A Temple without an Idol
The feature that set apart the Solomonic Temple from other Temples in the ancient world is that there was no idol in it. It contained only the Mercy Seat over the Ark and the Cherubim overshadowing the Mercy Seat. This declared to the world that idols are unnecessary for God to be present. The God of Israel was not localized in any sense. Neither was He bound to any other form such as the Ark. The Temple therefore was not necessary because of God’s nature. He did not need it. One thousand years later, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, said to an unruly crowd:
…Solomon built God a house. However the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is my footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord or what is the place of My rest? Has not My hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:47-50, quoting Isaiah 66:1-2).
The Temple was built to meet the limitations and needs of God’s people. It emphasized the way of salvation to the those who asked His forgiveness and represented the believers assurance of the grace of God for their joy and blessing. (1 Kings 8:27-30).
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (V. 27)
The Temple also symbolized the hearing ear of God:
Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day toward the place of which You said, “My name shall be there,” and that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. (1 Kings 8:28-29).
It was also a place of refuge for the stranger:
Moreover concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake. (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by your name (1 Kings 8: 4143).
The Temple is the house of prayer for all people where all nations of the earth should fear God:
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My House of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7).