Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 7:1-51; Acts 7:30-50; Psalm 128:1-6; Proverbs 16:31-33
Sometimes the things we read in the Bible are not the kinds of things that the person in the Bible is proud of and would want the world to know. I would bet what we read in 1 Kings 7 is just that.
In this chapter we read about the home Solomon built for himself, after building the permanent Temple in yesterday’s chapter.
Solomon’s palace took 13 years to build (1 Kings 7:1) while it only took 7 years to build the Temple (1 Kings 6:38). The reason is Solomon’s palace was bigger (1 Kings 7:2) and more opulent than the the Temple, which was God’s house.
While the Temple was beautiful, Solomon’s palace was more so. Solomon put more time and care into his own comfort than he did in honoring God. This is never a good idea. God deserves the best. We are nothing compared to him and we don’t deserve anything better than we give to Him.
Solomon’s father, David, was not permitted by God to build the Temple. But that did not stop him from preparing for the day when the Temple was to be built. David has collected gold, silver, and various articles to be used in the Temple (1 Kings 7:51). This showed faith on David’s part as he believed that the Temple would be built. It also shows that even when we are not given a specific job to do for God we can still prepare the way for that thing to be done.
Stephen continues his defense before the religious leaders in Acts today. Yesterday he was accused of threatening the destruction of the Temple and the laws of Moses.
Stephen rightly points out that God does not only live in the Temple. He is everywhere, even in the wilderness at Sinai (Acts 7:30-34). The religious leaders had come to place too much importance on the Temple and in so doing were actually limiting God.
Many religions do the same thing today with their repetitive, ritualistic approach to God. But there are many ways to worship Him. And we can do so anywhere. Similarly, some Christians limit their relationship to God to Sunday’s only. They go to church but God is missing from the rest of their lives.
Stephen teaches a very important lesson to us all in Acts 7:41-42. If we turn our backs on God for too long He will abandon us to our idols. We can experience that individually and corporately, as a nation. I don’t think there is any doubt that God has given the United States over to its gods of money, sex, and celebrity. That is why things are going downhill more rapidly in recent years. Such a condition is very difficult to recover from. The only way to do so is to turn back to God, and in a hurry.
In Acts 7:50 Stephen sums it all up by stating that God does not live in the Temple, thereby confronting the religious leaders’ idolatry of the Temple.
Following God brings joy (Psalm 128:1) and prosperity (Psalm 128:2). We may think that we have a nice life with more than enough – and most of us do. But imagine how much more blessed we would be if we obeyed God more than we do. One of my favorite quotes is:
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” – Michaelangelo
I think this applies to many a Christian life. We settle for good enough because we are reluctant to give up all of ourselves for God. But God has much higher aspirations for us. So we miss out.
As I get older Proverbs 16:31 takes on more meaning, although in my case its “no hair” instead of “gray hair”. I think it is especially important for young Christians to recognize the wisdom they can gain from older Christians. Then they too can live a godly life.
One of the lessons God has been teaching me lately is patience. I find myself rushing through life not enjoying it because I try to accomplish more than I need to. Its better to slow down and savor what I do have than to have so much I can’t enjoy it (Proverbs 16:32)
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