1 & 2 Kings 2020 Bible Study (Hope Beyond Human Failure)

1 Kings 5-8, A House of Prayer

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We come to a portion of scripture that gives great detail about the construction of the temple under Solomon’s reign. Yet again we can be tempted to rush through these chapters because it seems to be a record of extraordinary details without a discernible purpose. But what we are told about the temple tells us much about God’s intention for how he would live with us and how we are to live our lives for him. So let us carefully look at 1 Kings 5-8 and consider these pictures of the temple and their significance for the people of God.
The Temple Preparations (5:1-18)
Solomon’s preparations for building the temple has a couple of notable pieces. First, Gentiles are participating in the preparations and building of this temple to the Lord. We see Gentiles helping in the construction in 1 Kings 7:13-14,40. Chapter 5 opens with Solomon asking Hiram, the king of Tyre, for the cedars of Lebanon to be cut and provided for this temple. Second, Gentiles are praising the Lord. Hiram, a Gentile is excited to help contribute to the temple’s construction. Look at 1 Kings 5:7. Hiram greatly rejoices and praises the Lord because he understands that the Lord has given David a wise son to rule over this great people. Gentiles are praising God because of the son of David and the wisdom he possesses. So Gentiles are participating in the preparations for the temple and the temple’s construction. Verse 12 shows that the Lord is with Solomon in the temple’s construction, giving Solomon wisdom just as he had promised.
The Temple Promise (6:1-13)
Chapter 6 begins with the dimensions of this temple to the Lord. It is easy to skip over these details but there is something very important recorded for us in the midst of the construction narrative. Look at verses 11-13. In verse 11 we see the word of the Lord comes to Solomon with an important covenant promise.
“Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.” (1 Kings 6:12–13 ESV)
There are two keys to this covenantal promise. First, notice what the result of the promise will be. God will live with his people and not forsake them (6:13). The promise of the temple is that God will always be with his people and not abandon them. The temple represents God living with his people. Second, while it has always been God’s desire to be with his people, there must be stipulations for this to happen. God tells Solomon that he needs to walk in God’s ways, keeping God’s rules and commandments. Now this is notable. Notice that the promise is not that the people of Israel need to walk in the ways of the Lord. Rather, the Lord puts the weight on the king. He must obey. If the son of David will obey, just as David told him to do in 2:1-4, then God will live with all the people of Israel and not abandon them.
The Temple Riches (6:14-7:51)
As you read through the rest of chapter 6, what you are seeing is just beauty and riches. The descriptions are staggering to consider. Cedars line the walls so that no stone was seen (6:15-18). Gold is overlaid over everything in the temple (6:20-22). The presence of God is depicted in 6:23-28 as the cherubim are pictures of the guardians and protectors of God’s presence. Yet even the cherubim were overlaid with gold. In all it took 7 years to build the temple (6:38).
The riches continue when it comes to Solomon’s palace (7:1-12). After all the expenses of the temple, the wealth of Solomon’s reign is so great that he can also spare no expense at building his own house. Solomon’s house also is filled with cedars from floor to ceiling. Huge, costly stones were used for its construction. His house took 13 years to complete (7:1).
The rest of chapter 7 records the details for the articles and objects that would be put in the temple. Again, the point is the richness and wealth of the kingdom as seen in the temple’s construction. Verse 47 tells us that they did not bother weighing all the vessel that were cast with bronze because there were so many vessels. But everything that was in the temple was made of gold (7:48-50).
The Temple Dedication (8:1-66)
With the temple complete, the ark of the covenant is brought up to be placed in the temple. Sacrifices were so numerous as the ark came that they could not be counted (8:5). As soon as the priests left the temple, the glory of the Lord filled the house (8:10-11). This is just like what happened in Exodus 40:34-35 when the tabernacle was completed under Moses and the presence of the Lord filled that tabernacle. Now God is showing that he is blessing this temple and is with his people, as his glory fills the temple. With Israel assembled, Solomon tells the people that God has kept his promise that he made to David and house has been built for the Lord (8:16-21). But Solomon now has an important speech to give to Israel to teach them about what this temple means. The temple was to represent something very important to the people. Watch how Solomon wants the people to think about this in verse 27.
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27 ESV)
God is not living in this building. Nothing on earth can contain the Lord! There is no way that God would live in this building that Solomon built. Solomon understood that the temple was just a representation for the presence of God. Do not think of God as being so small that he needs a place to live. That is not the point of the temple. So what is the point of the temple? The big point is in verses 28-30.
Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. (1 Kings 8:28–30 ESV)
The point of the temple as that the servant of God would pray toward it and the Lord would hear that prayer. This is exemplified in the rest of the dedication speech. For example, if Israel is defeated in war because they sinned, if the people turn back to God and plead toward the temple, then God hear their prayer and in heaven and forgive the people (8:33-34). If God brings a drought on the people for their sins and they pray toward the temple and repent, then God in heaven will hear their prayer and forgiven their sins (8:35-36). Please look at verse 41. If a foreigner, someone who is not an Israelite, comes from a far country and prays toward the temple, then God in heaven hear their prayers and do all that they ask of you (8:41-43).
Then notice even verse 46. If the people sin and you carry them into captivity, but their hearts turn back to this land, pleading to the Lord and repentant, then God in heaven hear their prayer, forgive their sins, and grant them compassion (8:46-52). You might remember that this appears to be what Daniel is doing in Daniel 6:10 as he is praying three times toward Jerusalem. This is what Solomon said to do.
What was the point of the temple if God was not actually there? What was supposed to be the symbolism? The temple is the place where God will meet his people. The temple was there the repentant were to turn. The temple is the place where forgiveness is sins could be found. The temple was where prayers would be answered. The temple was where even the outsiders could come and have their prayers answered. The temple acted as a mediator between God and his people. The temple was the place where God could be accessed.
The Power of Jesus
I want us to see the two important pictures that we see in Jesus from these chapters regarding the construction and dedication of the temple. First, the covenant God made with the people required a king who would walk in God’s ways and keep his commands. The faithfulness of the king was imperative. Solomon would unfortunately fail at this, causing the complete unravelling of the kingdom. But the point that we are seeing is very simple. We need a king who will not fail. We need a descendant of David who will perfectly follow God’s ways. God made a promise in 6:12-13. If the king will keep all of the commandments, then God will live with his people and not forsake them. This happened for us and we must grasp what it means. Since Jesus, the Son of David, did walk in God’s ways and keep all of God’s commands, now God can live with us and not forsake us. This is our first hope. God is able to be with us because of Jesus. God can be with us not because of us. If we look at ourselves, then we can never understand how God can continue to be in a relationship with us. But God made a covenant. He made a promise that if his king would faithfully follow him, then those who belong to that king would have God with them, never forsaking them. Jesus did that for us. Jesus had to come in the flesh and obey the Lord so that we as people belonging to Jesus could have a permanent relationship with the Father. Our hope is not in ourselves but in Jesus who did all that no other person could do.
Second, Jesus is the temple that we see depicted in our text. In John 2:19-21 we see Jesus teaching that the physical temple was not the place to meet God. God had left that physical temple in 586 BC and was never pictured returning. Rather, Jesus is the temple.
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18–22 ESV)
Everything we just noted in Solomon’s dedication prayer about the temple is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the place where God meets his people. Jesus is the place where the repentant are to turn. Jesus is the place where sins could be forgiven. Jesus is the place where prayers would be answered. Have you ever wondered why we pray “in Jesus’ name?” Jesus is the place where prayers are to be offered and answered. Jesus is the place where even outsiders were to come and have God hear them. Jesus is our mediator and the place where we access the Lord.
This is one of the reasons why the temple was supposed to be a house of prayer (cf. Matthew 21:13). It is what Solomon said it was. The temple was supposed to be the place for the world to come in contact with the Lord. The temple was to be the place where God could meet his people, live with them, and answer their prayers. Our prayers for forgiveness are answered in Jesus. Our prayers for rescue and help are answered in Jesus. The significance of the temple is overwhelming and it is even more amazing to see that Jesus is our temple, the place where we turn to and find our Father in heaven. All of this was to cause the world to know and praise the Lord (1 Kings 8:60).
Our role is for us to not only see Jesus as our temple through whom we have access to the Lord, but to help the world see it too. This is how we are also temples of the living God (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). We function as a temple as the people of God and as individuals so that people will come to the Lord to know him and find forgiveness. So the theology of the temple is a critical picture that is being taught by Solomon. Jesus where you meet God, find forgiveness, and have your prayers answered. Value Jesus. Love Jesus. Seek Jesus. Live for Jesus. Help the world see Jesus in this light.

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