Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself. Solomon selected seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. 2 Chronicles 2:1-2
The types and antitypes associated with the Temple built by Solomon are enormous and quite possibly innumerable. The fulfillment passages from the New Testament do however give us a threefold glimpse into the typology. John 2:19-21 for instance tells us the Temple is prophetically Jesus Christ. In inexpressible contrast, 1 Corinthians 3:16 cites that individually we’re the Temple. And while still grasping at that notion, Ephesians 2:19-22 reminds us that the church corporately is the Temple. While conceptually baffling, simultaneously (aided by the Holy Spirit), the believer somehow gets it.
Despite the modern Christian rejection of the word religion, I cherish and embrace its intrinsic worth, for contained within are the components of our faith that we get to take part in. Those who discredit, disdain, and summarily dismiss the word have been prejudiced (apparently) because they see religion as the thing(s) they obligatorily have to do in supposed violation of their free will. While others quite frankly reject the word because they’re offended by someone else giving them biblical direction, failing to realize that the ordinances are God-breathed. That my friends is a shame.
I elevate the issue because in Solomon’s actions we see what God can do when a person is determined to do those things he gets to do. We note that Solomon’s free will was not violated–he could have refused. He could have said, “Hey, this was my father’s pet-project, not mine. I may have inherited the mission, but I don’t have to do it,” and God would have raised up somebody else to do the work. I’m pleased that Solomon didn’t perceive the construction of God’s Temple as just another element of somebody else’s legalistic religion.
At the beginning of the chapter we read how Solomon established a workforce of 153,600 men. I assumed at this point that these were Israelite men. I was somewhat surprised to discover at the end of the chapter that labors were in fact alien residents who lived amongst the Jews. I believe it pictures how the Gentiles were to be spliced into God’s Holy nation of people. The Apostle Paul in Romans 11:17 would put it this way:
And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree
I am excited by the prophetic implication. What also excites me is that God’s people; i.e., His followers, understand that He has chosen us for this work. We are His tools and the appreciative believer willingly summits himself to the Hand of the Master. What should happen if we refuse? Jesus tells pointedly…
“I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40
Christ is building His church and as He declared in Matthew 17:18, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” So if we deem the mission legalistic or replete with religiosity, there are plenty of grateful folk waiting in line to take our place. My prayer is that we, as both constructors and components of Christ’s Temple joyfully recognize that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)