Choose to Understand That Bigger Is Not Always Better

May 12, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Choices change our lives…

By Barbara Dahlgren

For around four hundred years the beauty and splendor of Solomon’s Temple was renowned. For construction, Solomon used thousands of skilled craftsmen, laborers, and artisans and only the finest, most expensive materials – cedar beams, cypress planks, hewn stone, olive wood doors, gold chains, carvings of winged cherubim, and enough gold overlay to rival Fort Knox. This house for the Lord was truly a sight to behold. Nothing could compare.

Also known as the First Temple, it was the first Jewish/Israelite temple in Jerusalem and the religious focal point for worship and sacrifices. So popular was Solomon’s Temple that it was instrumental in Jerusalem becoming the capital of the combined kingdoms of Israel and Judah for two generations and became the place for religious pilgrimage.

Tragically, it was destroyed by fire when the Babylonians, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, invaded and sacked Jerusalem and sent the inhabitants into exile in 586 BC. The destruction of this temple became a symbol of lost grandeur.

When King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 536 BC, these exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the appointed governor, construction on a second temple began. It was not an easy task. Not only were they rebuilding the temple, they were rebuilding a city, and it was difficult keeping spirits high in the midst of such devastation. With all the delays and setbacks, seventeen years had passed and they had little more than a foundation – just a small beginning.

Some were lamenting that this new temple would never be as impressive as the first. It would only be a modest version of the original and not nearly as plush or grand. Old timers were saying, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?” (Haggai 2:3)

Amidst discouragement about the project, God told His prophets to let Zerubbabel know the temple would be completed through him. “For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel…” (Zechariah 4:10) It might have been a small beginning, but God would see it through. And although the Second Temple might not be a grand as the first, its glory would be greater. “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former…” (Haggai 2:9)

Some wondered how that could be. They didn’t know that one day Jesus would actually walk in it, for this Second Temple was standing during Jesus’ ministry. (Luke 2:46; John 2:13-17) His presence would make it glorious.

God’s presence is what makes a temple glorious. It is not the large building, the expensive craftsmanship, the latest technology, the fine acoustics, the fifty-piece orchestra, the hundred-fold choir, or the scores of people who come. A temple is a building dedicated for religious ceremonies or worship. A temple is only made glorious by God’s presence.

When Solomon built the First Temple he knew it was a place for people to go to worship God – a beautiful, grand place, but just a place. He said, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built …” (2 Chronicles 6:18, 21 RSV)

We know that God does not dwell in a house made with hands. (Acts 7:48-49) But He does dwell in us. We are a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:18-22) We are God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) His presence in us gives our lives value.

Meeting together with fellow believers is a vital part of the Christian life. (Hebrews 10:25) It provides a time of community worship, fellowship, and encouragement. But the size or grandness of the place where we choose to meet is not as important as actually meeting together. This was true in Old Testament times and is true today. King Solomon’s temple could have been what we think of as a megachurch today. It was wonderful and served a purpose, but the Second Temple was just as valuable.

Now I am not against megachurches. God can be present in a multitude or where only two or three are gathered in His name. (Matthew 18:20) However, it is a mistake to think the greater good for God is accomplished in larger churches rather than smaller ones.

Consider this… God is not in the numbers game. God does not despise the small things – nor should we. (Zechariah 4:10)

One final thought… With God, it’s not the size of the temple that counts. Solomon’s Temple was grand. It was a beautiful tribute to our great God, but that didn’t prevent it from burning down. However, the work of God continued on.

 

 

 


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