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It’s good to be with you tonight. I would invite you to turn your copy of God’s word to First Kings, chapter 7. I returned last night from a trip to Monterey, Mexico. I really appreciate this church’s commitment to us in working in missions around the world. And Monterey was the site of a particular training that I went to, to help identify a potential intern to come here and serve with us and invest in him and his family and go to seminary at RTS. I also had the opportunity to spend time with Andres Garza, who is the city-to-city director for all of Latin America. So it was a very productive trip. The planes are full, I will tell you, and the airports are full, and we got in last night at about 1:30. So I’m really tired. That’s an understatement.
So let me begin our time by sharing just a little bit about myself. I don’t know if this is stereotypical or not, but I’m gonna to tell you that I am one of those guys when it comes to interior decorating, I just don’t have any interest. I have very little interest and there’s probably a lot of you guys who like that. Maybe there’s ladies who like that. I don’t know, but I’m that way. Now, thankfully, I’m married to a wonderful wife that is interested in those kind of things. My priorities tend to be comfort, cost, and functionality. That’s the way I think about interior decorating, and I see a lot of yesses from the guys. Connie is the consummate decorator thinking about complementary colors, patterns, fabrics, beauty and hospitality, of which I’m so appreciative of. In many ways, I just wanna know, can you sit in that for a long period of time and is it going to be comfortable and last a long time and not cost too much? I’m happy with that kind of interior decoration. I’m convinced she got this gift from her mom who is 95 this year, Mary; and I have heard her say to Connie on more than one occasion, especially early days of marriage, “Honey, if you can’t afford new furniture, then take an afternoon and just rearrange what you have and you’ll be completely happy.” And to that I say, “Brilliant.” That’s wonderful advice. I can’t agree more. I do find myself though moving furniture around every couple of years, and I’m happy to do that. I’m very grateful to Connie, so I’m happy to do that as well.
So our passage tonight, as Tom mentioned in his prayers and I think in an announcement, is we’re looking back at the life Solomon and we are at a part in First Kings that if you’re a guest with us, you probably are gonna go. What is this about? And the interior decorations of the temple. But we are talking about the most beautiful house that has ever existed. First King’s chapter 6 concerns Solomon’s wise leadership over the provisions of the furniture and the furnishings on the inside of the temple. The writer of First Kings wants us to see the wisdom of Solomon displayed in his oversight and his management of the construction of the temple both inside and out. And as Clay made us aware last week, this feat of Solomon’s construction of the temple and most important contribution of his life to the people of God.
The most important contribution. I read multiple commentaries that all mentioned that. I thought that was very interesting in light of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. But it is a contribution to the Kingdom, one of the most one. Most of writer’s description in First Kings of Solomon’s life is dedicated to his oversight of the construction of the temple. In fact, the 10 to 11 chapters devoted to his life, the life of Solomon, the writer of First Kings takes up a whole five chapters, five chapters on building the temple. There’s definitely an intentionality a writer has to draw us out to this man of wisdom to see how God had demonstrated His own wisdom in the life of Solomon and his leadership.
So back in chapter 5 we saw Solomon’s wise understanding, if we recall back when we looked at this, of the international scene of his day and he tapped into the economic prosperity of Tyre. King Hiram of Tyre was happy to provide all the necessary materials for the construction of the temple. Tyre was the economic controlling force of the day. No amount of work or skill or the excellence of material used would be spared. The best known to mankind was only to be used in the construction of it inside and out. Again as Clay brought out nicely last week, in chapter 6, God places a key verse right in the middle of the construction as a poignant reminder to us. Look at chapter 6 at verse 11 through 13. “Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon concerning this house that you are building, if you’ll walk in My statutes and obey My rules and keep all My commandments and walk in them, then I will establish My word with you, which I spoke to David, your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake My people, Israel.
In other words, don’t trust the temple. Don’t depend on the physical building as if that promise is the very presence of God. It is, but don’t trust in that physical building. Israel was to obey and follow the Lord. That’s when the Lord was pleased to dwell with His people. “Love and trust me,” God says. We’re gonna to see that same theme of proper dependence mentioned again in chapter 7 but from a different angle. So although commentators agree in this chapter we’re gonna read, not all the details are meticulously listed out.
The details here that I’m gonna read to you are quite staggering; statistics and measurements, materials, methods of construction are all listed for us and in ways that we’re not familiar with. So I want to read to you, (spoiler alert, six minutes) this chapter. We’re gonna start with the end of chapter 6 so you see the context, and I’ll try to read through it without mistake. He or Solomon was seven years in building it. That is the temple.
Chapter7 verse 1. “Solomon was building his own house thirteen years and he finished his entire house. He built the house of the Forest of Lebanon. Its length was 100 cubits, its breath 50 cubits, its height 30 cubits, and it was built on four rows of cedar pillars with cedar beams on the pillars, and it was covered with cedar above the chambers that were on the 45 pillars, 15 in each row. There were window frames in three rows, and window opposite window in three tiers. All the doorways and windows had square frames and window was opposite window in three tiers. And he made the Hall of Pillars. Its length was 50 cubits. It’s breath 30 cubits. There was a porch in front with pillars and a canopy in front of them. And he made the hall of the throne where he was to pronounce judgment. Even the hall of judgment, It was finished with cedar from floor to rafters. His own house where he was to dwell in the other court back of the hall was of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken in marriage. All these were made of costly stones cut according to measure, sawed with saws back and front, even from the foundation to the coping and from the outside to the great court. The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of 8 and 10 cubits, and above were costly stones cut according to measure in cedar. The Great Court had three courses of cut stone all around it and a course of cedar beams. So had the inner court of the House of the Lord and the vestibule of the House. And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man Tyre, a worker in bronze and he was full of wisdom, understanding and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all of his work. He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar and a line of 12 cubits measured in circumference. It was hollow. Its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to sit on tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was 5 cubits. The height of the other capital was 5 cubits. There were lattices of checker work with reeds of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars, a lattice for the one capital, a lattice for the other capital. Likewise, he made pomegranates in two rows around one lattice work to cover the capital that was on top of the pillar, and he did the same with the other capital. Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars and the vestibule were of lily work, 4 cubits. The capitals were on the two pillars and were also above the rounded projection, which was beside the lattice work. There were 200 pomegranates in two rows all around, and so with the other capital. He set up the pillars of the vestibule of the temple. He set the pillar on the south and called its name Jachin. He set up the pillar on the north and called its name Boaz. And the tops of the pillars was lily work, thus the work of the pillars was finished.
Then he made the sea of cast metal. It was round 10 cubits from brim to brim and 5 cubits high and a line of 30 cubits measured in circumference. Under its brim were gourds for 10 cubits, encompassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows cast with it when it was cast. It stood on 12 oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east. The sea was set on them and all their rare parts were inward. Its thickness was a hand breath and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily. It held 2,000 baths. He also made the 10 stands of bronze. Each stand was four cubits, four cubits wide, long, and high. This was a construction of the stands.
They had panels. The panels were set in the frames and on the panels that were set in the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. On the frames, both above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths of beveled work. Moreover, each stand had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze and at the four corners were supports for a basin. The supports were cast with wreaths at the side of each. Its opening was within a crown that projected upward one cubit. Its opening was round as a pedestal is made, a cubit and a half deep. At its openings that were carvings and its panels were square not round. The four wheels were underneath the panels. The axles of the wheels were of one piece with stands. And the height of the wheel was a cubit and a half. The wheels were made like a chariot wheel. Their axles, rims, spokes, hubs were all cast. There were four supports at the four corners of each stand. The supports were of one piece with the stands, and the top of the stands there was a round band half a cubit high. The top of the stand and stays and its panels were one piece with it.
On the surface of its stays and on its panels, he carved cherubim lions, palm trees according to the space of each with reeds all around. After this manner, he made 10 stands. All of them were cast alike of the same measure and the same form. And he made 10 basins of bronze. Each basin held 40 baths. Each basin measured four cubits and there was a basin for each of the 10 stands. He set the stands five on the south side of the house, five on the north side of the house, and he set the sea at the southeast corner of the house.
Hiram also made the pots, shovels, and basins. So Hiram finished all the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of the Lord; the 2 pillars, the 2 bowls of capitals that were on the tops of the pillars, two lattice works to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars, and the 400 pomegranates for the two lattice works; two rows of pomegranates for each lattice work to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the pillars, the 10 stands, the ten basins stands the one sea, the 12 oxen underneath the sea. Now the pots, the shovels, basins all these vessels in the house of the Lord which Hiram made for King Solomon were of burnished bronze. In the plain of the Jordan, the king cast them in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. And Solomon left all the vessels un-weighed because there was so many of them. The weight of the bronze was not ascertained.
So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the House of the Lord, the gold altar, the golden table for the bread of the presence, the lamp stand of pure gold, five in the south side, five on the north before the inner sanctuary. Flowers, lamps, tongs of gold, cups snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, fire pans of pure gold, sockets of gold for the doors of the innermost parts of the house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the nave of the temple. Thus, all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David, his father, had dedicated the silver, the gold, the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.
Okay, let me take a deep breath. I wanna meet Hiram one day. The man was skilled. Two big sections in this chapter, two big sections. The first, verses 1 through 12. It serves as an introduction and an important one that we will come back to. Verse 13 to the end of the chapter is the second section. And you have a description meticulously done but not complete of all the furnishings and the details of the inside of the temple. So I want to suggest to you the big idea of why this is in the Bible. The big idea of chapter 7 is this to display the wisdom of God in the life of King Solomon, to display the wisdom of God in the life of King Solomon. In other words, chapters 5 through 7 are not just there to fill space or to give architectural statistics and measurements. But these chapters have a particular purpose. It is to display the wisdom of God and the wisdom that He graciously gave to Solomon. The writer of First Kings wants us to see this in at least three ways, at least three ways, displayed in Solomon’s leadership over the build.
First, the wise attention and priority to temple details, second his wise naming of the pillars, and third is wise oversight of the construction. So I want to talk about each of those briefly, draw out some application for us because I believe there’s a lot here, and conclude with a warning about Solomon’s life.
So first, Solomon’s wisdom is seeing the details of the temple construction. Perhaps we could more precisely say it this way, God’s wisdom in leading the writer of First Kings to emphasize certain highlights. There is an intentional matter of emphasis in this chapter and we can even say de-emphasis the writer wants us to observe. I think we’re meant to notice the way the writer dedicates only 12 verses to Solomon’s construction of the buildings connected to the actual temple. Names are given to particular halls. There are living quarters, Solomon’s and his wife’s lives, and attention given to their quality, all the necessary details in that one section of 12 verses of chapter seven. Yet the writer only gives a 12-verse description of this compound constructed around the temple. Remember verse 1 says it took how many years, 13 years to complete. Comparatively, the writer dedicates all of chapter 6 and most of chapter 7, seventy-six verses, to the intricate details of temple construction. Yet it only took half the time, seven years to complete. Twelve short verses given to completion of a thirteen-year project, 76 given to a seven-year project. Though I believe we shouldn’t press this too much, I do believe some commentators don’t agree with this. We’re meant to see a certain priority given to the construction of the center of worship for the people of God.
Let’s take an example of Christ Covenant, Christ Covenant Worship Center, right here and all the other buildings on this campus. My offices are in one of them over on Highway 51 in Fullwood with other staff and folks, and we have houses everywhere. We have a school. We have gymnasiums. We have land space for sports and other things, all these other buildings. For many years, you and I and probably you more than me because I was gone for 10 years, have watched these things go up over the years. There’s a history, a certain history, recorded for future generations to look back on. It tells a story and one that prioritizes the worship of God. One reading our history of Christ Covenant would have to say its leaders had in mind a clear priority of effort around the worship of God’s people at Christ Covenant. Certainly we see the necessary growth for the Ministry of Christ Covenant around us. We need additional space and those buildings are important, yet those buildings serve the greater place where the means of grace is in full display in this sanctuary of Christ Covenant. This is the place for the worship of Almighty God. I am, and I know you are, thankful for the dedication of so many people over the years who care enough to thoughtfully prayerfully think and create the beauty and the functionality and usefulness of this space for God’s people to gather every Sunday on the Lord’s Day and worship Him.
In Solomon’s Day those buildings and houses and halls around the temple were used for the express purpose of managing kingdom affairs of the day. And we have to say without pushing it too hard, that the worship of God took a priority with God’s people even over the daily affairs of the kingdom management. The comparison to me is crystal clear. So you may say, well, Mike, you’re the mission’s pastor, you’ve been around the world in different places and you’ve worshiped in places that are not like this place, just a couple days ago. You practically, Mike, have been in places where there’s mud huts. You’ve probably been there too, thatched roof or no roof at all or under a tree. I’ve had both into the spectrum in my worship experience, ornate beauty in the cathedrals of Europe to mud huts and other places in the world. Many of you have had the privilege to worship in those kind of places. The one thing I’ve noticed, in every case there is this God-given desire to beautify the building, whatever it is constructed of. From the pulpit to the ceiling, to the entrance, some kind of decoration is used in their own context often times made by the people of the church. The principal is the same regardless of where we are a dedication to the place of worship takes priority.
We can be thankful, we can be thankful for the team God has placed here at Christ Covenant that care for this physical structure. I see them during the week, Rick and his team, cleaning, beautifying, keeping our campus pretty, keeping this structure beautiful. This, by the way, is why one of the main hurdles we often pray for up front here as pastors are for churches and supported of church plans that have not found a good space to worship in. And there are many all over the world that struggle with that. Their own place they can call their worship place and to beautify it. God’s wisdom is seen in his attention to detail, Solomon’s attention to detail in prioritizing the temple, the place of worship. And the writer of First Kings looks back on Solomon’s life and says, “That is important, that is important, the place of worship.”
Number two, Solomon’s wisdom is seen in the naming of these two massive pillars calling one Jachin and the other Boaz, named for their intrinsic meaning. These pillars were constructed by Hiram, this master builder, 34 feet high roughly and probably some scholars say freestanding. One commentator writes, “These are words of a testimony to God, possibly even inscribed on the actual pillar themselves.” First, Jachin. It meant Yahweh will establish. And this word is used three times in God’s covenant promise to David in Second Samuel 7:11-14. “Your throne will be established forever. It was a promise that David’s dynasty would be the vehicle to bring the Kingdom on Earth. The Lord will establish your house.” That was on one pillar. Boaz on the other side meant He will give strength. Or in Yahweh is strength. One commentator writes this, “This name implies the dependence of the King and accents His only viable recourse in all situations.” There’s that theme of dependence, power from God.
These were the sentinels in the front of the temple; Jachin, he will establish, Boaz in him is strength. I want you to listen to how Dale Ralph Davis summarizes it so well in his commentary, “The first highlights the promise of God, the second the power of God. The first recalls what God has said, the second suggests what God can do.” Jachin and points to the original anchor of God’s word. Boaz points to his ongoing adequacy to bring that word to pass. It would be what Paul says in Romans chapter 4, verse 21. Being fully assured that what God had promised he was able also to do. Or one could say that Jachin emphasizes the foundation on which the king and the people are to rely while Boaz signifies the resources upon what they must draw on. Jachin then would highlight God’s gift while Boaz would point to their task.
Are not these two truths what we need to be reminded of daily and especially when we enter into worship on the Lord’s Day? God’s kingdom, God’s church will continue and will be established regardless of what we see in the world. The gospel continues to grow in advance. We have the privilege over in our mission’s house to see and hear about this every week, and you can hear those as well in the prayer requests that we put out. God’s kingdom is growing. Through the preaching of the gospel, the church advances even in hard places. Perhaps these two mysterious names inscribed on these ancient pillars are what we need to reflect as well in our personal lives. To be reminded daily and certainly on days of worship. We need to be reminded of kingdom assurance, promise of hope, provision, security, rest, confidence impressed with our own implicit helplessness. What promises of God do you need to be reminded of today? What source of power are you relying upon today?
Thirdly, Solomon’s wisdom is seen in his wise oversight of the construction. Much could be said in this chapter concerning how Solomon directed the project. Lemme just point to a few. One, first, don’t let it pass by your thinking in the selection of Hiram. This skilled man that one commentator wrote, “He was the Leonard da Vinci of construction.” A skilled man and we are told that Solomon selected him for his skill that he had developed perhaps in the countryside over many years by himself in a little shed of sorts. And in God’s Providence, this man was certainly prepared for the task ahead. Had noticed it was no small thing that he was of the tribe of Naphtali. A Jew prepared and then called into service. It is no small thing perhaps for one of you to be faithful and for me to be faithful in the development of a skill in the backwoods of a little workshop, and that one day after years of faithful development and preparation, God will call you into a particular task to accomplish His work.
That was Hiram. He certainly had to learn his skill didn’t he? Back in the backwoods in the boonies, we would say right? And back there over years and years he developed that skill to do this incredible work God called him to. And notice the wisdom of God and Solomon’s wisdom to ask him. Now notice as well Solomon’s attention to beauty and details. I’ll just pick one, the description of the great bronze sea in verse 23 through 26, fifteen feet in diameter, 45 feet in circumference with a capacity of some 11,000 gallons. And what does the sea often represent in the scriptures? Chaos and darkness is now in the temple, dominated and controlled, used in the sacrificial system God has set in place. Rather than chaos of the sea that sin creates, it is a sea representing cleansing from sin and stain.
Those are just two to look at in Solomon’s wisdom of this construction project. So what do we see when we put this together? Number one, there are divine patterns that we need to note. Sinclair Ferguson says this, “First form, then filling.” First form, then filling. The foundation, the walls, the pillars, then the filling of the temple with furniture. Isn’t that the way a person is converted to Christ? When God brings a person into the kingdom and converts them what is He doing? He is forming them and then He fills them with spiritual furniture of sorts. First the form, then the filling. Another pattern, first, the architect and then the master builder. Do you remember back in Exodus 31, Moses had a relationship with another man that they must be in heaven today just building things because he was skilled as well, Bezalel. And Bezalel was a great worker as well for Moses. So you had the architect Moses and Bezalel, the master builder in Exodus 31, Solomon the architect, Hiram in in Kings, Hiram the master builder. And in the New Testament you have Jesus the architect and Paul calling himself in First Corinthians, the master builder. First the form then the filling; first the architect and then the master builder.
So, looking back over three chapters, chapter 5, 6 and 7. What do they tell us? To provide the best, the very best wherever we are in the world we have for God and worship. To provide the best, nothing but the best in worship. God dwells where there is an obedient people to His word and will. Jesus, who is the third temple not one for destruction like the first tabernacle that was destroyed or the second Solomon’s temple that we read about that was destroyed, but an eternal one, says this Himself in John 14:23. “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and My Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our home with Him.” He will tabernacle with His people.
And finally we must heed a warning, a “however” statement or “nevertheless” statement about Solomon’s life. It seems from this larger section two principal things about his downfall, a divided heart loving things that please, and lust; a divided heart, loving the things that please the eyes, and lust. It is what John says in his warning to us, “Do not love the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.”
May God protect us from a divided heart and find us growing in the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for the writer of First Kings that has given us this exquisite detail of the temple inside and out reminding us of the beauty, majesty of You. And we pray for wisdom certainly like Solomon’s. But we ask more importantly for protection from a divided heart that was part of his downfall. Father, today as we think about these things, may we be ones who are found to trust depend upon You the promises of God. May they be true in our hearts in growing ways, and may we find as we test You the power of God to enable us to accomplish all that You have for us. And for those here that are in the type of situation that Hiram was in doing faithful work out away from people, would You call them to do the work of a great task that they might endeavor upon? Would you remind them to be faithful in the little things? Strengthen them to do that. Call us to that, and may your church grow around the world. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.