God has accepted the gift of the Temple. He now has a permanent Home in Israel. It’s time to celebrate! And it lasted a full week.
Looking at the number of animals Solomon sacrificed makes my mouth hang open! I was thinking they were all offered on the same day. That would have taken MORE than dawn to dusk work for the priests. Can you imagine how exhausted they would be? Unless ALL these animals were part of the sacrifice that was “consumed” when fire fell from Heaven, there is NO WAY they would all be cooked enough to be eaten.
After reading today’s text I think I have the answer to that. This number covered a full week of sacrifices. “And on the eight day they held a solemn assembly, for the had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days” (verse 9).
The first sacrifice offered on the day of dedication included a Burnt offering. This was the offering given to atone for Israel’s sin. This offering called for EVERYTHING of the animal to be consumed by fire. The remains of this offering were to be taken outside the city and disposed of. But God consumed that offering and there was nothing left to be removed. The other offerings listed were grain offerings and peace offerings. With the peace offering only a portion of the animal was given to the Lord; primarily the fat. Bread and drink offerings can also be peace offerings. So for seven days there were sacrifices being offered and the meat, bread and drink that were not the Lord’s portion were given to all the people to eat. Solomon fed the nation for seven, or possibly eight, days.
NO ONE went hungry. Whatever meat remained from the day’s feast had to be burned up the next morning. No leftovers for these people. Fresh meat, bread and drinks were provided every day. THAT was prosperity!
I wonder if God made the size of the crowd fit the supply or if Solomon had his men on hand to bring more as the need arose. Talk about a LONG LINE at the buffet!
This assembly wasn’t just for the leaders of the land but for everyone. “At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt” (verse 8). My bible helps tells me that this encompasses ALL of the land Solomon ruled. EVERYONE was invited. I’m sure some stayed home but the majority of the people were in attendance and enjoyed Solomon’s hospitality.
Something that piques my interest is the final portion of our reading. “…he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel His people” (verse 10b). Was the joy in the people’s hearts tied specifically to the abundance of food they had consumed or was it focused on the reason they assembled in the first place? Did they lose sight of the real purpose of the feast? If so, did this bother God?
This reminds me of Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. This day was originally about giving thanks to God for His mercies and provision. It has become, in many instances, about the food. I know many people incorporate an element of giving thanks into their routine but that is not what they focus on. It’s “pass the platter” and “what’s for desert” instead. On the way home the topic of conversation is generally about how well the meal was done instead of the blessings that were shared at the table.
I am as guilty as anyone else on this front. One year we had a “Life’s Short” dinner where we served desert first. I wanted to insert an element of fun into the day. It surprised me how many of those gathered at my house chose to eat their meal with their desert, including the kids. What I liked most about this day was the way it got everyone talking about waiting for things and the laughter the novelty brought to our gathering. Maybe I will be able to talk everyone into a “Game Day” instead, one of these years, where the focus of the day is on playing games together instead of the food. We could have finger foods instead of a big meal.
My kids and I never did the regular Thanksgiving Day feast. They didn’t care for the turkey so we had pizza or lasagna instead. I felt that way we focused on us instead of traditions. Funny thing is, they have all grown up and like to focus on the traditions now instead.
Father God, forgive me for not focusing on the One providing the blessings instead of the blessings themselves. You have given me SO MUCH over my life that there is NO WAY I could name them all. For all the times I forgot to say it; Thank You Father! For the times I got so wrapped up in the gifts that I ignored the Giver, I’m sorry Lord. NOTHING compares to You!