Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 6 and Ephesians 3

1 Kings 6 – 480 years after leaving Egypt, 4 years into Solomon’s reign, they start on the Temple. It was 60 by 20 cubits, 30 cubits high [or 90’ by 30’ and 45’ high]. It’s interesting how exact the biblical account is on the dimensions. It is similarly precise when it describes the Ark Noah was told to build [450’ by 75’ by 45’] and the Ark or Covenant Box that was built to contain the “words” or “commandments” of God [45” by 27” by 27”]. The stone used was finished with precision at the quarry, some distance from the site of the Temple.  No hammer or tool of any kind was used on stone at the Temple because of the noise it would create.  There were three stories to it, each one wider than the one beneath.
Then it says, “Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, ‘Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David.  I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel (6:11-13).

The inner sanctuary is for the Ark of the Covenant to be kept in.  The interior of the inner sanctuary was 30’ by 30’ by 30’, overlaid with gold, “in order that the whole house might be perfect; even the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold” (6:21-22).
Inside the sanctuary the cherubim were made of olivewood, each 15’ high and each wing was 7 and ½ feet long.  The wings touched the walls.  The cherubim were also overlaid with gold (6:28). The walls were carved with cherubim, palm trees and open flowers.  In the fourth year, the foundation was done. In the eleventh year, it was all done. 

Ephesians 3 - Paul introduces this and the following chapters of his letter with the phrase, “I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ.”   He describes himself as one claimed by the Lord for a purpose, and the purpose is to bring God’s message of redemption to the Gentiles, a message which eliminates the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles and which at the same time reconciles both to God.  It is Paul’s task to bring to light the plan of God’s salvation which has been hidden from ages past, “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens” (3:10).  Somehow, the church proclaims a plan or a reality, which must be made known to all creation, including the spiritual hierarchies the Jews pictured as populating the heavens.

Paul is preaching about the “inscrutable riches of Christ” (3:8), which is being offered in his teaching as an apostle.  Paul prays here my favorite prayer in the whole New Testament:

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God(3:16-18, Jerusalem Bible translation – the best, I think). 

We who are delivered from our bondage like the Israelites must go through a desert time, a time of transition and drama, during which we may often be tempted to give up or go back to what seemed comfortable and familiar, even though it was slavery to us.  We must derive power from the presence of God and for us Christians that presence is experienced by allowing Christ to “dwell in our hearts through faith”; this trust in Christ and reliance upon him is a real power in us, not a power to aggrandize us in any human way, but a power to help us become rooted in God’s love. 

Rooted there we will have strength beyond anything we might imagine to comprehend the infinite love of God, which is made known to us and made palpable to us in Christ’s life and continued presence in us.  This power is often neglected by those who try to instruct us in the gospel life.  It is a transforming power that can give us a much greater degree of freedom from the spirit of the age in which we live.  We need not despair over the weakness of our nature and bemoan the fact that we sometimes yearn for the security provided by remaining trapped in the realm of our appetites.  Christians should be continually encouraged to understand the very real power Christ offers them to overcome these temptations and really experience a degree of freedom from the bondage of sin. This is the testimony of Friends and the faith in which ALL of their “testimonies” are rooted. 

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