When we look at the extravaganza of the temple and the furnishings, we have to remember that this was to be the ‘forever place’ of God’s presence as expressed by David in 1 Chron 23:25-26, “The Lord God of Israel has given rest to His people, and He has come to stay in Jerusalem forever. Also, the Levites no longer needed to carry the Tabernacle or any of the equipment for its service.” David, and especially Solomon, in his execution of the building plans, wanted to make the Temple as glorious as possible to ‘house’ the almighty and only true God in the best possible way. Nothing was out of proportion, for Solomon wanted to honour the ‘Great I AM’. Although the plan of David was to have the addition of musicians for praise and worship within the Temple (1 Chron 25:1), the Temple services were meant to reinforce the Mosaic laws, commandments and rites.
The official dedication started with placing the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place during the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (2 Chron 5:3). Solomon then continued to offer a prayer to God, a reflection and sort of repeat of the covenant that God made with Israel and was reaffirmed by Joshua (Joshua 24:14-28). Having finished his prayer, the building and surroundings were filled with such an overpowering cloud representing God (Ex 13:21), that the priests were not able to stand to minister (2 Chron 5:13). God responded with Holy fire descending from Heaven and this consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. It was God who supplied the fire, not man. Thus we see God showing that there is no room in His ‘house’ for religious rites or rules, and that only the spark of the Holy Spirit can burn in our hearts, and shows us that we are the temple of the ‘Holy Spirit that dwells within us’ (1 Cor 6:19).
Over the many years that the Temple stood, it often fell into disrepair and the services often lost the purity of dedication. Finally, the Temple was destroyed around 587 BC by the Babylonians, with the fall of Jerusalem. The Temple was so completely and utterly destroyed that today it is extremely hard to find proof of Solomon’s Temple. Even the rubble was cleared away and modern archaeological methods have great difficulties determining where the original Temple stood.
Solomon’s Temple was certainly a marvel of engineering, construction and lavish display, but what does it have to do with us? Over the centuries humanity has striven to build bigger and better monuments, supposedly to glorify God, but ultimately for his own self-aggrandisement. Although the plans for this temple paralleled those of the wilderness tabernacle, the edifice conveyed a different message. It was never God’s desire to have a ‘house’ of stone, but one of living flesh whose cornerstone was Jesus. It was never to be a place of religious ceremony, as seen when God pushed the priests out during the dedication. His Temple was never to be rigid and static, cold, and cemented to man’s conceit, but built with living stones and would live and breathe and journey throughout His Kingdom, forever enjoying the fullness of His Presence. Of all of the items listed as being made and used in the original Tabernacle, only the Ark and the Mercy Seat were placed in the new Temple, and even these were lost by the time of the Babylonian Exile, never to be replaced, for as the essence of God is Love, His mercy is to be found in the hearts of His people, not stone. As the people of Israel sought a king like the other nations had, so they also sought a place of religious worship like the pagans had. Do not seek God in an edifice made by human hands, but go beyond the veil of outer perceptions and look for Him in the heart of His Temple – You-manity.