August 25, 2021
Gary C. Clark
Tennessee Valley District
1 Kings 6:15-38
15 He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar. From the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood, and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. 16 He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the walls, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the Most Holy Place. 17 The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. 18 The cedar within the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen. 19 The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar. 21 And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, and he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22 And he overlaid the whole house with gold until all the house was finished. Also, the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.
23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24 Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27 He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29 Around all the walls of the house he carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. 30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms.
31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided. 32 He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid them with gold and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. 33 So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, 34 and two doors of cypress wood. The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work. 36 He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams. 37 In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, in the month of Ziv. 38 And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.
What are you building
I attended a trade show in Las Vegas once. In the evenings my wife and I visited the shops, hotel lobbies and other attractions and I was struck with the completely over the top opulence of everything. It offended me to stand in a hotel that had spent in excess of one million dollars on the fabulously ornate ceiling in the lobby when I had to walk around destitute homeless folks lying on the sidewalk outside. It just seemed such a waste of resources.
I was not offended while touring the La Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona even though we again walked around the wretched poor to get into a building that millions had been spent upon and millions more would be before construction would complete. Maybe I should have been. Was that a waste of resources?
Does it make a difference if it is a church or a commercial building. My own church is modest but nice. The candles and crosses are brass rather than gold, but I've attended church where they were plastic, and the pews were folding chairs. Where do we draw the line?
The House of the Lord that Solomon built, and this scripture describes was pretty ornate and expensive. The alter was covered in gold. The statues of cherubim were 15 feet tall with 30-foot wingspans. Most of the surfaces were cedar and other woods that were not native to Israel. Solomon used the most expensive materials, had intricate carvings, and covered most of it with gold. Was this a waste of resources?
I visited the Vatican and saw St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. People have asked me if I was put off by the extravagance and opulence. The answer is "no". Spending a lot of money, time and resources on places of worship (House of God) goes back a long way. As God's people we accept it on a church rather than a secular building because it's an offering and praise to God.
While standing in St. Peter's Basilica, I realized it was more. Everywhere I looked or stood, I was overcome with the feelings that the workers must have felt as they poured their hearts and souls into the work. The art, sculptures, floors and walls expressed God's word and God's nature so loud that all could see and understand. It didn't matter if you were a Bible scholar or if you could even read. It was so loud you could make you cry and fall to your knees in worship. I am sure if you had asked "What are you building" to any artisan, builder, worker, carpenter, painter or even the guys who swept up, they would not have replied "I'm painting a wall, building stairs, or laying a floor". They would have replied; "I'm building a temple for God". You could feel it in their finished product.
What are we building? Are we building a home, a church, a marriage, a family, a life or are we building a temple to God? If we build a marriage like we were building a temple to God, would it be magnificent and shout out a witness to the world that we had poured our hearts and souls into something to make a suitable structure for God to dwell? How about our family, our lives or anything else we build? What are you building?
Father God, give us the plans to build you a suitable dwelling in everything we build. Amen