Solomon is presenting the Temple to the Lord. This is a special gift for the Lord and the people. God accepted this gift with an unmistakable act.
Have you ever wondered if the thing that happened after you prayed was an “answer from God” or a “coincidence”? Well, Solomon and the Israelites didn’t have to wonder. God answered Solomon’s prayer in an act impossible to fake or mistake.
Before Solomon presented the Temple to the people and God, the priests had prepared and set out the sacrifice required in the Law. They prepared the Burnt Offering on the new altar. There were so many animals prepared for this offering that they were too much for the new altar. The middle courtyard was overflowing with them. All were prepared as a gift to the Lord according to His instructions.
No fire had been struck in the new altar. No smoldering coals lay dormant waiting for a breath of air to stir them back to life. No embers, no ashes, and not even reflected light to ignite the sacrifice waiting on the altar as Solomon offered his prayer to the Lord.
As soon as Solomon spoke his last words, FIRE shot from the heavens and consumed the Burnt Offering. The fire wasn’t constrained to the altar either. It consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices that were laid in the courtyard too.
God left NONE of His portion untouched. He didn’t kindle a slow burn that cooked away the fat and left the meat roasting to doneness for hours. He flamed it with an all-consuming fire. There was nothing but ash that remained. A feat that NO ONE would mistake for anything but an answer from God.
The people recognized it instantly and responded appropriately. They fell on their faces before the Lord and worshiped Him. “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (verse 3b).
If I had just watched fire fall from Heaven I might be thinking, “I’m unworthy and undone! Please forgive me and don’t fall on me!” But the Israelites recognized the answer from God for what it was. It was His promise that He would put His name upon this place forever. It was His pledge to listen to their prayers, wherever they were, when they turned towards Him and this place bearing His name. It was His open arms to His children, forever.
And if that was not enough of an answer, God also FILLED the Temple with His presence. So strong was it that the priests couldn’t even go inside the structure. This was the same way He filled the Tabernacle when Moses and Aaron consecrated it. NO doubt remained that this was indeed the House of God. The one that would bear His name. The place where His children could come to Him and know that they would be heard. The place He had chosen out of all the land to call His own.
The Temple would not last forever. Many years later it would be torn down and Israel would be taken into captivity. Temples would rise again in its place and bear the name of the Lord again. But one thing never changed from the time it was first spoken by the Lord; He would ALWAYS hear His children when they called out to Him. You don’t really need fire from Heaven to know this. Because His Temple is now the hearts of those who turn to Him, we can know His presence in our lives. We may not always ‘feel’ the things He is doing but His promises tell us of this truth.
Thank You Father that this is one answered prayer that I don’t have to wonder about Your answer. I take You at Your word I in this. I don’t need to see the “fire from Heaven” to know You have set Your name on my heart. I have Your presence living in me in the Person of the Holy Spirit. And HE testifies to this truth for me.