When Solomon began the great project of building the temple of God in Israel, he began it with clear-minded humility. It was dedicated from the very beginning to the glory of God. Today the church of the Lord Jesus is the temple of God and we should build it with the same purpose and heart.
The temple was a huge, magnificent project. It could not help but be a glory to Israel. Yet that was not it’s purpose. It’s purpose was to glorify God.
Let’s consider the scope of the project. David, Solomon’s father, began preparations to build the temple. He was commanded not to build it himself, but he saved up huge stores of materials.
Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee. Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed. Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto. Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work. Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee.
1 Chronicles 22:11-16
When Solomon begins with God’s blessing to build the temple, he employs more than 153,000 men. He also sends to Huramn king of Tyre and asks to hire a master craftsman and buy even more materials for the project, particularly lumber.
I’m struck by the beauty of the letters that passed between the two kings. Especially the humility of Solomon towards God, and the respect which Huram showed God in his gracious answer.
Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel. And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
2 Chronicles 2:4-6
“Who could ever build him a house?” Solomon asks. Who indeed. God has no need for someone to build him a house. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to honor him. And so this house will be built to honor God.
Huram said moreover, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an house for the LORD, and an house for his kingdom. And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father’s, The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.
2 Chronicles 2:12-14
Huram confesses that the God of Israel is the maker of heaven and earth. It is remarkable that the king of a gentile city acknowledged God. Generally the kings of the earth do there best to ignore him, or go further still and deliberately provoke him. But not Huram.
It may be that Huram had believed in God for a long time. Huram had sent a gift to help Solomon’s father David to build the royal residence, when David first took the throne. Perhaps what began as a geopolitical alliance developed into a relationship with the living God of Israel.
However it happened, it seems that Huram believed in the God of Israel. This ally of the House of David was one the first to acknowledge David’s ascension to the throne and now Solomon send to him for aid in building the temple of God.
But if you read the passage you will note that Solomon purchases the materials with which he will build the temple. It recalls his father’s purchasing the threshing floor and saying “neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.”
Today the church is the temple of God, as Ephesians says.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The building and rebuilding of the temple is a significant theme of the Old Testament scriptures. When the people revered God they went to work building, or rebuilding, or cleaning and setting things in order. All to glorify the God who needs nothing and deserves everything. When the people turned from God, or ignored him, they tended to let the house get run down, filthy, piled with junk.
Today, the church is constantly under construction. The ministers of the Lord Jesus have the constant task of equipping the saints for the work of minstry. And when we engage in that work of ministry, the church is built up to the glory of God.
There is a certain gloriousness in the church, that both the saints and the world can see, and the more so as we labor. But let us never forget that we can not make any house for him, but he has made his home with us.