Archive for November, 2018

1 Kings 7:13-51 (Part 4 of 7)
Furnishings for the Temple

Today, we continue looking at the furnishings of the Temple in a 7-part series with Part 4. Because God is a God of order, everything in the Temple has a meaning. It symbolizes something in the relationship between God and His people.

Similarly, each of us has items that we have retained in our lives that are symbolic of some experience, particularly if you are a husband and wife. For Elena and me, we have things that we own that we have retained and not thrown away because they have significance to our relationship over the last 11 years (3 years of dating and 8 years of marriage). In my last blog, we talked about the significance of our wedding pictures taken at the beach and how they represent more than just pictures on a bookcase. They symbolize what God has done for us, to us, and through us.

The thing that comes to mind today is the nativity scene that sits on our coffee table during the Christmas season. We normally have waited to put out our Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving. However, this year, being far from family in South Carolina and North Carolina, we decided to put out the decorations last week. We knew that we would not be back to our homeland for Thanksgiving so we needed a visual boost to our spirits last week. In addition we will be down there the week of Christmas so we justified our break with our tradition in that we would miss a whole week of enjoying our decorations. So, we jumped the gun a week early.

But back to the nativity scene that we place on the coffee table. It has meaning. It has a funny story. It has a point of contention between Elena and me. First, it has meaning on many levels. The first thing is that it represents constancy on our relationship. Our Christmas decorations have changed variously over the past 11 years, between our dating years with separate homes and decorations and the married years since then with combining decorations and adding and taking away over the years. However, the one constant in all of our decorations is that miniature coffee table top nativity scene (complete with little lambs, cows, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in a manger. With all the change in our lives over the past 11 years and all the changes in decorations and now working with our 2nd Christmas tree, the nativity scene is a constant. That constancy is reminder that Jesus came into the world by setting aside His glory and coming into the world as a child is a timeless story that will never change. That He came into the world to teach us about God and to show us how to live for God in our everyday life is a story that is timeless. That He came into the world to offer Himself up as the once and final sacrifice for our sins is a fact that shouts through the ages and never grows old or tired.

One of the things that happens when you have had kitty cats in your life as we did for a time is that Christmas time is a time that cats just love! Not because of the birth of Jesus. Not because their masters are home more often during these days. Yes, it is because Christmas decorations provide grand new adventures of things to paw, things to knock off and chase, you get the picture (and you may be experiencing that right now!). Back when we had to little kitties name Rowdy and Angel, they were the most mischievous cats I know. My long-time cat, Flash (God rest his soul), was never like these two. Flash was so laid back but Rowdy and Angel were into everything – especially the Christmas decorations. And, yes, you guessed it, our nativity scene was one of the casualties of their playfulness. They would, when we were not looking or not home, jump up on the coffee table and paw at and play with the pieces of the nativity scene – including Baby Jesus in the manger. Baby Jesus in the manger was a single piece but the features of the top of Jesus’ baby body were easily discernable. So, this piece could be broken in multiple places. And of all the pieces of the manager that they chose to knock in the floor, of course, it was Baby Jesus himself. Of course, when we found Baby Jesus in the floor, the head of Baby Jesus had broken off. Yes, just the head. Since this was a one-of-a-kind nativity scene, we couldn’t just order a new Baby Jesus! Well, Elena being the crafty gal that she is was able to fit Jesus’ head back on his baby body with Superglue. No one notices that flaw but Elena and me. We know it’s there but no one else does (well…us and now those who read today’s blog). To us, though, it is kind of symbolic of what Jesus does for us too. He takes broken people and puts them back together with His divine glue and makes us useful to His kingdom. And, it is because he came into the world and gave himself up for us that we can be mended back together from our brokenness in our sin.

That last thing that is interesting about this nativity scene that has been with us throughout our life together is the point of contention that it brings to Elena and me each year. Since nativity scene does not have but one open side (the rear of the scene is closed off to give the scene a sense of scale and intimacy), we have an annual debate as to which way the nativity scene should face on our coffee table. Should it face outward where more people can see it but yet the people who sit on our couch can only see the blank back of the scene (like looking at the back of barn). This is the Elena Bowling position. Or…or…should the scene face the couch where those who sit on the couch have a close up look at the scene but those in the rest of the room can only see the blank back of the scene. Oh the annual debate on this! LOL! The scene will get flipped around multiple times over the holiday season and we get as big a laugh out of it as we do holding dear to our opinion. But, the point of contention about the direction of the nativity scene is a reminder to us that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff in our marriage. These little irritations about little things are things to laugh at and not fight over. It reminds us that we are each unique and we should not try to mold the other into what we want them to be. We are just to love each other despite her need to have the nativity scene facing one way and me having to have it facing another. We are different people with differing perspectives about things but that’s what makes us a great couple together. She is weak where I am strong and she is strong where I am weak. We complement each other. That’s the way it is supposed to be in God’s plan.

Thus, the nativity scene on our coffee table is a visual reminder of deeper things that are necessary in our walk with Jesus. It is the deeper meaning that we will look at in this passage today. Let’s continue today by looking then at the wash basins in the Temple and what they mean and symbolize:

13 King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram[a] to come from Tyre. 14 He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.

15 Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.[b] 16 For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet[c] tall. 17 Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. 18 He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. 19 The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet[d] tall. 20 The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. 21 Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz.[e] 22 The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.

23 Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference.[f] 24 It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot[g] all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.

25 The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen,[h] all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. 26 The walls of the Sea were about three inches[i] thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons[j] of water.

27 Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet tall.[k] 28 They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. 29 Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. 30 Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. 31 The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1⁄2 feet[l] above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1⁄4 feet[m] across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. 32 Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1⁄4 feet in diameter 33 and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze.

34 There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. 35 Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide.[n] The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. 36 Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. 37 All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold.

38 Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons[o] of water. 39 He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. 40 He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls.

So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord:

41
the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
42
the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
43
the ten water carts holding the ten basins;
44
the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
45
the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls.

Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord, just as King Solomon had directed. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord:

the gold altar;
the gold table for the Bread of the Presence;
49
the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place;
the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold;
50
the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold;
the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold.

51 So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.

In this passage, we see that we have the golden altar or the altar of incense. In the Ancient Middle East, incense was part of every good host’s hospitality. In the ancient world, the smells of animals and sweat were always a reality especially in the desert where water was scarce. Incense was supplied to disguise the smells and was a thoughtful touch by any host. In this instance, the incense is covering over the offense of our sin. And in the altar of incense we have a graphic picture of how a sacrifice is received from the bronze altar. An animal would be offered and the fat of the animal, or the appropriate parts would be burned, the smell and smoke would rise into the heavens. The altar of incense shows that the smell is as incense to God and penetrates to his throne where it pleases Him. Prayer is often seen as incense in the Scriptures and so we associate the incense that penetrates God’s presence as a sweet odor with Christ’s prayers on our behalf. Christ is our mediator who intercedes on our behalf, his high priestly prayer in John 17, and his heavenly intercession are more effective than the physical incense offered in the Tabernacle.

Just as our nativity scene is symbolic to us on several different levels, the altar of incense is a reminder to us that our sins are putrid and must be covered by the incense of Jesus’ purity and sinlessness. His incense is an odor that pleases God. Without Jesus, we are just stinking sinners to God. That incense is simply symbolic of God’s grace to us through Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Kings 7:13-51 (Part 3 of 7)
Furnishings for the Temple

Today, we continue looking at the furnishings of the Temple in a 7-part series with Part 3. Because God is a God of order, everything in the Temple has a meaning. It symbolizes something in the relationship between God and His people.

Similarly, each of us has items that we have retained in our lives that are symbolic of some experience, particularly if you are a husband and wife. For Elena and me, we have things that we own that we have retained and not thrown away because they have significance to our relationship over the last 11 years (3 years of dating and 8 years of marriage). In my last blog, we talked about the significance of our wedding pictures taken at the beach and how they represent more than just pictures on a bookcase. They symbolize what God has done for us, to us, and through us.

The thing that comes to mind today is Elena’s previous car, a 2008 Mazda 3. That car was part of our relationship from almost the beginning and was with us until the Fall of 2017. That was the best little car ever. It was a sharp looking little car – gun metal gray, with black interior, and sport wheels. It still looked good almost 10 years later. That car followed us from the beginning of our relationship in Rock Hill, SC to Livermore, CA and to our first house back in South Carolina in Duncan, SC and then to our last house in nearby Lyman, SC (the place we were living before we moved to Illinois). That car went on many long trips and vacations. It was Elena’s car for everyday driving and it was the “family car” when we would go anywhere together. That car followed the story of our lives as it played out in front of us. It was the vehicle that took us to all the key events of almost the first full decade of our relationship. To say that there was sentimental value to that car is an understatement.

It was kind of symbolic of our relationship. It was not some overpowering flashy car, but it was comfortable and, yet, spunky at the same time. It was good on mileage but yet it could fly when you got it going on a long trip. Everything in that car always worked. It was never a moment’s trouble to us other than some routine maintenance such as new tires and new brake pads. It was the most reliable and fun car all at the same time. It reminds us of the fact that our relationship was kind of the same way. After marriages that nearly destroyed us and left us stranded, we found each other. We were each other comfort and reliability. Our relationship has been steady and filled with comfort in ways that we never experienced before. But, yet, at the same time, there is a spunk to our relationship. We feel so comfortable with each other and accept each other completely but yet we still have fun together and just can’t wait to be together. The spunkiness to the relationship is there in ways you would expect between two people that love each other but also there is this laughter that underlies our relationship. We make each other laugh hysterically at times. But, yet some of our best times too are those silent moments of comfort holding hands. We have seen a lot together. Been a lot of places together. We are best friends.

Also, that Mazda 3 also represents the generous spirit that our relationship has had in it through our gratitude to the Lord for what He has done in our lives. That Mazda 3 is the second car that we have given away to a family member. In 2012, we were able to give away my Nissan Sentra to Elena’s brother when they needed another car. Then, in 2017, when my youngest daughter was in dire straits after her jalopy of a car was toast and she had no way of getting another vehicle any time soon, we were able to donate that Mazda 3 to her, exactly when she needed it the most. Though the Mazda 3 was important and treasured in our relationship, being able to give it to someone who needed it more is symbolic of what God has done for us.

When we started living biblically from a financial standpoint, God has blessed us with a different attitude about things. We no longer desire to have the newest, flashiest thing. We desire to live as debt-free as possible so that we can be generous in honoring God with our tithes and offerings but also to be free to be generous to others. It is so freeing to live simply and to pay off things instead of owing for them. That Mazda 3 given to our youngest daughter is an example of that spirit of simplicity and generosity that the Lord has blessed us with.

Thus, the Mazda 3 is visual reminder of deeper things that are necessary in our walk with Jesus. It is the deeper meaning that we will look at in this passage today. Let’s continue today by looking then at the wash basins in the Temple and what they mean and symbolize:

13 King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram[a] to come from Tyre. 14 He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.

15 Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.[b] 16 For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet[c] tall. 17 Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. 18 He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. 19 The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet[d] tall. 20 The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. 21 Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz.[e] 22 The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.

23 Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference.[f] 24 It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot[g] all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.

25 The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen,[h] all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. 26 The walls of the Sea were about three inches[i] thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons[j] of water.

27 Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet tall.[k] 28 They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. 29 Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. 30 Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. 31 The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1⁄2 feet[l] above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1⁄4 feet[m] across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. 32 Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1⁄4 feet in diameter 33 and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze.

34 There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. 35 Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide.[n] The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. 36 Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. 37 All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold.

38 Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons[o] of water. 39 He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. 40 He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls.

So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord:

41
the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
42
the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
43
the ten water carts holding the ten basins;
44
the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
45
the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls.

Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord, just as King Solomon had directed. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord:

the gold altar;
the gold table for the Bread of the Presence;
49
the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place;
the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold;
50
the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold;
the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold.

51 So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.

In this passage, we see that the 10 mini-basins were used to wash burnt offerings. The Hebrew word for “burnt offering” actually means to “ascend,“ literally to “go up in smoke.” The smoke from the sacrifice ascended to God, “a soothing aroma to the LORD” (Leviticus 1:9). Technically, any offering burned over an altar was a burnt offering, but in more specific terms, a burnt offering was the complete destruction of the animal (except for the hide) in an effort to renew the relationship between Holy God and sinful man. With the development of the law, God gave the Israelites specific instructions as to the types of burnt offerings and what they symbolized.

Leviticus 1 and 6:8-13 describe the traditional burnt offering. The Israelites brought a bull, sheep, or goat, a male with no defect, and killed it at the entrance to the tabernacle. The animal’s blood was drained, and the priest sprinkled blood around the altar. The animal was skinned and cut it into pieces, the intestines and legs washed, and the priest burned the pieces over the altar all night. The priest received the skin as a fee for his help. A turtledove or pigeon could also be sacrificed, although they weren’t skinned. A person could give a burnt offering at any time. It was a sacrifice of general atonement—an acknowledgement of the sin nature and a request for renewed relationship with God. God also set times for the priests to give a burnt offering for the benefit of the Israelites as a whole, although the animals required for each sacrifice varied. So, the number of wash basins represents that God’s grace is sufficient for all of God’s people. Also, to Hebrews and thus to us as God’s people, the number of basins is symbolic. The number 10 seems to reflect God’s authority or God’s governmental rule over the affairs of mankind. This is seen elsewhere as in the 10 commandments, the 10 elders that were placed in most of the city gates of Israel (Ruth 4:2), the 10% tithe. Thus, the number 10 also seems to represents man’s responsibility of obedience to God’s law. Such a number seems to indicate the law, responsibility and a completeness of order in both divine and human structures of society.

Back to the burnt offerings washed in the 10 basins, the ultimate fulfillment of the burnt offering is in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. His physical life was completely consumed, He ascended to God, and His covering (that is, His garment) was distributed to those who officiated over His sacrifice (Matthew 27:35). But most importantly, His sacrifice, once for all time, atoned for our sins and restored our relationship with God.

Simple wash basins representing so much more just as the Mazda 3 was more than just a car to Elena and me.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 7:13-51 (Part 2 of 7)
Furnishings for the Temple

Today, we continue looking at the furnishings of the Temple in a 7-part series with Part 2. Because God is a God of order, everything in the Temple has a meaning. It symbolizes something in the relationship between God and His people.

Similarly, each of us has items that we have retained in our lives that are symbolic of some experience, particularly if you are a husband and wife. For Elena and me, we have things that we own that we have retained and not thrown away because they have significance to our relationship over the last 11 years (3 years of dating and 8 years of marriage). In my last blog, we talked about the significance of our coffee table and end table and how they represent more than just a coffee table and an end table. They symbolize what God has done for us, to us, and through us.

Today, I think about the photographs of our wedding that sit on the bookcase in our living room. They are just pictures but they are so much more. First, they are photos made on the sandy shore of North Myrtle Beach, SC. The beach is Elena and my favorite vacation destination. We love the beach. For us, laying on the beach in the sunshine in the summer represents rest, relaxation and freedom. When we go to beach, we go to the beach! A lot of people try to pack a thousand activities into a beach trip and just have to be doing something all the time. For us, at the beach, it is sleeping late (as late as our mid-fifties bladders will allow). It is having a couple of cups of coffee with Elena reading her morning devotional/Bible study and me writing my blog. It is having some breakfast and another cup of coffee. Then and only then is it time to pack up the cooler with drinks and sandwiches and grabbing the beach chairs. Then its hauling all of that across the street to the beach. We then proceed to read a book, listen to the radio or our iTunes and periodically cool off in the water. This takes from about 10:30 or so until about 4 in the afternoon. We come home. Take showers get cleaned up. Go to dinner somewhere. Get full as a tick. Come home and plop down on the couch and find a good movie and proceed to veg out the remainder of the evening. We repeat this process for 6 more days after that. There is no better vacation that one in which you actually relax and do pretty much nothing. We did not get to do that this year because of our move and I miss that down time with my toes in the sand. These pictures remind us that God rested on the 7th day after creation began. We must all remember to make time for down time.

Another thing these pictures represent is the friendship that we have had over the years with Luke and Felisha Brower. The photos were taken by Felisha. She is an unbelievably talented artist and photographer. Her eye for photography and her artistic flair just boggles the mind. I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler but Felisha can just sketch a beautiful drawing on a piece of paper without thinking. Luke is this super-intelligent, super-funny guy that always seems to be able to cut to the chase on any subject and help you see things more clearly. They were our pastor and wife when we lived in California. It was under their pastoral care that Elena came to the Lord as her Savior and I started growing up as a Christ follower after having been a spiritual baby for about 8 years. They challenged us and pushed us to grow in the Lord. Without our time with them in California, who knows where we would be right now. Most likely, we would not be in Illinois serving the Lord full-time. They gave us that hunger to serve the Lord. They gave us the view that being a Christ follower is an all the time thing and not just something you do on Sunday. These pictures remind us of that relationship with the Browers. These pictures remind us of their instrumental role in our lives and our walk with Jesus. These pictures remind us of the fact that our time in California with the Browers was part of the process that led us to LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC which prepared us for Calvary Church in Moline, IL. These photos remind us of trusting the process that the Lord has each of us in – where each step is a preparation for the next step.

Thus the pictures from our wedding are visual reminders of deeper things that are necessary in our walk with Jesus. It is the deeper meaning that we will look at in this passage today. Let’s continue today with the cistern of water and what it means and symbolizes:

13 King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram[a] to come from Tyre. 14 He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.

15 Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.[b] 16 For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet[c] tall. 17 Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. 18 He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. 19 The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet[d] tall. 20 The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. 21 Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz.[e] 22 The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.

23 Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference.[f] 24 It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot[g] all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.

25 The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen,[h] all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. 26 The walls of the Sea were about three inches[i] thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons[j] of water.

27 Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet tall.[k] 28 They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. 29 Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. 30 Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. 31 The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1⁄2 feet[l] above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1⁄4 feet[m] across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. 32 Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1⁄4 feet in diameter 33 and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze.

34 There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. 35 Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide.[n] The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. 36 Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. 37 All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold.

38 Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons[o] of water. 39 He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. 40 He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls.

So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord:

41
the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
42
the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
43
the ten water carts holding the ten basins;
44
the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
45
the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls.

Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord, just as King Solomon had directed. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord:

the gold altar;
the gold table for the Bread of the Presence;
49
the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place;
the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold;
50
the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold;
the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold.

51 So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.

In this passage, we see next item to note is the sea, this was the large basin of water used by the priests to wash themselves in v23-26. This large basin held almost 12,000 gallons of water. It had a circumference of 45 feet. This large pool probably had two main meanings. Firstly, it indicated the need for cleansing before coming into God’s presence Ex. 30:17-21,

‘The LORD said to Moses, 18 “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, 19 with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. 21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”’

Together with the altar these two external parts of the furniture would be the first things we encounter and the only way forward. The altar with its sacrifices figures our need for someone to die in payment for our sins, and the washing indicates the need for forgiveness and cleansing. The message is clear, no sinner can come into the presence of God without first being cleansed.

The basin is also thought to be a reminder of the Red Sea in one way every part of the furniture reminds Israel of the Exodus. The Passover sacrifice was what secured their freedom and corresponds with the Bronze altar, after that the Israelites came to the Red Sea and God parted it for them, this matches the Basin. Then there was the Manna from heaven and the pillar of fire, which line up with the lampstand and showbread. And then finally they come to Sinai and receive the Ten Commandments which are in the Ark. And all these items also point to Christ. He is our Passover Lamb; He cleanses us by His work on the cross. He is the light of the world and the bread from heaven. And He is the presence of God among us who fulfils the law.

Some see significance in the fact that this large body of water, kept still and peaceful in the presence of God would have had significance for the Ancient Near mind. The sea was often associated with chaos, it was the place the enemies came from, but here it the ‘sea’ brought to order indicating God’s rule over the chaos.

So, as you can see, the cistern of water, represents so much more than just a big tub of water. Just as our wedding photos have meaning and history attached to them, so do these furnishings of the Temple. Each one tells a story of God’s never-ending and faithful relationship to and with His people. More than just a tub of water!

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 7:13-51 (Part 1 of 7)
Furnishings for the Temple

Today, we begin looking at the furnishings of the Temple in a 7-part series. Why would you spend so much time on this one passage that only tells you details of the furnishing of the Temple? At first blush, I would have to agree with you. But, in comes the difference between just reading a passage and studying a passage. When you really study a passage, mull it over, do research from respected biblical analysis sources, so much more begins to emerge. Everything written in this passage is to get you to think about what the furnishings mean, what they symbolize. That got me to thinking about my own life with my wife, Elena. So, indulge me a bit as we go down memory lane over the next 7 blogs, including today, about the symbolism of certain things in my relationship with Elena.

When you have been together as a couple for any length of time, like Elena and me (between dating and marriage) have been together now for 11 years (dating for 3 years, married for 8), you begin to gather artifacts of your life together. Most everything in our house has a memory and/or a meaning attached to it. There are numerous examples to which I can point.

For example, our coffee table was purchased by me before our marriage when were dating and living in separate apartments in Rock Hill, SC. It is wrought iron with little individual granite squares that are removable that make up the top of the table. I bought it at a discount furniture store in Charlotte, NC (just across the border from Rock Hill). It is a unique piece of furniture with those individual, removable granite square that are about a half-inch thick that make up the table top. I have never seen before or since, a coffee table like that. The individual squares to us represents the fact that God has cobbled our lives together from our previous individual lives and put them together into a pattern that makes sense. The individual squares are unique each and by themselves have a beauty of their own, but it is only when placed together in the right order in the table top that it becomes this beautiful piece of furniture, that has this timelessness to it. It’s beauty is understated and will stand the test of time. Likewise, our relationship is one where we have confidence that yeah, sure we could make it on our own individually in the absence of the other, but it is only through God’s providence and guidance that He has cobbled us together into this beautiful pattern of a relationship that gives Him glory as we seek the Lord together.

A funny thing about that coffee table is that, because it was so unique (and because of the layout of my apartment, I did not need any end tables), there was just no way that I would every find anything remotely similar to it on that off chance some that I would need end tables. However, for about two years, Elena and I had a cross-country relationship. My job had transferred me out to division headquarters in Santa Clara, CA to clean up the accounting department there. I lived in the San Francisco Bay area on the left coast of the country and Elena was living on the right coast of the country in the Charlotte, NC area. Finally, when the position turned permanent out there in California, Elena decided to move to California to be with me. When got married soon after she came to California. While we were living clear across the country from our families and hometowns, we were trying to furnish our apartment. By the way we arranged the living area of our apartment, we needed and end table to fit between how we had arranged the couch and love seat which were at 90 degree angles from one another. We needed something in between the two to fill that space. We needed an end table. We said to ourselves that we will never find anything like that coffee table. It’s too unique and one of a kind almost. We were just hoping for something remotely similar. But, lo and behold, while we were on about our third discount furniture store, we found an end table that looked exactly like our coffee table. Although the inlaid granite squares had a slightly different coloration, the coloration was in the same family of color. We were amazed. Here we are, completely on the other side of the country from where we bought the coffee table that we find its almost sister match end table. What are the odds that there was a match and that we, out of all the furniture stores we could have gone to, find this furniture with this piece of furniture in it.

That end table tells the same cobbling together story as our coffee table does but it has an added dimension to it as well. It represents to us that God is directing all of our lives. Because the odds of Elena and me ever meeting each other was simply God ordained. I had lived in the Greenville, SC area for all of my teenage and adult life – from age 14 to age 42. It was only because of a job change and the fact that I was single again and single for an extended period of time that saw me grow into a more independent person in life that I moved to the Charlotte area. And, because my daughter was at Clemson University at the time pursuing her college degree, I had to live on the South Carolina side of the Charlotte area so that (1) I could continue paying in-state tuition rates and (2) allow her to maintain the LIFE scholarship offered only to South Carolina resident students. Then, almost a year later, I meet Elena who moved to Rock Hill from Clover, SC after her marriage ended so that she could be closer to her job and be away from the small town culture of Clover. And then she moves into the same apartment complex as me and even wilder is that she moved into the same apartment building as me in this huge apartment complex called Pace’s River there in Rock Hill just off Interstate 77. What are the odds? We met. Became friends. Fell in love. And the rest is history. When we look back at that, we say that it has to be God. He guided us through what might seem like coincidental factors to others to meet one another. Because He had plans for us together as a couple. How we have grown as a couple as Christ followers, both individually and together, since we met! It has to be a God thing that we met. When we look at that end table, where the odds of us finding it clear across the country remind us of God’s guiding hand in us meeting one another – the odds against that are astronomical when you look at our lives individually beforehand.

There is meaning in everything that God does. There is meaning in everything that He says. There is meaning in everything that He orchestrates. There is no random coincidences in God’s economy. Sometimes, we need reminders of that on this side of heaven. For Elena and me, there are reminders of God’s hand in our lives in the little artifacts of our life together of what we mean to each other and what God has done in our lives. These are not idols but rather visual reminders that symbolically represent what God has done for us. That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I started analyzing the furnishings of the Temple. There is meaning and symbolism in everything that is described here. Let’s start today by looking at what the pillars mean and symbolize:

13 King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram[a] to come from Tyre. 14 He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.

15 Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.[b] 16 For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet[c] tall. 17 Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. 18 He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. 19 The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet[d] tall. 20 The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. 21 Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz.[e] 22 The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.

23 Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference.[f] 24 It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot[g] all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.

25 The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen,[h] all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. 26 The walls of the Sea were about three inches[i] thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons[j] of water.

27 Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet tall.[k] 28 They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. 29 Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. 30 Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. 31 The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1⁄2 feet[l] above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1⁄4 feet[m] across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. 32 Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1⁄4 feet in diameter 33 and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze.

34 There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. 35 Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide.[n] The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. 36 Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. 37 All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold.

38 Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons[o] of water. 39 He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. 40 He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls.

So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord:

41
the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals;
42
the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);
43
the ten water carts holding the ten basins;
44
the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
45
the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls.

Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord, just as King Solomon had directed. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord:

the gold altar;
the gold table for the Bread of the Presence;
49
the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place;
the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold;
50
the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold;
the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold.

51 So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.

In this passage, we see the details of the furnishings of the Temple. This is God’s house so everything in it has a symbolic meaning. For today, as we visually approach the Temple, let us look at the pillars at the entry way to the temple.

Verses 15-22 give us the detail about the two bronze pillars. They are about 8.1 metres tall, 5.4m in circumference, and hollow being about 3 inches thick. They both had large and ornate capitals topping the pillars. These pillars would have resembled trees and reminded of Eden. They were covered in pomegranates and lily work. Pomegranates are a picture of bounty and fruitfulness with the interior full of seeds. Lilies in the Scripture are associated with love. They were most likely symbolic and decorative as opposed to load bearing, since they were hollow. We see that they were named. Since the temple faced East the southern pillar was called Jachin and the northern, Boaz.

Jachin and Boaz stood at the entrance to the temple’s vestibule or portico. Their dimensions indicate the extent of the work involved in creating them. Including the decorative tops of the pillars, Jachin and Boaz stood approximately forty-five feet tall, with a circumference of eighteen feet (1 Kings 7:15–20). The brass used to make the twin pillars had been taken by King David from the king of Zobah as part of the spoils of war (1 Chronicles 18:8–9).

The pillar on the south of the entrance which was called Jachin, and one on the north named Boaz. Both 2 Chronicles and 1 Kings say that “he” set up the pillars and “he” named them Jachin and Boaz. Commentators are divided as to whether “he” refers to Hiram or Solomon. Whoever named them, their names are significant. Jachin (pronounced yaw-keen) means “he will establish,” and Boaz signifies “in him is strength.” Taken together, the names were a reminder that God would establish the Temple and the worship of His name in strength.

That Jachin is mentioned in the Bible as a descendant of Aaron means that this name is associated with the priestly class of Israel. The priests were establish to mediate between the Israelite people and the Most Holy God. It is a reminder to us as Christians that Jesus is our high priest and He mediates our cleanliness before God on our behalf. Because of our sins, we can not exist on our own the presence of God. We need to have Jesus the mediator, the priest, the clean one, to impute His holiness unto us. Thus, we are established as clean and holy before a pure and holy God. It is through Jesus that we can stand before God in right standing. Thus, the Jachin column to us as Christians represents the way that Jesus makes us holy enough to enter into God’s presence.

That the name Boaz is used represents to us the mercy of God such that He redeems us through Jesus Christ. Just as Boaz redeemed Ruth and made her part of the family of God through his sacrificial act, so too does Jesus act in that way toward us. Jesus redeems us through his sacrifice for our sins on the cross. It is through this sacrificial act that we are adopted into the family of God. We are made rightful heirs to His Kingdom through Jesus. Just as Ruth was made a rightful heir in the family of Israel by Boaz. Boaz teaches us that we have strength in our adoption. We can act with full confidence as citizens of the Kingdom through Jesus. It does not matter what our past includes, we are redeemed and made worthy citizens of the Kingdom through Jesus Christ will all the rights and privileges that we are given even though in and of ourselves we do not deserve them. The Boaz pillar then represents the fact that we must humbly remember what God has done for us through the sacrifice of Jesus as we enter into God’s presence. The Boaz pillar also represents that we can rightfully enter into God’s presence because we are married to Jesus Christ through His sacrifice for us on our behalf. We can stand up as a part of the people of God – past wiped away and present and future made secure that we are a part of God’s people through Jesus Christ.

That then shows us that these are not just mere words on a page describing furnishing but rather and opportunity to see God’s design for us in the details of the Temple. Just as the coffee table and end table in Elena’s and my home represent more than just mere furniture. There is meaning pointing us to what God has done in us, through us, and for us since we have been together. These visual reminders, again, I remind you are not idols to be worshiped in and of themselves. We do not pray to or venerate this furniture in our home, but just seeing them and reflecting on the story that goes with them, it reminds us of what God has done. That it points to God and not themselves makes them visual cues and not idols. Here in this passage, we see the amazing symbolism of the pillars. We see them as teaching tools as to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. That warms the heart and humbles the heart to remember just what God did for us so that we can come into His presence unafraid and assured.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 7:1-12
Solomon Builds His Palace

In business, they call it vision creep or vision slippage. It’s when a company loses sight of what has been the central driving force behind their business for years. You often see it in businesses that begin to branch out into businesses that are not in line with the company’s expertise. Sometimes, you see companies buy other companies without checking out the corporate culture of the company that they are buying and as a result allow different values to become part of the bloodstream of the company. You sometimes see companies get so inward focused that procedures become more important than business opportunities and the company slowly dies.

In churches, too, we are not immune. In older, traditional churches, have you ever been a part of churches where the color of the carpet in the sanctuary that they are about to purchase will literally rip the church apart? Have you ever been a part of a church where who is serving on what committee is causing friction and people leave the church over it? But newer, more modern churches can lose sight of vision of church too. They can become too centered around their mega-church high profile pastor. They can become focused on “being cool”, on being “relevant” and on in touch with people where they are at. In these cases, often, discipleship is the first thing that suffers and church can become about it being a production, a rock concert, featuring a hip motivational speaker.

Churches, both old style and new style, can lose the vision, have vision slippage, and allow things that are not in line with the vision to become part of the bloodstream of the church. The main thing. The reason we are “in business” in the church can become a sidelight. The main thing – going and making fully devoted and spiritually developed disciples of Jesus Christ who are His gospel representatives where they live, work and play – must remain the main thing for a church to be what Jesus envisioned. Just as a business must measure everything by its vision statement so too should we as churches measure everything we do as to whether it is about leading people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and, once saved, leading them to deeper and deeper relationships with Him.

That was the thing that struck me this morning as I read about Solomon’s Palace. It was not the intricate descriptions of the construction or the detail about its fixtures but rather the fact that it took him almost twice as long to construct the palace as it did to construct the Temple. He paid more attention and took more time on the palace. It is kind of an indication as to what was most important to Solomon though in a subtle way. His focus was more what was “all about him” than it was about glorifying God. It reminded me of how in corporations, we can lose focus on “what got us here”. It also reminded me too that churches can lose sight of their core business too – bringing people to the cross of salvation and leading them to deeper relationships with Jesus. With that idea in mind, let us read this passage now:

Chapter 7
1 Solomon also built a palace for himself, and it took him thirteen years to complete the construction.

2 One of Solomon’s buildings was called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. It was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.[a] There were four rows of cedar pillars, and great cedar beams rested on the pillars. 3 The hall had a cedar roof. Above the beams on the pillars were forty-five side rooms,[b] arranged in three tiers of fifteen each. 4 On each end of the long hall were three rows of windows facing each other. 5 All the doorways and doorposts[c] had rectangular frames and were arranged in sets of three, facing each other.

6 Solomon also built the Hall of Pillars, which was 75 feet long and 45 feet wide.[d] There was a porch in front, along with a canopy supported by pillars.

7 Solomon also built the throne room, known as the Hall of Justice, where he sat to hear legal matters. It was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling.[e] 8 Solomon’s living quarters surrounded a courtyard behind this hall, and they were constructed the same way. He also built similar living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.

9 From foundation to eaves, all these buildings were built from huge blocks of high-quality stone, cut with saws and trimmed to exact measure on all sides. 10 Some of the huge foundation stones were 15 feet long, and some were 12 feet[f] long. 11 The blocks of high-quality stone used in the walls were also cut to measure, and cedar beams were also used. 12 The walls of the great courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone, just like the walls of the inner courtyard of the Lord’s Temple with its entry room.

In this passage, there is certainly a lot of detail about the palace dimensions and the content of its construction. However, the most striking thing is right at the beginning of the passage in the first verse. That Solomon took longer to build his palace than it took to build the Temple (13 years vs. 7 years) gives us an early glimpse at his weakening value system. As well, in the eighth verse, you will note that he had married the Pharaoh’s daughter. Although it was a politically savvy move to marry the daughter of another nation’s king to solidify an alliance with that country, it did bring pagan religious beliefs right into the heart of Israel.

That’s the thing that we should take away today is that as Christ followers, we have one job – to glorify God by sharing the gospel with the world around us. If we get caught up in fights about the color of the carpet, or about whose family name is going to be on a classroom, or about who is serving on a committee, or any of a number of things that traditional churches can sometimes bicker about, we have lost our way, we have lost the vision, the central core of our reason for being – to be the light of the gospel message to the dark world around us. If we are a modern mega-church, we can get off course when we treat our rock star nationally popular pastor instead of Jesus Christ. If we worship the light shows and production values of Sunday morning and Jesus is just someone to follow because he is cool, we have lost focus on the vision.

Then we look at ourselves in our personal walk with Jesus, we must examine what we are making important. Is Jesus the most important thing in our lives? Do we allow other things to become more important? Like our jobs, our spouse, our kids, our extracurricular activities? Are we spending time with God? Do we study God’s Word or do we squeeze His Word in when we have time? Do we give God the firstfruits of our income or do we give Him what is left over? Let us each one examine how we spend our time each week. Are we like Solomon where we spend twice as much time on personal pursuits as we do pursuing God?

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 6:14-38
The Temple’s Interior

We are a nation of copiers. Not the kind of copiers that transfer images from one piece of paper to another, but rather we tend to copy what we see in the media with regard to fashions, attitudes, swagger, and so on. When kids see their favorite TV or movie personalities dress a certain way, then, they follow suit. When we see our favorite celebrities acting a certain way, we think that it is OK to act that same way. When one person decides that he is personally oppressed by the cops, though he grew up in middle class Wisconsin and though he has made millions of dollars in professional football and owns a $3.2 Million condo in New York in addition to his home in San Jose, CA, and decides to kneel during the national anthem at football games. Then, the entire league of millionaire athletes follow suit, not necessarily because they believe in the cause, they don’t want to be singled out as not doing it. Remember high school? The pressure to copy others is enormous there, probably more so than anywhere else in our culture. Think about social media and 24 hour news channels today. Think about how a media story can get started nowadays in one area of the media and then it cascades across the internet and television. Often, it is with regard to whether a claim is true or not. However, the joining in with the cascade is the most important thing to the media and social media platform participants. All want to be seen as being valid and in compliance with the prevailing popular opinion of the day.

What is it that makes our culture this way? Back before social media, the news outlets would verify, verify, and verify again before publishing something that was not true or substantiated. Now, the concern is more about being in line with prevailing opinion than it is with whether something is true or not. Why are we such copiers now? Why are we more concerned with joining in with the crowd than whether something is true or necessary to the public good? We copy celebrities whose lifestyles are a train wreck. We copy whatever we see in fashion on TV. We copy whatever the pro athletes do. We copy what we see on the internet. Is it that we are seeking belonging but seeking in the wrong places?

That’s what I thought of this morning – about how we are a nation obsessed with copying others so that we can feel like we are in line with the “in crowd”, the “with it” crowd, the “those on the cutting edge” crowd. When I read in this passage, 1 Kings 6:14-38, I saw that Solomon basically copied God’s instructions for the Tabernacle when he built the Temple. He could have done anything else! But He chose to copy God’s instructions for the temporary Tabernacle when he built the permanent Temple. It got me to thinking about how our culture copies the wrong things. Let’s read the passage now:

14 So Solomon finished building the Temple. 15 The entire inside, from floor to ceiling, was paneled with wood. He paneled the walls and ceilings with cedar, and he used planks of cypress for the floors. 16 He partitioned off an inner sanctuary—the Most Holy Place—at the far end of the Temple. It was 30 feet deep and was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. 17 The main room of the Temple, outside the Most Holy Place, was 60 feet[a] long. 18 Cedar paneling completely covered the stone walls throughout the Temple, and the paneling was decorated with carvings of gourds and open flowers.

19 He prepared the inner sanctuary at the far end of the Temple, where the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant would be placed. 20 This inner sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high. He overlaid the inside with solid gold. He also overlaid the altar made of cedar.[b] 21 Then Solomon overlaid the rest of the Temple’s interior with solid gold, and he made gold chains to protect the entrance[c] to the Most Holy Place. 22 So he finished overlaying the entire Temple with gold, including the altar that belonged to the Most Holy Place.

23 He made two cherubim of wild olive[d] wood, each 15 feet[e] tall, and placed them in the inner sanctuary. 24 The wingspan of each of the cherubim was 15 feet, each wing being 7 1⁄2 feet[f] long. 25 The two cherubim were identical in shape and size; 26 each was 15 feet tall. 27 He placed them side by side in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Their outspread wings reached from wall to wall, while their inner wings touched at the center of the room. 28 He overlaid the two cherubim with gold.

29 He decorated all the walls of the inner sanctuary and the main room with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. 30 He overlaid the floor in both rooms with gold.

31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary, he made double doors of wild olive wood with five-sided doorposts.[g] 32 These double doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors, including the decorations of cherubim and palm trees, were overlaid with gold.

33 Then he made four-sided doorposts of wild olive wood for the entrance to the Temple. 34 There were two folding doors of cypress wood, and each door was hinged to fold back upon itself. 35 These doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers—all overlaid evenly with gold.

36 The walls of the inner courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone.

37 The foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid in midspring, in the month of Ziv,[h] during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. 38 The entire building was completed in every detail by midautumn, in the month of Bul,[i] during the eleventh year of his reign. So it took seven years to build the Temple.

From this passage, we see that it is true that the décor was elegant. However, it is not true that the Temple was unique. The Bible explains that Solomon built the Temple according to his vision, but his vision was based on the Tabernacle. The Scriptures explain that the walls of the Temple were decorated with etches and carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The efforts that went into this design shows that Solomon was not trying to innovate a new place of worship for the Lord, but it was based on the pattern that God had previously determined in the Tabernacle. In other words, Solomon recognized the perfection dictated by God previously and simply sought to copy it with the tools and talent that was provided to him.

What does that mean to you and me in our 21st century life? I think it begs the question, “What are you copying?” What do you look toward to determine how you are going to act in and respond to the world around you? Is it celebrities? Is it pro athletes? Is it social media? What do you admire and emulate your life after? Are you coming up empty chasing/copying after the latest trend? Do you feel like you are the last one to the party and everybody’s been there and has already left? Do you feel like you are forever chasing something that you will never be able to capture? If you are fashioning your life by popular opinion or by what another person does, you are forever a step behind. You are forever going to be disappointed.

Let us become a people that copies the right things. Let us fashion our lives as a copy or duplicate of Jesus Christ. Though we can never reach His perfection (since we are sinful and sin-filled creatures by our very nature), we can seek to become like Him by submitting our lives to his Kingship. Once we have given authority over our lives to Jesus Christ, He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and who then begins His work of making us more and more like Jesus each day. The Holy Spirit will convict us of our sins and help us to turn away from them. The Holy Spirit will direct us to God’s Word and that is where we will find eternal truth. That is where we will find what to emulate (and often because of the failures of the characters of the Bible, what not to emulate). That is where we find what never changes. That is where we find what we need to copy. Through God’s Word, the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls, we find God’s plan. That’s what we need to copy. Just as Solomon knew that God’s instructions for the Tabernacle were perfect enough for the Temple and just copied them, so too should we find God’s perfect instructions in the Bible and copy them and apply them to our lives.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 6:1-13 (Part 2 of 2)
Solomon Builds the Temple

Be home by midnight. Act like you are a Bowling and not some redneck. Always defend your brother no matter what. Do your chores. Keep your room clean. You responsible for everything on your car except your insurance. If you want to date, get a job so you can afford it. If you make less than a B in school (which I know you are capable of), there will be restrictions. There were rules that my brother and I had to live by growing up in my dad’s house. There were not any dizzying array of rules to remember, but there were definitely a set of rules that my dad laid down for us, particularly in those all important pre-teen and teen years before we left home.

One of the most consistent violations of my dad’s rules was the keeping the room clean thing. As an adult living on my own, when I look back at how messy I was as a teenager it makes me laugh – the laugh of “oh my, what a dweeb I was!”. I may not be one that goes in with a white glove on things today but I am better organized and cleaner than I was as a teenager. My wife keeps our house squeaky clean so my view of my adult cleanliness may be tainted by that! LOL! However, regardless of the degree of my cleanliness now, I was definitely a slob as a teenager. My bedroom was always a mess. Dirty clothes strewn across the room rather than being deposited in the clothes hamper. Empty glasses from drinks sitting on the nightstand. Every few days, God bless her heart, my mom would attack my room while I was working evenings at the Furman University dining hall. And I would thank her. My dad would demand that I clean it up on weekends from top to bottom and yell at me about how I kept my room. But I guess there was a stretch there that even my loving mom got angry at me about me forcing her to clean my room. My dad told me that she was no longer going to be cleaning my room and it was up to me. Or there would be consequences. To me that meant restrictions, right?

Not getting to do something. I could live with that. By my junior year I was working practically full-time at the Furman campus police as a dispatcher. I was keeping up my grades with a lot of late nights studying after work. I had a 3.8 grade point average. I was handling everything on my plate pretty well, but there was not much time in my life that wasn’t spoken for. So, what could be so hard about restrictions other than restricting how much I could see my girlfriend, Lisa. Well, my dad had a different plan that restricting my use of my limited free time.

I was not home a lot during those days except to do homework and sleep. Otherwise, I was at school, or at work, or with Lisa. So, in those days, my room was just a place to throw my stuff down and do homework and to sleep. After being told that mom was not going to clean my room anymore, my room got progressively more “piled up” with stuff. On a Friday night, one of my few free nights each week, I was out on date with Lisa. Busting tail to get home by midnight, as was the rule, I made it just in time. My parents were already in bed, but I being the careless teenager surely made enough noise to wake them from what sleep they had achieved by midnight (they used to go to bed at 11:30 in those days, right after the late news on TV). So, they probably had not been asleep long if at all. As loudly walked down the hardwood floors in hallway down. My brother’s room the first door on the left. Bathroom first door to the right. My parent’s room at the end of the hall to the left. My room directly across from theirs to the right. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk down the hall. Last door to the right at the end of the hall. I try to open the door but it’s hard to budge. I put my should against the door to get the door open and what do I see?
I see all my dirty clothes, of which there were plenty in my room, tied from the bedposts to the window curtain rods, tied from the bedposts to the door handle, tied from the door to my little desk. It was really quite amazing to see as well as causing me to let go of some expletives of the four letter variety. Faintly, from my mom and dad’s bedroom across the hall I heard giggles. Dad got me. He got me good. He must have spent at least two hours in there criss-crossing the room with tied together clothing. He really must have had to climb out my bedroom window after he was finished so that all the streamers of clothing would stay tied together and taut. Message received, dad. Message received. He never said anything after that, loved me like I knew he did and he acted as if nothing had happened (other than loud laughter when the story got told and retold at family gatherings in later years). But after that, you know what, I kept my room clean. Not out of anger toward dad, but rather, just trying to please him and his unique way of demonstrating to me the price of disobedience.

Dad had his rules, yes, that he expected us to live by. But he wanted us to want to obey his rules rather than see them as limitations. That object lesson in cleanliness stuck with me because it had a very real answer about disobedience. In that case, he knew that restrictions were not going to be the answer because I had such limited free time anyway. He needed for the price of disobedience to be real and tangible. Me having to work my way into a room that had clothes tied together and tied to everything he could tie them to was the price. Even though I did not clean up his handiwork that night, I was just too tired. I did clean it up for a couple of hours the next morning. It took me a while to undo dad’s handiwork that is for sure. Nothing was said by dad. Nothing. He just let me deal with my disobedience and its consequences.
That’s the thing that struck me this morning as I read 1 Kings 6:1-13. There is a conditional promise here. IF you keep my commands. Disobedience always comes with a price and we will see Israel in the coming chapters of 1 Kings and then in 2 Kings get all tied up in knots by their own disobedience. God did not come out of heaven and zap them. He left them to the consequences of their own disobedience. The no longer wanted to obey the Lord. It became a heart condition and God withdrew His presence and favor. Let’s read the passage now with an eye toward that conditional promise at the end of the passage:

Chapter 6
1 It was in midspring, in the month of Ziv,[a] during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, that he began to construct the Temple of the Lord. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt.

2 The Temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high.[b] 3 The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet[c] wide, running across the entire width of the Temple. It projected outward 15 feet[d] from the front of the Temple. 4 Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple.

5 He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. 6 The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 1⁄2 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 1⁄2 feet wide.[e] The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves.

7 The stones used in the construction of the Temple were finished at the quarry, so there was no sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site.

8 The entrance to the bottom floor[f] was on the south side of the Temple. There were winding stairs going up to the second floor, and another flight of stairs between the second and third floors. 9 After completing the Temple structure, Solomon put in a ceiling made of cedar beams and planks. 10 As already stated, he built a complex of rooms along the sides of the building, attached to the Temple walls by cedar timbers. Each story of the complex was 7 1⁄2 feet[g] high.

11 Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: 12 “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. 13 I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”

In this passage, we see that God gives a conditional promise, “if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands…”. God promised His eternal presence would never leave the Temple as long as one condition was met. The Israelites had to obey God’s laws. Knowing how many laws they had to follow, we must be thinking that God was setting them up for failure. And if we think today that Christianity is about do’s and don’ts, we could think the same thing about ourselves – that God is waiting for us to fail so that He can crush us. The Israelites situation, we see then is much like ours today. What we must understand and what the Israelites had to understand is that we/they are not cut off from God for failing to live fully 100% according to those standards.

Forgiveness was amply provided for all their sins, no matter how large or small. As we progress through Israel’s history in both these books of the kings of Israel, you will see that breaking God’s laws was the result, not the cause, of the condition of the hearts of the Israelites. The kings and the people abandoned God in their hearts first and then failed to keep his laws. When we close our hearts to God, we lose our desire to please Him. It’s always been about the heart.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, the presence of the Holy Spirt comes to live within us and changes us from the inside out. We begin to desire to please God in everyway that we can. We begin to change our attitudes toward our favorite sins and we begin to turn away from them. If we are just trying to keep up a checklist and heart’s desire is not necessarily to please God, then, we are not seeking His presence but rather seeking to keep up appearances.

However, when we disobey God, it is not His desire to come out of heaven and crush us like a bug. He simply allows our disobedience to have its consequences in our lives. For those of us who desire to follow God, we understand that we are sinful creatures who cannot go a day without sinning. However, we know too that it is our desire to please the Lord our God. We rely on the Holy Spirit to convict us progressively over our lifetime of the sins that we commit and helps us to seek the Lord for forgiveness of those sins and turn away from them.

Some of our sins, we are more stubborn about and have a hard time letting go of. Often we are so blinded about our pet sins, we often see them not as sins at all or we rationalize them away as being OK (such as “God and I have a deal on this one” or “God just wants me to be happy so this one is OK”) in our stubborn clinging to that sin or sins. Some of these sins, it takes a lifetime of the Holy Spirit working on us to get rid of. We are a stubborn, stiff-necked people. We complain about sin’s consequences in our lives and get angry at God for withdrawing His favor from us. But yet we are stubborn to see that our own actions have caused the consequences of sin (and sin always has consequences).

Just as my stubbornness about the rule to keep my room clean led to the consequence of breaking it. Basically, it was a visual lesson in how disobedience ends up leaving us tied up in knots. But the real maturity came in my understanding of the visual lesson. It was not so much about dad having this weird rule. It was about being obedient (and later realizing that he was trying to teach me not to be a slob – yes, dad, Elena thanks you for that!). The thing that was masterful by my dad. There was no imposed punishment. There was just a lesson. He did still love me. He treated me the same after that. He just knew that I had learned a lesson from my disobedience and after that, I obeyed him. I learned. The difference is learning that our sins displease God and then go about leaving the sin and turning away from it.

My dad’s reaction after that incident might have been completely different if I continued in my defiance but thankfully his point was made. I dealt with the consequences of my disobedience and learned from it and turned away from the disobedience. Similarly, God certainly knows that we cannot keep up the perfection that he requires because we are sin-filled descendants of Adam. However, what He does expect from us is to recognize our sins, seek forgiveness through the perfection of Jesus Christ, and turn away from our sins each and every day as the Holy Spirit does His work in our souls to make us more and more like Jesus every day.

Are you tied up in knots by the choices you have made in life? Do you blame God for letting you get to this place? Do you try to rationalize away why your sin is not sin? Do you play theological gymnastics to justify your sins but wonder why your life is in the condition that it is in? It is time now to see the consequences of sin and where it has led us and then look to Jesus for forgiveness and come home to the Lord. The Lord will accept you when you realize that your sins are real and when you realize that it is our sins that have crushed us and not God. God will still love you and say nothing when you have humbly called to Jesus to take over your life and cleanse you from all your sins. When you say to the Lord that it is my disobedience that caused all this, God is amply ready to give and move on with you through the sinless perfection of His Son, Jesus. He will love you as if none of that matters (through Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins) and restore you to the high and dry place. He will restore you to His favor. He will change you from seeing obedience as a chore but rather as an opportunity to say thank you to God for saving you through Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.