Today’s Bible reading* includes the completion of the Temple’s construction and when Solomon dedicates the Temple.
We’re told that Solomon took almost twice as long (thirteen years) to build his ornate palace complex as he did to build the Temple (seven years). At first glance, it sounds like he cared more for his own house than God’s house. But the difference in timing may be due to the urgency with which he built the Temple, rather than the attention or detail he paid to his palace. It’s important to note that Solomon built the Temple before he built his own house. That, I think, shows Solomon’s priorities.
As the Temple is completed, God shows up. His presence fills the temple in the form of smoke. There’s so much smoke that the priests can’t fulfill their duties. They have to stop ministering because God is present. (1 Kings 8:10-11, also recorded in 2 Chronicles 5:13b-14 in tomorrow’s reading)
In his prayer, Solomon asks God to show up. He lists several parallel requests beginning with, “When ….” or “If ….” “your people ….” and concludes with, “The may you hear….” 2 Chronicles 6:22-23, 24-25, 26-27, 28-30, 34-35, 36-39).
In 2 Chronicles 6:31-33, Solomon summarizes the purpose of his request: That God’s people — and even Gentiles in the land — would fear Him and walk in His ways.
Basically, he asks God to keep His covenant promises. He invokes God’s blessings when His people realize they have sinned and turn back to Him.
In times past, many churches had revival services at least once a year and sometimes twice. Churches today don’t often have revival meetings every year. Perhaps it’s more because “revival crusades” seem to have run their course in an era in cultural history that itself has run its course. Many mourn the days of these revival services as well as bus ministries and Vacation Bible School.
These outreaches brought a lot of people to church. But is getting people to go to church the top priority? For some churches it is. I would argue that going to church is very important. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
But “going to church” isn’t as important as being the church. You may not see the difference. But there is one.
I see meeting in a building as pulling into a pit stop in a race. The race is long and oftentimes we need to stop for a brief time to gas up, tune-up, and rest up. Being in the race and being in the pits are both very important. You can’t win a race without going to the pits. And you can’t win a race by staying in the pits. God never intended for His people to stay in the pits for an extended period of time. But for many, pulling into the pits is the priority. But God calls us to go.
How about you? Do you need for God to show up in your life? Do you tend to enjoy stopping in the pits to the neglect of running the race? Perhaps, like King Solomon, you need to dedicate the temple (i.e., yourself) for the race set before you. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
1 Kings 7
1 Kings 8