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The Bible In A Year: Day 142

1 Kings 6-8
Ecclesiastes 1
Acts 24

1 Kings 6-8

Solomon begins construction of the temple in Jerusalem, and it will be a magnificent structure when he is finished with it. God speaks to Solomon during the construction and he gives him a promise, and it’s conditional upon Solomon continuing to walk in God’s ways and commandments, then God will be with him like he was with his father David. It’s important to remember this promise for later in Solomon’s life.

Solomon makes two statues of cherubim, one of the choirs of angels, and they are so large that their wings span the entire building when they were placed side by side. These are overlaid with gold, so that there’s golden statues inside the holiest place on earth at that time. This would probably make a modern day iconoclast’s head explode, but there they were. Also the walls and doors were covered with gold overlay and carvings of angels and flowers. This makes extremely obvious that when someone tells you icons and statues are prohibited by God, they are dead wrong.

As magnificent as Solomon’s temple was, the house he built was even larger and more grand. It was 40% longer, over twice as wide, although he did make it the same height. Also he built the temple in 7 years, but took 14 years building his palace. This isn’t to say that it’s inherently wrong to build a nice house or palace, or that Solomon taking longer on his house meant that he short changed the temple, because by all accounts the temple was a wonder to behold and everyone that seen it was amazed by it, but it does make you feel like something is off. It’s foreshadowing of things to come.

We’ve lost this sense I the modern age, but architecture and decoration of buildings speaks, and they tell a story. In todays world that story is mostly nihilistic egotism, but in the ancient world they were very attentive to this and things like Solomon building a palace bigger than the temple of the one God wouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s not like he went on a temple building spree, or even just a couple temples. For a pagan king it would be more understandable because maybe he was positioning himself as a sort of deity too with the biggest temple in town. But Solomon builds one temple, and his palace is twice the size of it.

Solomon brings a bronze worker down from Tyre and he makes all the implements that will be used in the temple from bronze, except for the things like the altar and table of the bread of the presence that was already made of gold. He gets all these things ready and now it’s time for the dedication of the temple.

They carry the The Ark of The Covenant into the temple and a cloud fills the inside of the temple. This cloud is the visible manifestation of God the same as during the exodus, and the same as in the New Testament event of the The Transfiguration of Christ and others. This is God taking possession of the temple that was build for his honor and showing his approval of it.

During Solomon’s dedication prayer he makes a major distinction between this temple and all other temples. The God of Israel is unlike the gods of the nations in that this house is dedicated to his honor and name, but he is not confined to this house. The heavens can’t contain his glory, let alone a house made with human hands. But this is forgotten by the time of Jesus and the temple becomes as important as the God it was built to honor.

Solomon prays especially for the nation and for individuals, that when they inevitably fail and fall from grace, that he will hear their prayers and forgive them. That he will be merciful to them because they’re sinful men and need all the divine help they can get.

Ecclesiastes 1

We begin a new book of the Old Testament today, and that’s the book of Ecclesiastes. This book is traditionally attributed to Solomon, although his authorship is not a certain one. Some say it was written much later and contains allusions to a Solomon authorship, but that’s an attempt to connect it to his famed wisdom. Regardless, it contains much wisdom, but from a very different perspective.

If the passages we read of Solomon building and dedicating the temple were his high, then this book represents his low. If written by Solomon it must’ve been at a time later in his life when he was being very introspective and pessimistic, but also wise and stoic. Don’t let that distract you from nuggets of wisdom to be gained here.

Vanity of vanities. A recurring theme throughout the book that all human efforts are ultimately not important, only things that are eternal are important. Your work and your possessions mean nothing at the end of your life, just as Jesus will teach when he asks what good is it to gain the whole world and loose your soul.

What would it profit us to memorize the whole Bible and the teachings of the philosophers if we lived without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity except to love and serve God alone

Thomas à Kempis

Acts 24

The high priest and a delegation comes down from Jerusalem for Paul’s trial before the governor, and they bring an attorney with them to prosecute their case. Having failed at an extrajudicial killing, they now set themselves to have Paul killed legally and with the help of the Romans, just like they did to Jesus.

Tertullus lays out the charges. He claims Paul is a trouble maker and is disturbing the public peace. That’s a minor misdemeanor nowadays, but the Romans took such a charge seriously and often with deadly consequences. He also distances Paul from Judaism (an approved religion) by saying he’s a member of a new and unapproved religion. This would also open him up for major punishment.

Paul denies all the charges, says he always conducts himself peacefully and that he worships the same God, reads the same scriptures and believes in the same resurrection as the Pharisees, so how can that be a new religion.

The governor was familiar with Christian teachings so he waved off their claims and sent them away, but Paul remained in prison. He would summon Paul and he’d preach to Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla, she was the daughter of Herod Agrippa. When Paul began teaching about moral values and living an upright lifestyle they heard enough and sent him away because they were known for debauched lifestyles. Also Felix was hoping that Paul would eventually offer him a bribe, but he couldn’t have known that Paul was all too happy to drag this out because he wants to be sent to Rome.

Felix is replaced by Festus in AD 59 as governor of the province, but he left Paul in prison for Festus to deal with.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
1 Kings 9-10
Ecclesiastes 2
Acts 25

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