Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
On the day the first Temple was dedicated, there was much joy. Scripture records the moment:
So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him – a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the Lord our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all. On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel (1 Kings 8:65-66).
And the Spirit of the Lord was there in such abundance that nothing else could be done, we read,
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple (1 Kings 8:10-11).
Your life was probably like this on the day you accepted Christ into your heart. Suddenly your life was so full of the presence of God that nothing else mattered. But after a while your life in Christ probably stopped being so….special; and things felt pretty normal again. What happened to those days of awesome grace? That’s what people were wondering in the later days of the Kingdom of Judah as well. The Bible says,
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 (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Much like the Lord was honored through the Temple, our bodies become the temple of Christ upon salvation. Let’s take a look at how Israel turned things around at the Temple and how you can too.
Let’s start with the problem. Life has many different seasons. Solomon wrote on this,
There is a time for everything,
And a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
Likewise Israel had many kings; and just like your ups and downs, some kings were bad and others were good. Let’s take an example of one of these kings, Manasseh. He desecrated the temple (among other things). History records,
He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7).
Manasseh wasn’t the only one, but over the course of several bad kings, this sort of stuff happened a lot and the Temple was falling into disrepair. In your life, you may go through rough patches and develop habits that aren’t pleasing to God. Slowly, your faith erodes; maybe you start to disconnect form God because of the hustle and bustle of life. Your temple needs some restoration!
Enter into the picture King Josiah. Josiah looked at the state of the Temple and said, “Enough is enough.” He decided to get things back on track. The Bible tells us,
In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord – the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple” (2 Kings 22:3-6).
He wanted to fix things in Israel, and the first thing he did was to make repairs and to keep the Temple looking fresh. How does this relate to us? Even if you don’t feel like it, go to church. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” And don’t even try any of that “my church asks for money all the time” crap excuse people thing flies. It doesn’t. The passage from the Temple’s restoration continues, “But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully” (2 Kings 22:7). Besides, if you don’t like your church in particular; find another; there’s plenty to go around in most places.
While fixing the temple, they found the early Bible: the Law. We read,
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king (2 Kings 22:8-10).
Even if you’re not reading the Bible at home, the sermons at the church have a message for you. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear- Israel knows a thing or two about that,
She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched’” (2 Kings 22:15-17).
When you get somewhat damned by a passage in the Bible or a sermon, that is a conviction from the Lord to straighten things out. When God calls you out on something, repent! The Bible tells us,
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
When called to do it, Josiah repented as well:
“Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
So they took her answer back to the king (2 King 22:18-20).
As Christians, we are already saved from our initial sins, but when the Lord calls on you to take care of your current and immediate sin issues; get on that! Then rededicate your life to Christ, as Josiah and Israel did;
The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant (2 Kings 23:3).
But that’s not all! After seeking forgiveness on the things God calls you out on, next you should look back on your life after Jesus and (asking the Holy Spirit for help) try to find habits or interests that distracted or took you away from God in the first place and get rid of them. Josiah really went to town on this part; he completely removed idolatry from Israel. There are a number of verses about it but I’ll just give you one passage because you’ve been reading a lot today,
He removed from the entrance to the temple of the Lord the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the Lord. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley (2 Kings 23:11-12).
You also may want to devalue some of your less spiritual or more distracting friends. I’ve heard of numerous Christians- even pastors- having to retire their golf clubs. Sometimes you have to decide what things are more important in your life.
Jesus gave his life to save yours; an eternal gift that lasts forever. Christ taught, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them” (Mark 3:28). And Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:11-13,
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
We will also live with him;
If we endure,
We will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
He will also disown us;
If we are faithless,
He will remain faithful,
For he cannot disown himself.
Since the Lord remains faithful, you can recapture the glory days of your faith and reignite your devotion to Christ. Even Jesus recommends it,
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:4-7).
Overcome the obstacles that are cluttering up your temple and your life and live your best life in the Lord!