I remember hearing a missionary story of a village in Africa where people were dying continuously from lack of water or tainted water. It was terrible. Then one day in prayer one of the people of God heard from the Lord that this place would overflow with water. That there would be an abundance.
The people rejoiced believing in the Lord. But year after year there was no water and the people continued to die. People began to become embittered with the word that they believed as from the Lord.
But almost two decades later some people came in to dig for water. They actually were able to tap into a water source that was underground and abundant for that area. The town did indeed become a place known for water. But it didn’t happen instantly like the people expected. This was not too dissimilar to what happened with the Israelites.
When the Israelites left Egypt, at first they were exhilarated. Then they faced trials and difficulties, some of them quite severe. And even though the Lord provided, they complained. They asked ‘where is this land that you promised? This is not what we were promised.’
They were impatient, expecting instant fulfillment from Moses and the Lord. But even then it took years to get to the promised land, to take possession of it, and to settle it. In fact it took a lot of years. Some might have even wondered if the promises would ever be fulfilled. The land went through war and difficulty and it did not have “rest” as the Lord promised through Moses.
Yet when the time was full, the Lord gave rest from all their enemies during the time of Solomon. The Israelites had established themselves, David had done the war part, and now they were settled. And significant to them all, they had built a temple for the Ark of the Covenant to also have a resting place. A place where in a sense God would dwell, and yet with an acknowledgement that nothing can contain God himself (1 Kings 8:27).
The dedication of the temple was glorious and all Israel was involved. All the leaders helped escort the Ark of the Covenant to the temple. Along the way thousands upon thousands of sacrifices were made.
Then Solomon prayed. He praised the Lord for his faithfulness. He worshiped the Lord for his goodness. He asked that the Lord would cause His presence to dwell among the people at the temple. And that the temple would be the central point of Israel.
Solomon asked that the Temple be Israel’s geographical center of the presence of God, but that it would also be the center of justice and righteousness.
- If a man took an oath, at the temple that oath would be ratified and if evil tried to distrupt it, that God would bring justice (1 Ki 8:31-32)
- When Israel was defeated because of their sin, that if they repented they could point their face toward the Temple and pray for mercy and be heard (1 Ki 8:33-34)
- When there was drought because of their sin, they if they repetented they could look toward the temple and be heard (1 Ki 8:35-36)
- When there is famine or pandemics, that the Lord would forgive them their sin and spread their hands toward the temple and be heard (1 Ki 8:37-40)
- That when the foreigner came to Jerusalem to the temple to pray, that the Lord would answer his prayer so that he would know that Yahweh is God (1 Ki 8:41-43)
- That the soldiers could pray and look towards God at the temple and be heard (1 Ki 8:44-45)
- And when the people sin against you, if they come to their senses and repent, that they could look towards your place at the temple and be forgiven (1 Ki 8:46-53).
The temple in every way represented a sense of God among the people of Israel. But it also marked something else very important. It was the final end in a sense of fulfilling all that the Lord spoke to the people of Israel. All the promises were now officially fulfilled.
“He has fulfilled the promise by his power” (1 Ki 8:15)
“The Lord has fulfilled what He promised” (1 Ki 8:20)
“You have kept what you promised” (1 Ki 8:24)
“Not one of all the good promises He made through His servant Moses has failed” (1 Ki 8:56).
It took 12 generations and hundreds of years but it finally happened. It could have happened sooner had Israel fully obeyed but they didn’t. Yet in God’s mercy all His promises to Israel were eventually fulfilled.
When God promises something, He will see that it will be fulfilled. It sometimes does not come in our time frame (Ask Abraham and Sarah), or in the way we want it (Paul getting to Rome), but his promises are secure.
We tend to want them now. We tend not to understand why they’re apparently not being fulfilled. But we wait. Sometimes the actions we take delay these promises. And sometimes it’s just not the right timing.
But here in this Scripture we see the culminations of hundreds of years fulfilling the promise of Moses and Israel. That he would bring them back to the land, that they would multiply, that they would take possession of the land and settle it, and that He would give them rest from all their enemies.
It was a day to remember for the ages.
“So they blessed the king and went home to their tents rejoicing and with joyful hearts for all the goodness that the LORD had done for His servant David and for His people Israel” (1 Ki 8:66).