Tag Archives: temple

Through the Bible, July 6

Reading: Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:39-52

Summary: As a result of divine warning to Joseph of Herod’s evil intent against Jesus, he takes the family to Egypt only to return after Herod’s death.  Upon their return, the family takes up residence in Nazareth where Jesus is raised.

The only event recorded from Jesus’ youth is His visit to Jerusalem for Passover at age twelve.  To say that the biblical record of Jesus’ youth is scant would be generous.

Devotional Thought:

Where Can You Be Found?

If someone were to be looking for you, would they know where to look?

Some friends had a son driving home from college one Friday night.  He almost made it out to their farm, but his car broke down in town.  Being the days before cell phones, options were limited.  He thought for just a moment about where he was and when it was.  He hopped out of his car, went into the grocery store in front of which his car died, and after a very brief search found his parents.  Being Friday night he knew his parents always went grocery shopping at this store.  Sure enough, there they were.

When Jesus’ parents realized their son was missing on the return trip from Jerusalem, they went back looking for Him.  When He was finally located, in the temple, He said, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48).

Though there is some discussion among Bible students as to the precise meaning of Jesus question; did it have more to do with where He was—the temple—or what He was doing—His father’s business (see KJV and NKJV) or some combination of the two?

Let’s use the idea of location.  Jesus thought His parents ought to know where He could be found, in the Father’s house.  To Him, as we say, it was a no-brainer.

Is that what people would think to locate us?  Not at the church building—that’s not the Lord’s house, though some mistakenly refer to it that way—but rather in the church of God, among the family of God?  Or, would they first think to look for us at work, on the golf course, in the stands among the fans rooting for our favorite team, at the weekly lunch-meeting of our community service club, or wherever?

The point is that people who know us, know what is important to us, where we spend our time, what dominates our conversations, and where our loyalties lie.  If they were looking for me, would they know where I “must” be?

Through the Bible, June 15

Reading: Haggai 1-2

Summary: Haggai, along with Zechariah, is named in Ezra 5:1 in connection with Zerubbabel’s efforts to rebuild the temple.  Prophets have been sent to deliver God’s message to nations, cities, and kings.  Haggai is sent specifically to leaders of the Jewish people attempting to re-occupy Jerusalem to remind them that it is time to rebuild the house of the Lord.

Devotional Thought:

It’s Not Complicated

God’s expectations of humanity are not difficult.  We really can—and must—know what God wants.  The Bible makes these things rather explicit and clear.

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13).

Fear God and obey God–simple enough.

That’s what happened as a result of the message of the prophet Haggai: “…the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God…and the people feared the Lord” (Hag. 1:12).

Here’s the thing, obedience without fear is worthless.  Fear (reverence) without obedience is no fear.  Fear God and obey God.

But what about love? you ask.  Fair enough.

The Bible is also explicit and clear about this too.  Jesus calls it the “great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5).

Remember too that “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Love God and obey God.  The same holds true for this pair as well; one without the other is not real or valid.

Fear God.  Love God.  Obey God.

It’s not multiple choice.  It’s not mix ’n’ match.  It’s not pick and choose.

Through the Bible, June 13

Reading: Ezra 4-6

Summary: The work of the Jews-returned-to-Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel was not without opposition.  As a matter of fact, their efforts were legally stopped based on complaints sent back to the king of Persia.

Eventually, the original decree of King Cyrus was located and the work was allowed to resume.  But, the delay had lulled the people into inactivity and the efforts of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (June 15-17 readings) were enlisted to motivate them to focus their efforts on God’s house.

Devotional Thought:

Finished!

Finishing a task can, at times, be challenging—even when we consider it a God-given, noble and necessary endeavor.

Such was the building of the temple following Babylonian captivity.  What better, God-centered, and more important project could be undertaken?  Yet, it almost didn’t get finished. Opponents armed with legal verdicts brought work to a halt.  Time-consuming correspondence finally cleared up the legalities, but during the long delay, enthusiasm waned.  God intervened with prophets to re-energize the people to get the ball rolling again.  Finally, the temple was completed.

Just because what we’re doing is good and right and necessary and even at God’s behest, doesn’t guarantee unhindered, smooth, and enthusiastic progress.  We may experience times of great progress, frustrating delays, opposition, movement by fits and starts, the need for outside intervention to reorient priorities and provide motivation.

Whatever!  Keep moving forward.  Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.

Maybe it’s time to refocus, regroup, and begin again. Troubles and challenges and obstacles along the way do not mean this isn’t what needs to be done.  Otherwise, God’s temple would have never been rebuilt.

Finish!

Through the Bible, April 16

Reading: 1 Kings 4-8

Summary: Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem is thought to have been one of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world.  It is described as “exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands” (1 Chron. 22:5). Not only that, but his prayer of dedication for the temple (1 Kings 8) is worthy of close thought and study and surely stands as one of the great prayers recorded in all of the Bible.

The attitude of the people of God toward this place of worship to God is reflected in the opening of Psalm 84:

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing your praise! Selah

(Psalm 84:1-4)

Devotional Thought:

Where Is God’s Name?

One of the interesting customs of our culture is for a woman, when she marries, to take the name of her husband, something significant is being communicated about this relationship by this gesture.  His name now dwells on her.

In biblical culture (and many European cultures to this day) an individual was identified by their father’s name.  For instance, Jesus referred to Peter once as “Simon Barjona” (Matt. 16: 17).  In that instance “Barjona” means “son of Jonah.”  That’s what distinguished this Simon from others.  He bore his father’s name.

Is there something of the same thing at work in the dedication of Solomon’s temple?  He said, “I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 8:20).  Notice how often this thought of a “house for the name” of God is repeated here (see vv. 16, 17, 18, 19).  It is also called “the place where you have promised to set your name” (2 Chron. 6:20).

Surely this ties in to what God said through Moses by way of warning as Israel prepared to first enter the promised land.  His people were to be very careful not to worship as the inhabitants of the land worshipped or in the places they worshipped.  Instead, they were to “seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name…the place the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there” (Deut. 12:5, 11; see also 12:21; 14:23-24; 16:2, 6,11; 26:2).

The people who would come to this place and worship God were ones who belonged to Him.  His name was placed there and was there; He, too, was also present and those who came to worship belonged to Him.  It was a matter of no small importance that God put His name in this place.

This, then, might also help our understanding when in Revelation it is said of the redeemed—referred to as the 144,000—that, among other things, they had “his name [Jesus’] and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).

We often think about our names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but we ought also to think of God’s name being written on us.

My Delight is the Lord, October 22

Attention to Jesus

October 22, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 3

Peter wanted to know why the multitude was staring at him and John (v. 12). Well, an amazing thing had just been done and everyone knew it. This well known, ever-present, congenitally lame man was remarkably doing what no one had ever seen him do–walking, leaping, and praising God (v. 8). What is more, it all happened as a result of what Peter and John had said. These witnesses were “utterly astounded” (v. 11). Don’t miss what happened next. The apostles had what everyone seems to want–the people’s attention. Think of it; advertisers, hucksters, celebrities, politicians, retailers, power brokers, etc., etc. all want the same thing–the attention of the masses. Peter and John had it and here’s what they did with it; diverted it from themselves and directed it toward Jesus, His death and resurrection (vv. 11-16). Given our self-idolizing culture, that seems nearly as miraculous as the miracle. But really, that’s what we should all be about always–directing attention to Jesus.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did Peter and John go to the temple? (v. 1)
  • What filled the people who saw the lame man walk? (v. 10)
  • How is Jesus described in vv. 14-15?
  • What did Peter say these people must do? (v. 19)

My Delight is the Lord, September 30

Differing Responses

September 30, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Ezra 1:1-11; 3:1-13

A singular event can elicit from different people, very different responses. Such was the case of the temple’s foundation being laid under Zerubbabel’s leadership. Some shouted praise for their great joy, others mourned and wept. No doubt part of the reason was the event being viewed from different perspectives. Some had only known the captivity out of which they just came and this was a great, new beginning. No wonder they praised God. Others, by virtue of their age, could remember the utter devastation felt when the previous temple as destroyed. They knew the nation’s sin had brought God’s severe punishment. They had fallen so far and building out of this rubble stirred bitter memories. Here’s a great reminder; not everyone is going to see things as we do, nor we as they do.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is credited with stirring up Cyrus? (1:1)
  • What claim did Cyrus make? (1:2)
  • What was the first act of the returning group? (3:2)
  • For what was God extolled? (3:11)

My Delight is the Lord, July 22

In Pursuit of God’s Will

July 22, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-66

At times the noble and good thing that we would do, we shouldn’t; and a noble and good thing we never intended gets thrust upon us. Think about David, Solomon, and the temple. David wanted to build it and that intention was good, but he did not (v. 18). Solomon built it, not because the desire originated with Him, it was the promise of God to his father (v. 19). Here’s the point: are we so self-centered that we believe every thing we want to do, we should? Especially the “good” stuff? And, that if something originates with someone else, it is not worthy of our consideration or effort? On full display with the construction of the temple is the God-centeredness of David who did not pursue his own good desire and of Solomon who embraced the task decided for him. We can attempt to make God and faith a feature of our self-driven lives, or we make Him the core and foundation and selflessly pursue His will.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is spoken of three times in connection with a house for God? (vv. 16-18)
  • What distinguishes God? (v. 23)
  • What is the theme of Solomon’s prayer? (vv. 30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49)
  • What is said about God’s promises in v. 56?

My Delight is the Lord, July 1

What We Give God or God Gives Us?

July 1, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-29

We all know that David wanted to build a permanent house for God (as opposed to the temporary, portable tabernacle) and God would not allow him to do so. That privilege would be for his son, Solomon. Lest we in any way think, “Poor David,” notice that his response to this exchange (made through Nathan the prophet), was a beautiful prayer of gratitude (see vv. 18-29). Why was he thankful? Look closely at what happened. David wanted to build God a house (vv. 2-3). God told Nathan to tell David, “the Lord will make you a house” (v. 11). We may have grand and glorious intentions of what we want to do for God, but He doesn’t need what we have to offer. We, on the other hand, can never achieve all that He is able to give. What God is able to make of us is far greater than anything we can make for Him.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How are the judges described in v. 7?
  • What promises did God make to David? (vv. 9-10)
  • What does it mean that God would make David “a house” (v. 11)
  • How is the rejection of king Saul described? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, February 3

February 3, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:41-52

Where Is He?

Where to find Jesus? He was not with His parents. How did that happen? They “were supposing” that He was with them (v. 44). He should be; He ought to be; but, He wasn’t. They then looked where it seemed the most likely place He would be, with relatives and acquaintances (v. 44). He wasn’t there either. So, they returned to where they had left Him–they had left Him. He was in His “Father’s house” in deep discussion about, do doubt, the Father and His will. The same scenario plays out to this day. People suppose Jesus is with them. If they realize He’s not, they look where they think He should be. More often than not, He’s not there. The problem is that He’s not left us, we have left Him. We need to go where He still is–in His Father’s house, the church (1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6).

Questions to Ponder:

  • For how long did Jesus’ parents search for Him? (46)
  • What amazed people who heard young Jesus? (v. 47)
  • What was Jesus’ parent’s emotional state? (v. 48)
  • What is the significance that Jesus was submissive to His parents? (v. 51)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 16

October 16, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Acts 3

Where I live, I see them every day. People who, by their own choice or of necessity, have resorted to simply asking people who have to give to them what they do not have. They go by all sorts of unflattering monikers; beggar, panhandler, tramp, and so on. I see them at busy intersections. Peter and John saw them at the temple. This lame man in Jerusalem, like his contemporary counterparts, was asking for what he thought he needed. Peter and John had none of what he was asking for, but they did have something of far greater value. Jesus teaches us to give when we are asked (Matt. 5:42). Just like the one who begs, our greatest need and theirs, is not for what we most often ask; it’s for what Jesus freely gives. What people ask for is a concern. What they don’t ask for is even greater.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did Peter and John go to the temple when they did? (v. 1)
  • What did the healed man do as he walked? (vv. 8-9)
  • What shortcoming contributed to the Jews’ killing of Jesus? (v. 17)
  • What must happen before sins can be blotted out? (v. 19)