N T Wright’s work on the Kingdom of God, and lately his book Simply Jesus, has given me a fresh look at the Temple. Wright’s view on “heaven” and “earth” have stirred up my thinking and I’m still processing the whole idea he keeps putting out in his writing.
The separation of “heaven” and “earth” is not a matter of how we think of “up” and “down.” (Like, “UP in heaven,” or “DOWN here on earth.”) It’s about two halves of the same “fruit” so to speak. The reign of the King is from his throne in heaven, but that doesn’t mean he is completely separate.
For Israel, the obvious meeting place was the tabernacle, then the temple. This was the sacred space where heaven and earth would join and in that place the King would come right into the presence of his people.
The dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8 is magnificent. It is the coming of Yahweh to a holy habitation built for him, but by his instruction. David had wanted to build the temple earlier, but God would not allow it. The temple would be on his terms, not their terms.
Solomon knows that while this is as extravagant as he can make it, it is not even close to the glory Yahweh contains. Yet, the invitation is given: “Please come and take your rest here.”