I’ve been reading through the first few chapters of 1 Kings recently. The theme of 1 Kings 6-7 is the building of the temple- you have a long list of measurements in chapter six and, after a brief interlude to describe the building of the palace, a significant section on the temple furniture in chapter seven. These chapters were unlikely to thrill me. One of the nightmare experiences of my life was being stranded in IKEA and being uncertain of the way out. But a couple of thoughts struck me that have been spiritually refreshing over the past couple of weeks.

Firstly, it is worth noticing the importance given to this. The length of time given to the temple reveals that it is far more significant than Solomon’s palace. Why so important? Because this is the place you meet with God and, according to chapter eight, where you become assured of forgiveness. In fact the treatment given in 1 Kings is somewhat shorter than the amount of time given to the building of the tabernacle at the end of Exodus. I think we miss the centrality of these things. God’s goal is to rescue a people (through the blood of a Lamb) in order that they meet with Him and have Him living amongst them. That’s true in the Old Testament and also today.

Secondly, the nature of the temple shows its utter splendour and grandeur. The inner sanctuary is particularly striking in 1 Kings 6:19-22:

He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.”

I think there are six references to gold there. The place where the people met with God and were assured of forgiveness was built to show something of the magnificent splendour and purity of that God. If you are going to meet with God then you use all the gold you have got.

What are the implications of that for us? Let me mention a couple linked to the way in which the New Testament employs temple imagery.

Firstly, this should give us a higher view of Jesus. Jesus ascribes temples language to Himself in John 2. He is the place where you meet with God and are assured of forgiveness. The whole of the Old Testament tells us how important this is. If it helps you may want to imagine Jesus encased in pure gold. That gives you a sense of how precious his work is as the temple.

Secondly, it should give us a deeper appreciation of the church. The New Testament persistently applies temple language to the church- see 1 Cor 3, Eph 2 and 1 Peter 2 as examples. Whilst the omnipresent God is everywhere, it seems to me that Scripture is clear that He lives amongst His people in a special way. Church is where you go to meet with God and know His forgiveness. That’s not to say we cover our buildings in gold but it is worth having that image in your head as you gather. Mentally cover the whole occasion in gold for it is that significant. I wonder whether we have lost a sense of that, perhaps for a couple of reasons. Our view of the church gathering has been reduced to a kind of educational experience. I absolutely believe in good Bible teaching but I loathe the description of church as the place where I go to hear the Bible taught for it reduces what is happening. We gather to meet with God, a principal part of which is hearing His voice. That’s significant. Again, I have no love of fake formality- the church is a family gathering after all. But we must be aware of an informality that suggests that nothing of grandeur is happening here. Meeting in the presence of God? That is an occasion meriting pure gold.

Perhaps the greatest privilege this side of a new creation is for the people of God to gather in the presence of God and to meet with Him. I wonder whether we regard it as such.