1 Kings 8:1-5 (NIV) 1 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. 2 All the men of Israel came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month. 3 When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, 4 and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the Tent of Meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, 5 and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
On verses 1-5: Here King Solomon holds a dedication service for the newly completed temple. He decides to hold it “at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month” (v2). Why is that significant? It’s because this festival was the Israelites’ Feast of Booths, a festival which annually celebrates the end of the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness and how God had brought them to their own land. King Solomon strategically thought, “The Feast of Booths would be a perfect time to dedicate the temple, since all the Israelites will be gathering anyway and their hearts will be expecting celebration and renewal.” Scheduling the dedication service during this festival was a wise strategic move.
What can we learn from this? As God’s people we should be looking to share Jesus with the people around us and inviting them to church year round, both in season and out of season. But take special advantage of seasons in the year — like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter — when the hearts of people around you are especially receptive and open to coming to church.
1 Kings 8:6-9 (NIV) 6 The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. 8 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
On verses 6-9: The ark of the covenant was the most sacred religious item in Israel. It was a gold plated box that represented the presence of God (see Exodus 25:10-22). Because the newly constructed temple was to be Israel’s new centre of worship, and because Solomon and the people longed for God’s presence to fill the newly constructed temple, Solomon arranged for the ark to be carried into the Most Holy Place, a secret chamber inside the inner sanctuary of the temple. Since the people were not allowed to touch the ark, the priests would carry the ark using poles that were attached to the ark. So the ark sat in the Most Holy Place. Though they could not see the ark, the people could see the poles sticking out of the Most Holy Place, reminding them of God’s presence.
What can we learn from this? I believe the poles attached to the ark are a picture of what Jesus would later do for us on the cross. Just as the poles attached to the ark allowed the people to have access to the ark and to move with the ark, it was the pole on which Jesus died — that is, the cross — that allowed us to experience the presence of God wherever we go. The most important and powerful pole in your life is the cross of Christ, for by it sinners like us can have access to God’s holy presence. Unlike the ark which only the high priest could see, the cross of Jesus Christ gives all who believe in Him 100%, 24/7 access to the presence of God. Because Jesus paid the highest price to give us 24/7 access to God’s presence, let’s treasure the cross where Jesus died and let’s long for more of God’s presence.
1 Kings 8:10-11 (NIV) 10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
On verses 10-11: Here we see that a cloud fills the temple after the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, so much so that Solomon’s dedication service had to stop. Like the ark, the cloud is a symbol of God’s presence and glory. It goes to show that God loves to fill places where His people gather, worship and long for His presence. God’s presence is so awesome that sometimes all you can do is stop in your tracks and worship Him.
So every day, take the time to draw close to God. Gather regularly with your brothers and sisters at church and draw close to God together. When you come to God with a hungry heart together with God’s people, you will experience His powerful presence.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You love to fill places where Your people are gathering in faith and are longing for You to come. God, I long for more of Your presence. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ Your Son to die on a pole, that by His attachment to the pole called the cross I am forgiven, made clean and whole. When I join my church in worshiping You with an expectant and thankful heart, Your powerful, overwhelming presence will come. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!