Summary: Sometimes what is missing is full dedication to our God. We are called to be committed disciples of Christ, and the dedication of the temple reminds of this fact.
Lessons in Temple Building
Preached at the Laurel Church of Christ
On May 25, 2003
The concept of building is nothing new. Seeing a structure begin with the foundation and rise to become a building is commonplace. A short drive of ten minutes would show an immense amount of construction. It is probable, that all of us have been a part of a building project. Whether we were remodeling our home, starting from scratch, or been a part of business renovations. With our first hand experience we can understand fully the process of building. There is one finishing touch, though I have had a difficult time of understanding in the past, which is the building dedication!
A building dedication is nothing new under the sun, but I really have struggled with knowing just why these occur. We immediately think that the dedication is publicity stunt. “Look, everyone, and come see our new and fantastic building.” Is this the only reason or is there another?
In our study over the past few weeks we have concerned ourselves with the Lord’s temple. It is the Lord’s Body, church, and family of God; but it is also our individual body that holds within it a very precious commodity - the Holy Spirit. “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (Eph 2:22).” We have studied about the planning, accumulation of material, and the labor that is necessary.
Solomon rightfully questioned whether God would dwell in a building made by the hands of men. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27) Will God dwell in the temple crafted by the hands of men? Absolutely! He will do it not because he can be contained in a building, but because he had made a promise he would keep; and God fulfills his promises. The only thing left to happen before God would dwell within the walls is the temple must be dedicated to God! Solomon’s dedication was something beyond compare, so he must have understood the importance of dedication.
Today, men and women dedicate buildings with either a bottle of champagne or a ribbon cutting ceremony. For Solomon though, such a practice would not be enough. This was not just an ordinary building but the temple of God. This is the place where sacrifices for sins would occur. This is where the holy ark of the covenant would lay within the most holy place. This is where the priests would converse with God. This was not an ordinary building dedication, but the dedication of the Lord’s temple.
In 1 Kings 8:5 the author says, “And King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.” He continues in verses 23-53 to describe the prayer Solomon offered before God, and verse 50 summarizes the intent of his prayer. “Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” Then immediately following his prayer he stands and blesses the whole assembly beginning in verse 56.
If this is the extravagant Solomon’s temple, how much more then should the dedication of our bodies and this church be? The dictionary has two definitions of dedicate. The first is to set apart for a special use. The second is to commit oneself to a course of action. These definitions of words, though, do not help us understand what it means to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. We each have heard sermon after sermon; year after year; and maybe week after week, but we are not compelled to commitment. So just how does dedication show itself?
To see dedication in action one does not have to look very far. Matter of fact, you can step just outside this back door and scan across the yard and see a building synonymous with dedication, commitment and pride. Yes, it is the fire department. No one really understood how far the dedication of firefighters went until “9-11,” but now we are fully aware of their dedication. A good firefighter understood before stepping into the twin towers that it was a good possibility that the building would collapse, but that has never stopped a firefighter before. They looked danger in the eye and worked beyond their fear, because they are dedicated to saving lives. What is dedication - a fireman!
Still further, dedication can be seen from the front steps of this building on a regular basis. As the car drives by, each of us cannot fully comprehend what these men and women give in dedication. In the inner cities they flee the safety of their home to enter for all purposes a domestic war zone. It is filled with drugs, liars, prostitutes and the like. Why do they go? They are dedicated to saving lives.