2 Chronicles 8 has Solomon done with the work of building the house of the Lord. “At the end of twenty years, in which Solomon had built the house of the Lord and his own house, Solomon rebuilt the cities that Hiram had given to him, and settled the people of Israel in them”. It took Solomon seven years to build the temple and 13 years to build his palace. He’s been hard at it for 20 years and now he moves on to the next task – to rebuild the cities that he had been given and get his people moved into them. But that requires a whole lot of labor.
Solomon decides to use those people who were left in the area – “the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of Israel”. These people became slaves which “Solomon drafted as forced labor”. Solomon’s own people were used for the work of building the temple and Solomon’s palace, but they were not forced labor. They were often used in the management of the forced labor, but not part of the slave workforce at all.
“Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her”. This marriage to a princess of Egypt was the first of Solomon’s many unwise marriages. These unwise marriages launched the spiritual downfall of Solomon. Solomon tells us the reason he moved her to his new house was so she didn’t live in the house of David. Through that Solomon admitted that his wife was an unbeliever and unholy – yet he married her anyway. He knew he was violating God’s law.
Solomon puts the priests in place as David had laid out, and things are complete. “Thus was accomplished all the work of Solomon from the day the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid until it was finished. So the house of the Lord was completed”. Completion is a pretty big task, and is a reflection of his great wisdom and an answer to his prayer for help in leading the kingdom of Israel. With things well at hand at home, Solomon sets off to the shore of the sea in Edom. He led the people of Israel into new areas and opportunities.
2 Chronicles 7 has Solomon finishing the dedication of the Temple he has just completed. “As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple”. Solomon has finished his work, and God responds by coming down and filling the house with His glory. It was obvious. “When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord”.
Do you see what happened? God showed up and filled the place with His glory. So Solomon goes to the next step. “King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep”. Can you imagine that many animals all being killed and sacrificed? Talk about the need for some order and a plan. There is no way they could have done this in any sort of organized fashion without some strong leadership. But Solomon goes even further and “Solomon held the feast for seven days”.
It was a great time, and after that week Solomon sent everyone home “joyful and glad of heart”. Solomon has fulfilled the task that God assigned him through his father David. “All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished”. God was pleased and told Solomon so. But he also reminds him that “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
What a promise. God tells us that it is His people that have the power to pray, seek Him and repent in order to see God’s move to heal the land and forgive them. But God is clear that this isn’t a blanket offer. If the people, or their leaders, walk away from God, things won’t go well. God is clear that there is a cause and effect relationship between obedience and suffering. God tells Solomon that sin will cause an issue “because they abandoned the Lord”. God demands obedience. We cannot expect Him to heal anything if we are not walking in obedience with Him.
2 Chronicles 6 has Solomon dedicating the Temple. And he also focused on the people. “The king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood”. He blessed those he was leading and reminded them “the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made”. God promised that a temple would be built, not by David, but by his son Solomon and that has come to pass. “I have risen in the place of David my father and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord”.
Solomon models how to connect with God when “he knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven”. He didn’t just talk about walking with God. He showed them how. And he called on God to be with them. “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built”! Solomon is seeking God’s presence in the house he has just completed.
And Solomon asks God that “your eyes may be open day and night toward this house….listen to the prayer….listen to the pleas….listen from heaven….and when you hear, forgive”. Solomon asks God to forgive His people when they cry out. He knows they will sin. And Solomon wants God to be in the Temple so they can pray to Him when that happens. He wants a relationship with God for his people – “that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live”.
There is only one problem with his plan. Sin. And Solomon knows what sin will do. It separates the people from God. It causes the enemy to be victorious in battle. It causes the rain to stop falling. Sin yields lots of bad outcomes. And Solomon makes it clear that we are all guilty – “If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin”. We all have a sin problem – then and now. And God alone can save us from that sin. It’s why Jesus had to come to this earth to live, be crucified on a cross, arise from the dead and be victorious over sin and death. Because of our sin, God sent Jesus to set us free!
2 Chronicles 5 says “all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished”. Solomon has finished the task at hand. He has done what David was never able to complete – a permanent home for God. So Solomon now moves forward to dedicate things the way David had intended. His father had collected silver and gold and vessels which are now moved into the treasury in the house of God. So things have gone well but it is time to get all the people together to dedicate things.
“Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the Covenant”. The one big thing that was missing was the Ark, and now Solomon has people bringing that to the Temple. But what stands out here is that it wasn’t a small group that was part of this process. He has:
- “All the men of Israel
- All the elders
- All the congregation”
Notice anything telling here? The word ‘all’ is used over and over. This wasn’t just a celebration – it was for all people!
It was a big party. Scripture tells us they were “sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered”. There was quite a celebration going on. We are also told there wasn’t much in the Ark. “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there”. At an earlier point in Israel’s history there were three items in the Ark of the Covenant. Earlier, inside the ark were the golden pot that had the manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16). We don’t know what happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, but they were not in the ark when Solomon set it in the most holy place.
But what was the biggest thing that happened as they celebrated? God showed up. “The priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God”. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud. God pours out His glory when His people praise Him. The glory of God had filled the house, and the priests were set aside. Where God is, man is forgotten.
2 Chronicles 4 has a description of the furnishings of the temple. This was the place of sacrifice, the center for worship and service for the priests and the people. It begins with the description of the altar which was almost 30 feet square and about twice as large as the altar originally built for the tabernacle. The altar was set up high to remind the people of their sins and of their Savior. It is way up in the air and would be impossible to miss from any distance.
He next describes “a sea of cast metal” which was a huge basin more than 15 feet across which was used for the ceremonial washings connected with the priests themselves. Beyond the cleansing of the priest’s hands and feet, it likely was also to supply water to the standing basins for the rinsing of offerings as they were brought in. The basin would have held much water and could have had many uses. He also made ten additional basins which were used for washing and cleaning the animal parts in the rituals of sacrifice.
Next comes the description of the lampstands, tables, and bowls. The work of the temple required lampstands for light and tables to hold the bread that represented the continual fellowship of Israel with God. Remember that the old tabernacle had one lampstand and one table. The temple was designed with much more light which would have allowed for much more fellowship. The bowls were likely used for collecting the blood of sacrifices which was then sprinkled about the altar as part of the sacrificial ceremony.
“Hiram finished the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of God”. He created a lot of items for the king. Solomon hired him to do all his work – that is, the fine artistic work of the temple. We don’t know what Solomon spent on building the temple as “the weight of the bronze was not sought”. There was no attempt to keep an accurate account of what was given to the service of God. Even Solomon’s left had did not know what his right hand did.
2 Chronicles 3 has Solomon finally getting to work. “Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah”. This is the appointed place that David had set aside – the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. It is located on Mount Moriah and was the same hill where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and the same set of hills where Jesus would later die on the cross (Genesis 22:14). He actually begins construction “in the second month of the fourth year of his reign”.
The rest of the chapter describes the temple he is building, starting with the measurements. There are actually four main structures described:
- The temple itself (the foundation which Solomon laid) was divided into two rooms (the holy place and the most holy place)
- The vestibule or entrance hall on the east side of the temple. It was thirty feet wide and fifteen feet deep, and the same height as the temple itself
- The three-storied side chambers (described in 1 Kings 6:5) which surrounded the temple on the north, south, and west sides
- A large courtyard surrounding the whole structure
Solomon spared no expense in building the temple. “Pure gold….precious stones” were par for the course during construction. And he used it all over the place. This chapter gives us a glimpse of how beautiful the temple was and how Solomon spared no expense in making it beautiful. There was gold everywhere in the temple, but especially in the Most Holy Place. The walls were covered with gold, the floor was covered with gold and gold was hammered into the carvings on the doors. It was first class.
“In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim of wood and overlaid them with gold”. These two large sculptures inside the Most Holy Place faced the entrance to this inner room, so as soon as the High Priest entered he saw these giant guardians of the presence of God facing him. These cherubim were 15 feet tall and towered over the area. He also “made the veil of blue and purple and crimson fabrics and fine linen” which was the important barrier separating the holy place from the Most Holy Place. Only one man once a year could go behind the veil and enter the Most Holy Place.
2 Chronicles 2 has Solomon beginning the work of building. “Solomon purposed to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal palace for himself”. He doesn’t just take on the assignment God gave him through his father David to build the Temple. He also decides to build a palace for himself. Either would be a huge task, but doing both is really large. Solomon assigns a number of men to the crew:
- 70,000 to carry things
- 80,000 to cut rock in the quarry
- 3600 to be supervisors
That’s a significant work force, but it won’t be all before things are done.
Solomon “sent word to Hiram the king of Tyre” to let him know of the building process and to ask for cedar to use in the construction just as David had done previously. Solomon asks for a working relationship with Hiram and explains in his message that he is building a temple for the Lord. He also asks for a “man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to be with the skilled workers who are with me”. Solomon asks for the best. He wasn’t going to be content with the best in his own land. He wants to bring in a superstar craftsman to oversee and direct his local workers. Nothing short of the absolute best will be good enough for him. So he asks for the best.
He also requests much lumber and offers to send money to hire local woodsmen to work alongside the men he will send there. Hiram received the request and answered in a letter. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, who has discretion and understanding, who will build a temple for the Lord and a royal palace for himself”. It’s a favorable response, and Hiram also agrees to send Huram-abi over as a master craftsman to oversee those working on the Temple and palace construction. They trade food and other items for the lumber and wages, and the work begins. Hiram is providing lumber to Solomon just like he did for David years earlier. It’s a positive relationship .
But how do you move timber in those days. No trucks or tractors or any other equipment like that. And they were moving a lot of timber since 70,000 men were assigned to that part of the project. Hiram has a plan to “cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may take it up to Jerusalem”. It is still obviously a whole lot of work, but the water will make the transportation a bit simpler and more feasible. Solomon is taking action to do what his father David had asked of him. He’s putting the workforce in place and making treaties with those who can supply the materials. So far he’s doing the right things as the new king. Solomon counted all the resident aliens in the land, and there were 153,600. That divides nicely to the 70K, 80K and 3600 that were assigned to the hard labor. The building is about to begin!