1 Kings 8
The massive celebration at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple focuses on three aspects of God’s work in Israel. First, there is remembrance and celebration for what God has done in the past. Solomon called to mind God’s rescue of His people from slavery in Egypt, His leading and feeding them during the wilderness wandering, and His power in giving them victory over all their foes during King David’s reign. Next, he celebrated and called Israel to praise God for His current work, both in enabling the construction of the Temple and in answering the prayers of both the Israelites and Gentiles who recognized and called on God in prayer. The Temple was meant to be a place for all people to call on God, to repent, and to pray to the God of Israel. Finally, Solomon prophesied regarding the future and reminding Israel that even when they abandoned God and followed after false deities, they could turn back to this place, repent of their sin, and God would hear and forgive.
This pattern of recalling the past grace of God, celebrating the present work of God, and trusting the future plans of God seems like an excellent model for us as believers to celebrate important moments as well.
On a personal level, I’ll celebrate my birthday this month. Solomon’s example calls me to reflect on the amazing work that God has done in my life over the past 52 years, the many times when I could not see a way, but God provided. The times when I demonstrated my fallen nature so clearly, but God forgave and restored my relationship with Him through Christ. It causes me to ponder the challenges I’m facing today and have confidence based on God’s work in the past, from the cross until today, that He has a solution for my present challenges as well. It makes me gaze into the future, peering at the trajectory formed by these two points — past and present — and trust that God has mapped that trajectory perfectly to bring me to His destination for me.
On a broader view, as we consider this month’s designation as Black History Month, we should remember both the high points and low points in our history. Both the declaration that all men are created equal and the sad reality that men who penned those words held others in bondage as less than human. We should shine a light on what God is doing right now through His church to end racial oppression. And we should look to the future — both far in the distance when people of every tribe and tongue will worship together and in the near future, the coming year, the next election cycle, the next decade — and purpose in our heart how God is calling us to serve. How is He calling us to repentance? Where is He calling us to be the hands and feet of Christ? Who are the widows and orphans whom He is calling us to feed and clothe?