David Prepares for the Temple (1 Chronicles)

Hewn StoneYou may recall that David deeply desired to establish a majestic house for Yahweh God. Once the thought entered his heart, it became his life’s passion. However, God forbade David from actually building it, because he was a man of great bloodshed. Instead, his son Solomon, a man of peace, would build it.

Undeterred, David enthusiastically prepared for construction, devoting the last few years of his life to gathering materials, drawing the plans, and commissioning his son with the high honor.

Next time you read 1 Chronicles, look for the bold thread of TEMPLE PREPARATION. Here are some breadcrumbs:

  • David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (15.1-28)
  • David chose the Temple site: the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (21.28-22.1)
  • David prepared hewed stones and iron nails and gate fittings, collected bronze and cedar trees in abundance, making “abundant preparations before his death” (22.2-5)
  • David officially charged Solomon with the Temple’s construction (22.11)
  • David appointed directors for the music of the house of the Lord (25.6)
  • David appointed gatekeepers (26.12)
  • David appointed treasurers (26.22)
  • David dedicated the treasury in preparation to build the house of the Lord (29.1-20)

LumberIMPORTANT: All David did in preparation and the plans he delivered to Solomon were not of his own design and imagination. “David gave his son Solomon the plans…the plans for all that he had by the Spirit” (28.11-12), and he claimed, “All this the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans” (28.19). David was Spirit-filled; the plans for the Temple were God-breathed.

In a final prayer, David poured out his heart:

“O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You. And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.” (29.18-19)

Looking back from beyond Babylonian captivity, the second-temple Jews remembered the first temple as they read these Chronicles. David’s passion for God’s glory must have inspired them, and the descriptions of God’s blessing and the beauty of the first house must have filled them with pride. Of course, their second temple couldn’t hold a candle to Solomon’s temple, but at least their heritage continued and they were able to worship Yahweh God in His prescribed manner.

The Temple of Chronicles

Solomon's TempleOld Testament books contain spectacular messages, enticing us to diligently search for them. As our church has lately studied through First and Second Chronicles, we have noticed the strong Temple Theme exposed in those books. The author of Chronicles wrote after Israel had returned from Babylonian captivity, and in this history he focused his efforts on the nation and kings of Judah, paying little attention to the norther kingdom of Israel, which God had scattered among the nations by this time. He also focused on the Levitical line, the tribe of priests. Jesus, of course, was both King and Priest, so Chronicles points strongly and definitely towards the coming Son of David and High Priest who fulfills all.

The first nine chapters of Chronicles often bore us to death with copious genealogies, lists of names we mostly don’t recognize and cannot now place. But notice the heavy emphasis even in the genealogies to the bloodlines of Judah (2-3; 9.3-9) and Levi (6; 9.10-34). In these introductory genealogical chapters, we discover the first mentions of the temple, the “house of the LORD” in 6.31-32:

“Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they served in their office according to their order.”

David did the preparing and Solomon did the building. Chronicles fleshes out this history.

  1. David Prepares for the Temple (1 Chronicles)
  2. Solomon Builds the Temple (2 Chronicles 1-9)
  3. Kings of Judah Live with Reference to the Temple (2 Chronicles 10.1-36.14
  4. Nebuchadnezzar Destroys the Temple (2 Chronicles 36.15-21)
  5. God Promises the Temple’s Rebuilding (2 Chronicles 36.22-23)

Outside JerusalemI plan to flesh this out more over the next few posts. But what is the point? To the Jewish readers in the 5th-4th Century BC, this history must have inspired great hope but also served as a sobering warning. Although they were God’s special and chosen people among all the nations of the earth and although they had been allowed to build God’s house in their capital city, their idolatry still provoked God to anger and caused Him to withdraw His favor.

When I read this today, I stand in awe of the LORD’s brilliant plan as He worked through human history to prepare the way for Jesus! Jesus did not enter the world unannounced, but the world had centuries of advance teaching. And if God cast Israel away from His sight because they defiled His house, how much more will He cast us from His presence if we defile the temple of His Son?

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2.1-4)

Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10.28-31)

Do You Choose to Be Blessed or Happy?

Happy KidsDo you live in a first-world country? If so, you probably have been spoon-fed a definition of success and happiness that not only is anti-biblical but is outright destructive to your real happiness!

What is the American dream? Don’t we all just want the freedom to do what we want when we want, to indulge in our favorite entertainment, to land the perfect high-paying job, to drink our coffee on the back porch in peace, to enjoy the hobbies closest to our hearts, to marry whom we wish, to retire at a young enough age that we can spend the last half of our lives relaxing and playing? Does that sound about right?

How self-centered, sad, and short-sighted!

Exactly who sells this dream? Doesn’t the government, promising to give whatever we desire, guaranteeing our health, granting security in our old age, making sure food is on our table, etc.? Why do we buy in to this dream? Obviously we have fallen to the notion that government can actually accomplish what God has promised to do–fulfill our every need.

Poor FeetBut they can’t take care of every need. In fact, the government really comprises a frenzied mob of sinful, fallible, power-hungry individuals who are just as in the dark as their constituents. Yes, God ordained government for a purpose (Romans 13.1ff), but providing all our needs is not its purpose! Government is not God.

Government’s definition of “blessed” is not God’s definition, either. For the world, “blessed” means having lots of stuff or at least enough stuff to make you happy. The world equates being blessed with being happy.

God, on the other hand, divorces the concepts of blessed and happy, rather telling us to consider ourselves blessed even when we are not happy! Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. True, Jesus told His disciples to “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy” when they were hated, excluded, reviled, and had their name cast out (Luke 6.22-23), but this kind of rejoicing can only come when the disciple completely trusts God’s promises of future blessing. We don’t feel like rejoicing when we are persecuted, when family turns against us, when neighbors mock us, when friends laugh at our convictions, when we are thrown in prison for Jesus’ name’s sake.

We don’t feel happy, but we know we are blessed–because Jesus said so, and we trust Him.

Imperfect BeautyDo you want to be blessed with your hope set on awesome promises of future glory? Or do you want to just be happy now? If you choose immediate happiness, you walk among a large crowd, because the majority seek immediate gratification. But Jesus clearly pronounced “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6.25). In fact, even if you pursue immediate happiness, you will not attain it. It’s a pipe dream, a carrot the devil dangles before the face of every stupid ox of a man, and we follow as if going to the slaughter, lowing as we go.

God designed us to be happy, but not by following the devil’s carrot. Everlasting happiness is a proper goal, and we can have it if we agree with God as to how to attain it–by faithfully walking with Him through this messed-up life.

Forsake worldly happiness, for it will only bring ruin. Choose rather to be blessed, and eternal happiness will come!

Don’t Resist Change!

Dead EndWhile considering Kenpo (karate) this morning with my head instructor, a thought struck me. One reason I love my karate school so much is because they don’t remain stuck in “their way” of doing things. When higher-up instructors further detail a technique or form, they first seek to understand the change and then immediately incorporate it into their curriculum.

Sometimes upset members complain as the changes filter into the curriculum, mainly because they have been practicing the old way for so long they hate to teach their bodies new tricks. It’s human nature to resist change, especially when something has become well-grounded through many hours of practice.

On the other hand, continual resistance to change stifles forward movement and inhibits growth.

God calls spiritual change “repentance,” and He requires this change from all His children. Jesus requires repentance as a first step in the journey of faith, as illustrated in His instructions to His disciples in Luke 24.47, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” To a heartbroken crowd, Peter proclaimed the good news, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38), and again, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 4.19).

Because repentance is a change of course, we resist. After all, it is just easier to keep our old friends, walk our old paths, listen to our old music, watch our old shows, and use our old tongues.

Picture walking in the door after a long work day. Compare sitting on the couch (like normal) with walking your neighborhood for 20 minutes (like you feel you should). Isn’t building that new habit tough? Funny thing is, if you build the habit of walking every day, you will hate to change that habit!

Mandatory U-TurnYes, change is tough, so we require a powerful reason. Showing someone a black lung from the body of a cancer victim is often not enough for smokers to tackle their addictions. Many obese folks refuse to change their eating and exercising habits. In the same way, many sinners refuse to tackle their sins, even when they can see pain caused by those sins! Why must folks hit rock-bottom before they change course?

Also, many of us don’t have the proper tools with which to tackle sin. We hate it but don’t know what to do about it. Good news: God saturates our lives with spiritual gifts through His word and the church! If you don’t know how to tackle sin in your life, ask a spiritual brother or sister. Assuming they know God’s word, they will at least begin to point you in the right direction. Ask God to show you how to deal with your sin, and listen for His answers.

Don’t resist change in your life–God built you to live the right and best way. You must constantly adjust the trajectory of your life in order to keep lining up with Jesus Christ. Sometimes you won’t change enough…sometimes you will over-correct and must swing back a little. Enjoy the journey, and accept the changes God demands. Repentance leads to life!

Sermon: Is God All Knowing?

This question has caused all manner of arguments among Christians worldwide: Is God all knowing? Does God know the future as He knows the past? We look at a number of scriptures, starting first with a series from Genesis.

Battling Doubt and Disbelief

HamletLife’s difficulties often lead to spiritual doubt. Like Hamlet, some endure the temptation to simply “not be” and to shuffle “off this mortal coil.” Why not just end this pain-filled, unfair life? Here was Hamlet’s struggle:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?

He wonders whether it wouldn’t be better “to die: to sleep…and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache…” Is it nobler to endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” when one has the option of terminating his life now (“When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?” – a naked blade)?

No doubt, doubt causes us to question everything about ourselves, God, and this life.

How can we battle doubt and disbelief?

Reading Her BibleWe should hold some core beliefs based on God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us. This flighty, subjective, anchorless world constantly tells us there is no such spiritual anchor, no absolute spiritual truth. But does that not fill a person with doubts and leave her directionless? Steadfast faith in God is based first of all upon a knowledge that God IS and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11.6). We must believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son (1 Jn. 5.5), and that His word is inspired, final, and infallible. In no other way can one be saved except through Jesus Christ (Acts 4.12; Jn. 14.6), by God’s grace, and through faith (Eph. 2.8-9). Hang on to the fact that God has promised eternal life to His faithful ones (1 Jn. 2.25), and you have already passed from death into life (1 Jn. 3.13; Jn. 5.24). These core beliefs provide anchors for the soul.

Spiritual FoodWhere do all these core beliefs derive? From Scripture! I firmly believe the least confident Christians are the least studied. Wasting our days, we often fail to spend sufficient time in God’s word, and we end up weak, wandering, and wondering how we have such little faith. Luke wrote his gospel and the book of Acts in order to inspire faith in the reader (Lk. 1.1-4). John recorded those great works and teachings of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believeing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). Paul wrote in Rom. 10.17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” The spiritual formula goes as follows:

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1.13-14)

Did you follow the stages in that verse? It all begins with HEARING the gospel, which leads to TRUST and BELIEF in God, which is connected with the SEALING of the Holy Spirit, and it all ends up in DOXOLOGY, praising God, giving Him glory!

So if you want to battle doubt and disbelief in your life, pick up that Bible of yours and get in it, devour it, let it speak into your life and build your faith. That’s the purpose of God’s word. Saturate yourself in God’s promises and purposes, and you will find the direction you desire.

Whining Is Not an Option!

ComplainingA good friend of mine defines whining as “complaining about something when you don’t have a solution to offer.”

If you have a problem, think about a solution before you open your mouth. Paul wrote:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Philippians 2.14-16)

Does the hot weather make you uncomfortable?
Does your neighbor’s lawn get on your nerves?
Do your kids drive you up the wall?
Is your job giving you migraines?
Is your body hurting in some way?

Ask yourself: “Is this problem something I can change?”

No Whine ZoneIf not, pray about it and ask God to help, because He may be the only one who can effect change.

If so, make yourself a part of the solution. If you’re not willing to work toward a solution, you have no right to complain!

We hear so much complaining about relationship issues. He is such a jerk. She is so pushy. He won’t listen. She won’t tell me exactly what her problem is.

If you complain about someone’s behavior, that’s just plain gossip. If you’re upset with a friend, a spouse, a family member, you have two godly options: (1) love them by gently talking to them about the problem OR (2) love them by letting it go. Seriously. Whining is not a godly option!