Monday 13 July 2009

Word for the Week: Whole Life, Whole Bible (15/50) – The Glory of the Lord Filled the Temple

‘Word for the Week: Whole Life, Whole Bible’, from London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, is a series of fifty emails designed to look at the main milestones of the biblical story, seeking to show how whole-life discipleship is woven through Scripture as a whole, from beginning to end. Here is the fifteenth of the fifty emails, this one written by Margaret Killingray.

When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the LORD was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated – the silver and gold and the furnishings – and he placed them in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple. Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes… to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant… to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place.
1 Kings 7:51-8:6

What a moment! The representatives of the people gathered before the magnificent new temple. After the wars and rebellions of David’s time they were now safe in their kingdom, borders secured, enemies their vassals. Solomon, David’s son, robed in splendour, supervised the journey of the ark of the covenant to the temple’s most holy place. This was a national and religious moment of joyful achievement and anticipation, as the people of God worshipped the one true God in the house in which he dwelt, with psalms and sacrifices, living out their covenant commitment in their daily lives, the promises to Abraham and David all fulfilled.

But this is not the beginning of a final renewed and perfect relationship between God and his people; we know what will happen. Solomon, despite all this glory, will break his covenant promises, and lead the people astray. This picture of the temple, the place where God dwells and his people worship him, speaks of a more enduring truth than the bricks and stones that will be thrown down by Nebuchadnezzar and again by the Romans.

This temple spoke of the unity of the people of God together serving the one true God; no other place, no other gods, no idolatry, no syncretism. Even thousands of miles away, and many years later, in exile, the picture of that central holy place, Jerusalem and the temple, held the love and commitment of God’s faithful servants, dominating Ezekiel’s prophetic visions, encouraging Daniel in his obedience to the Lord. Jesus himself who foretold the temple’s final destruction, said, ‘One greater than the temple is here’. And Paul told the Corinthian church that they were God’s temple, God’s spirit living in them. And the Bible ends with John’s great vision of the new earth and the new heaven. ‘I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God… I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb’ (Revelation 21:2, 22).

Margaret Killingray

For further reflection and action:

1. How far are our times together singing and rejoicing and learning in church an escape from outside realities, or a building up of our faith to serve the Lord more effectively Monday to Friday?

2. ‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light shine before others…’ (Matthew 5:14). Read Isaiah 60, for his vision of nations and kings, strangers and the descendants of oppressors, coming to the city of the Lord, the Zion of the holy one of Israel. Like the temple on Mount Zion, our calling is to attract and invite all who will, to come to the Lord. How can we practically do this as individuals and as fellowships?

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