood up and spoke a blessing over the people. He praised God for faithfully keeping His promises to Israel dating all the way back to the days of Moses. The king then implored everyone to devote themselves wholly to the LORD, and to walk in obedience to His commands and statutes. By doing so, they would continuously enjoy His divine favor.
Isn’t it nice when a king, president, or other national leader unashamedly and publicly prays on behalf of their nation? King Solomon was not the model of righteousness by any means, but despite his many imperfections he boldly led Israel in prayer on this momentous occasion. May the LORD continually grant us with leaders who will courageously and openly seek Him in prayer for the protection and welfare of their people.
III. THE LORD’S APPROVAL (1 Kings 8:10-11,62-66 & 9:1-9; 2 Chronicles 5:11-14,7)
Solomon and the assembly offered numerous burnt offerings, grain offerings, and peace offerings. Due to their exceedingly large number, not all of the sacrifices were able to fit on the bronze altar. Solomon consecrated the middle of the temple courtyard in order to make the surplus offerings there. Meanwhile the priests and Levites sang praises to God and played their instruments joyfully.
As everyone watched the festivities, fire fell from heaven and consumed the huge burnt offering and the sacrifices. A thick cloud filled the temple so that the priests were unable to enter or minister inside. In these moments the shekinah glory of God filled the temple, just as it had the tabernacle many years before. Seeing this, all of the people bowed down and lowered their faces to the ground while voicing praises and worship to the LORD. This was the most important moment of the entire celebration as it demonstrated God’s approval of all that had been done. God’s manifest presence now dwelt among Israel in the temple, specifically upon the Ark of the Covenant which resided within the Holy of Holies.
In addition to all of these events, Solomon observed a feast in Israel that lasted for 14 days. People came from the farthest reaches of the nation to see the new temple and to participate in the grand celebration. After 2 wonderful and historic weeks, the dedication ended and all of the people returned to their homes to resume their lives.
Several years later, after he finished building his palace, the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and told him that He’d heard the king’s solemn prayer. God made the following promise - “If My people, who are called by My name, will 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.” But the LORD also warned that if they forsook Him to follow other gods, He’d uproot them from Israel and make the temple obsolete.
Let’s conclude today’s message with a question…
What good is a church if God’s glory does not reside within it? This is why the presence of the Holy Spirit is so important to the vitality of a congregation. Though the Spirit resides within the life of each individual Christian, He should also be welcomed and present during the corporate worship and ministry of the church. Churches that lack the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit are often cold, listless, and self-absorbed.
Just like in the days of Solomon, today we desperately need the glory of God to fill our local church buildings. Every time we walk in the doors we should sense and be awed by the abiding presence of Holy Spirit. Sadly, this is often not the case. More than any other reason, I believe that the absence of the Holy Spirit accounts for the deadness and precipitous decline of the modern church. Sorry to end on such a sour note.
Well folks, we only have 2 sermons left in this series. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I hope you will join us next week as we consider some other happenings that took place during the latter half of King’s Solomon’s reign. Until then, may God bless you.