1 Kings 6:1-7:22
Solomon started to build the temple of the Lord, four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites had come out of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1).
The temple was built on Mount Moriah – the same hill where Abraham had almost sacrificed his son Isaac (2 Chronicles 3:1). This was also where Solomon’s father, King David, had bought the threshing-floor of Araunah and built an altar after the angel bringing the plague to Israel had been ordered to stop there by God (2 Sam.24:16). The rock where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac is reputed to be the cornerstone of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Underneath it is the Well of Souls, the drainage system for the blood that flowed from the sacrifices in the temple. There is a legend that at this place the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgement Day.
There was no hammering on site – presumably out of reverence to God. When we first meet in church, we loudly praise and worship God – this is in preparation to meet God. Eventually, a palpable calm and quiet will descend on the congregation when God comes into the room. That is the time to start praying. The temple stones were prepared offsite, leaving the building site relatively calm and quiet in preparation to meet the presence of God.
God promised that if Solomon kept all His decrees, regulations and commands then He would live among the Israelites and not abandon them (1 Kings 6:12-13). God did not say he would live solely in the temple, he would live among the Israelites, just as Jesus lived among the Jews during his lifetime.
Solomon made an inner sanctuary – the Most Holy Place – to house the ark of the covenant. The whole interior of the temple was overlaid with gold. The temple was meant to be a continuation of the tabernacle, which had served for over four hundred years. It was the same design, only twice as big.
Solomon had cherubim, palm trees and open flowers carved and overlaid with gold. These symbols were reminiscent of the garden of Eden. The magnificent temple was finished in seven years. An incredible undertaking involving hundreds of thousands of men.
Solomon then constructed his temple including the Hall of Justice, where he was to judge.
King Solomon brought a Gentile craftsman from Tyre named Huram. He was highly skilled in bronze work. He made hundreds of bronze pomegranates and massive pillars at the portico of the temple. Jewish tradition is that the pomegranate represents righteousness because there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, the same number of commandments and regulations that are in the Old Testament. Huram named the two pillars Jakin (meaning ‘He shall establish’) and Boaz (meaning ‘In him is strength’).
There is a strong connection between the temple constructed by Solomon and Freemasonry, presumably because there were so many masons involved in building the temple and Solomon was a master architect.
Solomon was so learned and inquisitive that he delved into numerous subjects, including occult matters that should probably have remained hidden. He is reputed to have written several books of spells and incantations to summon and control demonic forces. He might just have done this out of academic curiosity, but curiosity can be dangerous. In Masonic lodges, they have models of the two temple pillars beside the master’s chair. It is ironic that this first temple was being built for priests to meet God on behalf of the people, yet, if you become a mason, you are automatically excommunicated from the Christian church, cutting yourself off from meeting God.
On a more positive note the tops of the pillars were decorated with lilies. Jesus linked lilies and Solomon together: ‘And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin (ESV)’ (Matt. 6:28). The NIV uses the word ‘flowers’ instead of lilies, unlike the majority of Bible translations
No matter how wise and wealthy Solomon became, he could never construct something as beautiful as a natural lily in a field. Lilies open themselves up and allow insects to take their sweet nectar from inside them. They live briefly during which they pass on sweet life to others. A lily is a beautiful flower representing self-sacrifice and service, a representation of true sacrificial Christianity, the true spirit of Christ.
In a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, Paul delivered a short history of the Israelites from the time of the Exodus. God removed Saul, Israel’s first king, and replaced him with David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Paul’s speech was similar to the one that Stephen delivered to the Sanhedrin, which provoked his martyrdom. Stephen’s speech and death must have made a lasting impression on Paul and he probably now repented of his approval and involvement in his death.
Paul proclaimed that Jesus was the Saviour, descended from David. He told the assembled Jews the good news, the message of salvation. Goad raised Jesus from the dead, his body did not decay (Acts 13:37). Through Jesus, those who believe receive forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ death makes us justified with God. We are no longer at war with God, we are at peace and living in a right relationship with our loving Father.
Paul warned the Jews not to be ‘scoffers’, filled with unbelief. We are still surrounded by scoffers today who will perish if they don’t repent. Even when countless people have told them the wonders of Jesus’ death and resurrection they still don’t believe.
The spirit of unbelief is thriving at the moment and not only with regards to religion. Many people, including Christians who are meant to be people of belief, refuse to believe the scientific facts about the deadly pandemic and spurn vaccination on entirely spurious grounds. Many people challenge God to protect them even though Jesus said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test (Matt.4:7). If we have problems accepting facts such as the life of Jesus, his miracles, signs, death and resurrection or the facts about coronavirus, we should pray to bind and cast out the spirit of unbelief.
God judges uprightly and holds the pillars of the earth firm (Psalm 75:7).
We give thanks to God for ever and tell of his wonderful deeds.
We should never be arrogant and boast about our own deeds. We should only boast of what the Lord has done for us.
Image: Johnreve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons