Sunday, October 9, 2016

For the Praise of His Glory

             Jerusha’s footsteps resonated down the barren corridors.  What had once been commensurate with the grandest of palaces was lying waste, as it had been for generations.  Doors, stripped of their brass when her great-grandmother was a child, lay in miserable heaps like fractured kindling.  Miniscule fragments of golden pottery occasionally caught the glint of sunlight and sparkled amidst piles of dust.  She sneezed.  The resounding echo sent a rat scurrying from where it had been peeping its eyes from atop a thread-bare shroud that must have once been an immaculate indigo curtain.  Heading east, she met three broken oxen that had once held up a magnificent sea of brass, but only one beast remained with eyes still intact.  Those glassy features seemed to eerily follow her wherever she went. 

To think that this had once been a palace for HER GOD!  Once the most glorious and magnificent of temples—now a ruined heap of rubble. 
The young woman had now come center-court.  She knew from the scrolls which her father had stolen that this was the very place King Solomon had prayed.  In front of the Lord’s altar, facing the Israelite congregation he had stood, spreading forth his hands in prayer.  Imagine—the king of a united Israel seeking the God of all?  It was something she had never seen in her lifetime.  Ever since she could remember—ever since her father and mother could remember—they had been captives--slaves to uncircumcised kings who knew not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

She closed her eyes, imagining how that glorious day must have been when this brand new temple had first been dedicated.  Everything pristine—perfectly orderly—as it should be.  How the king’s words must have resounded as they bounced off the beautiful fixtures in the new temple:

“But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built!  Have respect therefore unto the prayer of Thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God…That Thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof Thou wouldest put thy name there . . .” (2 Chron. 6:18-20).

God’s name.  What had happened?  Where was God now?  Certainly not in the midst of this confusion.  Truly He was not piled in heaps as were the battered fittings.  Oh, what must the nations think when looking at the RUINED condition of this magnificent temple to the one, true God?
Sitting down to weep, Jerusha seemed to hear strains of Solomon’s prayer drifting down the halls of the centuries. 

“And if Thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, and shall return and confess Thy name, and pray and make supplication before Thee in this house; Then hear Thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which Thou gavest to them and to their fathers" (2 Chron. 6:24-25).  

            Kneeling, Jerusha prayed to the God she knew still existed.  She asked Jehovah for mercy, reiterating the words of King Solomon, who had asked Him to hear, forgive, and bring her people back to the place where they could freely worship Him again in this once- glorious city.
            Yes, the nation of Israel had been captive to enemies for centuries, so much so that her generation, those "people that [were to be] born" and were to hear and share in the wonders of the God of Heaven (Ps. 22:31), could not experience His greatness in this house as their ancestors had.      
            The temple had been ransacked by enemy kings, who pirated its gold.  It had experienced disgrace by godless Israelite rulers, who traded its riches for peace with surrounding nations.  

            Not unlike that temple, believers today are God’s temple, designed with a magnificent purpose of worship to the holy One who created them.  Indeed, we are to be “to the praise of the glory of His grace" (Eph. 1:6).
             In fact, Solomon’s temple, marred of its original beauty, can remind us of our own bodies and spirits as believers—the place of habitation of the most Holy God.  Do we continually glorify Him in this place where He resides?  Are we frequently filled with His beauty, or do we allow other things to stand in the way of His rule?  Are our attitudes wholly and continually filled with His Spirit?  And how do we know?  According to Ephesians 5:18 and following, one manifestation of the Spirit’s rule in our hearts is our own singing to God.
            The Spirit's filling results in our singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."  Such songs to God praise Him in our bodies and spirits, which are His.  We can choose to glorify Him upon first rising, throughout our daily tasks, and in what many view as “mundane routines” of life.  In so doing, we will often experience inexpressible joy!  These words in song, flowing from a full heart of worship to our God, allow our Lord to be glorified in our own “temple."  
             In responding with joy, we elevate God and find resultantly how much more easily words of thanks for “all things" flow from our lips!  Even that difficult thing.  That hard task.  That seemingly impossible situation.  
             For the words to those songs have riveted our attention to the place where we can best find fulfillment and satisfaction—the blessed, triumphant cross of Jesus Christ, the glories of the resurrection life, and the victory that is possible because of Him.  What delight enters the spirit as we choose God’s channel of joy! 

           A few weeks ago, finding myself especially worn from the many activities of the day, I considered these truths about praising God in spite of tiredness.  I still had much to accomplish and, when I returned home, determined to go about my kitchen work with a song in my heart, singing hymns to God as I packed lunches for the next day.  How joy-filled and refreshed I felt just twenty minutes later!  My bodily fatigue had been transformed by the Spirit’s infusion of joy.  Another time recently I had the task of cleaning the church building in weeks quite close together.  Each time as I worked, I scrolled through a mental list of memorized psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  The vacuum drowned out my voice as I happily sang above its drone.  Those special times of cleaning actually deepened my walk with God, for His truth had been my meditation. 

            The temples of our bodies will one day be gone.  While we are the stewards of these dwellings of God, let us glorify Him in them!  Rust and decay ought never scuff the surface of our heart’s furniture as we daily offer the sacrifice (indeed, in a tired or work-worn condition, it really seems a sacrifice) of thankful praise!

 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice 
of praise to God continually, 
that is, the fruit of our lips 
giving thanks to his name (Heb. 13:15). 

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