A House for God (1 Kings 8)

In Sermons, The Whole Story, Year 2024 by harvest.admin

Resource by Peter Park

As we continue in our series through the Bible, the last two  weekends we looked at the rise and fall of David. Hopefully one of the patterns you’re starting to recognize is that the “heroes” of the faith are not so much people to emulate but signposts pointing to our need for someone greater. Towards the end of David’s life, he wants to build a temple for God, which is honorable. But because David was a man of war, God tells him that his son Solomon would be the one to build it.

Solomon was one of David’s many children, but he was the son through whose family line the promises of God would be fulfilled. 

1 Kings 3 – God: Ask for anything. Solomon prays for wisdom.

1 Kings 5, 6 – Solomon builds the temple for the name of the LORD.

About the Temple: Magnificent structure unlike anything we have in the world today. It required over 180k men over 7 years. It was made of the best and most expensive stones, timber, (~3.5m kg) pure gold, (35m kg) silver, iron, bronze, and gemstones. Just the material costs to build the temple in today’s money in MYR would be quadrillions. That’s over 12 0s. (My phone almost broke…) The Petronas Towers, KL Tower, Merdeka, TRX, the entire KL skyline put together would pale in comparison. And as we’ll see, the Temple was not just another building.

Spend our time going through 1 Kings 8, Solomon’s prayer after the completion of the temple, to learn about God from the wisest man…

Text: 1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion…6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim…10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

12 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. 13 I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”…15 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father…20 Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, 23 and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart; 24 you have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. 25 Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father.

1) There is no one like God and the fullness of who he is cannot be known. V. 12 “He dwells in thick darkness.” Take God’s power, for example, to speak the universe and 200 billion trillion stars into existence, or to understand his wisdom to create man so wonderfully and intricately. He is so big and wonderful far beyond even what he has revealed about himself in his word. 

Solomon goes further and connects God’s “otherness” and “highness” to the fact that he is a promise keeper. (15, 20-27, 56) Repeated 8x. See: Solomon’s focus is not just on what God has done for him but on the fact that God is a Promise Keeper. In other words, Solomon’s worship of God is more dependent on God’s character than his circumstances. So if you want to be wise, you will learn and live in faith according to those promises. If he said it, you can believe it. Done. (Ex: Phil 1, Mt. 28)

27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28 Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30 And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

2) The God of the universe makes himself accessible. The God who created everything, the God who the heavens cannot contain, desires to dwell with his people in relationship and to be called on. (28-30) But note, God is not accessible in any way or every way. There is a specific, God-determined way, centered around the temple where his name would dwell. We don’t get to decide our own way. (First married – gift giving.)

3) The Most High God listens to the prayers of the lowly. Lowly – Wise enough to understand that God is God and they are not. Wise enough to go before God in humility and need. (28-30) Prayer, your prayer life – not just when you need something from God, is the #1 indicator of your humility and dependence on him.

37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemy besieges them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), 40 that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.

4) Sin drives out the presence and blessing of God. (31-40, 44-53) Since Gen. 3, when man decided to rebel against God, they were driven out away from God’s presence. This is why the priests had to leave the temple when God’s glory came down and filled it. Curtain blocking off the Holy of Holies. Because of sin we cannot be in God’s holy presence and live. So the glory of God dwelling with the people through the ark and now the temple was the partial restoration of what mankind lost in the Fall in God’s pursuit of us. But God’s presence was conditional upon the people’s obedience towards him. He would dwell with them if they would keep the covenant and obey all God’s commands. 

Sin drives out…but repentance brings his presence. If you want the presence of God in your life, you have to repent, to truly be sorry for your sin and not just excuse it away as if it’s not that big a deal. And it’s not something we do once to become a Christian, but a life of constant turning away from our sin and turning back to God.

5) God cares about our obedience. Yes, we are all sinners and God is gracious and forgiving. But he also hates sin. God doesn’t want just empty words but a heart and life that matches it. Listen, God doesn’t just want obedience from us, he wants it for us. Because He knows that obedience to his ways lead to life and disobedience to death.

31 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven and act and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.

6) God cares about justice. (32) God cares about justice not only when it involves him, but also his people and how they relate to one another. Because a sin against someone made in the image of God is a sin against God himself. And God can’t overlook or forget about sin. (Ex – Accident) For God to be just, sin has to be punished and atoned for.

41 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake 42 (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

7) God’s presence and salvation are for all peoples. (41-43). (V. 60) God’s intention, even when choosing Israel, was to bring all peoples back to himself. God’s promise to Abraham was so all the nations could be blessed. God’s covenant with Moses was to set apart a people so the nations would be drawn to him. And the Temple – Court of the Gentiles – Nations would come to pray and meet with God. This is why Jesus was so angry and flipped over the tables when he entered the temple, not because they were selling merchandise but because they were taking up the one space all the nations were to come to seek God – My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isa. 56:7, Mt. 21:13) 

Solomon’s Summary: 54 Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. 55 And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. 57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. 59 Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. 61 Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

8) God is merciful, forgiving, and compassionate. In Solomon’s prayer, there are 7 Petitions (31-40, 44-53) – Pattern: “If, sin, pray…”. 7 – Number of completion. Solomon is covering all the possible scenarios where the people will sin and asking God to be true to his character if they will turn back to him and pray. Again, it’s not a question of if the people deserve it, but whether God will be faithful to who he is.

62 Then the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. 63 Solomon offered as peace offerings to the Lord 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord65 So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, … 66 On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown to David his servant and to Israel his people.

9) God is worthy of it all. Think about how much value and worth is represented in Solomon’s sacrifice. That’s a lot of sheep and oxen. It almost seems like a waste. (Allie – Ring/Proposal) The magnitude of the sacrifice represents the worthiness of God. What this shows us is that our lives fulfill their ultimate purpose and we have the greatest joy when we live not for ourselves, the accumulation of material things, for our comfort or a better life, but when our lives are poured out for his sake.

1 Kings 9 – God’s response to Solomon’s prayer.

3 And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

10) God responds to prayer. Solomon gets exactly what he asked for. Paul Miller: All of Jesus’ teaching on prayer can be summed up in one word: ASK. Asking is the most important aspect of prayer. And then, are we asking for the right things? (Not a genie.) It is wisdom to align our prayer with God’s word and his promises. Rest assured: God will answer our prayer in the way we would ask if we knew all that he does. Yes, for our good. No, for our good. But we should be very aware of what we are asking when we pray to God or make a commitment to follow him. Baptism – I will do whatever he tells me to do and I will go wherever he sends me. God may decide to take you up on it! 

That was a lot we learn about God from a single prayer. Let me show you how this all fits together…

When David wanted to build the temple for God, God made an even better promise to David: 2 Sam 7 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. … 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

There would be a king coming to establish an everlasting kingdom for God. Solomon wasn’t the ultimate fulfillment of this promise. Later in his life he would stray from his faith in God. Both Solomon and the temple were foreshadows of a bigger and better fulfillment. As we will see as we continue in our series, the people of God would continue to rebel against God. And in one of the saddest parts of the bible, not only would the people of God be exiled out of the Promised Land and the temple destroyed (rebuilt but not to the same beauty as before), the glory of God (presence) would depart from the temple. (Ezek. 10-11.) Sounds like Genesis doesn’t it?

But God…He wouldn’t leave his people forever. He would fix the problem once and for all. The God who is high and above all things would lower himself and he would come down to us. The glory of God would return embodied in the person of Jesus. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus, fully God, took on flesh and became fully man, to dwell among us. 

The presence of God would no longer dwell in a beautiful place, but a beautiful person. (PJD) See, Jesus called his own body the temple of God. (Dwelling and presence) And it would be destroyed; His body would be crushed and he would die so our sins could be atoned for. In doing so, the curtain in the temple once separating God and man was torn in two. Heb. 6 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever.”

In taking our place, Jesus was forsaken by the Father and he lost the presence of God, which is what we deserved. And he restored us back to God’s presence, which is what he deserved. So we, who believe in Christ and his finished work for us, are his temple and the Holy Spirit of God lives inside of us!

And this work of presence restoration is what God is doing in the world for the good of all people and his glory. The temple was supposed to be the place where the nations could come to God. But that would change with Jesus…John 4 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 

Tim Keller – “We see a significant shift in God’s call to mission between the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, mission was centripetal; the flow was in toward the center. Israel was called to be an obedient people, becoming a society that displayed God’s glory for the nations to see. The nations were called to look and to “come in” and worship God. But in the New Testament, mission becomes centrifugal – moving outward from the center. The people of God are sent out to the world to proclaim the gospel.”

Question: What are you leveraging your life to build? Jesus died, rose again and sent his Spirit to establish and empower the church. The church, of which Jesus is the cornerstone and the head, is the one institution he is building for the advancement of his kingdom. So as followers of Christ, we should leverage everything – our families, our jobs, our gifts, for the church and its mission.

What does that practically look like to be engaged in the work of building up the church? 3 Ways…(More)

1) Reach the lost – our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends so they can be in the family of God. You were saved for relationship with God and for mission. Let me make a pretty strong statement: You cannot be a healthy, growing disciple of Christ if you are not sharing the gospel. (Can a fisherman be a fisherman if he never fishes? No.) Growing deep and abiding in Jesus always, always, overflows to others.

Every week, we end our service with “You are loved and sent.” That is to remind you each week when you leave this place of your identity as a beloved son or daughter of God. And that in all the places God has you in the upcoming week, you are intentionally being sent into all those places to share the good news of Jesus.

PRAYER. EM Bounds: “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.” Prayer is the most crucial work in sharing the gospel.

2) Serve in the church and through the church with the gifts God has given you. In the church – Are you on one of our serving teams? Are you in a small group where you can follow all the one another commands? Do you make attending church a priority? Not being engaged in the church is not just a harmless, passive disengagement. Because you have been given gifts to build up the church, by not being involved, you are actively tearing down the church. Outside of the church – Are you engaged in ministries (refugee) to reach and bless our city? 

If not, you need to stop by the connect table today before you leave and get signed up. Listen, if you only serve when it’s convenient for you, then you’re not really serving God, you’re serving yourself. 

3) Give generously to the church and its mission. The tithe is a great place to start, to give your first and best to God through the church. But it’s by no means the end. How you spend your money is one of the best indicators of what you truly value. (Listen: I’m not trying to get money out of your pocket and into mine.) You can’t be stingy and be like Jesus. Becoming like Jesus means giving generously. And of all the good places you can give, the church should be the primary place because it’s the hub for ministry and there is no mission more important than the church. It’s why my family gives generously and why we picked up our lives and moved here to be a part of the church and mission in KL.

If for whatever reason, maybe negative experiences in the past with church, I hope that we can gain your trust back, but until then, give and be generous with your money somewhere else. It’s more important that you practice generosity as a disciple of Jesus. And if Harvest doesn’t get to the point where you can trust the church, we would love to help you find another healthy local church where you can give generously, become a member, and be engaged in the mission.

Family Quote – CT Studd: “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” We want to leverage everything we have, our time, talent, treasure, and our temple for Jesus because he’s worth it. And I invite you to do the same. 

PJD: Sin drives out the presence of God. But God’s presence is more powerful, and his presence can drive out sin. God wants to dwell with you. But you have to let him in. God loves you more than you can ever imagine, so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for you and to bring you back to him. There’s nothing you’ve done, there’s nothing you will do that’s greater than God’s love for you. Will you receive it? You can do that here, right now. 

Other videos in this series: