As we began our study of 2Chronicles, we saw that young King Solomon led the leaders of Israel to offer sacrifices on the altar in Gibeon. That night, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and asked him what he wanted. Solomon only asked for wisdom to lead God's people. God granted him not only that wisdom, but wealth and honor as well.
Solomon began to use this wisdom for godly purposes, but used some of his wealth in less-than-godly pursuits. This was the first time we were exposed to Solomon's dual nature, and certainly won't be the last.
Tonight, we pick up in chapter two...
Solomon's father, King David, had charged him to build a house for the Lord (1Chon. 22:6). Now that his dad is gone, it is up to Solomon to obey or not. He decided he would. But we also see that he made another decision: to build a house for himself as well.
King David's house was not old. It was built brand new for him, a gift from King Hiram of Tyre (1Chron. 14:1). It was made of cedar and cut stones (2Sam. 5:11), a house fit for a king. But Solomon wanted a different house, a new house, a royal palace.
Once again, there is the dual nature - a desire to please God and a desire to please himself. How very much like us Solomon was!
Solomon sent a letter to the king of Tyre, the man who'd sent the gift to his father. In the letter, he requested that a talented craftsman be sent to help the men that Solomon would have working on the temple. He also asked for supplies of wood from Lebanon, the best in the known world.
The deal sounded good to Hiram. He agreed to send Khoo-RAWM Awb-EE, who was half Jewish and half Tyrian. He would be able to both perform the work and supervise others.
As we read up in verse two, the workers and supervisors for these two projects totalled 153,600 men. As we see now, these were all of the aliens living in the land of Israel.
The Lord's appearance to David should be fresh in your mind from 1Chronicles 21. David had bought the site of the threshing floor belonging to Ornan the Jebusite, built an altar, and sacrificed to the Lord. The Lord had then put an end to the judgment He was executing against Israel. David then and there had decided,
1Chr. 22:1 ..."This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel."
It is the spring of 966 BC, and Solomon begins his building project - 480 years after the Israelites came out of slavery in Egypt (1Kings 6:1).
These 15 verses describe for us the foundation's dimensions, and about how nearly every part of the structure was overlaid with gold.
There are also some notable differences between Solomon's temple and Moses' tabernacle. The temple has a porch, upper rooms, pillars, and huge sculptured cherubim in the Holy of Holies with thirty-foot wingspans!
Chapter four describes the construction of the furniture and the utensils of the temple: The bronze altar of sacrifice, the laver and extra washbasins, the bowls, etc.
Interestingly, one of the changes made from the original tabernacle design is that instead of one lampstand and one table of showbread, there are now ten of each.
When everything was done, Solomon filled the temple treasuries with everything that his father King David had dedicated.
King David had made the mistake of transporting the ark incorrectly (1Chron. 13), which led to disaster. Three months later, they did it correctly: using the poles, and carrying them on the shoulders of the Levites (1Chron. 15:15).
Solomon has obviously learned from his father's mistake, for on the day when they brought the ark up to the new temple, the Levites took up the ark.
At this point, the ark contained only the Ten Commandments (Deut. 10:2-5). In the past, the ark had also contained a jar of manna (Ex. 16:32-34) and Aaron's rod, which had budded (Num. 17:10)
The writer of Hebrews described this, leaving us an appetite to know more details:
Heb. 9:4-5 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
When the ark was put into place, they discovered that the poles stuck out beyond the Holy of Holies. For many years later, it must have been a comforting reminder to the priests to know that the ark was safe and sound in the temple.
The temple was filled with a cloud. Throughout Israel's history, the Lord's glory would appear in a cloud in the wilderness (Exo. 16:10), on Mount Sinai (Exo. 24:16), and in the tabernacle (Exo. 40:34).
Now, God's glory has filled the new temple. And notice when it happened: when the priests came forth from the holy place, and the singers glorified the Lord in song. More and more I am seeing that God desires to fill His house with His glory. However, He will not share His glory with anyone. And so a couple of things need to happen:
- the ministers have to get out of the way
- the singers and musicians need to be in unity and praising the Lord.
I believe that God's glory is revealed when we are truly glorifying the Lord. What happens when people try to draw attention to themselves? A couple of priests in the early days tried to do just that:
Moses and Aaron had come out of the tabernacle to bless the people. God's glory appeared to all the people. God accepted their sacrifices, and the people shouted and fell on their faces (Lev. 9:22-24).
But two of Aaron's sons wanted some of that attention.
Lev. 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.'"...
Too often, there are musicians and ministers who offer strange fire, trying to steal some of God's glory. Fortunately, when God's glory filled the new temple, every one of the musicians and ministers fell on their faces before God. They could not stand because of it. That's when we know that God is truly being glorified - when no minister is standing up saying, "Look at me, look at me!"
King Solomon blessed the people, telling them that God's Word was being fulfilled on that day. Remember in our studies of Deuteronomy, we repeatedly read the law regarding...
Deut. 14:23 "...the place where He chooses to establish His name..."
On this day of dedication, the Lord was saying,
2Chr. 6:6 ...I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there...
Solomon had made a platform in the court so that people could hear prayers and proclamations. In these 31 verses, Solomon stands on that platform and prays to the Lord that this temple would be the place where God accepted sacrifices, where the Jews could gather in humility to seek Him, where even foreigners who wanted to know God could come.
That was Solomon's heart for that temple, even as it is my heart for this place.
When Solomon's prayer was over, the Lord demonstrated His acceptance of the burnt offering by sending fire from heaven to consume it. This must have a been an amazing sight!
The people's response is a little difficult to understand completely without some study. When the fire consumed the burnt offering, they bowed to the ground and said,
2Chr. 7:3 ..."Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting."
You would think that they would say something like, "He is all-powerful," or "He is a God of wonders and consuming fire." Why would they focus on His lovingkindness at a time like that?
The key is in understanding the purpose of the burnt offering. You see, our study of Leviticus chapter one revealed that, the purpose of the burnt offering was for a person to be accepted before the Lord, to have atonement made for his sin. In other words, it is the offering that covers a person's sin. The person would lay his hand on the head of the animal essentially transferring the guilt of his sin to the animal, and then it was killed.
When God accepts a substitutionary sacrifice for sin, what can we point to more than God's lovingkindness, His mercy?
Paul reminded the Ephesians,
Eph. 2:4-7 ...God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
When atonement is made for your sins, what else can you say besides, "God's mercy, His lovingkindess, is everlasting. Truly the Lord is good."
God's glory has filled the place, and it is now the house of God. And so we see that in God's house, these two things should happen: offerings and musical worship.
It is interesting to me that in this generation, many in the church are ashamed to publicly practice these two things. Many seeker-sensitive churches have moved away from worship music, replacing it with performances. They believe that if the church body is worshipping, it will alienate the seekers. But I say that the house of God is where God's people gather to worship!
And even many Biblically-based churches have in this generation become ashamed to receive offerings publicly. They say, "Receiving offerings is a stumbling block to unbelievers," and so they only have unobtrusive boxes in the lobby where people can give. But again, I say, "The house of God is where God's people gather to worship!" I agree that placing undue emphasis on money will alienate an unbeliever. But I also see that we are commanded to give our offerings to God publicly and worshipfully. I'm not going to take away our worship time because an unbeliever doesn't understand, or has a hangup about it. After all, don't unbelievers have problems and hangups with the Bible? Should we get rid of that too?
The musicians and singers praised publicly, and the offerings also were presented right there, in the middle of the court.
The dedication and celebration lasted a good, long time. There was a time for everything: worship, sacrifice, celebration, being solemn, and rejoicing.
God confirmed to Solomon that He had in fact consecrated this temple as a place where God would meet with His people. But there are some additional issues God wants to address...
God will not allow His presence to be taken for granted. He warns Solomon individually and the nation corporately that they must not turn away from God. If they do, God will abandon the temple, and future generations will ask, "What happened?"
As discouraging as it is to end on this note, this is exactly what happened. The people began to take God for granted, assuming that even though they fell away from Him, that He was obligated to stay. Isaiah and Micah tell us of the presumption of Israel:
Mic. 3:11 Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD saying, "Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us."
Is. 48:1 "Hear this ... who swear by the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness. For they call themselves after the holy city and lean on the God of Israel..."
This behavior would not be tolerated by the Lord. Ultimately, Ezekiel describes for us the departure of the glory of God in Ezekiel 9, 10, and 11.
Saints, we must never forget this principle that
Gal. 6:7 ...God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
He has not promised to dwell with us in this building perpetually, regardless of our behavior. But He has promised to reveal His glory to us continually as we continually get out of the way, empty ourselves of pride and desire for attention, as we sacrifice and sing with right hearts.