Typical lessons on Sunday use references from the New Testament. One of the benefits I find with studying the Old Testament is simply this: those who lived with Jesus knew these stories well. In many ways, their society was defined by the narratives of the people and places we tend to overlook as we focus our time on the Apostles. Yet the bulk of the Bible, in sheer page count, invites me to learn through the eyes of our ancestors. Knowing the back-story makes the current story complete.
Today we read chapters 4 & 5, much of which is also discussed in 1 Kings 7: Construction of the Temple and Palace. The detailed description was necessary because they couldn’t take a picture with their iPhones. Part of my conversation last night included a comment by my friend that lines and numbers drawn on a piece of paper don’t mean anything, but to me, for whatever reason, when I see blueprints of a building I actually see the building in my mind. Some of my amazingly gifted musician friends look at sheet music, complete orchestral scores, and hear the symphony.
Chapter 4 describes the furnishings to paint the picture for us, to invite us to that place and time when God was shaping his message of reconciliation. Beyond the artistry and craftsmanship required to build the objects of the temple, it’s interesting to note the primary artist was not an Israelite. Huram-Abi was commissioned through the King of Tyre to do the work:
“I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre…He will work with your skilled worker and with those of my lord, David your father.” 2 Chronicles 2:13-14
Solomon gets the credit because he is the architect, the executive producer, whatever top-level leadership position you prefer, but we know he didn’t actually do the work himself. So many unnamed people poured their lives into the construction of the temple over the course of seven years.
Chapter 5 briefly discusses bringing the ark to the temple with super long poles…make no mistake here, they were properly transporting the ark of the covenant.
These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place 2 Chronicles 5:9
This was a sacred and special beginning to the dedication festival that richly blessed the people. The work of many gave them focus and purpose, it defined them and set many on a path that led to a deep and devoted relationship with God. It’s what they needed then and there.
Musicians gathered to make lots of joyful noise, take a peak:
All the Levites who were musicians–Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives–stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by the trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 5:12-13
The sense I get is there was real and complete joy in the hearts of the musicians and the people were moved. I’ve been blessed to be a part of worship and production teams for many years, so this description causes me to reminisce a bit. Lives are changed when worship is authentic. The Spirit moves in people when we give it all to God. Yes, I push the faders up and make the music loud because my heart is filled with wonder as I imagine Jesus dancing with us — one day, one day.
Lord, help us to see the richness of the portraits painted in these ancient stories. May they create in us people of depth and help us to authentically call people to follow Jesus.