1 Kings 8:22-53 (Part 1) – A God Not Bound By Time & Space Seen in Time & Space

Posted: December 5, 2018 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 8:22-53 (Part 1 of 3)
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

Normally, my pattern here in my blogs is to use an illustration from modern day life (usually from my own life) as a set up for a scripture passage and its analysis/application. But for today, I am pondering the difference between what the Bible describes as God who is infinite, eternal, bigger than life, bigger than the universe, omnipresent, omniscient, and an infinite, uncontainable nature. And then there’s these physical manifestations of God that we read about in the exodus from Egypt and here in the kingdom period in the Tabernacle and then the Temple.

One of the questions that always puzzled me about the Tabernacle and the Temple and even during the exodus out of Egypt was these physical manifestations of the presence of God. The pillar of smoke and fire in the exodus. The Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and then the Temple. What gives? Everything you read about God is the He is infinite, not bound by the same constraints of time and space that we are. So, is this fully God that we see in the manifestations or is just a portion of God or is it just a sign from God? It blows the mind when you wrangle with these questions and there is no personal illustration that I could come up with that adequately relates these questions to your and my life. We are talking about God here, after all!

I think the answer to the question about the physical, see-able manifestations of God contrasted against the infinite and unsee-able nature of God is that it is yes. Yes, it is a portion of God. Yes, it a sign from God and yes he his still infinite and unsee-able all at the same time. It then brings up the question of how this relates to us in the New Testament era. Let’s read the passage, 1 Kings 8:22-53, and concentrate for today on v. 27 (and then in the next two blogs we will concentrate on other aspects of this passage):

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, 23 and he prayed,

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.

25 “And now, O Lord, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow me as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ 26 Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father.

27 “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! 28 Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. 29 May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. 30 May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.

31 “If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of your altar in this Temple, 32 then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Punish the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence.

33 “If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn to you and acknowledge your name and pray to you here in this Temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave their ancestors.

35 “If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.

37 “If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is— 38 and if your people Israel pray about their troubles, raising their hands toward this Temple, 39 then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. 40 Then they will fear you as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.

41 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, 42 for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 43 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.

44 “If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to the Lord by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name, 45 then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.

46 “If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near. 47 But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ 48 If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name— 49 then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. 50 Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them, 51 for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt.

52 “May your eyes be open to my requests and to the requests of your people Israel. May you hear and answer them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt, O Sovereign Lord, you told your servant Moses that you had set Israel apart from all the nations of the earth to be your own special possession.”

In this passage, we see that, in his prayer of dedication, Solomon declared that even the highest heavens cannot contain God. But, yet, we see that when the Temple was built God’s presence was within the Temple until such time He decided to withdraw it. Here is such a mind-blowing idea about the God of the Bible that we have to pause for a moment. The eternal God who is not constrained by the existence of time, the infinite God who is not bound by the constraints of space, the transcendent God who dwells above and beyond all time and space, and the immense God who fills all time and space condescended to the weakness of His people and became manifest for their benefit in one locale. This God is not bound by time, but He bound Himself to the time-bound experience of His people. This God is not bound by space, but He bound Himself to this box. He is above all creational constraints, but He bound Himself to them. He is everywhere, but He was there. It was a way for the infinite, unsee-able God to give His people visual assurance of His presence among them. He remained the everywhere, all seeing, all knowing God that controls the entire expanse of existence in the universe while at the same time making Himself seen and known in a tangible way in a specific place and time.

The fact that the ark was the place of the Lord’s presence among His people brought great assurance to the people of God. This high, lofty, majestic, and resplendent King dwelt among His grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people (Ex. 15:24; 16:2, 8, 9, 12; 17:2). Does that sound familiar? We, too, are grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people. Thankfully, God is not far off in another land, but He is near to us who are sinners. In these pre-New Testament era times, we approached the Lord’s presence through atonement and through cleansing. We had to symbolically cleanse ourselves and repent through atonement to even be able to come into His presence in the Temple. And even then, the only ones who could come into the presence of God Himself were the priests who had to go through their own purification before going into the Most Holy Place.

Through Jesus Christ, we find a difference between the physical temple and what we have now as Christ followers. The Tabernacle and Temple were symbolic and pointing toward what we have now. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. It is through the submitting of ourselves to Jesus as Savior and Lord that we are made holy. We are cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and our recognition of that it was He did it for and our recognition that we are destined for hell without it. It is through that submission at the feet of Jesus that we are made holy, cleansed, pure. The Holy Spirit then can dwell inside us and make us the temple of the presence of the Lord in our lives. We have the presence of God in us. We have the Holy of Holies within us.

The promise to the new-covenant believer is that the Lord is near to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (1 Cor. 6:19), even as Jesus promised His helpful presence (John 14:16). The assurance His nearness brings was described by the prophet Isaiah in this history of salvation. Just as God accompanied Israel when they wandered in a wilderness, so, too, He was with them in the days of their restoration from exile. Thus, the prophet said, “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9).

All of this means that means Jesus becomes the crucial temple, that is, the real, the ultimate meeting place between God and sinful people so that the typological lines, the trajectories of the old covenant come together in Him. He is the ultimate priest. He is the ultimate sacrifice. His flesh is the veil, and his shattered, broken body is the shattered, broken temple that rises on the third day to become the real meeting place between God and sinful people.

Amen and Amen.

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