Bible reading for weekend October 3-4.
1 Kings 6-7.
"Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD." (1 Kings 7:51)
BUILDING THE TEMPLE. Construction begins 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt (under Amenhotep II), which gives a start date of 967/66 BC. Measurements and details are given (chapter 6). Work at the temple site itself was relatively quiet (6:7). God said the temple would be a place where he would manifest his presence to, and fellowship with, his people: "And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel" (6:13; Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27). This has ever been God's purpose -- to restore humankind to himself that he might dwell with us (Gen 3:8; Rev 21:3). Solomon's temple was stunning in its beauty, and certainly a wonder of the ancient world. Details are given of Solomon's palace (7:1-12), and then the finishing work on the temple fixtures and furnishings is described (7:13-51).
REFLECT. The beauty of the temple, with all its precious metals and artistic details, prefigures the coming New Jerusalem (Rev 21-22). In the new creation, however, there will be no temple set apart for the Lord since there will be no barrier to the vision of his glory and presence (Rev 21:22). His glory will fill all the City. The church today -- born-again Christians, individually and gathered -- are themselves the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; Eph 2:19-22). What does it mean to you that we are the dwelling place of God? Do you often think about the glorious new world coming, where God's glory will be fully experienced?
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:15-16)
PROCLAIMING RICHES TO THE GENTILES (ch 3). Paul elaborates on the new humanity he spoke of in 2:15. The Lord is building a spiritual temple with believers from all ethnic backgrounds. This was a mystery in the OT, that is, it was hinted at but not clearly seen, that Gentiles would be fellow citizens, family members, and fellow heirs with Israel. Paul prays that we would fully realize these truths, experience the presence of the Lord manifested in our lives, and fully to know the love of Christ (3:14-19). He concludes this part of his letter with a declaration of praise: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (vv 20-21).
WALK WORTHY OF THE CALLING (ch 4). These next three chapters are applications of the truths Paul has been writing about: having character which preserves the unity of the Spirit (vv 1-7), using spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ (vv 8-16), putting off the old ways of living (vv 17-22), and putting on the new ways of living by the Holy Spirit (vv 23-32). There are many details here about what traits, habits, attitudes, and actions we are to forsake, and what new habits, attitudes, and actions we are to take up.
REFLECT. Both of our passages today remind us that being the people of God means that we are a construction site. We are being built up as the temple of God. There is a design being followed, things are being moved around, things are being shaped. There are things to remove and things to put on. There is activity and involvement. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermon series on Ephesians (Westminster Chapel, London, late 1950s) addressed Christians who had a too passive approach to sanctification. Lloyd-Jones maintained that we are to be actively involved in our sanctification, working out what God has worked in salvation. Think about this quote...
"The whole of the Christian life is a life of faith, but in sanctification we have to work, and to work out; to put off, and to put on; as the Apostle tells us in all these details which he gives us here. We start, then, by realizing that this is something that we ourselves have to do. It is not done for us. We do not just wait passively, or relax and expect it to be accomplished for us. Not all all! Put off! Stop doing certain things, says the Apostle." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Darkness and Light, p. 144).
Image credit: detail of Solomon's Temple from the ESV Study Bible. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.