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A Temple for God’s Name

Date: Oct. 5, 2014

Author: Michael Mark

1 Kings 5:1-18

Key Verse: 1 Kings 5:5

“I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my name.’”

Temples are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring structures in the world. When I was visiting China on a martial arts tour, one of the stops was at a Buddhist temple in the mountains of southern China. I saw 3 huge Buddha statues, each of them next to one another, 20 feet tall, weighing 10 tons. On the other side of the temple was an overlook that offered breathtaking views of the Chinese countryside. Another temple I saw, closer to home, was the Bahai Temple in Wilmette, IL. It’s an interfaith temple, and the design and architecture of the building is beautiful. It’s a popular tourist destination, a popular spot for engagement or wedding pictures, and is named “One of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.” According to Wikipedia, it’s the oldest surviving Bahai house of worship in the world, and the only one in the United States. One of the temples I wish I could have seen though, was Solomon’s temple. It was the most beautiful and awe inspiring temple in history, and we will find out more details about it in the coming weeks. God, however, does not live in houses made by human hands. More beautiful than any temple on earth, is the living temple he creates when he comes to live in us. But God does give us a glimpse of his glory through the magnificent temple Solomon builds.

God has established the throne of King Solomon, and gave him a wisdom that was known all over the world. Kings from foreign countries near and far sent envoys to hear of Solomon’s wisdom. God had given rest to Solomon on every side. There was no adversary, and there were not even any natural disasters. No droughts, no famine, no tornadoes, no earthquakes. And all of Israel’s enemies were conquered – both the internal enemies and the external. Shimei the troublemaker, Joab the rebellious army commander, and Adonijah his scheming brother were all removed, even though they were given grace to repent, which they did not. External to the nation of Israel, from the River Euphrates to the north, to the land of the Philistines, and to the south as far as the border of Egypt, these nations paid tribute to Solomon! What’s more, an alliance was made with the powerful country of Egypt, through the marriage of Solomon to Pharoah’s daughter.

God had also given King Solomon wealth and honor, as he promised, and Hiram, King of Tyre, sent envoys to congratulate him. Hiram was close to King David, and had provided him cedars to build his palace. Seeing now that David’s son Solomon was on the throne, he sent messengers to send good tidings and build a relationship with the son. Solomon returned a response back to Hiram, telling him how God has given him rest on every side, and mentioned the building of the temple. Hiram, being well acquainted with David, may have also been familiar with David’s desire to build the temple, and he seemed ready and willing to help.

After sharing about how God had given him peace on all sides, Solomon states his intentions to Hiram. Can we all please read v.5, “I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.’” What was Solomon’s intention? To build a temple for the name of the Lord. Remember now this was a time of peace and prosperity. King Solomon had no enemies to worry about, and no disasters. He enjoyed fame, honor and wealth. He could have taken it easy at this point, or slacked off a little bit. Doesn’t that seem like the natural tendency people have? When things are going easy, when things are going good, what do you tend to do? The temptation is to put off responsibility until later, or spend more time in pursuit of leisure. Sometimes that happens to me, when a deadline seems far away at work, I tend to blow off doing some of the little things, and then I realize the deadline is coming up, and I end up having to work harder. It’s not wrong to take a break, and also to enjoy the gifts God has given you, just be on guard not to overdo it, as might happen with our sinful natures.

But let’s also be encouraged by Solomon, who at his time of peace and rest intended to build a temple of the name of the Lord. He intended to work for the glory of God. He intended to serve God, and glorify his name. This was a good time for Solomon to make a good name for himself. Sometimes young rulers get themselves into massive building projects to make a name for themselves. King Herod the Great had built the fortress of Antonia and named it after Marc Antony, who had close ties to Julius Caesar. Building this temple was a good way to establish a name for himself. In fact, Solomon’s temple was considered the crowning achievement of his reign. But he did not do it for himself, or for his own name. As stated clearly in v.5, Solomon intended to “build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God.”

Solomon’s intention was to fulfill his father’s wishes. King David had charged his son with building a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. He said to Solomon, “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. But this word of the Lord came to me … You are not to build a house for my Name because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest … His name will be Solomon … He is the one who will build a house for my Name. (1 Chron 22:6-10).” Not only would he fulfill the charge given to him by his father, but Solomon would fulfill God’s will. Look again at v.5, at the end, “Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.” God didn’t say, “Your son might build,” God said “Your son will build.” God gave his name, he gave the conditions of his reign (which is a reign of peace and rest), and Solomon fulfilled the will of God. This was not for his own name, or for his own glory, but for God’s name.

Now what does that mean, a temple for God’s name? Why doesn’t the Bible just say a temple for God? In almost every place the temple is referred to as the temple for the Name of the Lord. What’s the difference? First of all, that’s how God and King David had referred to the temple: as the temple for the Name of the Lord. But second, it differentiated the temple from the pagan nations around it. In pagan nations, it was thought that their gods actually lived in those temples. It contained them. But a temple cannot contain God. Solomon even said in 2 Chron 2:6, “But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?” The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain God. God is everywhere – he is omnipresent. But he can manifest himself in the temple. He can be everywhere and dwell in the temple at the same time.

So God does dwell in the temple, but not God, but his name. I know it might sound a bit confusing. Think of it as, God is everywhere, so he’s not confined to any space. But the temple is for his name. His name is his character, his very essence. So while God is everywhere, we can come to know him through the temple. His name dwells there, so he reveals himself to us in the temple. Think about it again: a temple for the name of God. The name of God refers to his attributes. So in the temple, you will see God, and learn of all his names. What are the names of God? There’s Elohim, plural of “mighty”, meaning, he is the creator of everything. There’s El Elyon, “God Most High,” he is Sovereign and absolute. There’s El Shaddai, “God Almighty, or God All-Sufficient,” his grace is sufficient for me. There’s Jehovah Jireh, “The Lord will provide,” as he provided the lamb on Mount Moriah, and last but not all, there’s Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, and I think we sing this when we sing that song verse, “The God of angel armies,” is always by my side. I encourage you to learn the names of God, and find them in the Bible, and they can be used to give you great comfort.

We say in the Lord’s prayer, “Hallowed be your name.” It’s also like saying, “Holy is your name,” and, “Glory to your name.” When Solomon wants to build a temple for the name of the Lord, Solomon intends to glorify the name of the Lord. So another purpose of the temple is the glorify the name of the Lord. The Lord’s name, as you have heard, is already glorious, so in order for the temple to reflect the name of the Lord, it also has to be glorious. Think about your own name for a moment. Your name tells me who you are, and your reputation goes with your name. When an artists draws a good painting, they put their name on it. If it’s a good name, it gives the painting much more value. There was one time I saw a pencil drawing by the French artist Renoir, for $60,000. He’s got a good name in art. Celebrities lend their names to products to make them more valuable. Gatorade and Nike will always be associated with Michael Jordan, in my mind.

The temple gives glory to the name of God. This temple would be the greatest temple ever built. Solomon even said himself, “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other Gods (2 Chron 2:5).” King David his father had already amassed 3,750 tons of gold, 37,500 tons of silver, bronze and iron too great to be weighed, wood and stone for this temple. Most temples around that time, at least from pictures I’ve seen, consisted mostly of stone, but I’m not sure that pagans would try to cover their temples in that much gold. But again as we’ll see next week, the interior would be covered in pure gold. What Solomon needed was more wood, so he made arrangements with the King of Tyre to purchase wood for food. It was a win-win situation. Solomon needed high quality wood, and the Cedars of Lebanon were the best money could buy. They were rare in the Judean countryside, but abundant in Tyre and Sidon. In Tyre, they did not have large fields for growing wheat or corn, so they needed additional food supplies.

King Solomon paid Hiram, it seems for the wood and for the workers. In this passage, he may have paid for the wood, because the food went to Hiram’s royal household. Solomon gave him 3,600 tons (1 ton is 2000 lbs, so that’s 7,200,000 lbs) of wheat and 120,000 gallons of fine olive oil, year after year. In the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles, it shows what Solomon paid the workers. The workers received 3,600 tons of wheat, 3,000 tons of barley, 120,000 gallons of wine and 120,000 gallons of olive oil. Did Solomon have to pay all of this? No one can really say, but it seems that Solomon wanted to pay the workers from Tyre, and God provided the means to do so. What was the result? Look at v. 7, “When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, ‘Praise be to the Lord today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.’” Hiram may have also believed in other gods, as was common in that area, but nonetheless, he, a Gentile, did praise the God of Israel. Through Solomon’s wisdom, given by God, God was glorified. The work around building the temple gave glory to the name of God.

The ultimate expression of praise to God is worship. Not only was the temple to bring glory, praise and honor to God’s name, but also worship. Going back to the parallel passage in 2 Chron 2, v.6 says, “But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who them am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?” The temple would be a place to burn sacrifices before God. This was an act of worship. The temple of God brings glory, praise, honor and worship to God’s name.

The last few verses show us the builder of the temple – can you look at v. 17, “At the kings command they removed from the quarry large blocks of high-grade stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple.” You probably already guessed, but Solomon is credited with the building of the first temple of the God of Israel. At his command, the people worked. There were 30,000 Israelites, who worked 4 months out of the year in this hard labor. There were also 70,000 carriers and 80,000 stone cutters. These were probably Canaanite slaves, who had to work all year. In addition, there were workers from Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos. Both Israelites and non-Israelites worked together on the building of the temple, which is a picture of the temple to come. And notice too that they pulled high-grade stone and dressed it for the foundation. Every aspect of the temple was to be done with great quality and care.

Now look again at v.5, at what the Lord said to David, “Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my name.” On one level, this referred to Solomon, who was the son of David and was building the temple. But who else did this also refer to? None other than Jesus Christ. Look again at the verse, “Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my name.” This could just as well apply to Jesus, and in fact, Solomon in his role here was a foreshadow of what Christ would do. Jesus Christ is the son of David, descended directly from him. As the son of King David, Jesus was given the legal and inherited right to be King, and he is the eternal king promised to king David who has established the kingdom forever. And like Solomon, Jesus was chosen by God to do his will: to build a temple for the name of the Lord. Verse 5, what we just read, is a prophecy of this. Also, in Zechariah, written about 500 years before Jesus was born, wrote this, “Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua (Hebrew form of Jesus) son of Jozadak. Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.’ (Zech 6:12-13).” This was written almost 400 years after Solomon had passed away, and 500 years before Christ came – but Jesus Christ is the chosen one of God to build the temple.

How does Jesus build the temple? Jesus built the temple of God by his death and resurrection. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth nearly 900 years after Solomon died. In Jerusalem, in the temple courts, he told a group of Jews after they challenged him for overturning their money changing tables, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days (John 2:19).” The Jews thought he was referring to the wood and stone temple, but Jesus was referring to his body, which is the temple of God. Jesus became the cornerstone of the temple of God through his death and resurrection. It was through his death that he took the punishment for our sins. It was through the resurrection that God accepted his sacrifice, that made atonement for the sins of man. After three days, Jesus rose again with his body, and has ascended to the right hand of God, as our intercessor making peace between men and God.

What is the temple then made of? It’s made of the church. Like all the people who helped build the temple – which included some Israelites, but the vast majority non-Israelites – God's temple today is made of Jews who believe in Jesus, but the vast majority from people of every nation. It’s made of those who believe in his death and resurrection for their sins. I Pet 2:4-5 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We are made part of the temple of God, the spiritual house through Jesus Christ. It’s not about a temple here, or a temple there, we are the temple of God.

So how should we worship? A Samaritan woman once asked Jesus, “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus replied, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” We don’t need to go to this specific place to worship, or that. But one thing is clear. We should worship, and our church can be anywhere, but we come together to worship. And we worship in the Spirit, by the Holy Spirit Jesus gives us when we believe, and in truth. To worship in truth means to really, truly worship. Not in habitual traditions, ceremonies or actions, but in sincere prayer, praise and thanksgiving that is true, and real: and this can be done anywhere.

While temples in the world might be beautiful – such as the Buddhist or Bahai temples, they are not places where you can find God. The one true God is not there. The name of God is not there. The Buddhist doe not acknowledge Jesus Christ as God. The Bahai faith acknowledges Christianity, but also Islam, and Judaism, which deny Christ. You cannot both acknowledge and deny Christ at the same time. It amounts to a denial. So the Bahai, in their denial of Jesus, do not know the one true God, and therefore, like the other temples of the world, cannot give praise, honor, glory and worship to God and to Jesus Christ, his Son. Even Solomon's magnificent temple here was only temporary. The name of God was there, but left after the disobedience of the Israelites and their kings. But Solomon's temple was not the ultimate temple. It was only a picture of what was to come. It was just a shadow of the true temple: a living temple made of souls; places where God is worshipped and glorified forever.

Jesus Christ is the king and builder of God's temple. Believe in him – the Son of God who came to set you free from sin, Satan and death. Believe in him – the Son of God who came to die for your sins, so that you may receive the healing of your spirit and the cleansing of your soul, and forgiveness, peace and reconciliation with God. May God receive all praise, honor, glory and worship. Believe in Jesus Christ the King, and you will be made into a living temple of God – a walking, talking, beautiful, magnificent, glorious and eternal, living, breathing temple, a place where the holy and eternal living God shall dwell.

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