1 Kings 8:1-2 (KJV) Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
There are certain days that hold a special place within our hearts because certain memorable moments have occurred and we want to cherish them. They hold significance only to those who were directly or indirectly impacted by them. Other than that, to everyone else, they are just any ordinary day. It is not to discount their importance, but unless we have some attachment to them because of a loved one or something that has transpired and changed our lives personally, we do not see any value in them. This may be the approach that some of us may take when reading the account of the building of Solomon’s Temple. But after gaining a basic understanding of the significance surrounding the events tied to it, we will begin to appreciate the narrative more.
Understanding The Text
In the text, the narrative begins with Solomon assembling all the chief leaders of the kingdom for the purpose of bringing all of the furnishings into the Temple, mainly the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kgs. 8:1). The focus is commonly upon the extravagance of the Temple; however, the intended purpose was to focus upon the significance of the covenant relationship between God and the Nation of Israel. How do we arrive at this conclusion? By understanding the following verse. In verse 2, all of the people who were summoned by the king arrived at the consummation of the Feast of Tabernacles (ref. to Lev. 23:33-44).
The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual, seven-day feast to commemorate the time when the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Feast began at the end of the harvest season on the fifteenth day of the seventh month and lasted from the Sabbath of one week until the Sabbath of the following week. It was a time when the people brought forth gifts and freewill offerings to the Lord from the first fruits of the land. During the Sabbath year (which was the sabbatical year wherein the land was given a rest), the Law of Moses was read publicly at the Feast. This was later known as Simhath Torah, or Joy of the Law.
To understand why this is important to the text, we must observe that today’s text is linked to Deut. 31:10-13. In this Scripture, Moses is speaking to the people of Israel about the Feast of Tabernacles in relation to the sabbatical year mentioned above. He speaks about the reading of the Law and the purpose of it. The constant rehearsal of the Law was a reminder of the covenant relationship between God and the people of Israel. Its significance to everyday life within the community is found in Deut. 6:1-25, but more expressly in the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9).
It is believed that although Solomon finished building the Temple in the eighth month of the eleventh year of his reign, he purposely refrained from dedicating the Temple for eleven months to correspond with the Feast of Tabernacles during the following year which would be the sabbatical year (1 Kgs. 6:1). It is significant because it would be approximately 448 years (64 cycles x 7) after Moses gave the initial instruction concerning the reading of the Law at the Feast during the sabbatical year (1 Kgs. 8:2). The significance of this would be the ceremonial renewal of the Covenant between God and the Nation of Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles within a sabbatical year.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus.” (Heb. 10:19)
Why Is This Important To Us?
It is important to us because although we do not formally celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles or the sabbatical year within the Christian faith, we are participants of a covenant relationship with God through Christ Jesus (Heb. 9:1-28). Instead of assembling on certain days of the year to renew our covenant with God, Christ has opened up the way to enter into the Holy of Holies through His blood “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:19-22). We are admonished to live “in the liberty in which Christ Jesus has made us free” (Gal. 5:1). What Jesus has accomplished on the Cross gives us individual access to the Father at any time on any day.
Beyond this, we are also admonished to continue with “the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). As we enter the Father’s presence individually and corporately, we are entering into a moment of commemorating our exodus out of the clutches of the devil, death, sin, and the grave. We are “presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). In other words, it is the very least we can do in return for all He has done for us.
What all of this means for us, as Believers, is that every day should be viewed as a Holy Day. Why? Because we have the ability through Christ to have an audience with the King of all creation. To experience the fullness of this special, covenant relationship and our citizenship within the Kingdom, we must be a consecrated “vessel of honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). We must let the Word of God do Its perfect work within us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In so doing, we will ensure that we are ready to experience a Holy Day wherein the Sovereign God of all creation “will meet with us, and commune with us” (Ex. 25:22).