Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 15 2019 - 1 Chronicles 22 – David's preparations for the temple

David is now back in Jerusalem and is getting old. Years before he had wanted to build a house for the Lord but had been told by the Lord through the prophet Nathan that he would not build such a temple; his son, Solomon would build the temple in Jerusalem.

David may not have been allowed to build the temple but he is keen to do all that he can to prepare for its building; "David said, ‘My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendour in the sight of all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for it.’ So David made extensive preparations before his death" (v. 5).

David then instructed his son Solomon concerning the preparations he had made for the temple and what was required of Solomon in building it. He also called on the leaders of Israel to help Solomon.

David had not been allowed to build the temple because he had shed much blood and fought many wars (v. 8). God said that David's son would, "be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, [a name meaning peace] and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever" (vv. 9-10). 

Our Lord Jesus is the one whom God has owned as his own beloved son. He is the one who has fought the final war against Satan, sin and death and has triumphed over them. He has entered into his rest: he is the Prince of Peace.

The elaborate preparations for the temple in Jerusalem seem impressive. The third temple built by Herod seemed impressive to Jesus' disciples. But Jesus said that the temple they so much admired would be destroyed. He was going to build a more magnificent and eternal temple. That temple is the risen Saviour himself and the community of his people among whom he dwells. Jesus, the Prince of Peace is building a great temple of living stones in which his glory will be displayed.

And Jesus calls us not only to enjoy the peace and rest he gives us but also to be active in building this temple – as the leaders in Israel were called to help Solomon. We are to be careful how we build. We are to seek to add new living stones to this temple by calling upon others to come and find rest for their souls and peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to build up one another in knowledge of Christ and likeness of him, that Christ's glory may be displayed in his temple. We are to be careful never to do damage to this temple – never to tear apart what Christ is constructing: "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives among you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 – see vv. 10-17 of that chapter).

Solomon had a serious task to perform in building a temple for the Lord. To perform this task, David tells him that he needs to, "devote [his] heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God" (v.19). The Lord Jesus calls us to similar heart and soul devotion to him that we might be useful and effective in building his kingdom.

Father God, we thank you for the Lord Jesus, through whose death and resurrection we have been given peace with you and welcomed into the rest enjoyed by Christ himself. Help us by your Spirit to be effective and consistent master builders until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

May 15 2013 - John 8:21-30 – I am

John’s Gospel has a number of “I am” sayings of Jesus. You may have heard series of sermons on such sayings as “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, “I am the good shepherd” etc. But there are other occasions when Jesus uses this phrase in even more striking ways – instances often lost in English translations. Later in this chapter we will read that Jesus told the Jews, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) – an odd piece of grammar expressing an astonishing truth. In the few verses that we have read this morning we have two other instances of Jesus using this expression. Let’s begin by setting the context.

Jesus has been teaching in the temple and has become engaged in an argument with the Pharisees. They have accused him of self-promotion (8:13), but Jesus insists that he does no more than speak the words that the Father has given him. Everything he says is therefore backed up by the Father (8:18). Since their Law declares that where two witnesses agree, their testimony should be received as true, the Pharisees should acknowledge the truth of what Jesus is saying.

What is this testimony of the Father of which Jesus speaks? It cannot be some inner testimony that assures Jesus that he is obedient to the Father; such testimony would not have been accessible to the Pharisees. Jesus is surely referring to the testimony of Scripture. All that he says and does fulfils Scripture’s self-revelation of the Father. If only they would read “their Law” correctly they would see that Jesus was sent by the Father to fulfil all that had been written beforehand. Their failure to believe will mean that they cannot go where he is going; they will die in their sins (8:21).

In response to their confusion, Jesus clarifies what he has said, “If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (8:24). This is a striking phrase and one that seems to have troubled the Pharisees. Jesus’ words are a clear echo of God’s revelation of himself to Moses at the burning bush. Moses was reluctant to return to Egypt and tell the Israelites that the God of their fathers was going to rescue them unless God first revealed his name. God replied, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ … This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:14, 16). Jesus takes upon himself the divine name as he calls those who hear him to “believe that I am”. He is the ultimate revelation of God and of his saving purposes. To reject him is to reject the salvation of God and to die in one’s sins.

Unsurprisingly, the Pharisees are deeply offended by Jesus words and ask him, “Who do you think you are?” (8:25). Jesus replies with “the most obscure sentence in the Gospel” (Beasley-Murray) – one which has caused much trouble to translators. Jesus is content to speak enigmatically, but assures his hearers, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am…” (8:28).

The cross is the ultimate, if equally enigmatic, demonstration that Jesus is the revelation of God. The Pharisees could not see Jesus for who he was because they did not know God. They thought of him as the solemn lawgiver rather than the one revealed to Moses at the burning bush – the God who comes down to save.

Father God, teach me more of your enigmatic character as I learn of Christ. Help me to understand your love that passes understanding and your grace that shatters my self-righteousness and self-assurance. By your Spirit, help me to follow Christ now and to rejoice in the assurance that you have not left me to die in my sins but that I shall follow Christ to glory.

Peter Misselbrook