2 Chronicles 3:1-14 – Keeping It Between The Ditches!

Posted: July 11, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 3:1-14

Solomon Builds the Temple

Opening Illustration/Comments

In reading this passage, I thought about how Solomon and those guys gave God the best of everything from their labor to their materials and so on in the building of the Temple. As we progress through the rest of the Bible, we see that by the time of the end of the Old Testament, the people of God had become so apathetic about worship that they gave God their leftovers for the required sacrifices. Later, in New Testament times, Jesus railed against the religious elite for having gotten so obsessed with appearances that they worshiped the rituals themselves and they seemed to worship the Temple more than they worshiped God. It is the age-old battle that we as the people of God have fought concerning the ditch on one side called apathy and the ditch on the other side called idolatry.  

Drifting Toward Idolatry

First, there is the possibility that we can worship what we have been able to accumulate and our build at our local expression of God’s people, known as the local church. You know these kinds of people and these kinds of churches. It is the people/church that believe that the buildings we or our predecessors have built are in and of themselves a thing that gets worshipped. When we get nervous when our kids get near certain things, when we won’t allow the community to use our facilities, because we are nervous about what MIGHT happen to our STUFF, then it might be that the church itself has become what is worshipped. You know those churches where you feel like you are in a museum rather than an active ongoing ministry facility. There can be that kind of culture in some churches. The question that we must ask ourselves to check to see if we are this kind of church is this? Would you be willing to have your facilities used in providing day care services to families in the community? Would you be willing to have your facilities used as a periodic or an ongoing homeless shelter ministry? The answers to those questions may reveal whether the facilities of the church have become museums or whether they are there to create a space for ministry to operate from. God intended our churches to be centers from which we reach out to the world around it and draw people into conversations about Jesus Christ. God intended our churches to be centers from which we gather together to worship and to learn and to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. God intended that our buildings to be used for ministry internally for our people and externally for the world around us.  

Drifting Toward Apathy

Second, there is the possibility that we can do the opposite thing where we don’t care enough about the place and the activities of the church. From a ministry perspective, I have written about this before as to how we often give the church our least and our last. In Malachi 1 we read as follows:

8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

We read the Bible and condemn the Israelites of Malachi’s time for bringing God their least and their last to the Temple. It cost them nothing to give the leftover and lame animals instead of their first and their best ones. However, we can fall into that trap in today’s church as well. In our jobs, we give it our best. We sacrifice. We work hard and expect our families to understand that this is our career we are talking about. I must go in when they call me in. I must work on the weekend to meet that deadline. I must travel and work like a dog while I am out of town to accomplish a project. Virtually all of us are that way. We give our jobs our best and do all the things we have to do to advance within our companies. Sometimes, we lose our spouses and our families over our jobs and we are willing to make that sacrifice “because they just don’t understand how important this is.” We are willing to make great and grand sacrifices for our jobs.

However, when it comes to the church, we, as the Israelites did in Malachi’s day, give God our leftovers. We donate what we have left over and not the first of our paycheck. We volunteer, if we volunteer at all, when we can fit it into our schedule. We only participate in ministries when we have left over time for it. Further, we often will forgo volunteering opportunities without even calling our ministry leader to tell them that we are not going to be there. And, when we are there, we often do not give our best efforts because, well, it’s only church. There can become a culture in churches where you accept less than the best from people. There becomes an allowance for less than our best when it comes to our efforts for church. The, often, when it comes to our church facilities, we try to take the quick fix and the least expensive route, the “held together with bubble gum and scotch tape” approach. You’ve seen these churches too where it appears that shortcuts have been taken in construction, maintenance, and so on.

It is that idea of the extremes of idolatry and apathy that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 3:1-14, once again. Let’s read through it again this morning, together, with these ideas in mind:

Scripture Passage

Chapter 3

1 So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah[a] the Jebusite, the site that David had selected. 2 The construction began in midspring,[b] during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.

3 These are the dimensions Solomon used for the foundation of the Temple of God (using the old standard of measurement).[c] It was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide.[d] 4 The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet[e] wide, running across the entire width of the Temple, and 30 feet[f] high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold.

5 He paneled the main room of the Temple with cypress wood, overlaid it with fine gold, and decorated it with carvings of palm trees and chains. 6 He decorated the walls of the Temple with beautiful jewels and with gold from the land of Parvaim. 7 He overlaid the beams, thresholds, walls, and doors throughout the Temple with gold, and he carved figures of cherubim on the walls.

8 He made the Most Holy Place 30 feet wide, corresponding to the width of the Temple, and 30 feet deep. He overlaid its interior with 23 tons[g] of fine gold. 9 The gold nails that were used weighed 20 ounces[h] each. He also overlaid the walls of the upper rooms with gold.

10 He made two figures shaped like cherubim, overlaid them with gold, and placed them in the Most Holy Place. 11 The total wingspan of the two cherubim standing side by side was 30 feet. One wing of the first figure was 7 1⁄2 feet[i] long, and it touched the Temple wall. The other wing, also 7 1⁄2 feet long, touched one of the wings of the second figure. 12 In the same way, the second figure had one wing 7 1⁄2 feet long that touched the opposite wall. The other wing, also 7 1⁄2 feet long, touched the wing of the first figure. 13 So the wingspan of the two cherubim side by side was 30 feet. They stood on their feet and faced out toward the main room of the Temple.

14 Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and embroidered with figures of cherubim.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we may ponder, “why was the temple decorated so ornately?” Although it is true that the magnificence of God cannot be adequately captured by the best of human engineering and craftmanship in anything that we attempt to build, this Temple was going to be our very best attempt at doing so. The care and craftmanship were acts of worship by those who performed these functions and those who designed the things being built or made for the Temple. However, let us remember that a simple chapel or even just a quiet place where you can commune with the Lord is a sufficient and appropriate place to pray and to meet God. As well, let us remember that it is not wrong to want to make a place of worship a beautiful place. Problems arise only when we make the house of worship, whatever that may look like, more important than who it is that we worship – God. In the opposite direction, problems arise when we give the house of worship our leftovers, the dregs, the bottom of the barrel. As you can see, there is a tension between paying too much attention to everything in the house of the Lord being excellent and fine and giving the Lord our best as an act of worship.

Life Application

I think that what we have discussed today reminds us is that there needs to be a balance between getting too wrapped up in the trappings of our churches, the buildings, the artifacts within them, and any traditions associated them and the other extreme of being “blah” when it comes to church – giving church my leftovers not by best and finest. Should we not give our church our first and our best and not what’s leftover of our time, talents and resources? Should we not set a standard that we will be excellent in everything we do in our volunteer work for our churches, in our ministries to our people and to the world around us, and in how we build, keep, and maintain our facilities.

We should have a culture in our churches of giving God the best of everything that we do. It is God that we are worshiping and representing to the world. Therefore, we should have excellence in worship services, excellence in providing services to the outside world, excellence in how we lead our ministries, excellence in participating in our ministries. God should get the same level of excellence that we expect in every other area of life, certainly as much or more excellence than we give to our jobs. We should expect that our facilities are kept and maintained in the most excellent of ways. That does not mean that we are extravagant or wasteful in our spending but not wasteful in the sense of waiting til things break to spend money either.

We are to give God excellence in everything as an act of worship. If we do these things as from a sense of we are doing it to worship the Lord, then God’s heart is warmed. If we do these things from a sense that we love God so much that we want to give Him the first and the best of everything regardless of what it is, that’s what He wants. He loves it when we love Him so much that we honor Him with the best of what we have to give in time, talents, and resources. We do these things to honor God not out of human vanity – where we want the finest and best so others can see it. We give our local church our most excellent and our best because we love God and He is the highest priority in our lives. We must approach our worship of God in this way – doing everything for Him with a spirit of excellence because we are so doggone thankful to Him for offering us salvation through Jesus Christ. We give Him excellence because we know it’s the least we can do because of our eternal security in heaven that we did not deserve but have been given as a gift through Jesus. We can never repay that but we try by giving the Lord the best we got always!

Amen and Amen.

Comments
  1. kathy says:

    thank you for opening my eyes .ore on how i can serve God Better with a cheerful heart and love from my heart mind and soul Amen

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s