TODAY’S READING: 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5
In Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple, the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants converge. This prayer enables Matthew, generations later, to open his Gospel by proclaiming Jesus both the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. “It is an implicit fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that foreigners will be attracted to come and invoke the God of Israel for blessing. The motivation offered to God for answering such prayers of non-covenant people is expressly missional—namely, that ‘all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel’ [1 Kings 8:43]. The temple, then, that was so centrally connected to the Davidic covenant in the developing faith of Israel from this point on can be the focus of fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. It should be the place of blessing for the representative of the nations.”
Christopher Wright points out that Solomon’s missionary prayer to God at the time of temple dedication is all the more noteworthy because the temple could be construed wrongly to be the particular focus of one people: Israel. When Solomon opened the temple for worship by explicitly asking God to hear the prayers of all peoples and to spread the fame of Jehovah to all nations, he shouted out the missionary heart of God. It is worth quoting Wright’s commentary on this passage at length:
The assumptions Solomon makes in pressing his request are revealing. It is assumed that people will hear of the reputation of YHWH. It is assumed that people from afar will be attracted to come and worship Israel’s God for themselves. It is assumed that Israel’s God can and will hear the prayers of foreigners. All these assumptions are important theological foundations in any summary of the missiological significance of the faith and history of Old Testament Israel. And it is a missiological reading of a text like this which highlights the theological significance of its assumptions.
The content of his request is no less surprising…Solomon asks God to do for foreigners what God had not even guaranteed to do for Israel. And the consideration with which Solomon seeks to persuade God to do that is equally impressive: so that the knowledge and fear of the Lord should spread to all the peoples of the earth. Though Abraham is not mentioned, we can picture him nodding in agreement.
In dedicating ourselves to God, whether standing next to Solomon on that glorious day or standing in a modern sanctuary, two critical components emerge. First, we must remember again that God is a missionary God committed to a worldwide goal of redeeming a remnant from every tribe, tongue, and nation. When we stand in His house, we must sense and feel and be energetically aware that the house was intended for all nations. We never stand alone, even if we can’t see anyone. If your church is monoracial, your spirit should be yearning for what God sees in your pews: every color and every nation. Second, this missional hope “is turned into a missional challenge to the people that they must be as committed to God’s law as God is committed to such a worldwide goal.” We live holy lives for the nations. The next time you avert your eyes from something lewd, smile in your spirit and dedicate that obedience to the Fula of Sierra Leone. The next time you write a tithe check from the gross income of your company to the missions program of your church, wave that check before the Lord and in your mind stand with lifted hands next to Solomon asking God that the nations would hear of His fame and come worship. The next time you kneel in prayer over a missionary card or unreached people, remember your prayer is another drop added to the bowl of incense that Solomon contributed to and one day that bowl will be filled and tip over. And we won’t be able to continue ministering because the glory of the Lord will fill His filled house (1 Kings 8:11).