It took seven years for Solomon to build the temple. And then it took fourteen days to celebrate the dedication of the temple with a party. I have been to a lot of parties in my lifetime, but I have never been to one that was the magnitude of this party. Actually, it was the joint celebration of two feasts. The first seven days was the celebration of the Feast of Dedication. The next was the Feast of Tabernacles (that's why in vs. 65, many translations will say seven day, seven days, fourteen days). There was no better time to celebrate the dedication of the temple than this.
After Solomon prays, he turns to the people of Israel and blesses them. He modeled to them a dependence upon God, but he also wants to challenge them to live their lives in submission to Him. Through his challenge and their actions, Solomon and the people of Israel demonstrate what it takes to throw a real party.
Ingredient #1: A Confidence in God's Faithfulness
Throughout the initial blessing and even the prayer, Solomon was obsessed with the fact that God is a God who can be trusted. He keeps His word. In 1 Kings 8:55-56, he reiterates this one more time. God is not like the father who promises his children ice cream after their baseball game only to change his mind about it. He is faithful to His promises. The question for the Christian is, "Do I really believe that? Do I really believe that God is as faithful to His Word to us today as He was to Israel?"
Ingredient #2: A Hope For God's Presence
In vs. 57, Solomon's hope was that God would be with them. That's a great thought, but we can't rip this from the context. He is standing in front of the temple, where God had come to dwell so He would be present among His people. He did indeed dwell with them, but not to the extent that He did when Jesus showed up. He was called Immanuel, which means "God with us" (Matt. 1:23). Because of Jesus, we do not have to travel to Jerusalem or any other city, we can be in the presence of God immediately through our mediator.
Ingredient #3: A Desire For God's Initiative
Verse 58 flows from vs. 57. Solomon's hope was that God would be present with them for a purpose, so that He would incline their hearts to obey Him. He knew what we experience everyday. We are not able or capable or willing to obey God without His grace in our lives. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to be holy and so easy to sin? I think the doctrine of sin is the most difficult concept for Americans to grasp because it goes against everything they have been taught their entire life. We are have been told that we can achieve and accomplish anything our hearts desire if we work hard enough. But the gospel says, we can't do it alone apart from God.
Ingredient #4: A Prayer For God's Ear
He prayer is that God would continue to listen to him as he pleads for intervention in their life (vs. 59). He wants God to hear and remember their prayer. He wants God to keep it before Him so that when they repent, He will forgive.
Ingredient #5: A Passion For God's Name
Once again, vs. 60 flows from vs. 59. If God would listen to the cries of His people as He has said that He would do, the result would be that all the peoples of the world would come to know that there is no God like Him.
Ingredient #6: A Desire For God's Forgiveness
The party really starts to take off in vs. 62-65 as they offer 22 thousand oxen and 120 thousand sheep as sacrifices. Let's just say that this was not PETA approved. The majority of the sacrifices were referred to as peace offerings. This was a shared offering, that according to Leviticus 7, was to be a meal of celebration between God and man. What a better place to do that on such a grand scale than at the celebration of the temple, where God had come down to be with man. Of course, we know that God only accepts the offering because He is looking forward to Jesus, the perfect peace offering (Col. 1:20).
Ingredient #7: A Desire For God's Joy
The people of Israel left the party according to vs. 66 with joy and gladness in their heart. Their joy was not because the king knew how to throw a cool party. It was because they were overwhelmed at the goodness of their God. What makes your heart the most joyful and the most glad? If it is not the goodness of God, then you are probably settling for lesser things.