Finally Solomon had finished building the Temple and it was ready for its purpose. That purpose was to make a way for The Lord to dwell with men. Only one thing had to be done to finalize it, and that was to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies. It was a big occasion and Solomon did it just as The Lord deserved it to be done. Verses 1-5 read,
“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.”
This was as festive and serious as any occasion could be. The sacrificing of the sheep and oxen was for the cleansing of sin, for peace, fellowship, and thanksgiving. It prepared Israel for The Lord. It made it possible for them to draw near to The Lord as The Ark made its way from the Tabernacle to the Temple. Our sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:1-3). So Solomon, the priests and the entire assembly atoned for their sins and made the sacrifices necessary for that atonement.
When the priests placed the Ark in the holy place, God gave them the sign of His presence. Verses 10-11 read,
“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a 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.”
Today, we are the Temple of God, and before He indwells us with His Word and therefore His presence, He cleanses us of all our sin, once and for all. It is not by the blood of sheep and oxen but the blood of Jesus Christ. The Temple, the altar, and the sacrifices were all shadows of Jesus and precursors to the Glory of our Savior. Hebrews 9:23-36 reads,
“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
And we do not need a cloud thick with God’s glory to tell us that God is with us. We have The Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13-14). And He manifests in gifts and a change of character. (Galatians 5:22-23). 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 reads,
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
Solomon couldn’t help but express his gratitude. Verses 21-22 read,
“Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 And there I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
Then Solomon prayed. Verses 27-30 are a portion of that prayer.
“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! 28 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, 29 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. 30 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.”
God didn’t need the Temple, He didn’t require man. The Temple was for Israel’s benefit, not His. Stephen said the same thing in his speech to the High Priest and council, when he was seized. Acts 7:44-51 reads,
“Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen.45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.”
The Temple gave people a way to connect with God, a way to pray to Him, repent for sin, and be forgiven of sin. We do not need the Temple, the altar or the Ark. The Ark held the Law of Moses, it was the Mercy Seat, and the footstool of God. (1 Chronicles 28:2). We have Jesus, We have been given The Holy Spirit. We are the Temple of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Jesus is our Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was the place where the high priest sprinkled the blood for the propitiation of sin. Romans 3:24-25 reads,
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins”
Solomon then gave a benediction to the people. A benediction is a good word, a blessing, and often a prophetic truth spoken in worship of the Lord. Verses 56-61,
“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 spoke by Moses his servant. 57 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 him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.59 Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. 61 Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
God was with Israel through the Temple. He is with us through Jesus Christ. He has given us rest. Every word of Solomon’s benediction is true for us because of the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Hebrews 4:9-13 reads,
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave us the Great Commission and a promise. Matthew 28:18-20 reads,
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The purpose of The Temple was so that God could dwell with man. It was a foretaste of Emmanuel, God With Us, Jesus. God Himself, the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are in us and we are in Him. We are indelibly united with Him. John 14:18-21 reads,
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”