Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 121

The scriptures read are 1 Kings 7-9, Psalm 100 and Acts 15.

1 Kings 7. Solomon loves luxury. After building God's house in 7 years, he takes 13 to build his own. It's longer and wider than the temple, though the same height.

He gets a different Hiram, a coopersmith, to build so many bronze things for the temple court that no one could weigh them. Most intriguing are the pillars Jachin ("Security") and Boaz ("Stability"). In Hebrew the 2 names are a sentence: "May he establish in strength." So the big bronze pillars are like a prayer made physical, guarding the entrance to the temple of God.

Also intriguing is the Bronze Sea on the backs of bronze bulls. See the link in my last post to view an artist's rendition of this.

1 Kings 8. Solomon's prayer is beautiful. He starts by emphasizing how the temple is a visible sign of the invisible God's presence among his people. The litany he and I imagine the priests as well say is fabulous. I wonder if part of it is used when cathedrals are dedicated? The emphasis here is that when anyone goes astray and sins, if they come to the temple and pray, God will forgive them. Even the resident alien is listed and there is a foreshadowing of the exile.There is a sort-of refrain where it is asked that God hear in his heaven and respond to his people.

The celebration of the dedication of the temple is held over another week.

1 Kings 9. God renews his promises to Solomon and his descendants--provided they stay faithful.

Psalm 100. A glorious and familiar hymn. It swaps the recent kingship theme for the "God as shepherd" one.

Acts 15. Gentiles entering the church continues to be controversial since some Jewish Christians insist the Gentile believers get circumcised first. Peter and Paul lead the charge for inclusion. It's decided that only a few rules should be observed by the Gentiles: abstaining from idolatry, sexual immorality, and eating meat with the blood still in it.

Paul and Barnabas split their successful missionary team over John Mark. Barnabas wants to give his nephew a second chance. Paul is still sore over his bailing out on them before. Barnabas and Mark go their way; Paul takes Silas and goes his way.

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