Kings of Judah Lived in Reference to the Temple – Part 1

Israelite PrayingJudah was blessed to enjoy God’s presence in their midst. In Jerusalem, any Jew could look to the highest hill and see the monumental structure of Solomon’s temple standing tall against the sky, and he could know his God had promised to dwell there among His people. If a priest walked into the temple, he would find it dazzlingly beautiful–but empty of any form of presence. No physical image lived in this temple because God is spirit. A Jew knew God lived there only through faith.

After Solomon’s son Rehoboam assumed the throne, he did not walk in the righteousness of David nor in the wisdom of Solomon. During Rehoboam’s reign “Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem and took away the treasuries of the house of the LORD…” (2 Chr. 12.9), including the gold shields Solomon had made. Instead of crying out to God for help, Rehoboam accepted the loss and replaced the gold shields with bronze replicas, settling for less than the best. Indeed, without God we must settle for less than the best.

Instead of trusting in God for help, Rehoboam’s grandson Asa took “silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house and sent to Ben-Hadad king of Syria” in order to make a treaty with Syria against Israel. Can you imagine taking what is God’s and giving it to a pagan king in order to protect yourself? Asa did that.

Praying at Wailing WallAfter Asa came Jehoshaphat. While Scripture does not record his jumping habits, it does record his abiding righteousness and faith. When the nations of Moab, Amon, and Edom simultaneously threatened Judah, Jehoshaphat prayed to Yahweh God from the Temple. His prayer contains a wealth of riches:

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them—here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chr. 20.5-12)

Though all these kings lived with reference to the temple, some defiled the house of the Lord and some adored and honored God’s house. Faith made the difference. Many of the kings of Judah were not men of faith and righteousness; they were not interested in following God’s commandments or keeping the covenant. But a few loved God, loved His presence, loved living close to His house.

Where would you like to live? How would you like to live in God’s house? Jesus said in John 14.2, “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” In His presence we shall live!

Solomon Builds the Temple (2 Chronicles 1-9)

Solomon's TempleIn a letter addressed to Hiram, king of the nearby region of Tyre, Solomon wrote:

And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him? (2 Chronicles 2.5-6)

With the copious provisions his father had collected along with further materials he prepared from surrounding regions, “Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign” (2 Chr. 3.1-2; cf. 1 Chr. 21.28-22.4). Hiram, king of Tyre, sent his master craftsman, Huram, to aid Solomon in the fine metal work, cloth work, and engraving which decorated the Holy House (2.13-14).

Solomon’s structure surely outshone every other earthly temple, as the details in chapters 3-4 suggest. Many have constructed replicas and models of this temple based on the details found here, and I encourage you to check out some online pictures and videos (for example, this one and this one) to get a feel for it’s grandeur.

When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he first performed a ceremony to dedicate the Ark of the Covenant, which David had brought into Jerusalem many years previous. The priests placed the Ark in the Most Holy Place under the wings of two giant cherubim.

For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside… Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt. (2 Chr. 5.7-10)

Solomon's TempleAs the priests sang and played music with cymbals, stringed instruments, harps, and trumpets, “the house of the LORD was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God” (2 Chr. 5.13-14). What an awesome sight!

But God wasn’t finished displaying His glory. Solomon continued with a dedication ceremony for the entire Temple, during which he prayed an amazing prayer asking God to remain in the Temple and always hear His people when they prayed towards the Temple in repentant, trusting faith. In His prayer, Solomon recognized that God alone knows the hearts of the sons of men (6.30) and that there is no one who does not sin (6.36). Again and again he petitioned, “When they return to you with all their heart…may You hear…and when You hear, forgive.”

When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. (7.1-2)

They responded with praise:

“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.” (7.3)

Amen!

“So the house of the LORD was completed” (8.16).