“But will God indeed dwell on earth?” (1 Ki. 8:27)“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22)
In 1 Kings 8, King Solomon dedicates a newly constructed temple as God’s dwelling place on earth. It was promised to his father David that his son would oversee this divinely instituted building project. And, according to that promise, a beautiful scene unfolds in which the glory of God is experienced in a remarkable way.
The temple dedication is an important event for us to consider as we look to a new year of gathering as a worshiping community. You see, under the Old Covenant, the temple symbolized that God was present with his people to provide. Throughout Solomon’s temple dedication, Israel is assured that, through the temple, God will hear their prayers (v. 29, 33, 35, 38, 44, 47-49), forgive their sins (v. 30, 34, 36, 39, 50), and show them grace (v. 23, 40, 45, 50, 53) as they move forward in holy observance. Therefore as we look toward 2015 and what it might hold for our congregation, we ought to expect God to keep these promises to us as we worship him in Life Together.
A Greater Son Works by the Spirit to Build a New Temple
Along with the establishment of a New Covenant (cf. Heb. 13:20) comes a new temple. However this temple is not built by an earthly monarch or dignitary. No, “something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42). Jesus came to earth as true God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14), which is something Solomon couldn’t fathom (1 Kgs. 8:27). Our Lord condemned sin and overthrew the kingdom of darkness by living a righteous life, dying a propitious death, and rising triumphantly from the grave. Therefore we now look to David’s Greater Son, the High King of Heaven, to undertake and complete this new building project through the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:9-17; Phil. 1:6).
This new temple is, of course, the church (Eph. 2:22). And through the finished work of King Jesus, construction is well under way and cannot be stopped; nor can what is built be torn down. By looking back through the corridor of history, we know that Babylonian invaders ransacked and burned Solomon’s temple to the ground (cf. 2 Chr. 36:18-19). However, God’s new residency plan is impervious to destruction based on the unassailable righteousness of His all-conquering Son. Thus God’s enemies will never tear down what He has built up because Jesus is the chief Cornerstone of God’s new temple (Ps. 118:22; Eph. 2:20).
Therefore, as God’s New Covenant people, we no longer assemble in a temple; rather we are the temple, inhabited and empowered by the Spirit of Glory. And as we assemble, we have a higher King who is preparing to officiate a much greater temple dedication. He is our Intercessor, Mediator, and Royal Priest who presides over us in love and faithfulness as the eternal dwelling place of God is being built. And as we offer praise in His name, He beautifies our worship, however lacking it may be, before the Father. Thus, we can assemble over the course of this next year with rock-solid, unsinkable hope in our all-surpassing King.
The Last Dedication
In this light, each Sunday can be seen as a foretaste of the final dedication of God’s house, when the better Son of David shall present us to the Father as his very own Bride, holy and complete. On that day, we will wear robes of white that radiate with the splendor of his righteousness imputed to us by faith. Until then, he is with us in the Spirit to wash us in the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26), sanctifying us in prayer, praise, preaching, service, and ordinance to prepare his temple for that last dedication.
Therefore, let us gather confidently this next year, knowing that in him we are always welcome before the Father. He hears our prayers, forgives our sin, and extends grace to the needy, not because of where we gather (i.e. a temple, as it was in Solomon’s day), but in whose name we gather. And so we joyfully “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4). But let us also gather with an eye toward a better country–the heavenly Jerusalem–where saints from all nations will worship and feast and dance on our graves. For indeed the future is present when we gather and it produces a sense of longing within us for the return of the Bridegroom, who is our triumphant, temple-dedicating King, the true Heir to David’s throne.
Liturgy for Sunday, January 04, 2015:Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-4Confession & Assurance: Hebrews 9:24-28Song: Oh The Scandal of Golgotha (NEW SONG!) *no link availableSermonSong: Jesus Thank YouSong: Savior KingBenediction: Jude 20-21*You can also hear songs for this Sunday on Spotify.