Saturday, 3 May 2014

(124) May 4: 1 Kings 6-7 & Luke 23:27-38

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider the significance of the elements within the temple.

To ponder:
Being told the temple was begun 480 years after the Exodus marks its construction as a hugely significant step in the fulfilment of God’s purposes in history. The number (12 generations of 40 years) suggests the completion of the Exodus phase and the formation of the nation. God’s people are now securely established in his place under his rule and what seems to be a supreme ruler. Most important of all, the temple signifies that God is permanently dwelling amongst them.
            This is all emphasized by the detail of the temple: Its holiness is stressed by nothing outside being able to be inserted into its walls and the blocks being prepared elsewhere. But the focus is on the cedar, gold, palm trees, pomegranates, lilies, animals and cherubim it was decorated with. They were the furnishings of Eden (Gen 2v8-11, 19-20, 3v24), the place of God’s presence and the centre of the creation, from which life flowed throughout the earth which man was commissioned to rule. This was now God’s purpose for Israel, hinted at already by the inclusion of workers from other nations. And when the worshipper entered the temple it would be like entering Eden, reminding them of this purpose, to be fulfilled now by David’s house, and resulting in a renewed earth.
But was Solomon the man to do this? God’s word to him is clear, the temple is all well and good, but for his promise of an everlasting kingdom to be fulfilled requires Solomon to obey (6v11-13). Otherwise, the inference is that God would “abandon his people,” meaning that his kingdom would not endure. This reflects the principle that God desires “mercy not sacrifice” (Matt 9v13). Whatever religious splendour or activity might be engaged in, it is nothing without hearts that love and serve him. And we receive another hint that here Solomon might fail: Whereas he devoted seven years to building the temple, he devoted thirteen to building his palace! It seems his heart is not wholly the LORD’s. The fact that the detail about the palace is placed in the middle of that about the temple only highlights the point.
And so the expectation of another son of David, the Christ, builds. And in teaching he fulfilled the temple (Jn 2v19-22), we should realise Jesus was teaching that he is the place of God’s presence and centre of the world (even cosmos). He is the one from whom the living water of the Spirit flows throughout the earth (Jn 7v37-39), and in whom a new humanity will rule a renewed creation (Rev 21-22). As we gaze on him rather than Israel’s temple, we should be reminded of these things.
In terms of further detail, the “Sea” was a huge basin of water, which may have represented the waters of chaos from which the creation came, but was also used for washing (2 Chr 4v6). Ten “moveable” stands on wheels were also constructed to hold basins of water too. All the water was necessary not just for priestly cleansing, but washing the animals according to God’s law, and removing blood and other bits. Other items were also made, as were those prescribed for the tabernacle (7v48-49).

Praying it home:
Thank God for the Eden-like paradise the temple through Christ looks towards. Pray that we would have hearts that love and serve the Lord rather than focusing on the trappings of religion.

Thinking further:
To see an image of Solomon’s temple click here.

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