The Ark of the Covenant brought up to the Temple / The Apostles turn to the Gentiles: June 20th 2021

1 Kings 7:23-8:21

Huram finally finished all the amazing metal work for the temple as specified by Solomon. This included a cast Sea made of burnished bronze standing on twelve bronze bulls that held two thousand baths of water. They were all cast in clay moulds in the plan of Jordan. A tremendous amount of bronze was used (1 Kings 7:47).

The furnishings for the Lord’s temple were all made of gold including the altar, the golden table for the bread of the presence and the lampstands. This gold was later looted, melted down and transported around the globe so possibly, if we own any gold (such as a gold wedding ring) maybe a tiny percentage of that gold may once have furnished the temple of God.

During his lifetime, King David had collected and dedicated a large quantity of silver, gold and furnishings to the temple and Solomon placed these in the temple (1 Kings 7:51).

Previously, David had been buried in the ‘City of David’ and this is now identified as ‘Zion’, where the ark of the Lord’s Covenant had been residing (1 Kings 8:1).

The priests took the ark, the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings to the temple. The entire assembly of Israel went before the ark while sacrificing countless sheep and cattle. It is wonderful that an entire country should come together for a religious occasion, showing their belief in the Lord and reverence for the ark and the new temple. Even though we can experience the presence of the Lord in any Catholic church and consume Jesus’ body and blood in the Holy Eucharist, most people in Great Britain can’t even be bothered to get out of bed for the occasion. We should really approach such churches on our knees.

The ark of the Covenant was brought to the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place. It was placed under the wings of two enormous golden cherubim. (1 Kings 8:6-7). Inside the ark, were only the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it (1 Kings 8:9). Other accounts say it should also have contained a gold jar of manna and Aaron’s miraculous staff (Hebrew 9:4). If these were now missing, someone very brave must have removed them.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud (signifying the presence of God) filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) and the priests could not perform their service. Solomon regarded the project as a success (1 Kings 8:13).

Solomon blessed the entire assembly of Israel. He praised God and correctly attributed the fulfilment of the project to God, rather than himself (1 Kings 8:13). Solomon had ensured that his father King David’s plan had been completed. A place had been provided for the ark, which stored the all-important covenant with the Lord that he had made with their forefathers (1 Kings 8:21). The future prosperity and security of the Israelite nation depended entirely on how well they kept to their side of the covenant.

Acts 13:42-14:7

Paul and Barnabas were invited back to the synagogue to speak further about Jesus. Almost the whole city gathered on the next Sabbath to hear the word of the Lord. This made the Jews jealous and abusive.

Paul and Barnabas boldly pointed out that they were obliged to speak the word of God to the Jews first but now, as the Jews had rejected eternal life, they would now turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47). Fabulous news – leading to the Christian faith being spread throughout the land. Paul had already dropped his Jewish name Saul. By using his Roman name Paul, he showed that he was fully committed to being the apostle to the Gentiles.

‘All who were appointed for eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48). God gives us all sufficient grace so that we can individually choose to believe in Jesus and gain eternal life. However, as God knows the future, he knows who will make this freewill choice in their lifetime. These people are blessed from the time of their conception, as they are ‘appointed for eternal life’.

The word of God spread throughout the region but the Jews conspired against the apostles to have them kicked out of the region. They incited the God-fearing women of high standing, stirring up persecution. These people may have been God-fearing but if they had listened to the apostle’s message, they would have been in fear of the consequences of rejecting the Son of God. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet in protest as Jesus had told his early disciples to do (Matt.10:14-15). The disciples did not let this upset them. They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52).

At Iconium they had a similar mixed level of success. They spoke so effectively that a great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed but the Jews who refused to believe poisoned the minds of the others. We have many professional non-believers today who delight in poisoning other people’s minds. Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly and the Lord confirmed their message by enabling them to carry out miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3).

Jews and Gentiles came together and plotted to stone the apostles but they found out and fled. They continued to preach the good news. This was hit and run preaching, staying one step ahead of their enemies through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 76:1-12

God is resplendent with light and his Son is the light of the world (Psalm 76:4).

God alone is to be feared, as Jesus reminded us (Matt.10:28).

When we make vows to the Lord our God, we should always fulfil them (Psalm 76:11).

Image: Ben Schumin, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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