“Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.” (1 Kings 8:41-43)
As the dedication of the Temple is accomplished, Solomon offers a prayer that acknowledges his awareness of God’s faithfulness to His covenant. In the prayer Solomon also recognizes the fact that this Temple cannot contain God for He is infinite. Nevertheless God had chosen Israel and this Temple to be the meeting place between Himself and all mankind. Thus a portion of the prayer asks that prayers offered by non-Israelites through the means Almighty God has ordained will be heard. After all they hd no other means to call out tomthe one true God.
The lesson here for us is an expression of God’s grace to sinners and our faith and obedience. The obvious lesson is that God does not dwell in buildings made by human hands. He is infinite and omnipresent. In addition we learn that God desires and allows all people to approach Him in prayer and humility but only through the means He has provided. To the people of Israel and to the Jews it was the Temple and the sacrifices. To us Christians, indeed to all mankind, it is Jesus. When we approach God through Him, we do so because of His sacrifice on the cross. In Jesus we find God’s forgiveness and restoration just as the Israelites did in the Temple. And we find the Spirit of God enveloping His church, the assembly of believers as He filled the Temple. The Church is the living Temple of God through whom the Lord reaches out to all sinners to extend mercy to them and bring them into His Kingdom. Thus we should always welcome the newcomer, the stranger, the foreigner and the outcast who the Lord is calling.