Summary: Solomon’s temple – a place of sacrifice and divine presence
Today we are focusing our attention on King Solomon, the son of David and one of the kings of Israel’s golden age. Solomon is remembered for several things. He was one of the wealthiest men, if not the wealthiest man, of his time. Solomon was also renowned for his wisdom. For the writers of the books of 1 and 2 Kings, these items pale in comparison to Solomon’s building of the temple.
King David was not able to construct a temple of the Lord. His main occupation was securing the boarders of his kingdom—and building a huge palace for himself. The task of building the temple fell to his son, Solomon, who followed David.
Solomon spared no expense in building the temple. The building was resplendent in gold and marble. The temple was not only an expression of God’s glory, it was also a testament to Solomon’s wealth.
The temple was understood as the site of God’s presence. People would not point to themselves and say, “God is in me.” Nor, would they point to nature and say that God was in nature. Instead, they would point to the temple and say that God lives there. The term “God’s house,” conveys that sense. When Solomon consecrated the temple and the priests brought in the Ark of the Covenant, a cloud descended on the building and God filled the temple (1 Kg. 8:10).
Through the sacrifices offered at the temple, people were able to approach God and live in a relationship with God. They did not see their relationship with God to be the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we understand it to be. The relationship of the people with God passed through the priests and the temple.
Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 586 BC when Jerusalem was defeated by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt by Nehemiah when the exiles returned. It was destroyed again in the second century B.C.E. and rebuilt by Herod the Great. Herod’s temple was the one at the time of Jesus. The temple was finally destroyed in 70 C.E. at the hands of the Romans. Before then it was made unnecessary by the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus proclaimed to the Pharisees and Sadducees that if they destroyed the temple he would build it up again in three days. The Pharisees and religious leaders didn’t understand what Jesus meant, because he was referring to his body.
Jesus is the new temple. Jesus is God’s presence in the world and in our lives. Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he opens to us a new relationship with God. Jesus has freed us from the necessity of religious ritual and going through the motions of religion. Jesus has enabled us to become children of God, to walk in God’s kingdom, and to have an abundant and free life.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes that we are our bodies our temples. We are where the Holy Spirit resides—we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are also God’s body--God’s presence in the world today. Our worship is not the sacrifice of animals, but we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and serve God with our words and actions—our lives. We may not be constructed out of gold and marble, but in God’s eyes we are more precious and beautiful.