TODAY’S READING: 1 KINGS 8-9
The overwhelming theme I was struck with in today’s reading was a house for God’s name that he might forgive our sins.
From 1 Kings 8:1-9:9, the word house (related to God’s house) appears 26 times, the word name appears 16 times, and the word forgive appears five times.
For Solomon, the house of God, the temple, was all about providing a place for God’s name, his character, to dwell, so that God would forgive our sins. And, this is exactly what we see in Jesus. Jesus was a house who began building the house for God’s name, his nature of light, love, and life, so that the world would be forgiven of its sin.
Let’s look at Solomon and see how he pictures Jesus offering forgiveness to all from the cross.
PRAYING BEFORE THE ALTAR WITH HIS HANDS SPREAD OUT TO HEAVEN
1 Kings 8:22 says, “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.”
The parallel passage from 2 Chronicles 6:12-13 says, “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court, and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the assembly of Israel, and spread out has hands toward heaven.”
The altar was the place where Israel made its sacrifices. It was made of bronze, which symbolizes judgment. The number five symbolizes grace.
Therefore, we this is a picture of Jesus on the cross, the altar where he made his sacrifice and sin was judged, or condemned in his flesh (Romans 8:3). That the altar was five cubits by five cubits prophesies that it was “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) Solomon knelt as a picture of Christ humbling “himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) And, Solomon’s hands outstretched picture Christ’s hands nailed to the cross with his arms outstretched.
A HOUSE NOT MADE OF HUMAN HANDS
In 1 Kings 8:15-16, Solomon prayed, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with has hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there. But I chose David to be over my people.”
Stephen said in Acts 7:48, “Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands.” And, in Acts 17:24, Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man.”
Therefore, it is very interesting that Solomon’s prayer recognizes that the Lord by his hand fulfilled the promise he made to David to build a house. Further, Solomon’s prayer recognizes that God chose no city, not even Jerusalem, for the house he was building for his name, his character. Rather, God chose David, which is to say God chose Jesus.
John 2:19, 21 says, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body.”
Jesus’ body was the temple, the house, that God had made for his name to dwell in. It was in his body that Jesus did the will of the Father.
Hebrews 10:5-7 says, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in your burnt and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘”
Jesus and the Father were one. He was the house where the name of God dwelt among us. Therefore, John 1:14 says, “And the Word of God became flesh and dwelt [literally, tabernacled] among us.”
A HOUSE FOR GOD’S NAME FOR HIM TO FORGIVE OUR SINS
In Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8 (and 2 Chronicles 6), he prayed five times that the Father would hear or listen in heaven and forgive the Israelite and the foreigner (verses 30, 34, 36, 39, and 50).
Isn’t it amazing that five times (not necessarily five separate instances) the gospels record Jesus directly forgiving sins.
- Matthew 9:2 – “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
- Mark 2:5 – “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
- Luke 5:20 – “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
- Luke 7:48 – “And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.'”
- Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Take note that Jesus’ last declaration of forgiveness was not a singular person, but for them, for everyone. Further, note that Jesus’ last declaration of forgiveness was a prayer, like Solomon, from the cross, the altar that was five cubits by five cubits. Jesus proclaimed forgiveness five times as a word of grace, the last grace coming from the cross where we all received from his fullness, grace upon grace.
JESUS’ FORGIVENESS IS HOW WE KNOW LOVE
We know love not simply because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again three days later. No, we precisely know the love of God from the cross because Jesus, the son of God, the son of and, perfect and innocent, forgave us while we were murdering him.
1 John 4:9-11 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that god sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
To propitiate means to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of. Therefore, a propitiation is the action taken to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of. In other words, Jesus was the means of forgiveness for our sins. He was the means, not just because he died on the cross an innocent man, but because he was the house of God where the name of God dwelt that prayed for the Father to forgive us.
This is why John wrote in 1 John 2:1-2, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
What is Jesus advocating for with the Father?
Romans 8:34-35 says, “Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from Christ?”
And, Hebrews 7:24-25 says, “But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
WITH THE PRAYER FINISHED HE AROSE
1 Kings 8:54 says, “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 his hands outstretched to heaven.”
And, 1 Kings 8:57-61 says, “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, his rules, which he commanded our fathers. 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, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God, there is no other. Let you hear therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.
The closing words of Solomon’s prayer have the essence of the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Then Jesus was lifted up. He arose just like Solomon.
The power of Spirit comes upon us so that we can pray in the name of Jesus, which is to say according to his character of light, love, and life. When the Spirit comes upon us, we are able to pray as Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is how we know love and how we witness the love of Christ even to the ends of the earth. This is why we are being made into a temple, a house, for the Spirit.