A temple to worship the LORD our God

Ds J Bruintjes
2 Kronieke 2: 4
Preek Inhoud: 

The temple was a place of worship. A place where God meets with his people. A sacred place.  A house. A home. A little piece of earth where heaven touched down.

 In paradise the whole of the garden was a temple where Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God in place and time. But they sinned and were evicted from the house of God. God appointed two cherubim or angels to Guard the way to communion with God. After that it was no longer anywhere or anytime that sinful man and a holy God could commune. It was only in a certain place, under certain strict conditions. The place was the temple. A picture of paradise, of God dwelling with man. Or better yet a picture of the reality that is Jesus Christ. the place where God and man meet.  “A house of rest” as David calls it. A house of rest in a restless world. A place where the peace between God and man was portrayed in the covenant that was contained in the ark.

Today we are going to talk about the temple. A real place. It was a building of surpassing magnificence and shone a mass of burnished gold beneath the splendor of the Eastern sky.

A temple to worship the LORD our God.

  1. Preparation

  2. Building

  3. Furnishings

Preparation (Chapter 2)

We read in verse 1, “Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself.” This is the order of life. Build a temple and then a house. The best thing, most lasting thing, most glorious thing, is to give attention to the building of the temple of God, which in the New Testament era is the church.  It reminds us of the prophet that spoke at the time these words were written, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.”

It would have been a great reminder to the first generation to readers to get busy and start building this temple. It should be an encouragement to us, to prioritize what is important. What are we giving our life to, our gifts to? Especially now. Are we committed to building the church. Encouraging members. Finding ways to stay in contact. To love, to speak the word into the lives of other. To Evangelize.

We also read that this is a house built by foreigners (153600 to be exact), working for seven years. these people are important enough to be mentioned twice. Once at the beginning of the chapter and once at the end of the chapter. Gods temple is being built by the nations.. By people from every tongue tribe nation and language, working together to build a glorious house as a dwelling place for God.

 And not only is it built with foreign workers, but also with foreign help, namely Hiram king of Tyre. And the best resources creation had to offer. No expense was spared.

 This was a glorious temple whose plan came straight out of heaven from God. This is not a temple that Solomon dreamed up. No, he got the plans for the temple directly David who got them directly from God himself. This is a building whose architect is God, whose builder was the Son of David. We read in 1 Chronicles 28:12 that “All this he made clear to me in writing from the hand of the LORD, all the work to be done according to the plan.” This place included not just the temple, but the vestibule, of the temple, its houses, its treasures, its upper room, etc… for the division of priests and of Levites, and all the work of the service in those of the LORD; for all the vessel in the service in the house of the LORD.” I could go on but you get the point. God cared about the minutest detail. God is a God of the details as well as of the whole. It was his plan.

He cares about the small details of the temple. The parts that other people might not pay attention to. That is true of the temple today too. He cares about the smallest detail. Not just the worship services, but each part of his temple, each person that is here is a sign of Gods attention to detail.. Each person needs to be where they are to be part of the temple he is building. And this is not our plan, it is Gods. And God did all the preparations for the temple. Giving his Son so that he might be the cornerstone, it is God who is doing the building, and it is God who will complete it.

Dear church this community is not being built up by us. And our hard work. Yes, we must work. But the building and design comes straight from God, and we must build according to his plan and no one else. For the temple in the new testament is the church – the people of god. And the bricks are believers. Yes, this church is an image of that building.

He gives people the work and endows them with the task to do that work. Just like he appointed Bezalel and Oholiab to help build the tabernacle in Exodus, and gave them the gifts and resources to do it, so he does with Solomon, and a man called Huram-abi here in our text.

And you see what this building. It is built to worship. To glorify and worship God. Just read verse 4. And because it is a house of worship, built to the glory of god it had to be great, for “our God is greater then all gods.” I love that! He evangelizes and basically says this temple is going to be the great because our God is greater then all GODs! This will be the place of worship!

You see how God works. God is the ultimate architect. He gives the resources, and he provides the gifts necessary to the building. Some of us are carriers in the church, some are stonecutters, some are foremen. Some are designers. Each one as a specific task. God has given every one of his saints a unique gift, to participate in building the temple, and he also provides the resources so that we can apply those gifts. As David says in 1 Chronicles, 29:14, “for all things come from you and of your own have we given you.”

Finally, just a not about beauty. look at all the artist involved. Embroiders, wood carvers, people gifted with great artistic ability. The church is glorious but also beauty. We care about beautiful music, liturgy, buildings we care about glorifying God with using our artistic ability. There is place in the church for the artist. This is the building made from the best that creation has to offer, with the best that humanity has to offer, together being used to glorify God. This is what we were made for. To build together as one the church – the temple of the holy God. lets look at this building.

 Building (Chapter 3)

“Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.” Wow! This place was rich with history. Rich with covenant promises! Again, what a motivation to build for a people who just returned from exile and felt small. A hope that God may yet again appear on his holy hill. The place was full of the promises of God! It was a place where they could respond in worship to Gods faithfulness!

Mount Moriah was the place where Abraham went to offer his son before the Lord graciously provided a goat. This is the only place where Mount Moriah is mentioned outside exodus. The author wants to ground the people not just in history, but in place. This is the place that God has been working from the beginning of your history. This is holy ground. You can expect him to be working here. Tremendous hope for a people that were starting to rebuild on that exact same spot. The threshing floor of Araunah was the place where David had sacrificed to stop the plague of the destroying angel. It is the place where the judgement of God against sin is satisfied through offering. The curse was stopped there. And from there the curse would be undone one day, and good news would go to the end of the world, so that the temple would once again not encapsulate one place, but the whole earth!!

 You have heard me say this off this pulpit before, but it cannot be stressed enough. Our faith is grounded in history of space time. That our God is the God who created all and is involved with his creation. In place and time. This is place marking the historical reality of Gods supernatural intervention in time.

 We find less attachment to place as the ancients. Some may not even think it would have mattered that Christ died in Africa or in Israel. But God chose this specific spot. And no where else in all the earth to make himself known. Close to this place is where the seed of woman would one day crush the serpents head. It was here where heaven and earth met in the Old Testament.

And indeed, that was only in one spot in the Old Testament! Until the Jesus himself tabernacled among us! He is the temple – the place where God and man meet! And where two or three are gathered in his name, Jesus is there in the midst! That means where we meet is holy ground! When he ascended he was anointed as king of the universe. The whole earth had been reclaimed. All of creation was being made in a temple. That is why John could be on the island of Patmos, and be taken into the throne of God, for that was where God met! It was in his temple.

We have often heard this year that the church is not a building. Indeed, that is true. It is not. But it is the  people of God. And this temple is built on Christ the cornerstone, and the prophets and apostles as the foundation. The foundation lays out the size of the temple. We are humans, we are inextricably attached to creation, to place. This why a house becomes a home. A piece of land turns into a fatherland or motherland. It was not the place itself but what it represents. In the same what it is not the building itself, but what happens there. It is not the house that makes it a home. But that fact that it is lived in.

Verse three says, “These are Solomon’s foundations for building the house of God, in cubits of the old standard, was sixty cubits, and the breadth 20 cubits.” Some of the foundation stones are from twenty to thirty feet in length and fitted so closely together that even a penknife cannot be inserted between them. The foundation was built into the solid rock. A solid foundation.

And look at the building itself. Everything was overlaid with Gold. There were carvings of Cherubim carved into the walls and embroidered into the curtains. And two massive cherubim of wood standing over the ark of the covenant. In that Ark was the law, and over that ark was the lid often called the mercy seat. This was the throne room so to speak of God on earth. And this house was made for the king glory! And on the curtain protecting that Ark was embroidered two angels or cherubim. This chapter takes time to describe them. Massive winged creatures. We always see them when we catch a glimpse of the presence of God like we doin Isaiah 6, or Ezekiel 1, or Revelation 4.

Where is the last time you saw two angels guarding the way to fellowship with God? Eden. Here also two cherubim stand guard within the most holy place.

The temple was also like a royal palace full of purple, scarlet, and gold are fit for a king! And no expense was spared. Some believe that in todays value, just the value of the gold used was between 50-70 billion used. This is the city of the KING!! This is not just any king but the king of glory!  

It also pushes us forward to the new Jerusalem, where we also see fruit trees, leading up to the city, just like we see here, chains hung with hundred pomegranates in front of the house. In John’s vision of this city, there is no temple (Rev. 21:22), because the “temple” has expanded to comprise the whole city, which is covered with gold and jewels and is a perfect cube, the shape of the Most Holy Place. The city shines with God’s glory, but there are no longer any walls separating the people from God, nor is there an altar; instead, the Lamb who has been given as the final sacrifice dwells there.

The journey from the outer court to the nave, and from the nave to the Most Holy Place, traces ascending levels of holiness. Walls, doors, and the veil separate the people from God’s glory and guard the temple from contamination by the unclean. Glimmering gold, and blue, purple, and crimson cloth represent the shining glory of God’s presence in the heavens, and the cherubim depicted everywhere represent his military might while barring the way to his presence. The pillars stationed outside have names evoking permanence and strength and communicating the design of the temple to be a lasting place for God to dwell.

Jachin means “he will establish” and Boaz means “in him is strength.” As people walked to the temple this is what they needed to be reminded of! As David says, “Our days on earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” But in God there is permeance. Life. And that life is based on his covenant promises visible portrayed in this house.  The people needed to remember this. Nowhere else is strength but in the Lord.

The furnishing (Chapter 4)

It is interesting that the Chronicler spends very little time on the building, and more time on the furnishings. Why? Well probably because many of these furnishings they still had after the exile. We read in Ezra and Daniel that at least 5400 vessels of temple service were taken back with the exiles. We talked about the importance of place, but things are just as important. We will also see this in the book. How the articles are at times used to glorify God, and at other times used to blaspheme him.

Again, the attachment to the past gives hope for the future. We easily get attached to stuff because we were made for creation. Something like a family photograph, or grandmother’s china set can be worth far more to a person than their massive plasma TV. Why? Not because of its value, even if it is valuable, but because it was passed down through their family. To others that china set is just another set, to someone else that photo is useless. But to you it is priceless. Why? Because it is piece of you. It is your history that speaks through those objects. That is what these furnishings were. To the surrounding nations these were just other plates, cups, lampstands, but to the people of God these were items set apart to be holy. Dedicated to the Lord throughout the generations. We read about them being take to Babylon, and we read about them being abused there by Belshazzar, and then finally taken back!

We see in this piece also some large furnishings built like the bronze sea, held up by twelve bulls, most likely representing the 12 tribes. It is last object to be encountered before entering the temple. Before entering God’s presence, one must be cleansed. The chapter spends some time describing it. As if to say, Israel, You need cleansing before you can come into my presence! You need to be washed! You are dirty!

When Christ died, His people were cleansed once for all time by His blood shed on the cross. We no longer need a ritualistic washing with water to come before God, because Christ has “provided purification for sins.” Now we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16), being sure that we are acceptable to Him because we are spiritually clean. And instead of the sea, a river flows out from the city, symbolizing life in the Spirit, which comes to the world from Christ’s work.

We also read about the lampstands which would have lit up the entire temple gloriously, especially when you think about the light reflecting from all that Gold. But there was one place where the light did not shine. That was shrouded in total darkness. That was the most holy Place. With doors and a thick curtain barring the way. Only once a year would the light of the Candlesticks shone there. But now!? Now we are may come into the presence of presence of God. The way has been opened, and his light is reflecting gloriously throughout the church the temple of God! The holy Spirit himself is reflecting the light in us! And as we see his our faced begin to change from glory to glory.

Finally, we can talk about the table tables with bread on them, reminding them that their God is the provider and sustainer of all. Here in this moment the bread is still being presented to you. The bread of life. Would you eat and be satisfied. This is the only food that will last into eternity.

O dear church do you see that entire temple in other words with everything inside was to remind them of who God was. It is reminding us of who God is for us! What a thing to remember for a people who feel down, defeated, and small! Solomon was a king endowed with wisdom who God established over his people who spent his reign building the temple. This is exactly a picture of what the great son of David is doing. He is this wisdom of God, who the Father has appointed over all things. And what is he doing? Building his temple. Brick by brick. Stone by stone. Sunday by Sunday. Until it is complete, and then he himself will dwell there forever! This is what we will see next week.