The word “blessing” is an interesting word in the English language. It has a spiritual connotation to it, but it can mean a lot of different things based on the way that it is used. The modern use of the word “blessing” sometimes refers to an opportunity for increase. For example, some people often refer to a job promotion as a “blessing.” Sometimes getting into a certain school or program is a “blessing.” The modern use of the word “blessing” can sometimes refer to an emotional response to something we like. For example, some people say that the praise and worship segment of church was “a blessing” because they liked the songs or the quality of music. The word “blessing” is also sometimes used to describe certain people. Sometimes people will say that a person is a “blessing” because they are helpful, encouraging, or friendly. While all of these concepts seem to fit certain circumstances, the Biblical meaning of “blessing” has nothing to do with circumstances. The Biblical meaning of “blessing” refers to increase, but in a manner that has an eternal focus. The Biblical meaning of “blessing” may invoke an emotional response, but is not founded on emotional responses. The Biblical meaning of “blessing” only refers to one person, that is, Jesus Christ.
The word “blessing” is often defined by the context in which the word is used in scripture. The English words “blessing,” “blessed,” and “bless” are used a total of 471 times in the KJV of the Bible! Clearly the Lord is interested in addressing the subject. However, as the word is used so often, it is important to know what the word means according to God’s wisdom lest we find ourselves misinterpreting 471 portions of scripture. One of the simplest ways to define the concept of being “blessed” in the Bible is to find a portion of scripture in the Bible in which a person is being blessed or blessing another person or group. Then we only have to examine the actions or speech that is being described as the “blessing.” For example, in 1 Kings 8:54-61 the Bible explains that Solomon completed his prayer unto the Lord after dedicating the temple to Him, turned to the congregation of Israel and “blessed” them. Hence, if we examine the actions and/or speech of Solomon at that moment, we can identify what a “blessing” is.
First, it is important to recognize the foundation of a blessing. The testimony of 1 Kings 8:54-61 explains that, before Solomon “blessed” the people, he first rose to his feet because he had been kneeling before the Lord throughout the entire time of his prayer. The Bible explains that Solomon had been kneeling before the altar of the Lord with his hands lifted up in the air. While it’s difficult to know how long Solomon took to actually articulate the prayer that scripture documents in 53 verses, we can assume that Solomon was on his knees for an extended period of time. His posture was representative of the humility and lowliness that he approached God with. His posture was representative of the things he physically communicated to God in prayer concerning God’s supremacy and the pitifulness of the people in comparison. Solomon had his hands extended in the air to show that, while he recognized he was inferior to God, he desired to be connected to God according to God’s mercy. Solomon desired God for who He is, desired the fulfillment of God’s promises unto His glory, and desired to be of the Lord in order to receive the benefits of God’s faithfulness unto His eternally unconditional promises. This is the attitude from which a “blessing” stems according to the Bible.
The scriptures state that Solomon first “blessed” God, which is a reference to Solomon’s prayer and dedication of the temple. Thus, a “blessing” is not only communicated with an attitude of humility towards the Lord God Almighty, but it is also predicated on our recognition of God’s identity, power, promises, and provision. When Solomon prayed to God and “blessed” Him, these are the things that Solomon addressed in his prayer. It is true that Solomon’s prayer is referred to as “supplications,” but the requests that Solomon made to the Lord were based on his desire to be connected to God’s holiness and righteous works. Solomon’s supplications were described as a “blessing” to God, but Solomon’s supplications described his acknowledgement of God’s righteousness and justice, and communicated his desire to escape God’s judgments and wrath because of sin. Solomon asked the Lord for things, but the things that Solomon asked for were God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. This is a “blessing” to God according to the scriptures.
Solomon then turned to the people and then “blessed” them. The scriptures state that Solomon turned to face the entire assembly and then “blessed” them, which means that we can examine Solomon’s statements to define the Biblical meaning of a “blessing” compared to the prayer that Solomon uttered to God that is also described as a “blessing.” First, when Solomon “blessed” the congregation of Israel, he began by stating the “blessed” nature of the Lord Himself. Solomon began by saying,
“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that He promised There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which he promised through His servant Moses.”
Israel was “blessed” because God was the essence of blessing. God is defined as the source of all “blessing” because of His promises, His faithfulness to keep them, and His ability to fulfill them to perfection. Israel was blessed because God made specific promise to them and had done the work that needed to be done in order to bring about the fulfillment of those promises. Solomon “blessed” Israel by reminding them of God’s faithfulness and almighty nature to do what He said He would. Solomon “blessed” Israel by reminding them that they were heirs to God’s eternally unconditional promises, not according to their works, but according to God’s impeccable plans and provision. It was the gracious presence of God that enabled Israel to be in a favorable position; but it was because God swore upon Himself to make Israel a great nation to dwell safely in the land that He appointed that God dwelt with His people. It was not just the promises of God that made Israel blessed. It was also the presence of God to fulfill those promises that made Israel blessed. Solomon blessed the people by reminding the people about these simple truths.
Solomon continued to explain the essence of a blessing by stating his desire for the Lord to incline the hearts of the people to be fixed upon Him. Solomon desired the people to walk according to the ways of the Lord. Solomon desired the people to keep God’s commandments. Solomon desired the people to acknowledge the supremacy of God’s statutes and judgments, and live their lives according to that superior form of righteousness. This is how Solomon “blessed” the people. Here a blessing is seen as the desire to do what God says is right, and to keep from doing what God says is wrong. The blessing is not in the performance of righteousness, but in the desire to be righteous according to God’s perfect standards. A blessing cannot be defined by a person’s “righteous works” because the Bible says that none are righteous. We cannot do anything right since we are all sinners by nature. Our righteousness is corrupted. However, the scriptures teach that merely the desire for God’s righteousness is sufficient as a blessing! Jesus taught that those who are “blessed” are those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” It is those who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness that will be filled; not those who perform righteously. Since humans cannot match God’s own righteousness to perform well, those who are “blessed” are those who acknowledge this truth and desire God to work according to His own righteousness in our lives. To desire God’s righteousness is to examine His declarations of what is right (by the Law or any other portion of scripture), and consider it supreme so that we want those things to motivate and dominate our lives. Since we cannot fulfill them ourselves, we desire God to exercise mercy and grace to do these things Himself in our lives. According to Solomon’s address to Israel, this attitude and desire is a blessing! This is what it is to be “blessed.”
Lastly, Solomon stated that he desired the fulfillment of God’s promises for Israel. Solomon blessed the people by desiring the fulfillment of God’s Word unto God’s glory. He plainly stated the following:
“And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that he may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.”
Solomon wanted Israel to increase, but only because God promised Israel’s increase. Solomon desired the fulfillment of the Lord’s Word, but unto God’s own glory, not his own. Solomon wanted God’s name to be exalted. Solomon blessed the people by stating his desire for the people to be used as tools that exalted the name of the Lord throughout the world. Solomon blessed the people by reminding them that they were to be used as instruments of God’s righteousness to let the world know that He alone is God! Solomon then concluded his address to Israel by communicating his desire for the people to exclusively worship and follow God on account of His unique supremacy, sovereignty, and salvation. The “blessing” that Solomon gave to the children of Israel was founded on their position with God, not only as heirs to His promises, but also as tools to reveal the identity and essence of God to the world!
So what is a “blessing” according to Solomon? A blessing is equal to salvation; for it is in salvation that we become heirs of God’s promises, learn to desire God’s righteousness, and are used as tools to reveal His essence and power. It is when we believe upon Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah that we receive His Spirit to be conformed into His image, motivated and equipped to let His light shine through our lives so that others may see them and glorify God in heaven. This is why scripture identifies Jesus as “the Blessing” as the Messiah. In order to be “blessed” we must possess God as “the Blessing.” The only way to possess Him and the promises that come with Him are through faith in Jesus Christ according to God’s grace. While the word “blessing” might be used to describe a variety of things today, the Bible is clear that a true “blessing” is focused on a single subject – the Lord Jesus Christ!
Why are God’s people commanded to pursue God and walk with Him? Why do the children of God call out to Him? Why do Christians want to be with God? Why do people say they desire God’s glory and want to glorify Him? The truth is, there are probably a lot of varying answers to each of these questions; but therein lies a problem. The Bible explains that God’s people are supposed to pursue God and walk with Him, but also explains why God’s people are supposed to do so. The Bible explains that God’s people are supposed to call out to God, but also explains what we are supposed to call out for. The Bible explains that God’s people are supposed to desire to be with Him, are supposed to desire His glory, and are supposed to seek to glorify His name, but is also helpful to explain why we are to do these things. The commands of scripture are not as abstract and mystical as some have purposed. One of the beautiful things about the Bible is that it not only provides the revelation of God’s identity to explain wisdom and righteousness to God’s people, but also explains “why” these things are so in order to equip God’s people to respond the appropriate way with confidence in faith.
In 1 Kings 8:28-53 the Bible documents the prayer that King Solomon communicated before the people when he dedicated the temple unto the Lord after its completion. It is the details of Solomon’s prayer unto the Lord that clearly explains the answers to the above questions. Solomon’s prayer explains why God’s people are to pursue Him. Solomon’s prayer explains why God’s people are to call out to Him. Solomon’s prayer explains why God’s people should desire to be with Him. Solomon’s prayer explains why God’s people should desire God’s glory. Recall that when Solomon’s dedication of the temple was in response to the miracle that God performed when He filled the temple with His glory through the presence of the dark cloud. When the people were celebrating the Feast of Trumpets in the temple, the Bible explains that God’s glory filled the temple to the extent that the dark cloud was so thick and overwhelming that the people had to stop their works and leave the temple. The people stood outside of the temple stunned, so that Solomon’s prayer to God was in response to His presence filling the temple in an awesome way.
The testimony of 1 Kings 8:28-53 documents Solomon’s prayer to God, but also explains Solomon’s desire for the temple. Since God’s glory had filled the temple on that day, Solomon desired for the temple to be a symbol of God’s presence. Since the children of Israel were not allowed into the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was, the people could look to the temple as a symbolic gesture. Solomon built a large and elaborate building to house the Ark of the Covenant because the Ark was a symbol of God’s righteousness and eternally unconditional promises to Israel. Solomon wanted to build a structure that exalted God’s righteousness and His eternal promises. When God’s presence filled the temple through the cloud, Solomon expressed his desire for all of Israel to look to the temple as a reminder of God’s presence, His glory, His righteousness, and His promises. In this way, the temple was more than a building. Solomon repeatedly confessed that God’s true dwelling place was not in the temple, but in heaven, high above all things. Yet he desired that the focus of the people on the temple would signify the people’s focus on God in heaven since heaven could not be seen. Solomon confessed the holiness of God and recognized that He could not be physically seen or touched, so desired for the temple to be a focal point of the people, imploring God that when the people looked to the temple, it would be a symbolic act of the people looking to God.
That said, it is important to examine the circumstances that Solomon explained when he implored God to recognize the people’s pursuit of Him through the temple. Solomon wanted God to hear the cries of Israel from heaven when they looked to the temple during times of distress, despair, and destruction. When Solomon prayed to God, he confessed that all people sin. He knew that Israel would fail and would not live up to the righteous standards of God’s Law. Solomon knew the judgments of God as documented in the Law and confessed that the consequence of sin could lead to the exile of the people from the land. Solomon knew that God would bring famine, pestilence, and destruction of various kinds on account of the sins of the people. In the eyes of Solomon, it was not a matter of “if” the children of Israel would sin, but “when” the children of Israel would sin, and to what degree. Since the presence of God filled the temple, Solomon wanted the temple to be the physical focal point the people could look to in order to pursue God for mercy, forgiveness, compassion, in repentance.
It is important to understand that, as elaborate as the temple was, the temple was elaborate in order to remind the people of God’s glory and the value of His eternally unconditional promises. The temple was ornate in order to remind the people of the extent of God’s righteousness so that when they inevitably fell, they would remember the temple; remember God’s righteousness; remember God’s glory; remember God’s holy name, and repent. The temple was a reminder of God’s identity intended on humbling the people to the point of repentance. The temple was to serve as a focal point for repentance. The temple was not to be an idol. Though Solomon desired for the people to turn to the temple during times of need, it was only on account of God’s presence being there. Since God’s presence was in the temple at that time, Solomon desired for God to see the humble and repentant hearts of His people from the temple, and respond with mercy, forgiveness, and compassion from heaven. The beauty of the temple was to inspire repentance, so that God’s people could seek Him for mercy, forgiveness and compassion. Solomon’s prayer shows that a true child of God should desire God’s glory and presence, not for His possessions or His favor that provides material increase. Instead, the true children of God were to recognize their shortcomings and seek the presence and glory of God for mercy to avoid judgment. The true children of God were to seek God’s presence and glory to receive forgiveness instead of wrath. The true children of God were to seek God’s presence and glory to receive God’s compassion instead of His destruction. The true children of God were to seek God’s presence and glory in repentance, not self-entitlement, self-righteousness, or for self-gratification.
When Solomon prayed to the Lord, he confessed that the Lord is the Most High God and that He has no business dealing with the corrupted people of this earth; and since all sin, all are corrupted people. Solomon acknowledged the power of God to recognize that He could hear the cries and supplications of His people from heaven and also act according to His righteousness upon hearing. Solomon recognized the omnipresence of God and His glory by stating that He is able to hear the prayers of His people from heaven, but also respond in righteousness on this earth at the same time. Solomon confessed that, though the children of Israel were God’s people and His special inheritance, that they needed forgiveness and mercy, falling far short of God’s glory. Yet Solomon trusted in God’s own faithfulness to fulfill the promises He declared long before the construction of the temple, and it was Solomon’s faith and understanding of God that motivated his prayer. Solomon desired the temple to be the focal point of God’s presence, glory, righteousness, and justice because God previously promised that Jerusalem, Zion, would be His holy city. The temple was built there according to God’s promise. Solomon continually referenced Jerusalem as the focal point of Israel’s attention because God said it was the focal point of His attention according to His Messianic promises.
Solomon pleaded with God having understanding of who God was and what His promises were. He erected the temple in order to exalt the name of God, and to build the most elaborate reminder in human history about God’s holiness, righteousness, justice, mercy, and compassion. Solomon didn’t build the temple so that Israel could gloat over their accomplishments. Solomon didn’t build the temple so that the people could have a comfortable place to worship. Solomon didn’t build the temple so that the people would be attracted to God’s Law through visual stimulation. Solomon didn’t build the temple to provide a meeting place of fellowship for all of God’s people. Solomon didn’t build the temple as an expensive headquarters for ministry works and projects. The Bible explains that when Solomon prayed to God, he expressed that he built the temple in order to remind people of who God was because God’s presence and glory resided there. Solomon wanted the children of Israel to pursue God’s presence and glory, not to seek their personal and selfish increase, but to pursue God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. Why should Christians seek God? We should seek God because we all sin and God is merciful to offer forgiveness. Christians should seek God for the same reasons that Solomon desired the children of Israel to seek Him: Without God’s mercy, we suffer and die in God’s righteous judgment. Thankfully, God has made Himself available to His people in order that His mercy, forgiveness, and compassion can be freely received by those who are truly repentant in heart and soul. Solomon saw the dark cloud of God’s presence then and knew that God had made Himself available for these reasons. Today, God’s people should look to Jesus Christ to see that He has continued to make Himself available for these reasons. There is no temple to look towards today to seek the presence of God like Solomon desired. Instead, we have “The Tabernacle of God” in Jesus Christ that we look to and pursue in order to receive the mercy, forgiveness, and compassion of God. The focal point has changed, but the essence of God and the motives that we express to pursue Him remains the same!
The Bible teaches that all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Yet the scriptures also explain that as people, we have a wicked and self-righteously prideful tendency to think that we can still match up to God’s glory. We somehow think that the things we do are impressive and valuable to God. Thankfully the scriptures are candid with the truth in order to sober the prideful hearts of all people. Thankfully the scriptures explain the magnitude of God’s glory in ways that should provoke God’s people to consider how much greater He is than all people. Since the scriptures are sufficient to explain the truth about God’s majesty and glory, it is our responsibility to examine them, consider them, meditate on them, and submit to the truths they declare. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the One True Living God and there is no other. There aren’t any that compare to Him in ANY way, shape, or form. While it can be easy to become consumed in trivial matters of this life, the scriptures provide ample reasons that God’s people should place those things at a distant second place in order to exalt the identity, name, glory, and majesty of God above ALL other things.
When King Solomon made efforts to dedicate the temple to God, he made several statements that proclaimed the glory and majesty of the Lord God Almighty. Though the temple that Solomon had built was one of the most beautifully erected structures ever built in human history, Solomon gloried over the God who made it possible. Solomon was sure to attribute the beauty of the temple to the glory of God, not the efforts of men. Yet in the middle of his prayer in front of the people in 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon made one of the most profound statements in the entire Bible. Solomon simply stated:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
Here Solomon was making a reference to God’s promise to dwell with His people. God commanded the people to express faith in His righteousness, holiness and justice by keeping the Law. God promised that so long as the people did so, He would be their God, and they would be His people, and He would dwell with them. When Solomon completed the temple, the scriptures explain that God’s glory filled the temple as a dark cloud – the same type of cloud that led the children of Israel away from the Egyptians and through the wilderness for 40 years. Solomon proclaimed praises to God because he recognized the presence of the cloud as the presence of God’s glory! It was so intense that the people in the temple could not perform their duties. They were overwhelmed to the extent that they had to leave the temple and just behold the supernatural marvel from a distance. The cloud was undeniably a form of God’s glory, and yet the people could not fully endure it.
Seeing this before his eyes, Solomon gain greater appreciation for God’s glory. If that was only a piece of God’s glory, what does the full magnitude of His glory look like? How unapproachable is that? How crippling is that? How terrifying is that? Solomon marveled that God, being so glorious, would actually dwell in any form on this earth. In Psalm 8, King David put it this way:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”
In other words, both Solomon and David had a hard time understand why God, being so immeasurably and eternally glorious, would ever want to be with people. Why would a God so bright in splendor want to be in a place so dark? Why would a God so perfect want to dwell among so much imperfection? Why would a God so righteous and just want to be in the midst of so much corruption and injustice? The wicked effects of humanity are not a mystery. This world is not in a better condition today than it was yesterday, last year, or one hundred years ago. The darkness that the sins of all people have brought into this world has ensure a quick devolution and decay of this planet. This was true, even at the time of Solomon, yet Solomon was an eyewitness to a form of God’s glory filling the temple in order that He could dwell with His people according to His promise! The gracious faithfulness of God is equally is immeasurable as His glory!
Consider the truth that Solomon proclaimed. It is impossible for the sky to contain God’s glory. Solomon stated that “the heaven” cannot contain God’s glory. The reference to the first heaven was a reference to the sky. As vast as the planet’s sky is, it is too small for God. Additionally, Solomon proclaimed that “the heavens of heaven” cannot contain God either. This is a reference to the sky in God’s kingdom. The sky in God’s eternal dwelling place is also too small for God! This is obviously a poetic way of stating the infinitely great glory of God. There is no place that His glory doesn’t shine. There is no vessel, structure, or place that can corral God’s glory. God’s glory is such that He has to conceal it and temper it just so that His people can experience it and know it!
Solomon’s first point is perhaps the most compelling because it shows not only the magnitude of God’s glory, but also His grace. Solomon knew God’s promise concerning His presence. God swore to dwell with His people as a cloud above the two cherubim above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant that was kept in the Most Holy Place. Yet Solomon struggled to understand why God would dwell on this corrupted place. It was true that Solomon used the most precious and valuable resources that were available to him when constructing the temple. It was true that Solomon hired experts and the best craftsmen that were available to construct the temple. It was true that Solomon took his time to ensure the greatest care and attention to detail was taken, making the temple a marvel in human history. Yet all of that work, money, and time was as nothing compared to the glory of God. It was trash compared to the glory of God, and Solomon wondered why God was willing to dwell in trash.
This concept becomes even more difficult to understand when this idea is compared to the testimony of the Apostle John concerning Jesus. The Apostle John proclaimed the following:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
According to John, he was privileged to behold “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” John saw the glory of God, but saw it in the form of Jesus Christ. As if it weren’t beneath God already to dwell in the form of a cloud in the midst of a cheap building, God went above and beyond and dwelt with mankind in the vessel of decaying human flesh and blood! While God’s glory is truly immeasurable, it is CRITICAL to notice the work that God does to reveal His glory in ways that His people can experience His presence and enjoy the benefits of His essence. God’s glory is terrifying on account of His righteousness and holiness, but God packages it in a manner that does not fully consume His people unto death. Instead, God tempers His nature so that His people can know Him and dwell with Him in order to enjoy the benefits of His righteousness and holiness, praising and worshiping Him in response. When God can as Jesus Christ, the Bible says that He came in the “form” of a bondservant and “made Himself” of no reputation. The original language explains that God actually transformed His true nature into a nature that was recognizably human; that He concealed His glory with flesh and blood in order to accomplish a purpose.
These ideas teach that God’s glory is so great, that He is able to repackage it and transform it according to the needs and benefits of His people in varying ways and at varying times. Who but God can do this? How does a cloud form out of nowhere to fill up a building from within? How does flesh and blood resurrect from the dead? Where is the source of light and what regulates the brightness of its shine? These are questions that are impossible to answer without God because God’s glory is the means by which these things become real and true as documented in human history. Glory of this nature and this magnitude is worthy of time, of gratitude, and of worship. As Solomon looked upon his life’s work in the completed temple compared to the glory of God, he saw his life’s work as cheap. He knew God was so much greater that He could never be measured and had no business connecting with the corrupted things of this life and this world. Yet, there was God’s presence in the form of a cloud, according to His promise, taking a form that was powerful yet digestible. This was truly favor that was unmerited, as is the case EVERY TIME God reveals Himself to any person. Praise God!
The Bible teaches that there is a subtle, yet profound difference between desiring God and desiring things from God. Understanding this truth, all people must ask the question: Do I desire God, or do I just want things from God? Here is the problem with this way of thinking. The Bible teaches that none are righteous and that all fall short of the glory of God. According to God’s holiness, righteousness, and standards of justice, all people deserve the wrath of God because none are righteous. Since all offend God, all should be punished by Him. This means that none are entitled to anything from God except destruction. None are worthy of praise. None are worthy of provision. None are worthy of increase of any kind. Therefore, to simply desire things from God without having a desire for God Himself is to live under the trait of self-righteousness. It is true that those who desire things from God acknowledge God as able to provide. However, if we truly understand God’s holiness and our depravity, how could we feel ourselves worthy to ask anything from God except mercy? How could we feel entitled of more than what we already have and what God has already given that we simply pursue God for the purpose of gratifying our own selfish ambitions? This is a problematic way of thinking.
According to the Bible, those who truly know and love the Lord God Almighty are those who desire God Himself, knowing that He in Himself is the essence of mercy, grace, and love. Those who truly know the Lord according to the truth of His Word, desire God Himself, knowing that He is the exclusive source of all goodness, righteousness, and life. While there are other benefits that come to those who pursue the Lord, those who really know the Lord are less focused on the bi-products of God’s work and appreciate the holy, righteous, and almighty hand that produces the work far more! An example of this proper way of thinking is exemplified beautifully through the prayer of King Solomon as he publically addressed the children of Israel through prayer at the dedication of the temple. In 1 Kings 8:22-26 the Bible shows that Solomon stood before the congregation of Israel to speak on their behalf, thanking God for the fulfillment of His Word and promises. God had promised many years before that there would be a temple in Israel so that the God’s presence could dwell with the people in a more permanent manner. This promise was made to David, but fulfilled through Solomon many years later. Though it took a great deal of time for God to fulfill His promise, the completion of the temple proved that God’s Word was true and He was able to do exactly as He promised, no matter how long His work took.
Solomon’s prayer began by acknowledging the reality of God’s holiness and uniqueness. Solomon addressed God as the Lord God Almighty by comparing Him to other pagan ideas and false gods. Solomon proclaimed before the people that the Lord God of Israel is the ONLY God in heaven above and in the earth that is able to make a covenant and keep it. Solomon didn’t deny the existence of other gods. Solomon understood very well that the surrounding nations dedicated their lives, praises, and worship to false deities that they believed were real. Though these gods were merely cultural figures that stemmed from human creativity, Solomon recognized that the people who worshiped them believed they were real. For example, when Moses approached Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus, the Bible explains that the Egyptians figured their gods to be equal in ability and power to Yahweh. In fact, when God prepared Moses for the first Passover, He specifically stated that He would destroy the other gods of the Egyptians. The first Passover was essentially God waging war against false gods to prove that He alone is powerful, able, and true. Though the Egyptians prayed to their gods, and pleaded with them to contend with the One True Living God, the results of the Passover speak for themselves. Yahweh was faithful AND able to perform according to His Word while the gods of the Egyptians did what rocks, sticks, and metals do best – nothing.
When Solomon addressed God, he praised God for the Lord’s power and glory. He acknowledged that Yahweh is the One True Living God and that there is no other. Solomon publicly acknowledged that God reigns supreme on heaven and on earth, maintaining total sovereignty over all things as the only One that is eternally self-existing AND self-sustaining. Solomon acknowledged that God is able to make promises and is also able to keep them. Where were the promises of Baal at Mount Carmel when the priests of the false god called upon him to start a mere fire to contend against Elijah and El Shaddai? Their gods remained silent no matter how hard the priests of Baal prayed. Their gods and philosophical ideals produced no fruit of any kind – not even a single spark of functionality – showing that there is only one true Living God. Solomon recognized this as was made evident by the glory of God that filled the temple by the dark cloud, stunning the people and freezing them in their labor with terror and awe. No one is able to make promises like God AND keep them. God made a promise to David a whole generation before Solomon, and then fulfilled the promise through Solomon exactly according to His Word. God out-lived David, and out-worked Solomon. God not only made the promise, but maintained life and ability long enough to see the work to completion, while also providing every resource needed in an overwhelming abundance; and then filled the temple according to His promise through a cloud that the people unanimously agreed was God’s glory! Who but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is able to do such things?
When Solomon continued in His prayer, he began making petitions on behalf of the congregation of Israel. However, it is important to recognize the essence of Solomon’s petitions. The Bible commands God’s people to pray “petitions” unto the Lord. The Bible shows many people other than Solomon praying “petitions” unto the Lord. Yet it is important to notice the nature of these petitions that the Bible provides as an example. Do these petitions resemble the desires of people or the desires of God? Do these petitions resemble the desire for God to provide stuff, or do they resemble the desire for God? When Solomon prayed to God, he asked the Lord to fulfill His Word – period. While it is true that Solomon was a beneficiary of God’s Word, such is the case for ALL of God’s people! Those who desire God and pursue Him by faith exclusively through Jesus Christ will become children of God; and as children, also heirs of God. The children of God will be conformed into the image of God and also share in His eternal inheritance. There are plenty of rewards and benefits that come to the children of God, but the children of God are those who desire God as the scriptures declare His supreme greatness and glory. The children of God are those who acknowledge the supremacy of God, submit to it, and desire Him to be exalted above all things as Solomon expressed in his prayer. While Solomon surely would have benefited from the fulfillment of God’s Word, the Bible shows that Solomon understood the greatness of God, His Word, and how His greatness was able to pour into the lives of all God’s people equally and abundantly.
When Solomon prayed, he prayed for the Word of God to be upheld and fulfilled according to God’s own will and purposes. Solomon desired the eternal nature of God to be expressed through the fulfillment of His promises. Solomon wanted to walk before the Lord and also wanted his descendants to walk before the Lord in righteousness, but only so that God’s name would be exalted through the fulfillment of God’s promises. Solomon desired Israel to be great so that God’s name would be great throughout. Solomon prayed that his children would know God in the manner that he did, and that they would submit to Him according to God’s exclusive and holy greatness. Solomon wanted God’s Word to come true. Solomon wanted Israel to be a great nation because only God could make Israel into a great nation. Solomon wanted Israel to dwell safely in the land because only God could enable such a feat for such a people. Solomon wanted Israel to be a blessing to all of the families of the earth because Solomon desired “the Blessing” of God, which is the Messiah. Solomon wanted the eternal establishment of David’s throne, which would lead to the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah – the Son of God and Savior of the world! Solomon wanted God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, trusting in the superiority of God’s will. These are the things that Solomon prayed for because he knew God, knew His greatness, knew His glory, knew His righteousness, knew His holiness, and knew His judgments. Solomon desired the fulfillment of God’s Word because Solomon desired God as the Word. So too should God’s people today!
The Bible reveals that God has made many promises since the beginning. Some people have counted hundreds of promises that God has made at various times concerning various things. However, there is only one promise that really matters at the end of the day; and it was a promise that God repeated throughout the scriptures, but illustrated on the first day of creation. In 1 John 3:8 the Bible states that Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus, the Son of God and Messiah of Israel, came into the world specifically to destroy the works of the devil, which throughout the Bible are compared to works of darkness. Therefore, it is not by coincidence that the Apostle John reminded the church that Jesus is “light” in the introduction to his first epistle. John explained that the death and resurrection was the partial fulfillment of God’s promise to destroy the works of the devil, and his use of symbolic language to compare this work to “light” overcoming “darkness” is important to connect to God’s work in creation.
When God created the heavens and the earth, it is true that the God observed literal darkness and that He responded to the darkness by manifesting literal light. At the same time however, it is important to recognize the will of God. Whether or not the “darkness” at the time of creation was the presence of the devil or not is beside the point. Whether the manifestation of “light” was the appearance of Jesus or not, is also beside the point. The point is, God clearly identifies His will concerning darkness. He doesn’t want it. We can assume this to be true because God responded to the presence of darkness with the manifestation of light – a contrary substance. It was the manifestation of light that God considered to be good on the first day, and all of the parallels of God’s righteousness and Messianic work compared to light prove this to be true. Consequently, the basis of God’s chief promise was made manifest on day one. God, knowing that mankind could not deal with the works of darkness as produced by the devil, took it upon Himself to deal with this issue. Before mankind was even formed, God provided an illustration through creation that He alone would take on the responsibility to overcoming darkness, sin, death, and the devil. The work of Jesus Christ in His first appearance on this earth got the work started. His second coming will complete the work. As the Bible gradually reveals the identity of God’s Messiah who is to save the world from sin, death, and hell, the Bible shows the singular focus God has to fulfill this major promise. God desires that none should perish and that all should come to repentance. God’s promise is myopically pointed at the work God swore upon Himself to do in order to offer forgiveness of sins, cleansing from corruption, and to impart eternal life.
It is true that God made other promises in the Bible that deal with different things. For example, God promised to provide food and clothing to His people. However, Jesus simply made this promise to prove Himself faithful and able to fulfill the bigger promise dealing with sin and eternal life. God promised to judge sin and bless those who love Him exclusively. God’s provision is proof that He is able and worthy. It is also true that God made other promises through “the covenants” found throughout the Bible. God made a covenant with Adam, with Noah, of course with Abraham, with Moses, and with David. While all of these covenants are referred to differently, they are essentially the same covenant. They all work together as part of the gradual revelation of God’s plans to fulfill His chief promise concerning sin and eternal life. These promises all provide details concerning the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, and the means by which God would fulfill His ultimate promise. Though these promises came to Israel and through Israel, they were massive in scope, having eternal implications, and so God expected His people to cherish these promises and covenants accordingly.
The Bible explains that this was the reason that David desired to build a “house” for the Lord God Almighty, and why Solomon committed his life to fulfilling the desires of his father. In 1 Kings 8:14-21 the Bible explains that Solomon addressed the people that gathered together for the dedication of the temple. The Bible states that Solomon “blessed” the people by acknowledging God’s faithfulness. He first praised the Lord according to His Word. Solomon was thankful that God was even willing to open His mouth and communicate with His people. Solomon recognized the holy sovereignty of God and knew that God’s willingness to communicate with His people was an act of grace in it of itself. However, Solomon also praised God because He not only spoke, but also moved His hand to fulfill the promises that He made. Solomon confessed that God was good because He was willing to speak to the people, made AMAZING promises to the people on the basis of grace, and even moved His hand in powerful ways to provide and equip His people unto the fulfillment of the Words that He spoke! It is important to recognize the focus of Solomon’s praise. Solomon didn’t praise God because he was rich. Solomon didn’t praise God because the people were peaceful. Solomon didn’t even praise God because the temple was built. Solomon clearly praised God on account of His Word, the goodness of His promises, and God’s faithfulness to fulfill His Word and promises. The completion of the temple was merely an illustration that God was alive, merciful, gracious, patient, and powerful to do amazing works through a group of people that otherwise would have been most pitiable. Solomon did not glory in the work that was done or the celebratory circumstances. Solomon gloried in the Author of the work and circumstances.
When Solomon addressed the people, he explained that the completion of the temple was not according to his own personal desire or effort, but was the fulfillment of God’s promise to his father David. There, Solomon proclaims a significant point about the hearts of God’s people. There, Solomon explained that, as God prohibited David from building the temple himself, God was pleased with David’s heart to do so. God was clear with David that, though he desired to build a temple/house for God’s presence to dwell among the people, he would not do so, but his son (Solomon) would do so. Solomon’s position as king and the completion of the temple proved that God was faithful to His Word. These things proved that God was truly pleased with the desire of David’s heart. Even though David never got to see the completion of the temple, the completion of it showed that God delighted in David’s desires. Though the temple took seven years to build, God patiently endured and provided for the people so that they could labor according to David’s noble desire, and God was faithful to enable the people unto completion.
As Solomon explained these truths to the people, deflecting praise and glory that he might have received to ensure it was given to God alone, Solomon explained the true purpose for the temple being built. Solomon explained that the temple was built so that it could house the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. This means that God was pleased with David’s desire to build a temple because David desired to possess and exalt God’s promises. The Ark was the symbol of God’s promises, and the righteousness He would display to fulfill them. Therefore, David desired to uphold God’s promises as a beacon to the nation of Israel – as the center of attention for the daily lives of all God’s people. Solomon committed his life to the completion of this project, having the same desire. God was faithful to fulfill His promise concerning the temple, but it was done because the people desired God’s promises. Solomon cherished God’s promises, wanted to possess them and exalt them above all other things like his father David. The elaborate and ornate nature of the temple was merely a reflection of the value that Solomon attributed to God’s promises. Solomon prized Israel’s identity as God’s chosen people. Solomon cherished God’s grace that was communicated in the covenants. Solomon valued God’s righteousness.
The Bible clearly shows that David had a well-developed understanding of the ETERNAL nature of God’s promises. David knew that God was able to save the body from his enemies, but was focused on the preservation of David’s soul. David desire to see God and to be with Him in eternity. David knew about the Messiah and received special revelation from the Father concerning the Messiah. David loved the Messiah, and since the Messiah was One who would fulfill the Father’s “eternally unconditional” promises, David loved God’s eternally unconditional promises more than anything else. That is why he desired the temple. That is why God was pleased with David’s desire. That is why Solomon committed his life to the building of the temple. That is why Solomon sought to focus the attention of the people on the eternal glory of God to give Him His due praise. It is true that all of God’s promises are good, but the Bible clearly shows that God is pleased with those that desire and exalt the ETERNAL nature of God’s promises above all other things, knowing that His chief promise concerning sin and eternal life is the most valuable beyond measure!
When Jesus walked this planet, He asked His disciples about the rumors that were going around about His identity. The disciples confessed that some people thought Jesus was Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. Some of the people figured Jesus to be John the Baptist resurrected, which was a theory that didn’t make a lot of sense. After the disciples told Jesus was people were saying, He flipped the question and asked them, “Who do you say that I am.” The Apostle Peter then responded with one of the most profound statements made in all of the Bible. Peter stated, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus then responded back to Peter with an equally profound statement that was startling and sobering. Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Some may wonder, “Why is this such a profound conversation?” First, consider the statement of the Gospel of John. In John 20:31 the Bible teaches that unless one believes that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah, it is impossible to be saved. The Father has promised to judge darkness, sin, and death, but has offered escape to those who believe upon the manner by which He offers mercy and grace – Jesus Christ. The scriptures teach that whosoever believes upon Jesus, they will be forgiven of all sin and saved from God’s righteous judgments in wrath. The subject of faith is what matters. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (meaning, God in flesh), and that Jesus is the Messiah (the fulfillment of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises). When Peter answered Jesus’ question regarding His identity, he proudly stated that Jesus was “the Christ,” referring to His identity as the Messiah, and that He was the Son of God, referring to God in flesh. Peter understood the true identity of Jesus at that moment and made a profound declaration of faith equal to that which is required to be saved as a child of God.
The problem lies within Jesus’ response to Peter. Jesus said that Peter didn’t come to this realization on his own. Though Peter had heard Jesus teach and seen Him perform marvelous signs and wonders proving His deity, the Bible clearly shows that the understanding of Jesus’ identity (leading unto salvation) only comes by the revelation of the Father – period. While God has many children that know who He is, not a single one of them was able to come to the knowledge or understanding of God apart from His own revelation. Flesh and blood cannot comprehend the supernatural things of God. They are contrary one to another. This is why the ministry of Jesus to provide the Holy Spirit is so critical. It is the Spirit of God that dwells within the hearts of God’s people that teaches and brings understanding of God’s truth and revelation. Additionally, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit only dwells within the hearts of the humble and contrite (Isaiah 57:15), which means that knowledge and understanding of God’s revelation of Himself only comes to those who would confess they don’t know anything apart from Him. This is a weird dynamic, but an important one nonetheless.
What does this have to do with the testimony of Solomon? The testimony of 1 Kings 8:12-13 reveals a subtle attribute of God that seldom is discussed. The testimony of Solomon’s response to the glory of God explains God’s glory and the magnitude of power that resides in it. When talking about or studying the glory of God, it is important to remember the words of Jesus communicated to Peter. Flesh and blood cannot naturally figure out and grasp the things concerning God’s identity and true nature. We need the Father to reveal these things to us, which means that we need to humble ourselves before the Lord so that the Holy Spirit would make the truth of God’s glory known to us to whatever degree He desires. Though many desire God’s glory, many pursue God’s glory in ignorance and request it presumptuously. This should not be so. The testimony of Solomon’s response to the glory of God in 1 Kings 8:12-13 reveals the true nature of His glory so that God’s people can embrace and appreciate the magnitude of His power, not cheapen it by comparing His glory to worldly concerns.
The scriptures first declare that Solomon recognized the presence of God’s glory and remember the promise that God made to reveal it. Solomon addressed the point that God’s glory was made manifest according to His own promise, not the efforts of the people. Though the people rejoiced for the completion of the temple and the transportation of the holy items, this rejoicing was not the motivation for God’s glory to appear. God made His glory manifest because He promised that He would. God’s glory was made manifest as a result of His gracious promise that was made long before Solomon was born. The people of God have no bearing of effect on the revelation of God’s glory. We cannot sing loud enough, produce enough works, or pray fervently enough to inspire God to reveal His glory in any way that contrasts the declarations of His will in His Word. God has already made His promises and explained how and when He will reveal His glory. He will not deviate from His Word according to His faithfulness, and Solomon understood this about God. He acknowledged before the people that God filled the temple with His glory because he promised David that He would do so.
Secondly, it is important to recognize the manner in which God’s glory appeared. Solomon testified that God’s glory filled the temple not only as “The Cloud” but also that the cloud was dark. Solomon described the glory of God as a “dark cloud.” This is an interesting way to describe the glory of God, but is an important dynamic to consider – especially in the context of the history and covenants that are referenced. First, recall that as the Ark of the Covenant was transported to the temple, it only contained the stone tablets that Moses constructed to document the Law. Thus, while the people celebrated a great and awesome day in Israel’s history on one of the prescribed feast days, their celebration was in the context of God’s Law. God’s Law is sufficient to document God’s righteousness, but it is a curse unto God’s people because no one can fulfill the Law. Since none are righteous, God’s covenant with Israel concerning the Law was a curse because it revealed the flawed hearts of all people. The Law revealed the depravity of the human heart and the inability of any human being to produce works equal to the righteousness of God, thereby defining each and every human being as condemned according to God’s righteous standards. Thus, while the glory of God was made manifest, under the context of God’s Law, it was seen as a dark cloud.
It is true that it was a blessing for God’s presence to dwell with the people, but the glory of God was terrifying and odd in nature (from a human perspective) because of the Law; as further illustrated by the veil that separated God’s people from the resting place of God’s presence in the Most Holy place. Since Israel’s relationship to God was mended by the covenant of the Law at that time, there was distance between God and His people because of sin. The appearance of God’s glory as a dark cloud was a powerful and dramatic illustration of this truth. Now consider this reality compared to the details of the temple construction. Though seven years were put into the temple construction, God’s glory was made manifest as a dark cloud. Though the holy city was elaborately decorated with bronze and gold and precious stones, God’s glory was made manifest as a dark cloud. Though the tabernacle and Ark were transported according to God’s commands in the Law, God’s glory was made manifest as a dark cloud. Though the people cheered, sang, gave an abundant amount of sacrifices and celebrated the feast day according to the Law, God’s glory was made manifest as a dark cloud. The manifestation of God’s glory in this form clearly shows that, no matter the extent, quality, or quantity of mankind’s efforts, under the covenant of the Law, God’s glory is a dark cloud. The efforts of mankind apart from the receipt of God’s grace through Jesus Christ only causes God’s glory to be perceived as a dark cloud. Though the power and magnitude of God’s glory transcends all things even as a dark cloud, this is a stark difference from the manifestation of God’s glory as the light that radiated from Jesus Christ in the Transfiguration! The covenant of God’s grace through Jesus Christ causes God’s glory to be seen in a totally different way!
Lastly, Solomon proclaimed that he had built a house for the Lord to dwell in eternally. This is an odd statement to make, but one that God later confirms. God is eternal in nature. Though the materials that Solomon used were of the greatest quality available, they were material and temporal in nature. They would grow old, corrupt, and crumble over time. The life of God would FAR outlast the life of the temple that Solomon built. How could Solomon built a temple that would stand forever in order that God would dwell in it forever? Later when God acknowledged Solomon’s proclamations, He confirmed that He would indeed dwell in that house forever if Solomon’s descendants worshiped Him exclusively according to the commands of the Law. This means that, though the temple was erected with corruptible materials, God would exercise His power to sustain it! This is incredible! Solomon’s reference was to the physical temple AND the spiritual throne of the Messiah. Truly the throne and authority of the Messiah would last forever. However, God later addressed the physical location of the temple itself to confirm that He would be willing to sustain the quality and integrity of the temple so long as the people worshiped Him according to the Law. God would exercise His power to sustain temporal materials to last forever. Who but God could do such a thing by His glory?
The subtle explanation of God’s glory in these two short verses is amazing. God’s glory changes form according to the work that He does and the time that He does it. Jesus came “full of glory” but appeared as a man. Yet in the Transfiguration of Jesus, He radiated so much light that Peter, James, and John eventually passed out from witnessing His brightness. The Bible proclaims that when Jesus returns, His glory will be even brighter so as to illuminate the entire planet, and even later, after Jesus makes a new heaven and new earth, He will illuminate both forever by the power of His glory! Yet, at the time of Solomon, because of the Law, God’s glory was a dark cloud that terrified the people and separated the people from His presence. Still, God’s glory as a dark cloud was consistent in power and righteousness as it would have been sufficient to sustain the integrity of the temple for all of eternity had the children of Israel kept the Law as God commanded. No matter the appearance of God’s glory, it is greater than all other things so that it cannot be compared with anything on this world or in this life. This is a truth that only the Spirit will reveal unto understanding, but when He does, the glory of God is sufficient to bring the promises of God’s New Covenant – no longer a dark cloud, but the Light of the world!
The glory of God is an interesting subject to study in the Bible. It is confusing because the manifestations of God’s glory appear differently at different times. The response of the people who experience God’s glory make the subject confusing too. When we hear sermons or songs about God’s glory today, they don’t often match the connotation and temperament of response that the Bible describes. For example, worship events and concerts often show people singing loudly with hands raised, crying out of the glory of the Lord to appear. In many cases, people often testify that God’s presence and glory was made manifest. In those instances, they seldom match the testimonies of scripture. The Bible shows that when people experienced the glory of the Lord they were stunned, terrified, and powerless. In fact, when Moses saw just the shadow of God’s glory, his facial complexion was physically transformed! All this to say that the glory of God is really incomprehensible! When we ask for the glory of God, do we know what we’re asking for? This isn’t stated to discourage from seeking God’s glory. The primary pursuit in the life of all believers should be God’s glory as manifested in Jesus Christ. However, it is important that we examine the scriptural documentation of God’s glory so that we can rely on the Lord to understand what it is we’re asking for, and what we can expect to receive in our pursuit of Him.
The testimony of 1 Kings 8:1-11 documents an awesome moment in Israel’s history. The Bible explains that the “Shekinah Glory” of God filled the temple that Solomon had built! The scriptures teach that when the temple was finished, Solomon made efforts to transport all of the holy items that were being kept in Shiloh, down to Jerusalem. During the days of King David, the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and all of the holy utensils used for sacrifice and worship were kept in Shiloh. However, the promises of God required that the tabernacle and Ark be kept in Jerusalem, the City of David. Here it is important to recognize that Jerusalem was referred to as “Zion.” The first time that this city is referred to as “Zion” is in 2 Samuel 5:7, and contextually identifies Zion as “the City of David.” Hence, the reference to Jerusalem as “Zion” is forever contextually connected to God’s promises to David concerning the Messiah. The Hebrew word for “Zion” translates into the English word “parched.” Knowing this, it is important to recognize the spiritual application that the Lord was teaching through the title of the name. The capital of Israel was “parched,” meaning, a dry land without water. The references to Jerusalem as “Zion” show that God’s promises of the Messiah involve His presence providing spiritual nourishment such as “living water” to quench the spiritual thirst of His people.
This is important to understand at this time in Israel’s history. God had provided all of the wisdom, help, and materials to enable Solomon to build the temple. God had fulfilled part of the promise that He made to David. This would enable God to progress in His plans to reveal the Messiah and important lessons concerning Him. Jerusalem was referred to as “Zion” at this time to remind readers that God was making great strides to fulfill His promises to quench the spiritual thirst of Israel; and He would do so by the presence of His own glory. It would not be the work of Israel that quenched their own thirst. It would not be the efforts of Israel that satisfied their own cravings. It would not be the labor of Israel that filled their innermost needs. It would not be the outcome of Israel’s building that fulfilled God’s promises and glory. God would produce all of these results simply by the presence of His glory. God would quench the spiritual thirst of His people. God would satisfy the spiritual cravings of Israel. God would fill the innermost needs of Israel. God would accomplish these things by the presence of His glory. Thus, the mere presence of God’s glory in ANY form is sufficient to meet every need and desire of every person – even the entire nation of Israel! God’s glory is a POWERFUL force such as cannot be compared to any other thing, and transcends all measurable methods and human understanding.
The timing of God’s work should be considered as well. The Bible testifies that Solomon finished construction and moved everything over to Jerusalem in the seventh month, at the beginning of the feast in that month. This time reference is a reference to “the holy month,” which speaks of September or October. The holy month is the time in which the children of Israel were commanded to celebrate three major feast days: the Feast of Trumpets on the first day, the Day of Atonement on the tenth day, and the Feast of Tabernacles on the fifteenth day. Therefore, it is likely that the reference to the feast day in the seventh month was a reference to the Feast of Trumpets, which was a feast aimed at signifying the introduction of the holy month, celebrating God’s forgiveness and promise to dwell with His people. This is the day that Solomon celebrated the transportation of the holy items, and the Bible declares it was quite a celebration! The holy items were transported according to the commands of the Law, and the people rejoiced so much that they sang praises and offered sacrifices that couldn’t be numbered because they were so great in number.
When the items arrived in Jerusalem, everything was put in its proper place. The utensils were placed in the appropriate locations so that the Levites and priests could do their jobs properly. The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was placed in the Most Holy Place behind the veil according to the Law. Interestingly enough, the scriptures explain that the only thing left inside of the Ark at that time was the tablets containing the Law that God gave to Moses. Aarons’ rod and the manna bread were no longer in the Ark. Nevertheless, when everything was put in its place according to the will of the Lord as communicated by His promises, the scriptures declare that God’s glory filled, not only the Most Holy place, but the entire temple! The Bible explains that the glory of the Lord appeared to the people in the same manner that He appeared when He led the children of Israel out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and through the wilderness – as a cloud. In fact, the Bible uses the definite article “the” to describe “the cloud” in order that “the cloud” be identified as the presence of God Himself. This was not just any cloud – it was “The Cloud” that manifested the glory of God’s presence; and this Cloud was sufficient to fill the 2,700-square foot temple within a matter of moments, from the inside out!
The scriptures testify that when The Cloud filled the temple, the glory of God became too overwhelming for the people that the priests could not continue ministering. Here it is important to ponder the magnitude of God’s glory. God’s glory was not such that people were energized to dance and give hugs. God’s glory was overwhelming to the point that the people were chased out of their post of work and unable to do the work they were doing. The people couldn’t stand in the presence of God’s glory. The people couldn’t function normal in the presence of God’s glory. The people couldn’t even see in the presence of God’s glory, and God’s glory was being made manifest as a cloud at this time – not light as in other instances. Thus, no matter what form God’s glory appears in, it completely overtakes the area, disables people in every way, and blinds people so that they are unable to do that which they know, or that which is simple in nature. This is a quality and magnitude of power that is incomparable. What power or force on this earth has the ability to do such a thing to people? In 1 Kings 8:1-11, all of the priests and Levites fled from their posts, halted their celebrations, and stopped in their work because of God’s glory. The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel were unable to stand. When Jesus was transfigured so that part of His glory shown, Peter, James and John were unable to stand and see, and eventually passed out for a moment. This is the power of the Lord God Almighty! This is the glory and splendor of our Savior! This is a power that should be feared as the scriptures command because it transcends all other forms of ability and power. This is what qualifies God as Creator, Provider, Judge, and Savior. Since no human being can endure the glory of God in this form, then the people of God would be wise to understand God’s glory when we ask for it, knowing that a transformation is required if we expect to see God, live, and function according to His purpose.
The Bible teaches that God’s people are saved by His grace, not by our works. We cannot do anything of ourselves that measures up to God’s glorious, righteous, and perfect works. Scripture teaches that none are righteous, and that God sees the fleshly efforts of mankind to be righteous as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). However, when a person comes to faith in the identity, purpose, and promises of Jesus Christ and is “born again,” then that person is immediately given the Holy Spirit, and thereby equipped by God’s Spirit to produce the fruit of God’s righteous works. The Spirit of God dwells within the hearts of God’s people so that we desire to live for His eternally awesome purposes, rather than our own selfish motives that produce darkness and death. With this motivation, God uses the lives of His people as conduits for His own works. The glory and holiness of His essence as “living water” flows through the lives of His people. The Apostle Paul wrote that as believers, we should no longer use our bodies as “instruments of sin,” but instead present ourselves as living sacrifices in order to be used as God’s “instruments of righteousness.” These teachings show that whether in Christ or apart from Christ, every person will use their bodies as an “instrument” to perform the desires of their hearts. According to the Bible, the people of God should be motivated by the Spirit of God that dwells within to do the things that God inspires for His glory, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for the salvation that God has provided.
The Bible shows that these “works” of salvation can be complicated and large in scope. After all, if God is the motivator and facilitator of the works, these works should be large in scope because God is eternally great! Though it may appear that the “works” God enables His people to do are temporal in nature, sometimes even dealing with material things in this life, God’s people should strive to see the bigger picture of God’s work to know that somehow, there is eternal merit to all of God’s work. Knowing this should not cause God’s people to be overwhelmed, but instead, look to the scriptures and find comfort in knowing that God always provides everything that is needed to do the works He ordains all of His people to do. God provides the motives by His Spirit, the mental capacity according to His wisdom and understanding, the physical power to function in the work, the help according to the body of Christ, and the necessary resources to produce the results God desires. God’s people are simply to remain focused on God’s purposes and promises, looking to Him in order to recognize His provision, utilize it according to His purposes, and enjoy the opportunity to be used according to His glory, regardless of the intensity of the labor.
A terrific example of this truth can be seen in the testimony of King Solomon and the various building projects that he endured throughout the first part of his reign. In 1 Kings 7:1-51 the Bible documents several building projects that King Solomon administrated, which included the construction of Israel’s first temple, the construction of his own home, the construction of an elaborate home for his Egyptian wife, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Judgment, the Sea of Cast Bronze, all of the utensils for the temple, the furnishings for the temple, ten transportation carts for the temple, and many other projects intended to focus the worship of God’s people on Him. There have been scholars and artists that have tried to provide visual presentations of the details that scripture provides. These illustrations show huge and elaborate structures. These illustrations show ornate beauty and intense attention to detail. This is because the scriptures provide the dimensions, scope of work, and explain the level of expertise put into each facet of Solomon’s construction projects. The building projects that Solomon administrated were MASSIVE in scope – especially for that time. Yet the Bible explains that Israel had peace and rest while they labored according to God’s commands, seeking His glory. Though the work was hard, the work was finished as each person appointed by God did their job with the Lord in mind.
Though the extent of Solomon’s building projects were so great, it is important to recognize that Solomon was able to complete all of the work anyway. He didn’t slave to go get the things he needed. The Lord provided Solomon with all of the necessary resources through his father David. The Lord provided help as the people of Israel were hired to do the jobs required, and were committed to do so since the finances to pay for labor were already accounted for. The Lord even provided specialized help to Solomon through the King of Tyre, Hiram. This man had specialized woodworkers that were skilled in dealing with the high-quality wood from Lebanon living among him. Recall that Hiram reached out to Solomon to extend the hand of friendship, not the other way around. Solomon was simply wise (according to the wisdom God provided) to recognize the help that God was providing. Additionally, the scriptures reveal that Hiram was a man that was proficient in working with bronze so that Solomon hired him to make all of the items that were made with bronze, including all of the pillars for the buildings, the Sea, and the oxen that the giant bowl (the Sea) sat on top of. Solomon didn’t have to go hunting for a bronze guy. God brought the bronze guy to Solomon.
The testimony of scripture shows that Solomon not only had the drive and motivation to fulfill his purpose that God anointed him for, but had the wisdom and patience to leverage the rest of God’s provision to see the work completed, regardless of the massive scope of work. The workload didn’t intimidate Solomon even though the work was of the highest quality and scale that Israel had ever undertaken. The time didn’t intimidate Solomon. He remained patience with the building for over a decade. Solomon didn’t try to do all of the work himself and was happy to employ and partner with the people that God brought to him. Solomon didn’t slave away to go get more resources, since the Bible states that even after the completion of these things, there was excess! Though the capacity and cost of the projects Solomon administrated were so great, God provided so much that there was extra that Solomon stored in the treasuries that were built. The amount of resources that David accumulated was so great that even all of the construction projects that Solomon headed weren’t enough to wear down God’s provision.
Perhaps one of the most critical pieces to see is that Solomon was willing to acknowledge God throughout the process. When he built the temple, he named the columns to acknowledge God’s place and presence. This was a testimony of his faith. He believed that God called him for the work, provided for the work, and would dwell with the people as God promised at the completion of the work. He named one set of columns “Jachin,” which means “He will establish;” and another set of columns, “Boaz,” which means, “fleetness.” Both of these names were in honor of the Lord and His promises to Israel. When Solomon completed the construction of these buildings and sanctified items, he further sanctified the excess by putting it in the treasury of the Lord. He didn’t take the excess for himself. He didn’t distribute the excess unto the people. He recognized that God was ultimately the provider and kept God’s provision in the treasure for God’s use later. The point is, Solomon was all about ensuring that God’s will was done and was committed to is according to the inspiration, wisdom, help, and resources that God provided. While Solomon might historically be acknowledged as the administrator of these building projects, Solomon knew that God was the Author and Chief in charge of it all so that his contribution as an administrator was simply an act of service unto God’s holy and eternal purposes.
There is a term that is used to refer to people that tend to be “over-achievers.” The term is “perfectionist.” There are people in the world that strive to get things to the absolute maximum quality of goodness out of things. They work diligently paying attention to meticulous details to ensure that everything is proper and functioning at maximum capacity according to an idea or vision. These are very ambitious people, and many have benefited from the drive and excellence that comes from these types of people. This work ethic can be inspiring! At the same time however, the term seems to be flawed. While the term describes people that chase perfection, it is not really possible to achieve perfection. Thus, the work of a perfectionist never ends. There is never satisfaction. It is possible to improve, but impossible to complete improvement. There is only One who is perfect and is able to author perfection. There is only One who is able to produce a result that does not need improvement and is supreme in quality according to His will. This means that everyone else will simply have to submit to this reality, and wait on Him to finish the work that ultimately produces real perfection.
This also means that, for the perfectionist, there is a standard that should be considered if one is truly seeking out perfection. Since God alone is perfect, He alone is able to produce perfection. Therefore, a perfectionist should really be a person that pursues God and the effects of His own work. A perfectionist should really be a person that acknowledges the supreme glory of God, in fallible nature of one’s own efforts, and desires God’s intervention to improve where we lack. A true perfectionist should be one that acknowledges the perfection of God, His Word, His plans, purposes, and promises while desiring to be a part of God’s perfect work to bring those things into completion. A true perfectionist should not be one that strives to match God’s quality of glory only to ultimately fail. Instead, a true perfectionist should be one that desires for God to use them according to His perfection, falling in line with the decrees of His perfection and copying it rather than trying to come up with flawed new standards.
An example of a good “perfectionist” is provided in the testimony of King Solomon. The Bible explains that King Solomon was a man that was thoroughly committed to his duty as king, to build the temple of God in Jerusalem. Solomon had a one-track mind concerning this project. He leveraged his time, money, resources, and relationships towards the development and completion of the temple in order to ensure it was the best that could be done. The testimony of 1 Kings 6:14-38 even provides an exceptional amount of detail that describes the quality and outcome of Solomon’s efforts. Solomon hired the best men available to do really difficult work for the temple. Solomon hired men from Tyre to prepare wood to build the foundation and frame for the temple. He sent tens of thousands of men into caves to work in shifts harvesting various types of stone to lay the foundation of the temple. When the temple was built, the Bible teaches that Solomon found skilled woodworkers and artists to ensure the aesthetics of the temple were spot on. However, the details of 1 Kings 6:14-38 show that Solomon wasn’t trying to build “the perfect temple.” Instead, Solomon put forth a great deal of energy and resources to copy a pattern.
While the Bible is helpful to describe the dimensions and general layout of the temple that Solomon built, it is important to pay attention to the details provided as well. It is true that the temple was elaborate in nature. It is true that the temple was extremely valuable, being a 2,700-square foot structure totally overlaid with gold from top to bottom. It is true that the décor was elegant. However, it is not true that the temple was unique. The Bible explains that Solomon built the temple according to his vision, but his vision was based off of the tabernacle. The scriptures explain that the walls of the temple were decorated with etches and carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The efforts that went towards this design shows that Solomon was not trying to innovate a new place of worship for the Lord, but instead was seeking to manufacture a more permanent place for the Lord’s presence to dwell based on the pattern that God had previously determined in the tabernacle. In other words, Solomon did not take it upon himself to come up with a new idea, and then strive to make it perfect unto the Lord. Instead, Solomon recognized the perfection dictated by God previously and simply sought to copy it with the tools and talent that was provided to him.
Knowing this, it is important to recall that when God gave Moses the tabernacle instructions, God told Moses that everything was to be built “according to pattern.” Like Solomon, Moses was not appointed to come up with his own creative designs and ideas concerning the worship of God. Moses was given specific instructions that he was supposed to trust were superior to human creativity because God uttered the instructions by His own mouth. In fact, when Bezalel and Oholiab began their creative work to actually make the tabernacle and its furnishing, the Bible says that the Spirit of God filled them in order to equip them for the work. Even though they were performing creative jobs that required skill and attention to detail, God’s Spirit enabled these men to achieve God’s will to perfection. God authored the instructions and provided the ability to do the job. The reason He was so intimately engaged in this work was because the “pattern” that God was providing modeled the work of His own hands in heaven, and mirrored the work that He will do later during the 1,000-Year Reign of Jesus Christ. When examining the specifications of the temple that will be built during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, one will find that His temple will be constructed according to the work that Solomon did in 1 Kings 6:14-38; both of which model the throne room of God in heaven. Thus, the temple that Solomon built is simply a physical model of the perfect work that God does in heaven. The glory of Solomon’s temple was only on account of the perfection of God’s heavenly work.
The Bible testifies that, with all of the man-power that Solomon used to build the temple, it took seven years to complete. This is a long time to spend on one building considering all of the effort and energy that went in to it. With all of the world’s resources at his disposal, Solomon clearly took the approach of a “perfectionist” to build the temple in order to ensure that it was of the greatest quality it could possibly be in according to human effort. Yet Solomon didn’t trust in himself to achieve perfection. Solomon didn’t seek to glorify himself, his creativity, or his administration skills through the completion of the temple. Solomon plagiarized the scriptures by copying the blueprints of God found in the Old Testament writings. Solomon was guilty of copyright infringement and violating trademarks so-to-speak by copying God’s design as previously manifested in the tabernacle. However, Solomon did this because he acknowledged that God’s design and commands for a worship place were already superior. Trying to be perfect in his service unto the Lord, Solomon copied the previously documented work of perfection. We too are to do the same, looking to the Son of God as our model and pattern of perfection. Our job is not to be creative by coming up with our own forms of worship, praise, righteousness, or justice. Instead, we are to recognize the perfection of Jesus Christ as God and copy His perfection, relying on His Spirit to do so as seen throughout the scriptures. This is a true perfectionist.
History shows that many people have erected great monuments and structures in honor of God. Some of these structures were built by faithful men of God. Some of these structures were built by men that sought to exalt themselves, being ignorant of God. After the ascension of Jesus many took it upon themselves to build massive elaborate churches as if the splendor of earthly materials is representative of the splendor of God. People have invested TONS of resources in the last two thousand years in “honor of God.” However, many of these structures and buildings have taken the place of God in ways since the buildings have become the focus of worship rather than God Himself. Many times, a building may be built in the name of the Lord, but the conduct and activity that takes place in such a structure is far from the Lord. Hence, the building itself is worth nothing. The architecture, though it may be impressive, is worth nothing. The elaborate decorations, massive size, or artistic details of any structure is worth nothing is the presence of the One True Living God is not dwelling in it. Thus, it doesn’t matter what statue, sign, or pictures exist in any particular place of “worship.” If the presence of the Lord is not dwelling there, it is worthless.
The Bible clearly teaches that the value of any structure of vessel is based on the presence of God, not the efforts of human hands. This truth is made perfectly clear in the testimony that the Bible provides of Solomon building the first temple in Jerusalem. In 1 Kings 6:1-13 the Bible provides some of the details concerning the construction of the temple that Solomon built. The building was relatively large in size for a place of worship at that time, and was built with some of the most precious and valuable materials available. The sanctuary of the temple was approximately 90 feet by 30 feet, and about three stories tall. The sanctuary of the temple was about 2,700 square feet and was lined with chambers that surrounded it, enabling the priests to perform various duties helpful for worship and sacrifices. The testimony of 1 Kings 6:1-13 details the general dimensions of the temple sanctuary, the inner court, and the Most Holy place. Each was made with precious materials that over 180,000 laborers worked to prepare and develop. The work of the temple was considered so precious that Solomon did not even allow the stone workers to hammer or chisel any stone or allow banging or hammering of any kind at the temple site. Each stone had to be perfectly prepared and shipped ready to insert because Solomon revered the effort of the Lord’s temple to such a high extreme.
Regardless of the meticulous work process, the care taken, the elaborate nature of the materials, the manpower used, or the overall size and value of the temple, the Bible explains that Solomon’s efforts were not what made the temple valuable. The testimony of 1 Kings 6:1-13 explains that when Solomon was having the temple built, the Lord spoke to Solomon and clearly communicated to him how the temple would be made holy and valuable. God told Solomon that he was to walk in God’s statutes, execute His judgments, keep His commandments and walk in them in order for God to perform His promises to Solomon. This is important to recognize. Though Solomon invested a great deal of time an energy into the construction of the temple, God clearly told Solomon that unless his heart was focused on pursuing the Lord by the means that God provided, Solomon’s efforts would be futile. No matter how much time Solomon put in, God wanted Solomon to faithfully pursue Him through the His Word as given in the Law. No matter how much effort Solomon put in, God wanted Solomon to faithfully seek to be a doer of God’s Word by living according to His standards of righteousness. The New Testament is clear to explain that mankind is NOT saved by works performed according to human effort. The instructions that God gave to Solomon communicate the same truth. No matter how much work Solomon did, God desired Solomon’s heart to be focused on His Word and His righteousness.
It is also important to recognize that God’s promises to Solomon were conditional. While God’s “love” is unconditional, and the eternal nature of His promises are unconditional, each and every one of God’s promises does come with conditions for those who desire to be beneficiaries of His promises. For example, while salvation is made freely available, there is a condition to receive it – one must repent and believe upon Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah. Likewise, while God promised to be with Solomon and bring rest and peace to Israel through his reign, Solomon had to abide in the Lord through the Law in order to be a beneficiary of God’s promises. Those who desire to receive the goodness of God must be connected to His goodness, trusting in God’s faithfulness to provide it as promised. Solomon’s work ethic would not be a factor in his opportunity to receive the promises God made. Solomon’s faithfulness to God’s Word would be the means by which he would be blessed. Nothing has changed. God still operates in the same manner.
Lastly, God told Solomon that his efforts and ambition to build a nice building would not determine God’s approval or inspire God’s willingness to dwell with His people. Recall that the Bible teaches that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. In other words, God desires people who want to be like Him (since He is merciful) rather than people who feel they can perform works that impress God on their own. The scriptures teach that ALL fall short of the glory of God. No matter how impressive a work might seem from a human perspective, there is not a single work or collaboration of works that matches the glory of God. For example, the Bible teaches that God’s glory is seen in the heavens, which explains that when God spoke the heavens (outer space) into existence, He provided a glimpse of His glory to behold. God spoke, and the heavens were formed according to His perfect will and power! Until a human being can speak such marvelous things into existence out of nothing, God is not impressed.
It is true that the temple Solomon built was a beautiful marvel. Many structures have been built in the name of the Lord, but not all of those structures were built to facilitate humble, faithful, and exclusive worship of the One True Living God. Not every structure built in God’s name has enable and encouraged God’s people to walk according to His statutes with truthful teaching about His laws, commands, and judgments. Many structures have proclaimed the name of God, but not all of them have truthfully taught God’s righteousness according to His Word and equipped the people of God to be doers of His Word by His Spirit. God candidly told Solomon that unless the people sought Him according to the righteous declarations of His Word (which existed in the form of His Law then, but is now revealed through the manifestation of Jesus Christ), He would not dwell in the building they worked so hard to erect. No matter how much money, time, planning, or effort went into the project, God desired the hearts of His people to be exclusively focused on Him, His righteousness, and His holiness as doers of the Word by faith. As it was then, so it is now. The value of any individual vessel or structure is measured by the presence of the invaluable God that dwells in it; and He will only dwell where there is a humble pursue of His essence by the means He provides to pursue Him.