Solomon now decided that the time had come to build a temple for the Lord and a palace for himself. 2 This required a force of 70,000 laborers, 80,000 stonecutters in the hills, and 3,600 foremen. 3 Solomon sent an ambassador to King Hiram at Tyre, requesting shipments of cedar lumber such as Hiram had supplied to David when he was building his palace.
4 “I am about to build a temple for the Lord my God,” Solomon told Hiram. “It will be a place where I can burn incense and sweet spices before God, and display the special sacrificial bread, and sacrifice burnt offerings each morning and evening, and on the Sabbaths, and at the new moon celebration and other regular festivals of the Lord our God. For God wants Israel always to celebrate these special occasions. 5 It is going to be a wonderful temple because he is a great God, greater than any other. 6 But who can ever build him a worthy home? Not even the highest heaven would be beautiful enough! And who am I to be allowed to build a temple for God? But it will be a place to worship him.[a]
7 “So send me skilled craftsmen…and supplies…
King Hiram replied to King Solomon: “It is because the Lord loves his people that he has made you their king! 12 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who made the heavens and the earth and who has given to David such a wise, intelligent, and understanding son to build God’s Temple and a royal palace for himself.
13 “I am sending you a master craftsman—my famous Huramabi! He is a brilliant man…and take whatever you need!
Israel was agricultural and needed assistance from her neighbors who had more experience and skill with metallurgy heavy construction. But God was also building a witness for himself in the world. Always. This is God’s mission. And we are the mission doers (we call that missionary…except we are afraid of that word).
Why build the space?:
A place to worship God (not that any place could suffice). It needed to capture the imagination. It needed to speak the surrounding community. In a land that would for centuries be dotted with impressive structures built to false gods, surely the one temple built for the One true God needed to be significant. But Solomon still reality checks the situation: 5 It is going to be a wonderful temple because he is a great God, greater than any other. 6 But who can ever build him a worthy home? Not even the highest heaven would be beautiful enough! And who am I to be allowed to build a temple for God? But it will be a place to worship him.
A place to follow the prescriptions of God about community worship. God wants his people to come together and practice and participate in God-worship together. It’s inherent, it’s critical to the DNA, it’s not just an expectation, it’s a given that God’s people will worship TOGETHER. We are not invited into a relationship with God. We are invited to participate in God’s relationship with God-self and God’s people. Said another way, Jesus invites us into HIS relationship with the Father. This is communal work. God is looking at us and saying build it big…not to contain a big God. How silly! No, to contain a lot of people, because you need each other to accomplish the mission!
A place for the community to unite in building for the betterment of the region. It’s not able to be accomplished by one person, even one community. No room for super heroes, the work and the glory has to be shared. And when the community participates in doing something for the Lord, even if they know little to nothing of the Lord then still they encounter the presence of the Lord. And from there, the temple becomes (or is supposed to become) a symbol of peace, love, joy, acceptance, hospitality, rest, refreshing, cleansing, justice, mercy FOR ALL PEOPLE…It’s gleaming gold walls capture your attention and the gleaming faces inside embrace your heart. Supposed to. Of course, human desire for power ruins its beauty. The temple of Solomon is no more. But God’s mission still goes forth.
There are around 600 references to the temple in the Bible, depending upon the translation of the Bible you read. ¾ are in the Old Testament. Of the NT referecnes, most come from Jesus teaching about the temple, or Jesus teaching IN the temple. Jesus loved going to temple. Even when his enemies were there, even when he was criticized, he loved being in this place that at some level was built to glorify his Father. And in Acts the apostles were still going to Temple to worship God. In Acts 7 and 8 however, when the apostles and disciples scatter because of the persecution by the Temple leaders, the word temple isn’t lost. It’s just redefined. It’s fulfilled. The mission of God, which has always been to reveal his goodness and love, his mercy and justice to the world is now on a roll. They can’t risk gathering to worship the true God who is Christ in the temple in Jerusalem! They can’t afford to build another monolithic structure to rival Jewish or Roman or Greek gods. They likely are in despair. How can we worship God without our beautiful walls, our sparkling pools, our mercy seat!!! Where is our Solomon to rebuild our temple so that we can worship our God? And Paul with gentleness and yet a growing excitement for the reality that is being revealed in their very midst begins to write letters to the little camps of Christians scattered everywhere and gathering on the first day of the week to eat of the bread and drink of the cup and celebrate the risen Lord. And they read in these letters words like these…
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 3 & 6
And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For you are God’s temple, the home of the living God, and God has said of you, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16
We who believe are carefully joined together with Christ as parts of a beautiful, constantly growing temple for God. Ephesians 2:21
For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Friend. It was not in the earthly place of worship that he did this, for that was merely a copy of the real temple in heaven. He ministers in the temple in heaven, the true place of worship built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 9 & 8
No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are worshiped in it everywhere. Revelation 21:22
So why do we build worship facilities? Do we house God? No. That’s silly. As a matter of fact, we don’t even house God’s people here! Our place is out there. In here, we celebrate that because we have gathered in the name of the Risen One, then His real Presence is here among us. We hold hands and hug and smile and shake hands and sit close and listen and join in singing to celebrate that we are not alone in the world. And hopefully at least once every Sunday we imagine the 2 billion people who are doing the same thing right now. WE are not alone. And we get our marching orders. We get fueled up. We get priorities straight. We get our heads on right. So we can get out there and do the mission, which is to tell the world the good news that Jesus has taken away our bad. And we become the embodiment of God’s spirit, we become the bearers of the story, we become the story, the song, the touch, the voice, we carry God to the world. We become the temple.