Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dedicating the Temple

The Dedication of the Temple at the time of Solomon

A great change in the worship of YHWH had taken place after David had conquered the Jebusite town of Jerusalem on the southern slope of Mount Zion. He understood that sacrificial offerings could only be made in the place that the Lord selected, as revealed in the Torah:
Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you” (Deut. 12:13–14).

He subsequently understood that Mount Moriah was to be that place (1 Chron. 21:28-22:1). Then David said, ‘This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel’” (1 Chron. 22:1: See also 2 Chron.6:20; Ps.132:13). So he expressed the view that the tent-shrine should be replaced with something more permanent; a Temple where Israel could gather to fulfil their obligations at festival times. David voiced his thoughts to the prophet Nathan. “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains” (2 Sam. 7:2). Initially, Nathan supported David’s idea, but a message from the Lord, revised the program. Intelligence from heaven directed that the son of David, Solomon, should build the Temple: “He shall build a house for My name” (2 Sam. 7:13). The desire of God to “dwell among them” (Exod.25.8) was still in place.

When the building was completed, Solomon sent particular invitations to the elders and dignitaries of Israel to join him in a service of dedication. The strength of Israel, its manpower, was already required to come, for the dedication service was diarised to coincide with the pilgrim feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, in the seventh month.

But first, the ark (the golden chest also known as the ‘throne of God’) had to be brought to its new home.  David had embarked on such a project when he first brought the ark to Jerusalem but found it was fraught with danger (see 2 Samuel 6.1-10). Solomon, no doubt with an acute knowledge of the problems that David had encountered, made sure that those who had been commissioned for the care of the ark and were properly authorised to carry it, were the only ones to bear it.

When David brought the ark to his capital city he had an honour guard of thousands of soldiers lining the route, while Levitical musicians and singers performed the Psalms, especially Psalm 24. At the gate of the city of David they called for the entry of the ark, the symbol of the localised presence of God:

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?

 The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory”.

Solomon took care not only to equal the dignity accorded the ark by David, but to exceed it. So it was with great ceremony that he brought the ark to the Temple. Before the ark was placed in the Inner Sanctum, Solomon and Israel’s leaders offered many sacrifices in honour of its arrival, at the same time dedicating the new brazen altar. It is recorded that the ark still housed the two tablets on which was written the Decalogue, confirming that the Mosaic Covenant with its priestly culture was still in place. It was only after Solomon felt that proper honour had been shown to the sacred chest, was it taken into the Holy of Holies to be lost from sight to all except the High Priest.    

Solomon had built a high dais from which he could be seen to offer obeisance to the Lord. It also allowed  him to turn to face Israel and bless the assembled company. From his high platform he offered a prayer of dedication connecting the building of the Temple with the inspired wishes of his father David and the Davidic Covenant.

The prayer of dedication acknowledged that the Temple was only a shadow of reality, since God dwelt in    heaven, and not behind the veil. Nevertheless, he was confident that he had the listening ear of YHWH and so petitioned God that since this house, this Temple, was to be known as the place where God had placed His Name (in accordance with the revelation made to David), that those that offered penitential prayers towards it should receive forgiveness.

Included in Solomon’s prayer was a petition for the restoration of Israel in their land if ever they suffered at the hands of a foreign invader:

“O Lord my God … if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers (2 Chron. 6:24–25).

He finished with:
"Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let

“Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.
Now therefore, Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,

And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.

O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed;

Remember the mercies of Your servant David”

(2 Chron. 6:40–42).

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