Those trumpets would have blown me away!
2 Chronicles 7: The priests were all on duty; the choir and orchestra of Levites…were all there…the priests blew trumpets.
Now this is a worship event! As the new Temple is dedicated it’s an all-out, no expenses spared, all hands on deck worship mega-event. All the priests, wearing their rich garments, are on duty. The Levite choir sings to the top of its lungs while the orchestra provides the music. Over here, we see the trumpet players all enthusiastically sounding the call to worship. The worshipers are on their feet, glorifying God. Our finest worship events today can only hope to match this exciting, awe-filled event that is the dedication of the Temple. I’ve been to some “biggies” in my life like Nazarene General Assembly, Promise Keepers, and some wonderful camp meetings. While I know these aren’t every Sunday events, I think they have a place in the worship life of God’s people. There’s something about combining excellent music, Spirit-filled preaching, and an awesome venue that stirs something deep inside of us. On one hand, there’s much to be said for worshiping in the simplicity of a small church that just loves Jesus. I’m all for it. Still, on the other hand, there’s something to be gained by being part of an all-out, no-holds-barred, let’s-go-for-it worship experience. There’s room in my heart for both!
Take Away: God is worth it!
The unfailing faithfulness of God
2 Chronicles 6: And now you see the promise completed.
Solomon is presiding over the dedication of the new Temple and soon he’ll pray his great dedication prayer. He’s giving his dedication speech about how years earlier the Lord promised David that his son would build a place of worship. David then gave the last years of his life preparing for this great construction project. Now, it’s finished and it’s not only a beautiful house of worship but is a monument to the trustworthiness of God who always keeps his promises. As I read and write devotionally from the Bible this theme comes up quite often and it’s no big surprise that it does. In the opening pages of the Bible, right after that Fall God begins making promises. Following the Flood there’s another big promise that the Lord will never again send a flood to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. Then, we come to a major promise as the Lord speaks to Abram. We find instances of God making and then keeping promises throughout the Scriptures. Here, as Solomon is about to pray his memorable prayer of dedication, he prefaces it by reminding us that God is the original Promise Maker and Promise Keeper. So, as we’re about to bow our heads and listen to the prayer of the wise King, let’s take one more look at the gleaming white Temple and remember that God is always faithful.
Take Away: Heaven and earth may pass away but his word will never pass away.
I love it when God moves in
2 Chronicles 5: Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God.
Solomon’s building project is complete and it’s a great success. An impressive Temple is now the official place of worship for the people of Israel and all others who will come. The building is complete with the fixtures in place, the offerings ready, and the personnel standing ready to serve. Then God moves in. In a display of glory that hasn’t been seen since Moses climbed the mountain to meet the Almighty, the Glory of the Lord fills the Temple. The Presence of the Lord is so great, so real, that the priests can’t even carry out their assigned duties. Outside the Temple Solomon does the only reasonable thing: he begins to call on God in prayer. Today, I long for God’s glory to fall on his Church, for Him to come in such majesty that the order of worship is set aside and people begin to simply call on the Name of the Lord. Oh God, we seek, not so much the “billowing cloud” as we seek you. Pour yourself out upon your Church as you did upon the Temple so long ago.
Take Away: The people of the Lord need to seek and, yes, expect, the Lord to fill our worship services with himself.
Jakin and Boaz
2 Chronicles 3: The right pillar he named Jakin (Security) and the left pillar he named Boaz (Stability).
These chapters of 2 Chronicles are devoted to the construction of the Temple. Some of the descriptions may be merely historical. Some things, though, like the perfect cube of the Holy of Holies likely carries meaning beyond the description. In the case of the two huge bronze (or copper) pillars at the doorway of the Temple, we don’t have to guess because we’re given the symbolic meaning. The six foot thick, twenty-seven foot tall pillars represent “Jakin” and “Boaz” – that is, Security and Stability. These are wonderful attributes whether we’re talking about the life of an individual or that of a nation. Every time the people of Israel of that era enter the Temple they’re reminded of the Source of their Security and Stability. We may not have a couple of large shining pillars at the entrance to our churches, but we certainly need to be reminded of the truth they symbolize. If I want to live a spiritually secure and stable life I must be firmly grounded in the Lord. The same benefit is available to a nation that allows the Lord to shape its character.
Take Away: We must build our lives on the Rock and not on the sand if we want to live secure, stabile lives.
God is the best
2 Chronicles 2: The house I am building has to be the best, for our God is the best.
Solomon assumes the throne of Israel with one major task before him: the construction of the Temple. His father David has accomplished much. For one thing, Israel is secure, at peace with the surrounding nations. Solomon’s efforts will not have to be divided between ruling and defending his kingdom. For another thing, David has already stockpiled building materials and funds for the Temple work. Now, the responsibility for the actual construction comes to Solomon. The young king takes the job to heart. The Temple is to be a masterpiece because it’s to be the focus of the worship of Jehovah God. Some years earlier David declared that he’d not give to God that which cost him nothing, now Solomon says that the Temple must be the best because God is the best. So, how does my life measure up against this standard? Do I give God my best at every juncture of life? I don’t want to ask God to play second fiddle in any area of my life. After all, what I give to God has to be the best because God is the best.
Take Away: The Lord is the best and he deserves my best.
The children of good stewardship
1 Chronicles 29: It was all yours in the first place!
Centuries before Paul ever writes to Corinth, encouraging them to give selflessly and stating stewardship principles, David lays out some giving concepts for the people of Israel. They’re raising an offering for the construction of the Temple and David’s addressing the Almighty in prayer. He’s reminded that this nation began as pitiful slaves in Egypt, without a square inch of land to call their own. Over the years God blessed them and now they can no longer say, “Silver and gold have I none.” Still, in a real sense they continue to have nothing of their own. All that they have has been graciously provided to them by the Lord. As plans are being made to build a House of Worship it only makes sense that they return a portion of that which has been entrusted to them that the planned building might be constructed. The people come through with wonderful generosity and David prays that this giving spirit might always be seen in their lives. The result of all this is the Temple. Also, there’s a wonderful spirit of celebration. Great accomplishments and great joy: these things are offspring of good stewardship.
Take Away: When the people of the Lord are faithful stewards of all the Lord has placed in their hands great things are accomplished to the glory of God.
More than a meeting house
1 Chronicles 29: This is not just a place for people to meet each other, but a house for God to meet us.
David is raising funds for the construction of the Temple, which will be built by his son, Solomon. It’ll be an extravagant place of worship and the hub of the life of the nation. It’ll also be the place where God will meet with man. As the people of Israel grasp this lofty concept they begin to joyfully and generously give. “Sacred space” has always been important to the people of God. It isn’t that God can’t meet us out in the common places of life because he certainly does. It remains though, that setting aside times and places for the express purpose of encountering the Lord is not only biblical, but is spiritually beneficial too. Note that this passage doesn’t describe the creation of personal, private spiritual hide-a-ways. This passage reminds us of the value of having a place set aside for the purpose of cooperate meetings with the Almighty. As the people of God, we have much to gain by creating sacred space in which we wait upon the Lord together.
Take Away: We aren’t intended to be “Lone Ranger” Christians.
1 Chronicles 26: The teams of security guards were from the family of Korah.
I’ve read this passage several times in various versions of the Bible, but since the sons of Korah were called “gatekeepers” it didn’t catch my attention. Now I see them being described as “security guards.” I guess that’s what gatekeepers are supposed to do: they provide security, seeing to it that all who enter are there for legitimate purposes. King David is such a multifaceted person. He’s a singer and songwriter and harp player, a skilled leader, and he’s a warrior who’s won countless battles. In this case, I see him drawing from his “warrior” skills in organizing the Levites. In spite of the peaceful conditions of the day David prepares for possible trouble. Now, it might be that the sons of Korah are basically ushers who tell people where the corral is for their soon to be sacrificed lamb but I’m guessing that David also wants them there “just in case.” I wonder to what extent, if any, this applies to the Church today. There have been some horror stories in the news, and, obviously, a church full of people is probably viewed as an easy target by some very bad people. I’m not seeing this as some kind of mandate, but there is, at least to some extent, a precedent here for a church to have at least some unofficial security.
Take Away: Leadership involves, in addition to having a vision and sense of direction, the ability to think through the practical concerns of the organization.
Modern day Levites
1 Chronicles 23: The Levites no longer have to carry the Tabernacle.
Centuries earlier when Moses organized their ancestors the descendants of Levi were given the task of moving the Tabernacle and all its furnishings from place to place. It was a big job and it was their job. As Israel fell into the idol worship of the Book of Judges the Levites were still considered holy men, although the application of that position was a pitiful distortion of “holy.” Now things are coming together. Israel’s in possession of the Promised Land. They have a King who wants nothing more than to serve and please God. Their days of wandering in both the physical and spiritual wilderness are past. And the days of moving the Tabernacle, including the precious Ark of the Covenant are also over. David, displaying his organizational genius, counts the Levites and finds that there are 38,000 men of age of service. He divides them into subgroups and begins handing out assignments in keeping with the spirit of their original assignment generations earlier. From now on they may not have to carry the Tabernacle from place to place, but they’ll be the overseers of the Tabernacle and, once it’s built, the Temple. The priests, descendants of Aaron, will handle the sacrifices and such. These sons of Levi will take care of everything else associated with the Temple. As I realize how much David loves the yet-to-be-built Temple and watch as he puts these Levites in charge of it I see what a compliment he’s paying them. I know it’s not the same but I’m reminded of the people who accept responsibilities associated with the Church. Thank God for church treasurers, Sunday Superintendents, teachers, volunteer janitors, and many others who love the Church and faithfully give of their time, talent, and treasure. These, I think, are the modern day Levites.
Take Away: Never take faithful servants for granted. They serve the Lord just a significantly as the preachers and singers.
Passing the vision along
1 Chronicles 22: I wanted in the worst way to build a sanctuary to honor my God. But God prevented me.
It was years earlier that David envisioned building a great House of Worship. The Lord blessed David for having that vision but he told David, “no.” David obediently yielded but the vision never faded. Now, late in his life David begins stockpiling materials for the great Temple project. There’s now a huge store of gold and silver and other precious building materials. David has also identified gifted stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and artisans. He’s still on the throne but he’s preparing for the day when his son Solomon ascends to leadership in Israel. The King has a father-son chat with his son, expressing his great disappointment in not being allowed to build the Temple, but also describing for Solomon all the preparations he’s made for its construction. Obviously, David wants Solomon to be infected with his vision. Worthwhile visions are, indeed, infectious. My enthusiasm is passed on to others who may actually accomplish more with it than I ever could. Also, David’s preparation efforts did a lot to assure that it would come to pass. David did more than dream of a Temple; he also did everything he could to prepare for its construction. Without that key ingredient all we have is good intentions. Visionary thinking includes not only thinking big, it includes real life preparation, and an intentional effort at vision casting.
Take Away: All the vision in the world is worthless without real life application.