I Kings 5:1-18

I Kings 18 is intended to communicate to us the greatness of King Solomon and his reign.  We are given all kinds of numbers and logistics and details showing the massive scale with which Solomon approached the task of building the Temple.  Solomon thought and planned on a grand scale, building one of the great temples of the ancient world for the worship of the supreme God of the universe. But, all this glory and majesty did not come without a price.  Huge amounts of grain and other goods had to be sent out of the country in payment for the cedars of Lebanon, as well as a significant number of people whom the ESV calls “forced labor”.  Israel was getting a lot, but they were also paying a lot.  The burden on the people was significant enough that, when Solomon died many years later, the first request the people made of the new King was that these burdens be lifted.

Can God be glorified by the grand scale of some building project done in His name?  We Americans tend to be practical people, viewing extravagant architecture as a waste of resources and money.   Build it as cheaply as it can be done, we say.  Give the job to the lowest bidder is our motto.  But there is a sense in which we can and do make statements about God in our buildings and in all that we do in life.  Giving God our best should indeed be reflected in how we build our Churches and other structures that pertain to our God.

But, it is a sad truth that, though this grand Temple was to bring glory to God, many years later it would be ruined and torn down as a sad testimony to the unfaithfulness of God’s people.  And, in the same way, the great Cathedrals of Europe, built to speak of the cross and to bring glory to God, now also stand empty, many  of them being more a museum than a place of worship.  This, too, speaks of the unfaithfulness of God’s people. Great buildings can indeed speak a great message, but nothing can replace a heart devoted to God, whether it be in a palatial Temple or in a humble shack.

Pastor Bob