Posted by: arieliondotcom | April 24, 2013

Bigger on the Inside (1 Kings 6)

Bigger on The Inside
(1 Kings 6)

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, the British television science fiction show. (And I tried to resist the temptation to say “science fiction” is redundant.) I don’t agree with how politically correct the Doctor Who writers are. But it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to raising “what if” questions about being able to travel anywhere in time and space. The Doctor as he’s called is a space alien and does this travelling in what Americans would call a phone booth from 1960s England. But while it looks like a box barely big enough for two people on the outside once you go through the doors you discover it is a limitless spaceship inside. It’s bigger on the inside.

Today’s description of the building of Solomon’s Temple is like that. It’s a big, beautiful building. But the concepts and symbols it held were bigger on the inside, reaching across time and space. And the issues going on inside of Solomon in those times he was having it built were bigger than his human frame.

It has been 480 years since Israel entered the Promised Land. That’s significant because 480 is 12 times 40. Because of doubting GOD could do as He promised and bring them and their children to the land the Israelites were forced to wander 40 years when they were on the brink of entering the land and died in the desert. So the Temple was built in a year that was significant symbolically, representing 40 years for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The meaning of the wait is more meaningful than face value.

It was also a significant time in Solomon’s life. Hebrew scholars fault Solomon for waiting four years since taking the throne to build the Temple. But GOD doesn’t seem to mind. He doesn’t fault Solomon for waiting but Solomon has been changing over these four years. We think Solomon became king at the age of 12. That would make him 16 years old now. And if you know any 16 year old boys you know what happens at that age. They don’t call it Sweet 16 for girls for nothing. They begin to blossom and boys begin to notice. Solomon may have entered into marriage contracts at 12 for political purposes. But at 16 he began to realize the benefits of these marriage contracts.
It is no accident that the Scripture emphasizes the building of the temple began in the second month, Ziv, literally “blooming.” “Ziv” even sounds full of life and energy. Solomon was 16, it was Spring, and he as the most powerful, wealthiest and wisest man on earth with whomever and whatever he wanted at his literal command was feeling bigger on the inside than his teenage years.

Imagine 7 basketball players standing on each others shoulders. If each were about 6’5″ tall, they might just reach the top of the Temple, about 450 feet. Not high compared to today’s buildings but because of what it contained it was bigger on the inside than its proportions of being 90 feet long, 30 feet wide and 450 feet high would suggest. Especially from the highest spot on the Temple mount.

No one really knows what the Temple looked like. And that’s intentional. Can you imagine? As it would be if we had some piece of furniture that JESUS made, we would have gotten stuck on the “ideal” and lost track of the point. As if to emphasize what’s really important, directly after mentioning the proportions of the building the Scripture reminds us of what the LORD said to Solomon. GOD reminded Solomon not to be blinded by the building and feel as if he was doing something for GOD. The Temple was just a symbol of relationship and there were parts of that relationship that were conditional. Solomon would be blessed as GOD had promised David. He would meet them in this Temple that David had wanted to be the one to build so much. But if Solomon and the people dishonored Him, GOD would no longer listen to them or honor their sacrifices or their Temple, no matter how proud they were of it.

The Temple’s meaning was bigger than the space it took up on earth. It represented a relationship with the King of Heaven and Earth. And if the relationship was broken with unfaithfulness the Temple meant nothing.

The inside of the building carried on this “bigger on the inside” theme with walls covered in carvings of trees and blossoms and the most controversial item, cherubim. We don’t know what cherubim looked like. Artists try to use Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian creatures like centaurs with wings. But the Bible describes them differently. They may have resembled the creatures in Ezekiel with each creature having four faces (a man, an ox, an eagle and a lion) and four wings.Or they may have looked different since these creatures only seem to have had two wings, not four. But we aren’t meant to have a clear picture. The idea is bigger than the image and we are left to imagine these creatures carved in between the flowers and trees all around the walls and covered with gold. And they were inside the Holy of Holies, too, where only the High Priest could go, and then only once per year. In the Holy of Holies there were two statues of cherubim against the back wall. Each was 15 feet high, with their backs against the wall and one wing on each touching the outer wall nearest them and the other wing on each touching the wing of the other cherub.

So carved throughout the temple and looming over the Ark of the Covenant with two cherubim of its own, were these carvings and statues of heavenly creatures as if on some gold-coated frolic in Heaven among flowers of gold.
The Temple was bigger on the inside, filled with connections past time and space to Heaven and symbolizing a relationship with GOD throughout human history.

But the chapter ends on an ominous note. Just as Scripture took pains to mention that the building was started in the month of blossoming, it takes pains to mention the building was completed seven years later in the month of Bul, the year of completion. On the surface this sounds poetically appropriate. The Temple is finished in the month of completion. But Jewish scholars believed this was an ominous time. The Temple was done. But Solomon’s time of obedience was coming to completion as well. The symbol was bigger than the event.

One of the accusations against JESUS at the travesty trials He was subjected to was that He threatened to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. He was actually talking about raising His Body from the dead. The new Temple Herod had built had only been built 20 years before to replace Solomon’s destroyed Temple. So any mention of the Temple infuriated them. But JESUS is greater than the Temple.

Eternal GOD in the Temple of Flesh could not be contained by a Temple made by hands or by death. Eternal life was bigger on the inside of that Temple, of that tomb and rose in JESUS and reaches through time and space to give Life to all Believers to this day.

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