Do you like my tie? The main reason I like my tie ~~~ it belonged to my father. It was one of his favorite ties in the later years of his life. When I wear this tie and I remember my father. But this tie is not my father. His memories go beyond this tie…
Today begin a new series talking about the ancient temple of Solomon. But it’s not about the temple. No more than this tie is my father, the temple is not God. The temple is a place where people worship God, sacrifice, but God is bigger than the temple. The temple is a great work for a great God, but the greater work is transformation of the heart to be blessed by God. Jumping to the last verse of this scripture, the most important idea in 1 Chron. 28:10 is NOT that Solomon is commissioned to build a temple; it is the description of the Temple as a Sanctuary. The most tremendous words in this scripture are found in 1 Chron. 28:9. These are words every Christian parent ought to want for their children. These are words that every Christian ought to be praying for the struggling and hurting people iin their life. These are words that every missionary could put on a banner to remember the purpose of going to lost people who need God. READ.
When David declares he will not be the one to build the temple, he says God is bigger than the temple. READ 1 Chron. 28:2. As I read this scripture, the temple seems to be David’s idea… God blesses the Temple and guides David in how the temple will be built and who will build it. But God does not need the temple.
God does not need a church building. But this is a place for Sanctuary to happen. We call this room a sanctuary, same word used of the Temple. Calling this room a sanctuary expresses a major reason for what we want to happen on Sunday mornings: a time of rest for the troubled, stressed, worried, depressed, like a ship making it to safe harbor out of a storm.
I want to keep a measure of sacredness to this building. Often after the worship service children will get in a chase game and run through the sanctuary, and I say slow down, walk in here… but I don’t have it in me to be too harsh because I know another boy from yesteryear who learned the walk run…. Many of you probably have no idea what is underneath this carpet ~ a beautiful SLICK wood floor. Decades ago all pews. I’ve heard children used to lie on their backs under the pews and race to the other end using their arms on the pews. I’ve heard the record is about 3.2 seconds from one end to the other. I don’t know how I would know that. I just can’t scold too harsh when children run…. But I want a measure of sacredness because we need it. But I know what it’s like to be a child, I also want children to have the experience of respectful fun. We need our own temples. We need our own place of safety. That’s what sanctuary means:. A place of rest. A place of protection. A place of forgiveness. Sanctuary, a place of refuge. One of the informal phrases I have adopted to describe our church: A place of Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. That is what it means to BE A SANCTUARY.
A great work for a great God. God blessed the temple as a place to worship and sacrifice. King David proclaims: “It was my desire to build a temple where the Ark of the Lord’s covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently” (1 Chron. 28:2, NLT). The purpose of the temple is more important than the temple itself. David knows God is bigger than the temple: the Ark is God’s footstool. The Ark is the ancient container housing the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff, and manna. David says he wants permanent place “A place of rest”. Our desire is always for stability, permanence. But life is about changes. God says the Temple will be built, not for a permanent house for God on earth, but a place of Sanctuary for the people of God. God allows the temple to be built because it helps His people with a place set apart to worship and rest/transformation. He says in many places in the O.T. that he doesn’t want the formality of sacrifices, he wants your heart.
A Great Work for a Great God is not only about the great work of sanctuary, the need for transformation, but is also about a right attitude in service God in this great work. God says yes to David for the Temple to be built, but in God’s way for God’s purpose. Isn’t that the way we should always pray, “these are my thoughts God, but you take them and make them better.” David has a great spirit as he seeks to serve God.
God says David’s Son Solomon will build the temple. David could pout and become depressed about not getting to build the temple, but instead he chooses to be amazed by the grace of God. In 1 Chron. 28:4-5 he remembers his family was set apart, then he was chosen, the youngest of his brothers…. David is desiring to be a part of a greater work, but he glances back to remind himself God has already blessed him beyond what he deserves.
Then David looks ahead. Guided by God, David passes the baton of the greater work of God on to his son, Solomon. Solomon is commissioned to be obedient to God, listen to God, love God. “You are chosen” David tells Solomon in 1 Chron. 28:6. “Obey God” in 1 Chron. 28:7-8. READ. My summary of these verses: The Spirit in which you serve God is more important than the work itself!
David passes the baton off to Solomon. May we always bless others to serve God, take the work that is begun and empower others to carry on the work. Count it as a privilege when God chooses to use you. Always be looking to include others, to empower others, to bless others. One of the fun things about being a part of this church for the first 18 years of my life and now the last ten is to see the waves of leaders. I’ve been around so long I can remember Barb and Larry, for example, as young adults that looked up to the wonderful older leaders of the time. We crave permanence, but the older we get the more realize life is about change. The constancy is the work of God to bring the good news of salvation to others. The greatest work is still coming.
The Spirit in which you serve God is more important than the work itself! 1 Chron. 28:9 is a powerful verse. READ. David’s commission: Get to know God. Worship with a whole heart and a willing mind. God gives us a will, he gives us desires. What we need to do is allow our wills to conform to God’s desires. I ran across a line from a play by Hugh Bishop, The Passion Drama. Here’s a powerful prayer by one of the characters: “Dear Lord, I want whatever you want for me. I want it because you want it. I want it whatever way you want it. I want it as long as you want it.” This is a good summary of what David wants to see in Solomon: “I want whatever you want for me.” Far greater than the temple is submitting to the Spirit of God and his desires, so that our desires are whatever God wants.
What a great privilege for us to be a part of a greater work of God to introduce people to the sanctuary promise of God, rest from heartaches and confusion.
God knows our motives: v. 9. “For the Lord sees every heart and understands every plan and thought’ (NLT). We may fool ourselves, thinking how pure we are and how sincere our intents, but God knows. Ask God to examine your heart. “If you seek him, you will find him,” David tells Solomon. This sounds just like the words of Jesus a thousand years later in the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek and you will find” (Matt. 7:7).
Do not look to build monuments; seek to help people discover God. A great work for a great God is always about people, always about knowing God, always about being transformed by the Spirit. How we enter the task is through gratitude of what God has done, not looking for glory four ourselves but looking forward and including others, even passing the baton of the work to others. The final verse of today’s scripture puts the emphasis where it belongs. David concludes the commission to Solomon: “Consider now (Or ‘take this seriously’) the Lord has chosen you to build a house as a sanctuary.” The great work is not the temple. The great work for a great God is that it is a sanctuary. I love the song, “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, and with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary, for you.” the great work is for people to find rest, to know God, to find peace, and to find forgiveness.
God is today bringing about a great work on earth! Let’s keep this building, the programs, patterns, the clothesline, Sunday School, Sunday morning, in perspective that all these are a means to the greater purpose that God wants to take up residence in your heart. People need God today and God’s people as much as any time in history. People need sanctuary. They need God.