If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession. . . .
In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.
(1 Kings 8:35-36, 41-43)
God chose Israel to be a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). Solomon gathered the people not just to dedicate the Temple, but to rededicate themselves to God’s service. He reminded them of the consequences for disobedience as found in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
Israel’s call to be a blessing found its fulfillment in Jesus—a descendant of Abraham (Galatians 3:8-9)—who became the Messiah for all people, Jews and non-Jews. When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land, they were ordered to clear out several wicked nations; thus we read in the Old Testament of many wars. But we should not conclude that war was Israel’s first duty. After conquering the enemy nations, Israel was to become a light to the surrounding nations. Sadly, Israel’s own sin and spiritual blindness prevented them from reaching out to the rest of the world with God’s love. Jesus came to do what the nation of Israel failed to do.
You can follow in Solomon’s footsteps by praying for the people in your community. Make a list of the needs and take them to God. He might call you to be his hands and feet in order to meet some of those needs.