1 Kings 8-9
The dedication of Solomon’s temple was only going to happen once. This beautiful structure took seven long years to build, and now that it was completed the occasion merited a reverent dedication to the Lord.
As we read in 1 Kings chapter 8, the very last thing to be placed within the temple was the ark of the covenant (Exo. 10:10-22). To Israel, this holy vessel indicated God’s presence among them (Exo. 30:6). It was to be treated with the greatest level of their respect (Num. 4:15,20; 2 Sam. 6:7-13). Accordingly, before the ark was placed within the temple’s innermost sanctuary, Solomon marked the occasion. The way this was accomplished was through the sacrificial offering of animals, and I do mean a lot of animals!
“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered” (1 Kings 8:5 ESV).
This ample offering to God was followed by an entire week of sacrifice which included the deaths of 144,000 animals!
“Solomon offered as peace offerings to the LORD 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:63 ESV).
Think about all of this for a minute. I know. It is hard to fathom. To me, even the thought of the slaughter of this many animals begins to make my stomach turn. Yet, I think we need to give a scene like one this our attention. Furthermore, we need to do our best to consider all the blood that was shed throughout Israel’s history (Lev. 1:1-6:7). I mean, that’s a lot of blood, isn’t it? Yet, throughout all of it, we know that God never delighted in these sacrifices; nor, was there ever any redeeming power in the slaughter of those innocent animals (Isa. 1:11-15; Heb. 10:4-6).
Today, when we consider all the blood which was shed by Israel’s prophets, priests, and kings, we rejoice that this system is forever obsolete! Into this world, God sent forth His own Lamb, Jesus, to be put to death for our sake (Isa. 53:5-7; Jn. 1:29). The innumerable gallons of blood shed by Israel never accomplished what the singular death of Christ has within us (Acts 20:28; 1 Jn. 2:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Jn. 1:7; Rev. 1:5).
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:11-12).
Praise be to God for His Son Jesus! Praise be to God for our atoning sacrifice!