Today’s reading: 1 Kings 6-7.
Solomon’s temple was begun 480 years after the Israelites left Egypt. They had worshipped at the tent of the tabernacle since a year after leaving Egypt, though the ark of the covenant had been moved to a tent in Jerusalem by King David. For comparison, 480 years ago was 1534. Columbus had sailed to America just 40 years earlier. The pilgrims would not land at Plymouth for another 90 years.
The temple was built in seven years, but Solomon took twice as long to build his palace. There are two ways to look at this:
- Solomon placed a higher priority on the temple, building it first and getting it done quickly.
- Solomon built a home for himself that was even grander than the temple.
From the description of the palace, it’s possible that number two is the correct answer. The palace was called “The Forest of Lebanon” because so many cedar columns adorned its interior.
None of the large stone blocks for the temple were cut on site. They were quarried and dressed elsewhere, then moved to the temple mount and put quietly in place. This was done for reverence and to limit the human impact on God’s work. Clarke says it should also remind us that though the Christian life here is full of much toil and the noise of our preaching, in heaven there will be no need for it.
Two giant bronze pillars stood at the entry to the temple. They were named Jachin and Boaz, meaning “Established by God” and “In Strength.” They were a visual reminder to every person who came to the temple that God had established the nation and that he maintained it by his strength. Even so, each believer can make the same claim.
The temple was built on the same dimensions as the tabernacle, but twice as large. Ninety feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high for the main structure, not counting the treasure rooms around the temple.
God renewed his promise. With the completion of the temple, God renewed his conditional covenant with the people of Israel. If they would keep his commands, he would be faithful to remain with them.
The temple stood for 400 years. In 586 BC, after repeated warnings and continued idolatry, God abandoned the Israelites and Jerusalem to the Babylonians, who tore down the temple and exiled many of the people to Babylon.
Image by Epictatus on Wikipedia, CC by-sa 3.0