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It is a joy to be able to share with you just a taste of what the Lord’s doing through this church on our campuses locally, so we’re thankful for the opportunity to share tonight.
This evening we come to the latter part of 1 Kings chapter 8. If you’ve been with us during this evening series through 1 Kings, you’ll notice one thing. These passages are very long. Tonight is no different. I timed it; it would take me 10 minutes of the 20 minutes that I’ve been allotted to read all of 1 Kings 8, so we’re not going to do that. It wouldn’t leave us much time.
Our outline for the evening will be three responses, seven petitions, and one purpose. Three responses, seven petitions, and one purpose. You’re thinking, how will all that happen in 20 minutes? Very quickly.
So let’s ask for God’s help as we consider this text. Let’s pray together.
Lord Jesus, we’re so thankful for Your Word. We’re thankful for the passages that make great sense to us and we can understand. We’re also thankful for the parts of Scripture that maybe are a little bit more difficult to understand and to apply to our lives today. We’re thankful that Your Word speaks to us, it changes us, gives us direction in life. It tells us about Christ and about God and Your Spirit. Lord, we’re thankful to examine the life of Solomon here through this evening’s service. We pray, God, that we would be edified as we look at Your Word this evening. In Your name we pray. Amen.
1 Kings has been a look into the life of King Solomon. Just a very quick recap, no, we don’t need to do this every week, but if you’re just joining us for the first time, chapters 1 and 2 David is an old man. His son Adonijah attempts to set himself up as king before finally Solomon is anointed and established as king. Chapter 3, Solomon prays for in that famous passage and receives wisdom. Chapter 4, Solomon’s kingship is described a little bit more in depth and we get to chapter 5 through 7, which describes Solomon building the temple and building the palace before finally we get to chapter 8, as Pastor Tom preached last week for us, that the ark is finally brought into the temple.
What we have here is an amazing scene. We see Solomon respond to this wonderful news that the ark has been brought into the temple in three ways. We see Solomon respond in three ways. First, he prays; second, he blesses; third, he sacrifices. Those are his three responses that we see in this text. He prays, he blesses, and he sacrifices.
Let’s consider this first response together – Solomon prays. Notice in verse 22. Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above, on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart.”
Here’s King Solomon. He stood before the altar of the Lord. He did so in the presence of the entire assembly of Israel and he spread out his hands towards heaven, before praying on behalf of the people. What does that sound like? What’s going on here?
Well, to me it sounds an awful like a pastoral prayer. He starts with a prayer of adoration in verse 23 – there is no God like You, in heaven above or on earth beneath. He prays a prayer of remembering God’s promise in verse 24 – You spoke with Your mouth and with Your hand You have fulfilled it this day.
Down in verse 27 we see Solomon move to ask God to hear his prayer before spending the next 25 verses praying for the people of Israel. This is a great act of God and none of the high points of the entire Old Testament, that the ark has been brought into the temple. Long have God’s people waited, not just to have a tent but to have a temple, a permanent place of worship. The ark is finally brought in. What is Solomon’s first response here in verse 22? It’s to pray.
What a great picture for us. What a great model for us. You and I will never be in the same situation that King Solomon found himself in, but when there are remarkable testimonies of God’s grace, His might, His power, His glory, His steadfast love and faithfulness, friends, our response should be similar. We should pray.
Remember what Pastor Kevin said about prayer in Revelation 8, I think just last week. Pastor Kevin said this – the prayers of God’s people are never wasted, never wasted energy, and though we may not see much of what they do here on earth, God is adding to them. Christ is interceding for us on our behalf, pleading before the Father based on His blood and His righteousness, so that our prayers in a manner of speaking move the hand of Him who moves the world.
We have to believe that Solomon believed this very thing, that his prayers in a manner of speaking moved the hands of Him who moved the world. So Solomon’s first response is to pray. In Solomon’s prayer, in the middle of chapter 8, he offers seven petitions, seven petitions that we see.
We don’t have time to go into all seven; they’d be a great study on your own. Here’s a snapshot of what Solomon prays for. He asks a prayer asking God to condemn the guilty, to vindicate the righteous in verse 31 and 32. In verses 33 through 40, there are three petitions, all having to do with God’s forgiveness. The fifth petition is found in verse 41 through 43. Solomon offers an evangelistic prayer for those who are outside the covenant community to be brought into the covenant community. The sixth petition is in verse 44 through 45. It’s a prayer of victory in battle. Finally, the last petition is a prayer of repentance in captivity. Solomon’s first response is to pray. He prays for all the people, many different things he prays.
Second, Solomon blesses in that he offers a benediction.
Look at verse 54 with me. Solomon concludes his prayer and he finished offering all this prayer and pleads to the Lord and he arose from before the altar of the Lord where he had knelt with his hands outstretched towards the heaven, and he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He has promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He spoke by Moses His servant.”
Solomon prays this pastoral prayer and then he offers a benediction, a blessing to the people.
Many years ago, when my wife and I first had our first son, we’d keep our kids in the nursery and maybe you might remember way back in the day they used to have little numbers show up on those little things right there and if your kid’s number popped up, anxiety started to rise. What’s wrong with my child? You’d see mothers dart out every once in a while. So we were one of those families and we thought to ourselves, we would love to be able to after the service to stay and interact with people, so right after the sermon, during the song, we would kind of scoot out and get our son and be able to come back and interact with the rest of the congregation after the service.
Very quickly we realized that as we were doing that, with good intentions and right heart and also having no idea what we were doing as young parents, we realized that we were missing the benediction. We were missing God’s blessing on His people.
One author says this about a benediction, a blessing: A benediction is a good word from God. It’s an objective word, confirming that we’ve encountered the living God through His means of grace. It’s different from a prayer or a doxology. The difference is that a prayer or a doxology is from us to God while a benediction is from God to us. In other words, a doxology or prayer has a northward direction, a benediction has a southward direction.
In response to God’s presence entering the temple, Solomon offers the people a blessing, a benediction, a good word that has confirmed an encounter with the living God.
Third response. We see that Solomon sacrifices. We see that in response to the construction of the temple, the entrance of the ark, Solomon offers a sacrifice.
Chapter 8 has a chiastic structure to it. You may not be familiar with that. Pastor Kevin has mentioned that before, especially in the book of genesis, but a chiasm refers to a sequence, it could be maybe a sentence, a verse, a paragraph, chapter, maybe even an entire book, in which there are elements that are repeated and then developed, but in reverse order. Meaning you could have A, B, C, and then next would be B, A. It kind of has a sideways pyramid structure to it.
So verses 62 through 66 represent this chiastic structure where Solomon and the people once again return to worship and celebration. You see that at the beginning of the chapter, they start with worship and celebration, and then they end in worship and celebration.
Verse 63: “Solomon offered as a peace offering to the Lord 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.”
That is a lot of oxen and a lot of sheep. 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. This seems like it was in addition to chapter 8 verse 5 where Solomon was sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.
Now I am not a cattle farmer. I am not a cowboy. But just from the sacrifice in verse 63, that many oxen and that many sheep, just by looking it up, a quick scan of the internet, so you know it’s true, the valuation of these oxen and these sheep would be somewhere between $10 and $100 million today. That came after the sacrifice with countless sheep and countless oxen.
What’s the point of all that? In response to the testimonies of God’s grace, His faithfulness, His goodness, His kindness, Solomon and all of Israel sacrificed, meaning they gave a portion of their wealth back to God in gratitude and praise and worship.
Friends, you and I know today that the blood of Jesus renders these types of sacrifices, blood sacrifices, as obsolete for the New Testament Christian, yet we do have to see that these are not sacrifices of atonement that Solomon is offering, these are not sacrifices to cleanse one from sin. You can go back to our series last year from the book of Leviticus. You’ll find many examples of the Old Testament sacrificial system. No, these are sacrifices of thanksgiving, of joy, of praise.
Look at verse 65 and 66 with me: “So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel was with him, a great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days. 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.”
God’s people sacrificed out of their wealth, giving God back a portion of what He had already given them. They wanted to acknowledge that all they had was from Him to begin with. It was an expression of joy.
When we receive testimonies of God’s grace, when we see His faithfulness on display, whether formal testimonies like this or maybe just in your own life personally, when we see Him answer prayers, the appropriate response is joyful sacrifice. Again, you have to see the connection between joy and sacrifice. They’re intertwined here. It would not have been an appropriate sacrifice had there not been joy on Israel’s part. It would not have been an expression of joy without sacrifice as well. $100 million worth of cattle and sheep gone.
You and I, when we offer God a sacrifice, so often it may be tinged, at least it is with me sometimes, with a spirit of “have to” more so than a spirit of “get to” or “want to” or “I so long to, Lord.” I have a mind that’s honestly calculating, okay, what can I offer, Lord, without truly affecting my life and it wouldn’t pinch me, okay, that feels like a safe sacrifice back to God.
You and I may give dutifully but sometimes we don’t give joyfully. If that’s the state of our hearts as it is in mine from time to time, there’s something that we are missing in the Christian life, because it is our joy to sacrifice for the sake of Christ because of His sacrifice for you and I on the cross.
Now our sacrifices obviously look different. We’ve mentioned that. They look very different than what they look here in 1 Kings chapter 8. The setting is completely different. That was a sacrifice that reflected the occasion.
Our sacrifices are no longer with bulls and goats and sheep, but make no mistake, they are still costly. Because what does the book of Romans say? Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
We no longer sacrifice animals. We rather sacrifice our entire lives as one’s to be offered to God. We are to be living sacrifices. Make no mistake, friends, that is far more costly than any price of sheep or ox could ever be. You and how you live and your body, the things you think about, the words you use, the images and videos that you may resist looking against, the conversations that you have, the money that you spend, the time that you offer, all of that is to be a living sacrifice.
We no longer have a physical temple like we see here in 1 Kings 8, but what does 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 19 say? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?
We may no longer have an ark, the place in which God dwelt with His people, but we do have His Spirit which 2 Corinthians 1:22 says God has given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Friends, you and I will never recreate a 1 Kings 8 moment in our life, but make no mistake about it, you and I have something greater than what’s going on here in 1 Kings 8. We have the blood of Jesus, which cleanses our sin. We have the Spirit of God, which resides in our heart. We have the Word of God, which testifies to the truth. We have the promises of God, which we can look back on and deem as faithful.
Though our response may not be to sacrifice the blood of bulls and goats and sheep and oxen, our hearts are still to leap with joy that God has saved us and we offer Him our very lives as a sacrifice back to Him.
That leads us to one purpose. Finally, we’ll look at Solomon’s one purpose. Look back with me at verse 60. What’s the purpose of all of this? What’s the purpose of all of this time, energy, the details spent into every little nook and cranny of the temple and of the palace? What’s the purpose of this celebration? Why carry this ark through the wilderness? Why build a temple? Why offer such lavish sacrifices?
Verse 60 gives us a little window into this purpose. Solomon in his blessing offers this, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and there is no other.
The purpose of all this splendor and pageantry and worship is that the whole world, that all the people of the earth, might know that the Lord is God and there is no other.
Think back to what God told Abraham in Genesis 12 – I will bless those who bless you and in him who dishonors you, I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
The psalmist reaffirms this in Psalm 87. Pastor Kevin referenced this a few weeks ago. Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon and Philistia and Tyre along with Cush. Yes, even the enemies of Israel will one day know that the Lord is God, there is no other.
Jesus commissions the disciples to make disciples of what? All nations, in Matthew 28. In Acts 1 He sends them out to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, that there may be knowledge that there is no other, that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God.
Solomon responds to God’s wonderful works in prayer and blessing and in sacrifice so that all the people of the earth might know there is no other God but Yahweh.
Friends, our lives should be lived in a similar manner. The way that we pray, the way that we worship, the way that we praise and confess our sin, the way that we give thanks, the way that we intercede on behalf of others, the ways in which we bless others as we have the opportunity, but also the ways in which we seek to receive a blessing from God as He offers it, and the ways in which we joyfully offer our lives as a sacrifice to God. All of that, the purpose is God’s glory among the nations.
Solomon knew that. He prayed that. He saw that this was the purpose of all that he was doing, that God would be glorified among the nations.
Friends, even in your own life, in your neighborhoods, the people that you work with, the people that you live next to, would we live lives similar that they may know that the Lord is God and there is no other.
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we confess that this is true – the Lord is God and there is no other. We ask, God, that You would forgive us in ways in which we don’t live in light of this reality. We live day to day, minute to minute, we get lost in the mundane things, Lord. But yet, Lord, we believe and confess as a church and as Your people that You are God and there is no other. Help us each and every day, Lord, to live our lives as a living sacrifice to testify to this truth, that the Lord is God and there is no other. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.