Sunday, June 16, 2013

GOD OF GODS, FATHER OF FATHERS

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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.

Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.

Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the Lord and a royal palace for himself. He conscripted 70,000 men as carriers and 80,000 as stonecutters in the hills and 3,600 as foremen over them.

Solomon sent this message to Hiram, king of Tyre:

“Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in. Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals of the Lord our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.”

“The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?”

“Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided.”

“Send me also cedar, juniper and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants are skilled in cutting timber there. My servants will work with yours to provide me with plenty of lumber, because the temple I build must be large and magnificent. I will give your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil.”

Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon:

“Because the Lord loves His people, He has made you their king.”

And Hiram added:

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the Lord and a palace for himself.”

“I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father.”

“Now let my lord send his servants the wheat and barley and the olive oil and wine he promised, and we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need and will float them as rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem.”

Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working.

2 Chronicles 1:14-17, 2:1-18

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

As we finish 2 Chronicles, Chapter 1 and move through Chapter 2, we find Solomon preparing for the temple to be built as God had promised. We knew from the end of 1 Chronicles that materials had been collected for the temple. David, Israel’s prior king and Solomon’s father, had invested a lot of time in obtaining and contributing items so Solomon would have what he needed. This allowed Solomon to focus on manpower to get the job done and as we see in our passage, he wasted little time doing just that.

We read that he “conscripted 70,000 men as carriers and 80,000 as stonecutters in the hills and 3,600 as foremen over them” before also reaching out to Hiram, king of Tyre, who had also been an ally of King David.

Solomon told Hiram that he was building a temple for the Lord and not only asked for a craftsman skilled in working with “gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving” but also requested “cedar, juniper, and algum logs.” In return for the help, Solomon promised to give Hiram’s servants large quantities of ground wheat, barley, wine, and olive oil.

Hiram accepted Solomon’s offer and promised to provide help as he requested, praising the God of Israel as the maker of heaven and earth and the one who appointed Solomon as king. He also praised Solomon as a king who was “endowed with intelligence and discernment,” the two very things that Solomon asked for God to give him.

And so everything was falling into place. It needed to be because the temple construction was not going to be any ordinary building project. In Solomon’s words, it would be large and magnificent but wondered whether any structure could be made big enough for the God who could not be contained by the heavens. Indeed, Solomon and anyone who truly believed in God knew that He was great and had no other rivals. Many people in Solomon’s day worshipped gods but none of them could compare with the God of Israel, the Lord God Almighty.

This God of all gods has reigned supreme since the dawn of creation. He made the heavens and the earth and then everything in, of, and on them, including us. This is why He is not only the God of all gods but also the Father of us all, the Father of all fathers.

Today, as we celebrate Father’s Day and the men who played a role in bringing us into the world and rearing us into adulthood, we would be totally remiss if we first didn’t first give praise to God who made it all possible.

Today and every day, thank you God for being our Father and for always loving perfectly us with tender care.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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