Solomon Builds the Temple

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Today's Reading: 1 Kings 3:1-2; 5:1-6:11

"The people...were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had to yet been built for the Name of the LORD."

Looking at a Bible timeline, there was roughly 500 years between Israel leaving Egypt and Solomon building the first temple.  The Tabernacle - a sort of tent-temple was built during the exodus.  So for 500 years, Israel lacked a church building.  

Think about that a second.  Most churches will never hit the 500 year mark.  There are a number of churches in Europe that have been around and functional that long.  In the continental US, the oldest continually operating congregation is Marble Collegiate Church in New York City; they started meeting together in 1628 and have met continually, without changing affiliation or experiencing any sort of stoppage for the past 389 years.  If they were Israel at the time of today's reading, they would have another 111 years before they would finally build their first building.  Today, it's hard to imagine a group of people meeting together for worship on a regular basis and not making a push for a permanent home within the first 5 years.  Israel waited nearly 500 years!

There's a couple things going on here: 1) Israel's commitment to worshiping God and being patient for him, and 2) God's faithfulness.

God doesn't work on the same timeline that we do.  And so often we forget that.  God wasn't in a hurry to get a temple.  Eventually he promised that one day a temple would be built for him, but that was still a generation or so out.  In the meantime, the people continued to worship in the places and the ways they always had and that were available to them.

We have a tendency to get wrapped up into thinking that we have to have a place to worship. I was almost obsessed with this when I was a church planter.  But realistically, God doesn't need a place to be worshiped - and he said as much to David through Nathan.  A building is for us, not God.

God accepts our worship whenever and where ever we offer it.  But he's also faithful in showing that he knows we need the help.  But the next time you're at the beach, or hiking through the woods, or enjoying the peace and quiet in your own backyard, worship God.  He'll hear you, see you, and be glorified through you.  But also, come together with others.  Israel may not have had a temple, but they still gathered together.  When Marble Collegiate Church began meeting, they "did church" in a gristmill that probably smelled like manure and was covered in grain dust.  God was still worshiped and glorified by them.