After presenting the people with the Temple, Solomon presents it to the Lord in a dedication prayer. It covers past, present and future.
The beautiful Temple Solomon has made is nothing without the name of the Lord. And he knows that well. Solomon also knows that no matter how grand this structure is, it CANNOT contain the Lord. He asks instead that it be a focus point for God and man. A place where man can direct his attention and prayers too and where God will listen to those searching hearts.
Did you notice that Solomon didn’t say that the people had to be standing in the courtyard of the Temple to be heard by God? He asked God to listen to anyone, including foreigners who pray towards the Temple. In Solomon’s prayer he makes mention of why this is. He knows there will be times when the people can’t come to the Temple to make their petitions to the Lord. While on the battlefield or in captivity, they will be physically separated from the Temple. But Solomon PRAYS they won’t be spiritually separated from God. For God is not contained in or constrained by the Temple built by man.
The Temple is for the needs of man to have a place of remembrance and focus rather than a place for God to go. God knew His people needed something tangible. Something they could put their hands on or at least picture in their minds. They needed a focal point for their prayers. A place that they KNEW God would hear them from when they turned their prayers AND their hearts to Him.
God didn’t, and still doesn’t, need a reminder to focus on His people. His eyes are ALWAYS on His children. But they needed His ‘stamp of approval’ to know that in their own hearts. The Temple was where He would place that ‘stamp’ permanently. He had placed it on the Tabernacle when it was built and traveling with the people. But when the Ark was removed from it the dynamic changed. God didn’t forget about the Tabernacle and the prayers being offered there but His presence no longer filled the Holy of Holies. The heart of the Tabernacle was gone.
I know I have covered this question before but I’m going to ask it again. WHY didn’t David return the Ark to the Tabernacle? Was it because he was being selfish and wanted God closer to him? Was he afraid that his past sins kept him from approaching God through the Tabernacle system? Or was God prompting him to take steps that led to this very day? David offered Jerusalem but God chose it to be the place where He would put His name forever. He could have easily said “No” and David would have had no choice in the matter. Yet He didn’t.
Solomon continued what David began; bringing God to the center of the people. I don’t know if it was true but my feelings are that the Tabernacle was isolated and visitors had fallen off. It feels like there was more worship at the site of the Tent David erected for the Ark instead. The people were split in two when it came to meeting with the Lord. Now the two halves would be reunited and in a place that would not change. The location, not the building.
And in just a minute (tomorrow for us), God would put His ‘stamp of approval’ on the House that Solomon built for His name. The place where His people could know that He would hear them from.
Today there is no physical structure bearing His name. This is because of the work Jesus did on the cross. At the moment of Jesus’ death the veil in the Temple that separated God from man was torn in two by GOD. Man couldn’t do this himself. And with that tearing God spilled forth to all the world. He now writes His name on the Temple of our hearts. No building contains Him. It never could. But now His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit lives within those who call upon His name and accept the sacrificial work His only Son completed on the cross for us. He is too big to be constrained or contained in my heart alone. He is just as big as He was when Solomon made the Temple. So He is capable of seeing ALL His children and filling ALL our hearts with room for more!
Thank You Father God for making a way for me to come to You. My longitudinal challenges would keep me forever trying to remember where I was supposed to face when praying. Instead I simply look deep into my heart where You have placed Your throne or towards Heaven. I know You are in both places. And I KNOW You hear me when I cry out to You. Thank You for that promise, then and now.
Thank You that You meet me where I am and don’t rebuff me because I don’t ‘follow ALL the directions’ of the past. I know I would make too many mistakes in trying to follow each and every step.