Renovating the Temple

2 Kings 12-13 and 2 Chronicles 24

2 Chronicles 24 13 NIV sgl

 

A century after Solomon, both the people of Israel and the Temple had become a metaphor for one another. Both had grown to be a shadow of their former glory. The borders of Israel were shrinking along with the people inside.  Many had moved from serving the One True God to idol worship, and the holy relics inside the temple had been refashioned for use in Baal worship. No one seemingly cared, and it showed.  Enter Joash.  Made king at only the age of seven, yet he showed wisdom beyond his years.  Even if you’re a king, you haven’t truly found your ego at such a young age, which was much suffered by his predecessors.  In fact, psychologically speaking, your sense of right and wrong is never more attune and concrete than at this time in your life.  Just the king Israel needed at this moment. Joash is considered a “good” king because he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, including temporarily restoring the Temple and the precious things inside – not the holy relics -the people of Israel.

 

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis discusses a similar metaphor in our transition to become more like Christ. He compares our old-self to a shack, and the new man/woman to a castle.  I would dare say, with Lewis most likely agreeing, that God’s first move is not to take a bulldozer and knock our shanty to the ground.  When we hear Paul assert  “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” he is not implying such a thing either. Isn’t there some salvageable part that God made if he stitched me in my mother’s womb with a purpose? I believe the context of Paul’s words are more directed at building with a Christ-centered motivation, instead of using the law as we see fit (yesterday’s devotion – read Galatians 2 for context). Everything we do, from tying shoes to tithing, must go through a process of being purposed for God.

 

This means every wall must be inspected for integrity.  Every space designed with the intentions of the Father using it.  Yes, the sin, the junk, the addiction, the clutter, must go; however, when we do this, there are pieces – traits, relationships, gifts – that might be salvageable.  The “bones” might be good in a spot or too, but God simply isn’t looking to paint the walls and hang a few pictures.  He is using the most select pieces, making elaborate extensions, and has a detailed blueprint for more than we could possibly ever imagine. It is an extreme home makeover that begins with bringing Christ on the job-site. The home becomes more unrecognizable, yet with each phase, it is moving towards how it was intended to be.  There is a shadow, a glimpse, of what stood there before, but there is much that has been changed, added, removed, all having the mark of their Maker.

 

Construction – quality, enduring, sizable construction – takes time.  Joash did not restore Solomon’s temple overnight.  Your renovation from a shack to a castle will take God and you a lifetime to complete, and it will require a day-in-day-out dedication to get there. Most beautifully, alongside our metaphor is a literal Kingdom with Christ at the center.   This hard work is not without a promise.  We truly are looking ahead for a city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).  I desperately hope we see each other there.

 

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your week.

Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+12-13%2C+2+Chronicles+24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 25 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God’s Glory & Forgiveness: Then & Now

1 Kings 8 & 2 Chronicles 5

1 Kings 8 11 NIV sgl

Once the temple was finished, they brought in the ark of the covenant.  It was brought into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the Holy of Holies.  When the priests (who had sanctified themselves) had come out, and the group praised the LORD, His glory filled the temple and the priests couldn’t perform their service because of His great glory.

That concept of how great the glory of the LORD is hard to comprehend for me.  On one of our Zoom calls for the youth group recently, we watched a video on holiness.  There were some interesting points in it, and a good analogy on how to better understand God’s holiness and why we can’t be too close (watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9vn5UvsHvM).  We cannot get too close to God because we are impure, and He is perfect.  People had to purify themselves to come into the temple.  And for the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, separated by a veil, the purified high priest could only enter once per year on the Day of Atonement when the whole nation asked God for forgiveness of their sins.

The good news for us is that we live in a time after Jesus interceded.  When he died, that veil was torn, and we can now come to God instead of the high priest, and we can come without having to go through those same purifying rituals.  I forget sometimes what a blessing that is.  Because of Jesus being our mediator, we can go to God and receive forgiveness from our sins by request, not through sacrificial offerings.  We have never had to live in a time where it was different, but can you imagine it?  Thinking of this helps to remind me of how amazing Jesus’ sacrifice was.

If you haven’t already, you can stop reading in 1 Kings 8 at verse 12 and pick up there tomorrow to read a similar account in 2 Chronicles.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+8%2C+2+Chronicles+5&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 6-7 and Psalm136 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Giving It Your All

When Working for Him

2 Chronicles 4 18 NIV

1 Kings 7 & 2 Chronicles 4

After the temple was built, Solomon built his palace.  When I read through this, my first thought was that he had his priorities right in building God’s house first, but why did he spend more time building his palace?  It doesn’t directly say, but I can guess from what is missing, that there wasn’t the eager readiness of someone to provide all the materials and laborers for this.  Another reason the commentaries say is because there wasn’t the same sense of urgency in completing the task.  The one for God – utmost importance, need to get this done!  The one for Solomon, they get it done, but the timing isn’t as important.  So that brought my thinking again to priorities as with Proverbs.  Do I put God’s work first?  Do I approach it with a great sense of urgency?  I wish I could say yes, but I don’t think that is often the case.  I need to make sure that how I am choosing to spend my time is lining up with what I say my priorities are.

Then we are back to temple (or if you are reading the 2 Chronicles account, you never left that).  It is talking about the furnishings – again, if it is hard for you to visualize, look up a picture!  It makes reading it easier.

This description is again so specific but speaks to the intricacies of what was being done to prepare the temple of God.  This had to take so much preparation, and then the work that went into all the details was intense too.  This wasn’t being done halfway.  They really were trying to build, to the best of their human abilities, something to truly glorify God.

When we do something for God, do we put our full effort into it?  Or do we just get it done?  When we aren’t excited about something, I think sometimes we just aim to get the task done.  And it may need to be done.  But I don’t think that brings joy to God the way it would if we gave it our all.  God may still be glorified through our work, but for me at least, I don’t feel the same.  If I didn’t put my full effort in, I can tell, even if others can’t.  I want to please God in what I do, and I think He is most pleased when I am putting in 100% effort.

So put your full effort into what you are doing today!  See what kind of difference it makes for you.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+7%2C+2+Chronicles+4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Still Can Not Contain Him

1 Kings 5-6 and 2 Chronicles 2-3

2 Chronicles 2 5b NIV sgl

I never much cared for reading the descriptions of the temple preparations or building. That is, until I had an open-ended project in school to study an ancient culture and create artifacts from that time.  My group picked the Hebrew culture, and one of the items we chose to create was a to-scale replica of Solomon’s temple.  That section of reading got a whole lot more interesting for me as I took notes on the dimensions, did the math to scale it down (probably the most fun part for me!), and found objects to use to build it.

I still struggle reading the descriptions, but when I stop and picture what our group made, it makes it easier!  So if you are a visual learner, go look up a drawing of Solomon’s temple.  I think it will help.

I don’t know why such an elaborate description of the temple is included for future generations to read, but if you can picture it, it really is an impressive work.  It took 7 years to build!  I know they didn’t have the technology we have today (and didn’t use iron tools at the site – take some time to look that up – some interesting theories), but that is still a long time to build something.  2 Chronicles 2:5-7 says:

5 “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him? 7 “Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided.

Solomon, recognized that though this temple would be great, it couldn’t contain God.  But they would build it to offer sacrifices which was the best option at the time.

One thing that stood out to me in this section is the relationship between Hiram & Solomon – I found it interesting in the 1 Kings account, Hiram reached out first to establish the good relationship with Solomon that he had with David.  Even though God didn’t allow David to build the temple, He worked through him to provide the materials and skilled laborers that Solomon would need by way of a relationship.  Do you ever think about how the relationships you establish could affect the future generations?  I always enjoy hearing about connections.  How someone’s grandparent established a church which lead to another group of people coming into the faith, and their family, and now today I know their descendants because of that.  The connections we make today can have a lasting impact.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+5-6%2C+2+Chronicles+2-3&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 7 & 2 Chronicles 4 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Loyal to God

1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

1 Chronicles 29 18 NIV sgl

Today we finish off the book of 1st Chronicles as King David is finishing his 40 year reign and is passing over the kingship of the nation of Israel and the plans for building God’s temple to his son Solomon.

I love the example we see of accepting God’s will and passing on the torch.  Even though David had wanted to build the temple himself, he accepted that this was not God’s plan for him, and he fully immersed himself in doing all he could (with God’s spirit to guide him) to see the project succeed for the next generation.  How well do we accept changes from what we had planned and desired “in our heart” (1 Chronicles 28:2)?  Do we devote ourselves to God’s will even when it wasn’t our personal “first-choice”?  Do we do all we can to see others succeed with what we wanted for ourselves?

I also love the picture we have of giving and sacrifice. In a Spirit-led manner, David gave of himself, his time, his talents and his possessions to prepare the work for the tabernacle.  He passed along to Solomon very detailed plans, “of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28:12) including specifics such as the division of labor for the priests and the weights of each of the lamp stands and bowls and other items to be used in the temple.

David knew the plans were no good; unless, there was also the means to follow those plans.  It was going to take material goods to do the work of the Lord.  He opened Israel’s storehouses to provide the gold, silver, marble, bronze, fine stones and other materials that would be used to build this “palatial structure,” “not for man but for the LORD God” (1 Chronicles 29:1).  And then he dug deep and gave from his own treasuries and bank account.  And then he asked the people, “Now who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord?”  How do you really set yourself apart and show your devotion to God – you give, just as David gave.  And Israel responded just as their king had set the example for them – and they gave willingly.

And they gave with humble, thankful hearts – knowing that everything they had belonged to God.  I really love that part!

David rejoiced and praised God when he saw the people respond with generous, giving hearts.  He prayed to God, “keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” (1 Chronicles 29:18).

This, too, can be our prayer for our own generation and the ones to follow.  We are now God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19) and we have been given so much.  May we not wish for what isn’t in God’s perfect plan for us, but work wholeheartedly where he wants us to be.  May we be leaders who inspire others to give back to God.  May we and our children and their children be consecrated to Him and show that in our generous giving with humble hearts.  God, please keep our hearts loyal to you.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+26-29%2C+Psalm+127&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 111-118 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan