This is the last phase of consecrating the Temple. Solomon offers a sacrifice to the Lord. A HUGE peace offering to share with the people.
Solomon has completed the house for the Lord. He has had the furnishings placed. He has had the Ark brought to its prepared place. He has made a heartfelt and prophetic prayer to the Lord for the people and the Temple. He has blessed the people and pleaded with them to stay true to the Lord. The last thing that remains is to offer the first sacrifice in the new Temple.
When the Tabernacle was consecrated each of the tribes of Israel presented an offering to the Lord. This happened on twelve separate days. Each tribe brought “his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old” (Numbers 7). Now that Israel is one nation, Solomon makes one offering that will be for all the people.
I wonder if Solomon’s grain, oil and incense offerings were the same as those of the original offerings for the Tabernacle. In other words, were they contained in the gold and silver dishes? Did his burnt offering contain all three animals that the original did? We know his peace offering went FAR above what was in the original offerings, but Solomon also had a LOT more people who would share in this feast with him than the original tribes did.
What order were the offerings given in? Was the burnt offering first? That is the one I would have chosen to be first as it was for remission of sin. You cannot make peace with God when you are still covered in sin. During the time of the sacrifices, blood had to be shed first for sin to be forgiven. Now, with the shedding of Jesus’ blood FIRST, we can come to Him and be cleaned when we accept that sacrifice for ourselves. When we let Jesus’ blood wash our sins away.
The peace offering Solomon offered was HUGE! “Solomon offered as peace offerings to the Lord 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep” (verse 63a). Were these all from his own flocks or did each tribe contribute some to this amount? Did he wipe out his own herds? The number of people in attendance made this number necessary. Did everyone receive a large portion of this meat or were there so many people that everyone received just a morsel? I’m thinking the first option is more likely. Not that I’m doubting the size of the crowd but that I’m expecting that this feast was so lavish that no one went home hungry or even merely satisfied.
The size of Solomon’s offering would have had the priests at the new altar for DAYS if done a few at a time. Somehow he turned the whole middle court into a place to burn the sacrifice too. I’m wondering if God sent fire down from Heaven to consume the offerings. It took HOURS for each of those animals to be brought before the priest, killed, the pieces for the Lord removed, and then given into the hands of the one who would prepare it for the people. The priests were probably covered in blood from head to toe and exhausted by the time this was over. Rather than waiting in line to burn each offering, the portions that belonged to God were laid out side by side. They were burned where they lay. I expected the burnt offering and the grain offering were on the Bronze Altar while the peace offering took up the middle court. But I noticed that we are told that ALL of them were offered in the middle court. The use of the middle court in this manner now made it special unto the Lord.
God accepted this accommodation. He received the offering where it lay and took the Temple as His own. The ‘keys’ were finally handed over to Him for His new house; the Temple that Solomon built.
The celebration lasted for a full week. The whole nation celebrated it together. “So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days” (verse 65). Does this mean that everyone came to the Temple or that even in the towns and villages this feast was kept? Maybe it is a combination of the two. Those who couldn’t attend kept it in their homes.
Was this the first great pilgrimage to Jerusalem? There was a great many people gathered when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem but did ALL the nation attend? The people had been commanded to appear before the Lord three times a year. Were they keeping these feasts times at Gibeon previously? Did all Israel come or were they lax in this? Would the new Temple prompt them to become more faithful in this commandment from God? This is the same place/location Jesus would journey in His life. He was certainly faithful in His observance of the commandments.
God accepted Solomon’s sacrifices. He could have rejected them because they weren’t done EXACTLY as prescribed. But He didn’t. He saw beyond the acts and looked at the hearts offering them. He does the same with us. We don’t have to follow some prescribed formula to pray, to repent, or to give to Him. All we need is a right heart and a desire to honor Him in what we do. He meets us where we are; stained shirt or fresh pressed suit. Give Him your best, that’s all He is asking of us.
Father God, thank You that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted by You. You see my desire to honor You in what I do. Even when I get sleepy while reading or writing, You still love me. It is my desire to ALWAYS honor You in ALL I do. I can hear my aunt’s voice singing those words right now. I wish I could share them here but I don’t have that technology. Thank You Lord for filling my heart with Your songs of worship! Take all I have and make it acceptable.