From The Ashes
From The Ashes (1) - Building The Temple
Thank you for joining us today at Christ’s Community Church. We are beginning a message series called From the Ashes and for many of us there is a chapter in our lives that rarely gets told. And many of us would prefer not to talk about it because that part of our lives is filled with pain, sorrow, and disappointment. Like a pile of ashes, it feels like wasted time, nothing more than broken dreams, but I want to encourage you that your life, no matter how bad it was before, plays an integral part in God’s plan and purpose for your life.
In other words, you may see brokenness, but you are not broken beyond repair. You may feel pain, but the Lord can heal you, and you can rise From the Ashes. God can take the mistakes from your past and use them as a launching pad for your victory. He can redeem your past, birthing something out of your trials, your temptations, and your failures so that you experience a bright, new, glorious future. And so, my hope today is to share a word with you that will inspire you, and give you a fresh vision for where you are, and a greater appreciation for where you’ve been and where God is about to take you.
As we turn to the word of God, would you find first Kings chapter 6 in your Bibles or whatever form of technology you prefer to read the Bible on? I’m going to talk to you today about “Building The Temple,” looking at the Temple that Solomon built, because many people will look at you, or look at your accomplishments, or look at where you are, without considering what it cost to get there. And so, reading from first Kings, chapter 6, beginning at verse one, the Spirit of God tells us,
“In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1).
“The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. (In other words, it was about 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high) The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple. He made narrow windows high up in the temple walls” (1 Kings 6:2-4).
“Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven. He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls” (1 Kings 6:5-6).
“In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7).
“The entrance to the lowest floor was on the south side of the temple; a stairway led up to the middle level and from there to the third. So, he built the temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. And he built the side rooms all along the temple. The height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the temple by beams of cedar” (1 Kings 6:8-10).
“The word of the Lord came to Solomon: "As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel." So, Solomon built the temple and completed it” (1 Kings 6:11-14).
As I think about the temple that Solomon built, I have to wonder what it would have been like to live in Jerusalem in those days. To walk up and down it’s cobblestone streets in the shadow of this massive structure, with its walls and gates, its columns and brazen altars. It must’ve been absolutely amazing, as the Bible says, to literally,
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Psalms 100:4).
But even more than the building in all of its magnificence, to consider the powerful presence of God, the Glory that was somehow contained within that inner room called the holy of holies.
I am captivated by the thought, there is a longing, a hunger deep inside of me, and yet today all that remains of this temple that Solomon built is the Western Wall. It’s called the Wailing Wall and these massive stones that were erected so long ago, stand there as a monument to the historical significance of what we believe, and what we understand about the plan and purpose of God. This wall is all that is left of Solomon’s Temple, it’s a place where pilgrims still come to pray today, and these stones remain standing as a testimony to the magnificence and the glory of the temple that Solomon built.
As unique and spectacular as this temple was, there has also never been a man before or since with the wisdom and ability of Solomon. In first Kings, chapter 4, the Bible says,
“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man... and his fame spread to all the surrounding nations” (1 Kings 4:29-31).
And so, there has never been a man whose wisdom parallels that of Solomon, other than that of the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself, and his God-given wisdom is demonstrated in the temple that he built.
Solomon’s Temple was one of the great wonders of the world, a place of such magnitude that it attracted the Queen of Sheba who made a pilgrimage from Africa to Jerusalem just to experience the glory of this temple. She was amazed by its magnificence, mesmerized by its glory, and was in awe of how developed its order was, with the priest and the ceremonies. But even more so, she was overwhelmed by the wisdom of Solomon, and fascinated by his ability to build such a magnificent structure.
You see, she didn’t understand that not only had God given Solomon his wisdom, but God had given him permission to build the temple, and when God gives you permission, you can do things other people can’t. In fact, sometimes God will say yes to you and say no to someone else, but he’s going to grace you with an ability and then give you the wisdom to use it. This was the case with Solomon, God gave him permission to build the temple, and so he was fulfilling his father’s dream.
It had always been David’s desire to build a house, a temple for God, but God told him,
“You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3).
And so, David could dream about building the temple, he could make sketches, he could design it, even gathering building materials, but he had shed too much blood and didn’t have permission to build it. He had the skill, the power and the resources, but he didn’t have the authority to build the temple.
On the other hand, Solomon had the wisdom of God, he had permission, but he needed the plans and resources of his father. And so, the Bible says that David passed down the building plans for the temple to his son Solomon. First Chronicles, chapter 28 says,
“He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. "All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the Lord upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan" (1 Chronicles 28:12, 19).
David didn’t have permission to build, but God used him and allowed him to hand down his plans, the designs, and resources for building to his son Solomon. And so, I hope this is an encouragement to many of you, because there are many fathers like David, whom God will allow you to gather, but what you start you won’t finish. And so, some of you will begin something, you will set aside what you need to use to build, but the next generation will be the one to complete it.
In the text from first Kings, chapter 6, Solomon built his father’s dreams, it was a great accomplishment, more magnificent than any temple ever seen before. It was extravagant, it was impressive, because it was God who had given David the details of the plan. Not only the design, but the resources, because God had given David an excess of gold, silver, and bronze. He wanted Solomon to build him a house that was bigger and better, because that is the kind of God that we serve, he is a God…
“Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
And so, God put his temple in a class all by itself, because there’s something to be said for standing out, not fitting in with the crowd.
God gave Solomon the time to be by himself, to think his own thoughts, not needing anybody else’s validation to know who he was or what he’s got. That’s important, because if you can get it in your head, you can get it in your heart, and you can get it in your life. But you can’t build it if you can’t think it, and so God gave Solomon the wisdom to develop a vision, a plan, and a strategy to build the temple. He was able to see the temple materialize, block by block, the walls kept going up higher and higher. All the people were amazed at their king, because he was able to think big enough and high enough to complete such a magnificent project.
He achieved a depth of glory they hadn’t ever imagined, when it was completed, it was absolutely amazing, but when the people came in to worship, it wasn’t the architectural design or the lavish materials that caused them to be in awe. I want you to turn to second Chronicles, chapter 7, because I want you to see this, in the inauguration of the new temple, the Bible says that Solomon was praying,
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1).
And so, it was when God’s glory filled the temple, resting on the resources of David, the wisdom of Solomon, and the work of the craftsman that all the pomp and ceremony came to a stop. The Bible says in verse 2, that when God sat down on what they had built,
“The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it” (2 Chronicles 7:2).
When the glory of the Lord came down, the Levites who were playing the instruments that David created had to be still because the presence of God was so strong. As they were worshiping and their praise went up like incense, the glory came down, and they stopped in awe. It wasn’t because of the magnificence of the temple, it wasn’t because of the granite floors or the marble columns, it wasn’t even the gold, they stopped because the presence of God had filled the temple. The glory of God had filled every room, every closet, and every corner. Verse 3 says,
“When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
And so, when the glory of the Lord fell, when the supernatural sat on the natural, when that which is above dwelt among us, there was a crescendo of praise as the priests fell prostrate. The people in the courtyard fell to the pavement with their faces to the ground and everybody was amazed and gave thanks to the Lord. When the physical presence and power of God rested in the temple, they saw the fire coming down, they saw the glory of God above the temple, they saw the building with its altars, the pillars, and the massive stones. But what they couldn’t see, what they didn’t know, was what the foundation was built on, just as it so often is in our lives.
Some of you may remember what happened in the previous generation, when David numbered the people, and how God was displeased with his actions. It was because of that decision that God judged King David for his sins and let plague and disaster come upon the nation of Israel. God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem and the Bible tells us that David looked up and saw…
“The angel of the Lord was standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (1 Chronicles 21:15).
Now, the threshing floor is a place where wheat is separated from the chaff, the good from the bad, and so it is a place of separation. It was in that place, at the threshing floor owned by Araunah that…
“David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown” (1 Chronicles 21:16).
The Lord told David through the prophet to build an altar to the Lord right there on the threshing floor. And so, David went up in obedience to the word of the Lord and approached Araunah on the threshing floor.
“David said to him, "Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, and that the plague on the people may be stopped” (1 Chronicles 21:22).
And so, David said, “I need this place so that I can offer up a sacrifice to God to break the curse that is on the land.”
“Araunah said to David, "Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this” (1 Chronicles 21:23).
He says, whatever you want me to give, whatever you want me to do, however you want me to do it, but King David replied to Araunah,
“No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing" (1 Chronicles 21:24).
This is the difference between kings and slaves, between greatness and weakness, because many people want greatness, but not many people are willing to pay full price. They don’t ever achieve greatness because they don’t understand, they haven’t counted the cost, but David paid the full price. He said, I will not offer to God something that costs me nothing.
I wonder if David recognized when he was purchasing that land if he knew that his son Solomon would build on what he bought. The Bible says,
“David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site” (1 Chronicles 21:25).
Araunah’s threshing floor was the site of Solomon’s Temple, and I wonder if David recognized the value, the bargain, the multigenerational opportunity of bringing a blessing out of a curse. He paid the full price, and he was literally changing the trajectory of Jerusalem for generations to come.
One thing I do know, is that he recognized the value of the location, because he saw the sword of the angel that was poised over that place. And so, in obedience to the word of the Lord given through the prophet,
“David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering” (1 Chronicles 21:26).
David saw the angel of the Lord put his sword back in its sheath as he offered sacrifices there on the threshing floor of Araunah.
As we read about Solomon’s Temple and how extravagantly it had been made, and the people are walking through the courtyard in amazement, looking at the temple with its altars, pillars, and massive stones. I wonder if they recognized that behind all of its gold and its splendor that it was built on the ashes of David’s sacrifice. I wonder if they knew that Araunah gave the king,
“The oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering” (1 Chronicles 21:23).
You see, the foundation was laid on the ashes of that plague and the disaster that had come upon the nation of Israel. Everything that Solomon built was built on the ashes of David’s despair, his weaknesses and failures. The people couldn’t see the ashes, they didn’t know the cost, that it was out of his father’s failures that came Solomon’s greatest glory.
There may be some of you who are quick to point out your father’s faults, his weaknesses and his failures, but I hope that you will recognize that everything you are going to build in your life is going to be built on the ashes your father left behind. You see, Solomon only owned the land where the temple was built because many years before his father had paid for it. And it was in that place, on the threshing floor of Araunah, that David wrestled with his own sins. It was from the ashes of his father, on that site, that Solomon built the Temple of God. And so, I hope that some of you will recognize that it may be out of your father’s failures that come your greatest glory.
Solomon was sacrificing thousands of sheep and cattle in that place that was the threshing floor of Araunah, but the people couldn’t see the ashes, they didn’t recognize that it was the magnitude of his sacrifice that provoked the presence of God. When the glory came down, when the fire fell on the sacrifices of Solomon, they could see the glory, they could hear the sound of the sheep and the cattle, but they couldn’t see what it cost. The Bible says,
“King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted” (2 Chronicles 5:6).
It was there on the threshing floor of Araunah that the people saw the extravagance of the temple, they saw the countless sheep and cattle, and it makes sense that God would sit down on Solomon’s sacrifice, because it came up from the ashes of his father David.
The people didn’t see the ashes, but God knew, he knew that David would mess up and it would drive him to the threshing floor. He knew that David had too much integrity to offer him something that cost nothing. He knew that David would pay full price, that it would be a sacrifice, but I wonder if Solomon knew what it cost.
I wonder if Solomon recognized how he got there, that it wasn’t because of his father’s strength, but because of his weakness. In fact, Solomon wouldn’t have even been born if it weren’t for his father’s weakness, because his mother Bathsheba was his father’s weakness. And so, Solomon wouldn’t have even been in that place, he wouldn’t have had any right to the throne if it hadn’t been for his father’s sin, because his mother was Uriah’s wife. And I know that is complicated, but I want you to know that because somewhere under your feet are the ashes of your parents. And it was everything in their past, their mistakes as well as their victories, that have birthed the opportunity for you to be who you are right now.
You see, some of you wanted to give up, but God sustained you, because he has something he wants to build on those ashes. Out of your ashes he is going to build himself a dwelling place through the Spirit. He said, I will give you,
“A crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
In other words, God wants to make a trade with you, because he came that you may have life, not sitting on the ashes of despair, but putting on a garment of praise.
He said, I want to make a trade with you, because I have come that you may have life, not sitting on the ashes of despair, but putting on a garment of praise. Let’s worship him as we close in prayer.
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, PC Study Bible, Preaching Library, and Sermon Central. Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.