The construction of the Tabernacle and Solomonʼs Temple provides valuable lessons for faithful perseverance in the several ecclesial causes to which we put our hands. Whilst edifying and building up the ecclesias, we also need to remind ourselves of the importance of binding “living stones” into the “house” of God.

Everything about the Tabernacle emphasised the holiness of Yahweh; increasingly so as one was brought closer and closer to the mercy seat with its shekinah glory overhead. A privileged priesthood could serve Yahweh in the beauty of holiness surrounded by appointments that were awe-inspiring and beautiful in their craftsmanship. The finest of materials, including beautifully wrought gold, silver, bronze and fine linen provided by an abundance of gifts from an appreciative people were crafted by men and women empowered with special wisdom and skill (Exod 35; 36: 1–6; 39: 43).

“Let them make Me a Sanctuary”

For six months the people worked enthusiastically on this remarkable project: not large by any stand­ard, but intrinsically beautiful in purpose and detail, abounding in spiritual lessons, everything highlight­ing the divine etiquette of worship.

However within days of leaving the Mount, a kingdom of priests and an holy nation, with a tabernacle of witness in their midst and at their head, forsook the Mighty One which made them and lightly esteemed the Rock of their salvation. The lessons of the Tabernacle and the many wonders and signs of Yahweh being amongst them faded and evaporated at the prospect of confronting the great high walls of the Canaanite fortresses. They brought a slander upon Godʼs chosen land, the inheritance of their fathers. This final insult cast upon Godʼs gracious calling brought about irrevocable judgments upon all that adult generation yet, in the midst of disaster, Yahwehʼs will to ultimately fill the earth with His glory was powerfully re-affirmed.

We, who have been blessed with so many opportunities to work together on projects to serve God and the ecclesia with “wise hearted” brethren and sisters whose hearts Yahweh has made willing, should heed the lesson of short-lived faith and dedication. Whatever the source of discouragement we must not be deterred from seeing Yahweh among us, encouraging us to endure faithful unto the end of our wilderness wanderings. Is there not in all of us the propensity to forget God and all His benefits, to reach spiritual heights yet so rapidly slide into spiritual declension?

“The house which I have built is great”

The Temple prepared by David and built by Solomon was a glorious and majestic structure. Again, not overlarge but the exquisitely worked materials of stone, wood and gold occupied the labour of 183,000 men for over seven and a half years and created a truly magnificent structure fit for a symbolic dwelling place for the Most High.

Thousands gathered at the opening ceremony. All was meticulously prepared. Thousands of sheep and oxen were sacrificed and as the Ark was taken and placed beneath the overshadowing wings of the cherubim the 120 priests, trumpeters, musicians and singers praised Yahweh with one heart and voice. They sang saying, “For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chron 5: 13). Solomonʼs moving prayer of thanksgiving and praise is illustrative of the joyful heart of the nation (2 Chron 6: 14,18,30,31,40–42).

Fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices. The glory of Yahweh filled the House and Godʼs people rejoiced and went to their tents “glad and merry in heart” (2 Chron 7:10,11).

But conditions were attached to the promise of future blessings. Godʼs blessings would always be there and His ears attentive to their prayers—if, if they maintained their separateness and dedication (2 Chron 7: 14). The issues were plain. If Solomon did walk in the ways of David his father, his kingdom would remain. If he did not, not only would the glorious house of prayer become desolate, but Israel would be plucked up out of their land and become a reproach among all nations (2 Chron 7: 20–22).

We might imagine that with such a clear warning and with his exemplary wisdom, Solomon would choose the path of wisdom. Yet, despite all the evidence of Godʼs goodness, all of the inducements to maintain the joy and wonder of that Temple opening ʻspecial effortʼ, he succumbed to the wiles of gentile women and departed from the ways of Yahweh.

What is the lesson for us? The sad record of the Kings and Chronicles portrays Solomon as a man who lost his first love, a man corrupted by the “deceitfulness of sin”, a man once blessed but cursed for his folly. If, Solomon with all of his wisdom, fell incrementally to the awful depths of idolatry how necessary is it for us—with far less wisdom – to determine to make it a prayerful resolve, that we will walk in the ways of Yahweh. Heeding the lesson, we will resolve to worship Yahweh in sincerity and in truth with our families. We will consider our ways and ponder the path of our feet lest we be turned out of the path of the just. We will remove our feet from evil, for evil associations corrupt the new man in Christ. In essence, we will awake to righteousness and sin not. We must not forget all of Godʼs benefits. We must not let the joy and wonder of our “special” events like Bible Schools, Youth Conferences and the like, fade from our minds. They should remind us upon reflection how wonderfully blessed we are to have all of these “helps” and that our gracious heavenly Father will continue to bless us and our children, if we are steadfast in our devotion to Him. To whom much is given much is required. Let him that thinks that he stands and is impervious to temptation take heed lest he fall.

Brethren and sisters, if God has begun a good work in us—in our families and in our ecclesias—let us heed the appeal of Scripture to go from strength to strength, not strong in our conceit, but strong in faith and in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us go on, showing the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end. Let us be careful to maintain good works so that our Lord, who walks amongst the lampstands, shall come to find the faith loved and promoted amongst us.

Building with “living stones”

Shall we be faithful unto the end? It requires endurance. It calls upon all of our resources. Itʼs a building work that is more demanding than building with bricks, mortar, timber and steel. In fact, itʼs easier to build structures like the Tabernacle, the Temple or our own halls than to “build” ecclesias.

We are living stones, of differing form, character and idiosyncrasies, all “hewn” out of the world. We are undergoing the polishing and fashioning hand of the Master Builder and Craftsman and are being prepared to fit perfectly into the future spiritual “house”. For the present, itʼs easier working with our hands than building “living stones” together. Cementing “living stones” together with the mortar of love doesnʼt happen with wishful thought! Nor is it as though love ʻcaps it all offʼ. It is a vital active ingredient in our interaction with each other. When the apostle Paul refers to love being the “bond of perfectness” he refers to the ligaments of the body where all members of the Christ body lovingly support one another – linking, binding and activating all members of the body. The joining of hands and hearts together prayerfully to achieve common goals is to enjoy some of the many truly memorable ʻprojectsʼ of our lives. It provides the blessed opportunity to value each otherʼs strengths and weaknesses in ʻweldingʼ dissimilar ʻmaterialsʼ together so that the bond of fellowship will withstand the stresses and strains of ecclesial life. Let us then put our collective energies into, not so much the ʻspecial effortsʼ of our ecclesial programs (as needful as they are), but more particularly into the up-building of one another in our common faith. This will take effort, diligence, patience and constant prayer for one another, with that all important consolidating factor being love (Eph 4:15,16). It is a mutual love of God and an esteeming of others to be better than ourselves. We happily adopt then the role of servants ministering to each otherʼs needs in a Christ-like spirit and reinforcing the hope and confidence of our beloved brethren and sisters (John 13:13–15).

If this is the spirit of our co-labouring with God and with each other, a sure and steady growth to a mature “manhood” and stature in Christ will ensue. Every brother and sister is a contributory link in this building process. We must forge these links, strengthening the various parts of the ecclesia into a cohesive whole, firmly adhering together, the unifying force being a self sacrificing love—even as Christ has firstly loved us and gave himself for us.