As I write this article I can’t seem to shake the sound of Archie and Edith, of All in the Family fame, singing, “Those were the days.” Indeed, for the people of Israel, this surely must have felt like the golden age.
The wealth and wisdom of the times were such that the Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to see it all for herself, and what she saw left her breathless. (9:4) The riches and the opulence are tallied, the wisdom of Solomon and the earnestness of his faith are praised, but history also tells us that as wonderful as this time was, it was fleeting and, like the things of this world, not to last. To add to this, truth be told, the Chronicler glosses over some of Solomon’s faults that are more clearly dealt with in the writings of 1 Kings 2 and 3. For all of his wisdom, sincere faith, and his love of the Lord, Solomon wrestled with a divided heart, making the same mistakes that many people make. Following his death the kingdom would be increasingly divided, and then fall, and the people would go into exile.
I hope this does not sound bleak because within chapters 7-9 the source of our hope is spoken of. As the temple is dedicated in chapter 7 we read of the sacrifices offered and the fire and presence of God descending upon that place and his glory filling the temple. The people are filled with awe and joy and on multiple occasions they give thanks to the Lord who is good saying, “his steadfast love endures forever” (7:3 and 7:6).
There is a blessing when we can begin to see that our hope and certainty are not in the things that we can acquire. They are not in human wisdom or in the good old days. They are not in the best intentions of man. People are often unreliable, and life is often full of uncertainty.
Our hope and certainty is in the steadfast love of the Lord that endures forever. This place of sacrifice and worship, the place where the people could repent and return to the Lord, was a gift that prepared our eyes to see the fulfillment of all of this in Jesus. He is the certain one, the one who sacrificed himself for us that we might be secure in him. He is the once and for all sufficient sacrifice that redeems, restores, and secures.