Thursday, April 10, 2008

The God Who Cannot Be Contained

In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicates the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. It was a big day for God's people; so big, the Bible devotes 66 verses to it. The temple had been King David's heartfelt dream, and now Solomon had fulfilled it through 7 years of hard work, international cooperation and massive expenditure of resources. The result was magnificent. Scripture spends a lot of ink describing the temple fixtures in great detail; every inch was custom-designed to bring glory to God. On the day of the dedication, the Ark of Covenant was carried into the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum of the temple, and the glory of God entered with it in the form of a fog so thick, the priests couldn't perform their sacrifices.

Then Solomon stood before Israel and prayed a dedicatory prayer which still takes my breath away. This wisest of all earthly kings knew that God had given him a tremendous gift by allowing him to build the temple. He wanted it to be used for the right purpose. He knew the danger was that the temple would become a stumbling block to real relationship with God, instead of a tool for keeping the people holy. So Solomon prayed for seven specific situations that might occur in the future, and for God's mercy and love to guide the people. Remarkably, Solomon's prayer can be read in the light of Israelite history to show that much of what he prayed about actually did take place.

This Sunday, as we dedicate our renovated worship center, we feel some of the same excitement Israel did on that day. My hope is that, like Solomon, we will have the right perspective on this wonderful building. We will not study all 66 verses of 1 Kings 8, but we will focus on v. 27: But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

As we celebrate the gift of a wonderful building, let us remember that it's not about the building, or's about God. And our God cannot be contained by four walls, no matter how well-appointed. I hope to see you there.

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