OceanSide church of Christ

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The City of Jerusalem (4)

Victor M. Eskew


            In our last article, we found that David conquered the city of Jerusalem.  He took it from the Jebusites.  We also learned that David brought the ark of God into Jerusalem and put it in a tabernacle that he had prepared.  Interestingly, even though God’s presence was in Jerusalem, He had not yet declared it to be His city.           

            After David built his palace in the Jerusalem, he noticed that God was not dwelling in a permanent residence.  God was still dwelling in a habitation made of curtains.  “And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; that the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (II Sam. 7:1-2).  At that point, David desired to a build a house for God and Nathan encouraged him to do so (II Sam. 7:3). 

            David, however, was not allowed to build the temple of God.  The word of the Lord came to Nathan that very night and told the prophet what he was to say to David.  Here are the prophet’s words:  “And when they days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever” (II Sam. 7:12-13).  Solomon, not David, would build God’s house.  It would be at that time that God would appoint a place for His people.  “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime” (II Sam. 7:10).

            When Solomon took the throne, the kingdom of Israel had rest from all her enemies.  While in a discussion with Hiram, king of Tyre, Solomon made known to him that he purposed to build the house of God.  “And, behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build a house unto my name” (I Kings 5:5).  “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord” (I Kings 6:1).  “And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to the fashion of it.  So was he seven years in building it” (I Kings 6:38).  Then next year Solomon worked diligently preparing all of the furnishings for the temple.  The time eventually came to bring the ark of the covenant into the house of God.   

            “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.  And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.  And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark...And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above…And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud:  for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord” (I Kings 8:1-11).  After God’s glory came upon Solomon’s temple, Solomon spoke to the people, offered up what some call “the Temple Prayer, and offered sacrifices before the Lord.

            “And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.  And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me:  I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there forever, and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (I Kings 9:1-3).  Did you hear what God said to Solomon?  Listen again:  “…I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there forever…”  It was in the twelfth year of Solomon’s reign that God finally chose Jerusalem as the place where He would put His name.  The city was now hallowed.  It could be called “the Holy City.”  It was now the permanent residence of God.  Thus, it could be called “the City of God.”  It had been a long time coming, but God finally fulfilled His promise to put His name in the place of His choosing. 

            There are many who have focused on one word in God’s message to Solomon regarding the temple.  It is the word “forever.”  They believe that the temple will always be the place of God’s abode.  Since its destruction in A.D. 70, there are many who are still waiting for it to be rebuilt.  What they fail to understand is that God’s promise about the temple was conditional.  In I Kings 9:4, God continues to speak with king Solomon.  He says:  “And if thou wilt walk before me…”  The word, “if,” is conditional.  In verse six, God says:  “But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children…”  Israel had a choice.  They could do all of God’s commandments, or, they could refuse to keep the Lord’s commandments.  If they refused to walk in the way of God, here is what would happen:  “Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight:  and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:  and at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?  And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, which brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshiped them, and served them:  therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil” (I Kings 9:7-9).  Did Israel remain true to God?  No.  Because of their disobedience, God was not obligated to keep His word about the temple being His residence forever and perpetually.