Summary: God did not need the Temple Solomon built for Him... but He used it anyway. What lessons can be learn about our church buildings from the prayer that Solomon offered up the day the Temple was dedicated?
OPEN: I want to set the stage for the text we’re going to read this morning. All of Israel has gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the completion of the Temple Solomon had built for God. This was a time of great excitement and the festivities lasted for 14 days and made sacrifices of 22,000 cattle, and 120,000 sheep and goats. Some of those sacrifices were offered up in entirety to God… but many of them were shared in common meals among the worshipers.
It’s in the midst of this celebration that Solomon blesses the people and bows before God in their presence to offer up this prayer: (READ 2 Chronicles 6:12-39 & 7:1-2)
I’d like you to sing with me the first verse of this great hymn of the church - "The Church's One Foundation"
“The Church’s One foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is His new creation by water and the word
From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride,
And with His blood He bought her and for her life He died.”
(Written by Samuel John Stone)
What is the church? (ask the audience for a response)
That’s right. The church is Bride of Christ. It is the people who have been saved by the blood of Jesus. WE are the church… not this building.
Paul wrote this “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
This building we meet in is NOT the church.
It is merely a place where the church meets.
The ONLY thing that makes this building holy is US.
We fill this building with the Holy Spirit when we gather here to dedicate yourselves to serving God with all our hearts, souls and minds.
If you and I ever stop loving and serving Jesus Christ, this building will be ONLY a building. It won’t matter what the name is on the marquee out front, or on the side of the building. If we fail to stay faithful to Christ, this church building will only be empty shell as far God will be concerned.
Now, that doesn't mean God isn't honored by church buildings.
Nor does it mean that God doesn't USE church buildings like this one.
In fact, God has used this building… A LOT
He has permitted us to use this building for His service almost every day of the week.
• There’s our 2 worship services and Sunday School every Sunday morning
• The Hispanic Church every Sunday afternoon
• Church meals and meetings
• Bible studies
• Saturday Men’s Prayer Breakfasts
• Counseling sessions
• Worship practices
• JAM (elementary age youth group)
• Youth Group
• The Food Pantry
• And, of course, my Office, where I work and Joyce does the Bulletin and Newsletter.
There are very few nights that this building is not used.
And there are very few times during the day that this place stands empty.
And that, of course, is why we’re building on.
We want to do more for God than we can do now.
And, of course, we want to grow more than we can right now.
This new sanctuary will give us room for about 100 more worshipers.
And today we’re having a special service to ask God to bless this new sanctuary.
Now to prepare ourselves for dedicating this new Sanctuary that we've been having built to God, I want to go back in time and think about the very first Temple that was built by Solomon. This Temple was constructed 480 years after Israel left their slavery in Egypt and was ultimately destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar 410 years later when Judah was led away into captivity. For those 4 centuries the Temple served as a place of worship, offerings and prayer for God’s people.
Now the Sanctuary we’re building is well built… but it probably won’t last 400 years. About 25 workers have worked for nearly 10 months to complete our new building... and it has built out of wood, plastic, metal and drywall. When it’s finished, it’s going to cost about $800,000 (of which we've already paid a lion’s share of that cost)
By contrast, the Temple that Solomon built took nearly 200,000 workers and 7 years to complete. It was made from huge slabs of hewn and dressed stone. Then there was the precious stones and woven fabric that was used throughout the structure. And there were various types of wood like: Cedar, Pine, Olive wood.
They used 4,000 TONS of gold and 40,000 TONS of silver.
Someone estimated that the total cost of the Temple (in today’s dollars) was about $60 BILLION dollars. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing you could buy most of Cass county with that kind of money.