1 Kings 8:26-30 NLTse Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father. (27) “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you.
How much less this Temple I have built! (28) Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. (29) May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. (30) May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.
As we’ve seen in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25, Solomon dedicated his temple by moving the Ark into it on the Festival of Shelters. While building his temple, Solomon missed the opportunity to share God with king Hiram of Tyre. It seems strange to see Solomon with all his wisdom miss such an opportunity, then at the end of his prayer indicate he wanted the world to know about God. “And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the LORD be before him constantly, day and night, so that the LORD our God may give justice to me and to his people Israel, according to each day’s needs. Then people all over the earth will know that the LORD alone is God and there is no other.” (1 Kings 8:59-60 NLTse). The word, “then,” indicates two conditions. Solomon suggests people all over the world will hear God when certain requirements are met. It also suggests this is a future prophetic event. How can we blame Solomon? He knew little about God’s harvest and less about God’s plan of salvation. Imagine living in the dark about these details? Solomon knew God and believed His promises and had an idea life would be far greater in the future. How much better could it be for a king who had everything? It seems odd God would choose someone like
Solomon to write about far greater things than he had which are waiting for us in the future. Can we blame Solomon for the way he acted? After all, aren’t we the ones who finally got the full message? And what are we doing with the message? Do you know anyone who can explain God’s FULL plan of salvation? Can you? Where are we going when we can’t explain the basic message in the Bible, but claim to have a higher degree of understanding previous generations missed? Where are people going when they claim to unlock the mysteries of God’s Word, when they have no idea how to explain the basics? Didn’t Jesus warn about this in parables, and openly when He talked to His disciples alone? Even though Solomon had a dim view of God’s plan of salvation, many of the words he wrote pointed to details of the plan Jesus fulfilled. Some of them are in this prayer. As with other prophets, Solomon did not understand many of the prophecies he recorded. Solomon delivered a message that would be understood at the right time. How do we figure out how to understand these messages? Its a simple process. All you need to do is figure out where the author placed the main focus. God makes it easy to see spiritual messages because He placed all the attention in the right areas. All we have to do is look at the words and phrases the author repeated. So simple a child can do it. I’ve seen children bring more out of texts than most adults are able to see.
The first series of repeated words we notice is prayer, prayers, and the related words, cry, plea, and requests. This of course draws us to the main concept the author is conveying. The series of words on prayer is closely related to the next series of repeated words, listen and hear. We also see the word temple and Heaven repeated. Of course, God and Lord is repeated a number of times. Now how do we use this information? If this is a prophecy with a deeper spiritual lesson, the repeated words will lead us right to the proper texts. You see there is no guessing or speculation. God’s Word is arranged to link Old Testament prophecies to New Testament texts explaining their fulfillment. That’s the easy part. Spending more time to compare texts will reveal lessons beyond imagination, bringing all the glory to God. These types of lessons are never revealed through idle study, speculation, or personal interpretations. They can only be found by following the simple rules of context.
The context of 1 Kings chapter 8 has been covered in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25 by examining the introduction and summation of the chapter. The introduction showed Solomon celebrated the Festival of Shelters by taking God’s Ark into the stone temple. The summation verified the date and recorded the sacrifices Solomon made, 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. Was this what God wanted? Its clear something was wrong with that scene.
This is the first time I’ve seen a lesson go this deep. That is the way God teaches, one step at a time. As we progress in our studies into the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, God adds more depth, a little at a time. God’s way of teaching reminds me of Ezekiel’s vision as he walked along a river flowing away from the temple. To get deeper into this lesson we have to locate the New Testament parallel texts by using the key word prayer.
Mark 11:15-17 NLTse When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, (16) and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. (17) He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
In addition to, “prayer,” the word, “temple,” links Mark 11:15-17 to 1 Kings 8:26-30. Mark tells us how Jesus drove out people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. Many people refer to this as the, “cleansing of the temple.” This must be an important story. It is one of the few stories found in all four Gospels. Anyone preaching Jesus drove people out of the temple courtyard in a fit of rage failed to study the scriptures. I would question their relationship with God and how they organize their messages. John tells us how Jesus sat outside the gate weaving a whip from some ropes. (John 2:15 NLTse). A man who sat outside a gate long enough to weave a whip from ropes had adequate time to contemplate his actions. What do you think went through Jesus’ mind before He entered the courtyard, cracked His whip over His head, and across tables where the money changers sat? Do you think Jesus used His whip against people, or to herd sheep and goats through the temple gate? Why do you think Jesus drove out the sacrifices? When I think of this I can’t help but think of the 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats Solomon sacrificed in one day. So many animals were being sacrificed so fast, the bronze altar in the LORD’s presence was too small to hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. Solomon decided to side step another of God’s commands. What was one more? Did the priest’s in Jesus day look at this and use it as an excuse to turn the temple into a den of thieves? Was Jesus thinking about all those sacrifices when He drove out the sheep and goats? To find out why Jesus drove the people and animals out of the temple, we have to check the context of of Mark chapter 11. The context will always provide valuable information.
Mark 11:7-8 NLTse Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. (8) Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.
The introduction of the chapter shows how Jesus displayed His humility by entering Jerusalem on a colt. Once again when we check the story in the other Gospels we collect more details which explain the entire theme behind the story. Matthew tells us the disciples would see a donkey and its colt. Jesus did not ride the donkey, but chose its colt. The disciples covered the colt with their own coats to hide their embarrassment. How often does Jesus do something for us in a way that makes us feel embarrassed? What do we do? Do we try to hide the blessing because it wasn’t what we expected? It’s true, Jesus always seemed to do things the world doesn’t agree with and it can seem difficult to follow His example. So we either hide or ignore a lot of the lessons Jesus taught. We’re afraid to take a closer look at the example Jesus set because we’re afraid to change ourselves. Taking a closer look at Jesus should not be a fearful thing. After all, if you plan on spending eternity with Jesus, you gotta learn sooner or later. Which is the wisest choice? We also see the introduction repeats the word, “garment,” and uses branches in the same context. Is this a loose reference to the Festival of Shelter? We need to look at the summation to understand the full explanation of the context.
Mark 11:27-33 NLTse Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. (28) They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (29) “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. (30) “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” (31) They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. (32) But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. (33) So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).
The beginning of Mark 11 tells us how Jesus entered Jerusalem. The end of the chapter tells us what happened to Jesus when He reentered the temple. Once the repeated words are highlighted, we see the summation centers on authority, which is completely opposite of the humility described in the introduction. When we look at the details we see the priests are questioning Jesus’ authority. Notice Jesus does not claim any authority. This is an example of how context uses opposites to teach the same lesson. Solomon uses this form of communication in Proverbs. It is quite common in the Bible. The summation also shows us why Jesus went into the temple the day before, made a mess of things and drove the animals out. Its quite clear in verse 27. Who was in the temple questioning Jesus on the day after He drove out the people? Also note the summation of Mark 11 has certain similarities to 1 Kings 8. Both had leaders present. In 1 Kings 8 they came to see the Ark enter the temple. In Mark 8 they saw Jesus enter the temple. Which has more glory? In 1 Kings 8 they sacrificed thousands of animals. In Mark 11 Jesus freed sacrificial animals and what did the priests want to do? When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).
The list of similarities goes on and on. The deeper we look, the more we learn. We also learn details from what isn’t present. Look carefully at what Mark wrote. “ When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done…” The priests were not at the temple when Jesus drove out the people and animals. Where were they? Who knows. Us common laborers can tell you, it takes a major event to get managers on the shop floor or out in the field. When Jesus stopped production, the leading priests had to go to the temple to get business back on line. Jesus created a scene to ensure they leading priests would be in the temple the next day. Jesus never acted out in rage…. He did it to save the priests. Jesus was reaching out to them.
The next day when Jesus went to the temple, the gates were locked. Guards were stationed outside as well as inside the gates. The priests were already suffering a financial set back — all efforts were focused on getting business up and running as well as avoiding additional embarrassment. Guards were ordered to let no one pass. The priests didn’t want anyone to see the mess Jesus created. Jesus already caused enough trouble and the priests didn’t want to give people the impression Jesus gained a victory over them.
Jesus showed up with his disciples and a small crowd following. More people began gathering as word quickly spread. People were expecting to find Jesus in Jerusalem, since He was in the neighborhood, but few expected Jesus to show up at the temple, especially since extra guards were on duty and the priests were furious with revenge for the previous day’s events on their mind. The guards outside didn’t know what to do. They were ordered to guard the gate, but didn’t expect such a huge crowd to gather. Although fearful, they could not see what the people would gain by harming them. The gates were locked from the inside. People waited to see what Jesus would do. He stood silent for some time, looking at the faces gathered. Jesus could tell which people wanted to learn from the curiosity seekers who wanted to see what was going to happen. Jesus knew their hearts would not understand what was about to happen. He prayed to Himself for some time, until He felt the time was right.
Jesus moved slowly forward approaching the gate. The guards were frozen as if in the presence of a king. Jesus passed by them to stand near the gate. The crowd stood in silence watching to see what would happen next. A noise was heard from the gates. As the guards turned to look, the gates slowly swung open. No one would forget the surprised looks on the guards inside the gate as Jesus walked past them. It took only a few seconds for the crowd to follow. Jesus moved across the empty courtyard, taking His place where the animals waited the day before. People looked back and forth as they compared Jesus’ simple dress to the luxurious robes of the leading priests. Some gazed in awe. It wasn’t everyday they saw the leading priests in the temple.
The contrast between Jesus and the priests in the courtyard is a direct parallel to the contrast between God’s Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. A study of the Tabernacle shows the outer covering was black. Translations may differ on the type of animal giving up its skin to cover the Tabernacle, but they all agree it was a dark color, most likely black. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins. (Exodus 26:14 KJV). Many people describe the Tabernacle with elaborate colors and expensive materials. The fact of the matter is, all of that was on the inside of the Tabernacle. From the outside, there was nothing to attract attention, or distract attention from the symbols inside and outside of the Tabernacle. The covering was an unassuming black. Which is another symbol pointing to Jesus. My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2 NLTse).
Why did Jesus return the following day to preach in the temple court and why was it so important for the priests to be there? What was so important about Jesus’ message that day? Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (Mark 12:1-2 NLTse). One of the first stories Jesus told was about a vineyard a man planted then leased out to tenant farmers who refused to share the harvest. The farmers over estimated the work they put into the vineyard. They thought their work earned them the right to call the vineyard their own. As time went by, they chased away and killed messengers sent to collect the landlords share of the harvest. Finally the man sent his son. The farmers thought they saw a loop hole in the law. Talking among themselves, they reasoned, “Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!” (Mark 12:7 NLTse). The farmers had no respect for the landlord, the law, nor did they appreciate the hard work and preparation the landlord put into the vineyard. One more thought…. if the farmers would have prayed, what do you think God’s answer would have been?
Jesus ends His story with a direct reference to the temple. “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” (Mark 12:10-11 NLTse). Do you see how the dedication to Solomon’s temple has direct ties to Jesus in the courtyard? Jesus was teaching a lesson Jews should have understood for generations. God never wanted a stone temple to distract people away from the Temple He was sending to teach the world. We have the same problem today. People build their temples of stone, wood, steel, and glass. They hold elaborate services to dedicate their temples. They use Solomon as an example, and refuse to look at God’s point of view. People have the same problem on an individual level we refer to as prayer. In his prayer Solomon directed God. Sure he made it sound like a request, but Solomon gave God conditions. Twice Solomon said he knew he had to tell the world about Him. Solomon knew his role, but instead of fulfilling his role, he attached conditions to its fulfillment. We all follow Solomon’s poor example. We pray. We talk to God. We tell God what to fix, who to fix, and often times tell the Creator of the universe how to fix it. We are just like Solomon directing God and setting up conditions before we will complete our end of the bargain. We fail to listen! Prayer has been taught as a one way conversation with God. That’s the problem with this world, no one listens! Did the priest listen to Jesus? No! The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (Mark 12:12 NLTse). After all the trouble Jesus went through to get them in the courtyard at the right time to listen to the right message, they refused to hear. Instead the Pharisees changed the subject to something they knew about —- money.
Before leaving the temple court, Jesus had to teach another lesson in humility. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44 NLTse). Jesus began His journey to the temple with a lesson in humility and ended His visit to the temple with a lesson in humility. Why was there only one widow? Why was there only one person giving more than they could spare? Why was the widow giving her last cent to the temple? Would the priests appreciate her gift? Did they appreciate the gift Jesus gave them? Jesus was about to give more than His life savings to the priests.
Studies and stories like this do not come around everyday. They take time. It takes time to read God’s Word and become familiar with it, to develop a personal relationship with God and His Spirit and most importantly —- LISTEN!!! I know God is not going to give me an entire story of this magnitude in one day. God never works that way. He gives me what I need, when I need it. Then sits and waits to see what I do with it. If I do nothing…. it seems that message ends. If I write about what God’s Spirit showed me, I get more. I never knew the priests were not in the temple when Jesus drove everyone out until God’s Spirit showed me. I read that chapter 100 times, but never saw the world, “then.” One word opened up a whole new understanding. That’s the way God works. That’s a display of God’s power and glory. He can change everything with one word. God can hide it or make it plain to see. He does all of this in His time. Pray —- Listen —– Learn. Then you will know what to share, when and with whom.
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!” It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace–his undeserved kindness in choosing them.
(Romans 11:2-5 NLTse)