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Wednesday, February 02, 2022

2022.02.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 6

Read 1 Kings 6

Questions from the Scripture text: How long has it been since what (1 Kings 6:1a)? What year of what is this (verse 1b)? What does he start in what month (verse 1c)? What were its overall dimensions (1 Kings 6:2)? What does 1 Kings 6:3 describe? How big was it? What else did he make for the house (1 Kings 6:4)? What did he build against the walls (1 Kings 6:5)? What were the dimensions of the three main ones (1 Kings 6:6)? What did he make around the outside? Why? What was unique about the stones (1 Kings 6:7)? What effect did this have on the building environment? What does 1 Kings 6:8 say about the middle doorway? With what did he panel it (1 Kings 6:9)? What did he build against the entire temple (1 Kings 6:10)? What size? Attached by what means? What came to Solomon in 1 Kings 6:11? In what three things must Solomon walk (1 Kings 6:12)? And what will the Lord perform? Where will He dwell (1 Kings 6:13a)? What will He not do (verse 13b)? What does 1 Kings 6:14 say again (cf. 1 Kings 6:9a)? What did he build out of what in 1 Kings 6:15? To what extent? What did he do with the cypress? What did he build at its rear (1 Kings 6:16)? What was this twenty-cubit room? How wide was the temple at the front (1 Kings 6:17)? What did the inside look like (1 Kings 6:18)? For what, specifically, was the inside prepared (1 Kings 6:19)? What was the most holy place (holy of holies) also called (1 Kings 6:20)? What were its dimensions and materials? What was done to the inside of the temple (1 Kings 6:21)? And to the entrance of the inner sanctuary? What was done to the whole temple (1 Kings 6:22)? What did he make in the inner sanctuary (1 Kings 6:23)? Of what material and size? And what wing sizes (1 Kings 6:24)? And the other cherub (1 Kings 6:251 Kings 6:26)? How were they positioned (1 Kings 6:27)? What did he do to them (1 Kings 6:28)? To which walls did he do what (1 Kings 6:29)? And to which floors did he do what (1 Kings 6:30)? Of what were the inner sanctuary doors made (1 Kings 6:31)? What size were its lintel and doorposts? What were carved on it (1 Kings 6:32)? Overlaid on it? What were made for the outer sanctuary (1 Kings 6:33)? Of what size? What else (1 Kings 6:34)? With what carved on them (1 Kings 6:35)? And overlaid with what? How did he build the inner court around the temple (1 Kings 6:36)? When was what done in 1 Kings 6:37? When was what finished in 1 Kings 6:38? How much of it? How long did this take in total?

This is a chapter about God’s determination to dwell with His people. That might not seem obvious at first, but we see it in the dates with which the chapter begins and ends, as well as in the details upon which the building description focuses.

First, the dates. Exodus 12:40–41 tells us that the time of the sojourning of the Israelites was 430 years to the day from Genesis 15:13. This has been confusing to many, because they see the big transition of the Exodus as going from slavery and bondage to freedom; so, they think that Israel must have been in Egypt for 430 years, but it was roughly half that time. The real transition is from a sojourning during which interaction with the Lord came primarily in visits and visions to a period in which God dwelt among them persistently in the tabernacle. 

Now, in 1 Kings 6:1, the Lord gives us a date marker that connects to this. 480 years after the Exodus is 440 years after coming into the land (which would have been 470 years after the conversation with Abraham). The date formulae in 1 Kings 6:37-38 further draw our attention to this fact, grounding the fourth year of Solomon (who was promised to build the temple) within the overall history of God’s dwellings with His people. God’s dwelling with His people takes a more fixed (literally) presence and heavenly presentation. After almost four hundred years, this temple would be leveled to the ground, as the glory of God departs from His people. 

Even after the exile, there is the completion of a temple and joyous resumption of worship there (cf. Ezra 6) but no account of the glory of God coming to dwell among the people—none, that is, until “the Word became flesh and dwelt (literally, tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (cf. John 1:14). Here was the true and final Temple, though the Jews of the day could not understand it (cf. John 2:17–22). 

The history of redemption is the history of God dwelling among His people. In every age, this required redemption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But in each successive age, the Lord manifested (or declined to) that presence in such a way that strained forward to when He would do so finally and fully in Jesus Christ. And at the end of this history comes the glorious and eternal age in which “the tabernacle place of God is with men” (cf. Revelation 21:3) quite physically, as the God-Man is the center of His redeemed, gathered, and perfected multitude. He will have brought them into a condition where they are able not only to endure but indeed perfectly to enjoy the full manifestation of His glory, and He will dwell with them in that glory forever.

So the dates are a great sign-post announcing a major transition in the history of redemption, which is a history of God dwelling with His people. And the details upon which the building description focuses emphasizes this dwelling.

It’s stone on the outside, but inside everything is paneled, communicating not so much a monument but a dwelling place, a home. The entire structure is covered with gold, communicating heaven itself. The engravings of buds and flowers and palm trees take us back to the Garden of Eden, and the focus on the doorways (especially with oversized lintels and doorposts) emphasizes entryway and transport into another realm. 

Cherubim imply not only heaven but also the pathway back into paradise, which pathway cherubim were explicitly mentioned as keeping (cf. Genesis 3:24) until such time as the tree of life itself reappears (cf. Revelation 22:2). And the heart of the entire structure is holy of holies (1 Kings 6:16, “the Most Holy”), that inner sanctuary where the ark would be placed (1 Kings 6:19). It was a thirty-foot cube, dominated by fifteen-foot-tall cherubim whose wings left little room for anything else. It would be so imposing that, even on the Day of Atonement and at the command of God, when the high priest entered he could not help but to realize that it was a miracle of grace and atonement that he was not immediately exterminated.

How great, then, is that glory of Jesus Christ that is only whispered in anticipation by this building! And how great is the gospel of His grace that it causes the barrier to be destroyed, and entry to be given, and the throne itself to be known to His people as a throne of grace! O that we could see with understanding and appreciation what it is that we now have in God’s dwelling with His people in Jesus Christ! And if we knew that the Lord’s Day assembly was a spiritual gathering unto Him in glory, with the holy congregation that is there (cf. Hebrews 12:18–29), how loath we would be ever to miss that assembling of ourselves together (cf. Hebrews 10:19–25)! It is this glorious access to Him and enjoyment of Him that the Spirit now communicates to us, as He dwells in us as the foretaste and guarantee of what we will have in the age to come.

What kind of access do you have to God now? By what eyes and means can you perceive His glory? To what should you ultimately be looking forward? How will you keep that in mind, and practice your anticipation and enjoyment?

Sample prayer:  Lord, truly You have displayed Your glory to us in the Lord Jesus and dwelt among us in the Lord Jesus. Forgive us for how our hearts can still shrug shoulders at this while obsessed with the enjoyment of earthly things. Grant Your Spirit’s fellowship in such a way as to give us heavenly enjoyment now, in anticipation of the full enjoyment yet to come in Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP122 “I Was Filled with Joy” or TPH471 “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

 

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