Today’s advice: Don’t neglect the wood.
“So Solomon built the temple and completed it. He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, paneling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, and covered the floor of the temple with planks of juniper. He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits long.
“The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen. He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.
The Inner Sanctuary
“For the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood, each ten cubits high. One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits—ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. The height of each cherub was ten cubits. He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. He overlaid the cherubim with gold.
“On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold. For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors out of olive wood that were one fifth of the width of the sanctuary. And on the two olive-wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with hammered gold.
“In the same way, for the entrance to the main hall he made doorframes out of olive wood that were one fourth of the width of the hall. He also made two doors out of juniper wood, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings. And he built the inner courtyard of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams” (1 Kings 6:14-36).
Don’t you know, that was an impressive thing to see! It wasn’t because it was really so large (90’ long, 30’ wide, and 45’ high), but the gold!
All that gold was pretty impressive in the time of Solomon. It’s still a pretty impressive thing. Gold is precious, rare, and beautiful, so we can understand why Solomon wanted to overlay everything in God’s house with it.
We value gold. Some people can get pretty crazy over it. We love our gold jewelry, gold ornaments, gold bricks, gold in all shapes and sizes. Did you know that it’s possible to buy a 24 karat gold vacuum cleaner? (I guess that’s to clean up your gold dust–ha! sorry.) It’s not entirely gold though. It’s manufactured by GoVacuum, has a 10 amp motor, and sells for a cool million.
What’s more, did you know that you can get a gold facial? Legend is that Cleopatra made gold facials a regular part of her beauty routine. You can get one for anywhere between $100 and $1200, depending on the specific composition of the application.
If you’re younger or more into fun than beauty, you can purchase a gold plated slinky. They’re actually pretty cheap at slightly less than $100.
Furthermore, if you are really a fan of gold, you might contact a place called Hang Fung Gold, and for a mere $5 million, they will make you a solid gold, working toilet! And if you purchase the gold toilet, for only $1.3 million more, you can add the 22 karat gold toilet paper to go with it. (Can’t make this stuff up.)
I don’t know about you, but I think 22k gold toilet paper is a sign from heaven that you’re making way too much money.
So, back to the Temple …
If Solomon’s temple were to be built today with exactly the same specs, materials, and contents, it would cost over $300 billion … with a b … $300,000,000,000. I’m no mathematician, but that’s twelve digits!
However, Solomon didn’t build a solid gold temple. He commissioned the use of stone, and he commissioned the use of wood. Stone and wood are pretty ordinary compared to all that gold, and most of the wood was covered up in the gold, but Solomon was a practical guy. He knew, or was divinely instructed, that gold is soft, it’s heavy, and it melts at a pretty low temperature. Consequently, gold walls and pillars would simply not safely support a roof. So Solomon called for the stone and for the best, strong, fragrant woods–cedar, juniper, and olive.
How, then, does this apply to our lives? Solomon’s Temple was destroyed centuries ago.
Today, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Each one of us is a temple, and we are much like that temple Solomon built.
As a Christian, how do you want to demonstrate your faith to the world?
Strength is good.
Those stone blocks on the outside of the temple were strong, for sure. People admire strength, and people can be drawn to it. However, stone is pretty hard and cold, and if you only have strength, you are not attractive for long.
Beauty is good.
All that gold was certainly beautiful! Say someone was attracted to your beauty and opened up a conversation, and the words turned to Jesus. You can speak all the glittering words and sing all the scintillating songs, and recite all the shiny Bible verses, but after a while, there would need to be more. Just like the strength, beauty can’t witness alone. There has to be something else beneath the pretty face and the pretty words.
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching” (John Wooden). Interesting, this man’s last name, because to be an effective temple of the Holy Spirit, you can’t just be stone and you can’t just be gold, you can’t neglect the wood!
The wood was not the showy part of the temple, but it was a necessary part of the temple. The wood is your prayer time, your Bible reading, your meditation, worship, and quality time spent with God. He is the only source of that strong, warm, fragrant wood that supports the temple. Without the wood, the temple falls.
Don’t Neglect the Wood!
What happens if the wood is weak?
What is unseen is necessary for what is seen to stand.
If you are careless about real relationship with the Lord, no matter how many preachers you listen to, no matter how many gospel songs you sing, no matter how many good deeds you do or touching public prayers you say, you are building your temple with inferior wood.
Again, what if you use good wood, but then don’t protect it? Insects can invade even good wood and make it weak. Things that distract, even fear or worry about what is happening around you, can interfere with your conversation with God. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, and the like, are devastating infestations that steal the strength of those wood pillars that hold up your temple. Lies, jealousy, anger, and gossip can eat away the beams. Furthermore, these invaders attack on the inside and sometimes they’re hard to perceive before the damage is done. They are even sometimes hidden by the “gold” overlay. Dirty secrets under the “church face” can collapse the temple.
Sometimes strong wood gets rotten because it is being exposed to the wrong environment. Moisture, chemicals, and weather can break down the wood cells, and after time passes, the wood becomes useless. Environments in which you build your temple, such as what you look at online, video games you play, music you listen to, groups you join, can be toxic. What environment are you exposing your temple to?
Don’t Neglect the Wood!
Whatever beauty you are displaying on the outside, don’t neglect the wood on the inside. Treat it with the oil of the Holy Spirit. Exterminate the dangerous invaders. Control the environment. Keep your temple strong with Bible reading, private devotion and prayer time, meditation and listening for the voice of God in your spirit. Yes, show your spiritual strength! Yes, display your spiritual beauty! But remember, don’t neglect the wood!