Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 31 2019 - 1 Kings 8:1-21 – The ark brought to the temple

David had longed to build a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem but the Lord did not allow him to do so. Solomon has now completed the project so beloved of his father. Yesterday we read of the construction of the temple and the splendour of its golden decoration. 1 Kings 7 (which we have skipped over), describes some of the temple furnishings. Among other things there were: two immense bronze pillars decorated with a network of pomegranates to stand at the entrance to the temple; an enormous metal bowl, 5 metres across decorated with cast gourds and supported by twelve cast bulls; a golden altar for sacrifices; a golden table on which was displayed "the bread of the Presence"; ten golden lampstands…

This glorious temple is now to become the central place of worship for the people of God. Solomon called a solemn assembly of the elders of Israel and heads of all the tribal families that they might witness the ark of the covenant being brought from Zion, the City of David, to be placed in the inner sanctuary of the temple – the 'holy of holies'.

The ark is the symbol of God's covenant with Israel – the evidence that he is their God and they are his people. It is also a picture of God's presence with, and reign over, his people; he 'sits enthroned between the cherubim'. When the ark is set down in its new place, "the cloud filled the temple of the LORD... for the glory of the LORD filled his temple" (1 Kings 8:10-11). The pillar of cloud that had led Israel through the wilderness has come at last to its place of rest. God lives among his people and intends that his glory should be seen by them and be reflected in them. Solomon celebrates the way in which the Lord has kept the promises he made to David in enabling him to reign over Israel and to build a temple for the Lord (8:20-21). God has been faithful to his people and will continue to be faithful to all his promises.

We might have wished to be there to witness such a spectacle, but then we read that the moving of the Ark was accompanied by the sacrifice of innumerable sheep and cattle (8:5). That must have made it a very bloody scene – not to mention smelly and noisy. The temple will continue to be a place of bloodshed; it is only through the death of a substitute that sinful people can approach a holy God.

Jesus is the one in whom all these pictures find their focus and fulfilment. He is the one in whom God has come to dwell among us, the one in whom we see God's glory. He has provided the perfect and final sacrifice for sin. His shed blood is the blood of the New Covenant by which God has bound us to himself in an embrace which nothing can ever break.

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they. (Isaac Watts)

Father God, we thank you that we do not need to offer you innumerable sacrifices of sheep and cattle or even the sacrifice of one sheep or turtle dove. We thank you that your Son has given himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sin and that we need only trust in him. Lord Jesus, thank you for your dying love and your risen power. Thank you that through your death we are freed from the guilt and penalty of sin. Thank you that you are risen from the dead and that in you we also possess a life that will never end. Thank you that because your Spirit lives in us, we also have become the dwelling place of the living God. May more of your glory be seen in our lives.

May 31 2013 - John 19:17-42 – It is finished

On the wall of my study, above my desk, is a simple poster bearing the words “It is finished.” It was one of seven such posters that were put together for a series of walk-through meditations on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. I brought this one home when it was finished with and stuck it on my wall where it constantly catches my attention.

In John’s Gospel these are the last recorded words of Jesus. They are remarkable words. Jesus does not cry “I am finished” but “It is finished.” He does not die with a cry of defeat on his lips but a cry of victory. Jesus knew that he had completed all that the Father had sent him to do (compare the use of exactly the same form of the verb two verses earlier – striking in the Greek though often invisible in English translation: "knowing that all was now completed").

There are two reasons I have this wonderful saying of Jesus on my study wall. The first is to remind me of the finished work of Jesus Christ. He has done all that was necessary for my salvation. Through his death my sins are forgiven. Through his resurrection I have eternal life. No more condemnation... Nothing can separate us from the love of God... There is a wonderful assurance in these words, “It is finished.” It’s a done deal.

But there is also a second reason. The New Testament speaks of the Christian as one who has died with Christ. My previous life, a life lived from self and to self, must also be brought continually under the judgment of these words: “It is finished.” There is a call and a challenge in these words. The old life is gone; henceforth I am to live with the risen Christ the life of the new creation. When temptation comes knocking, I arm myself with this response, “It is finished”. The person you are seeking does not live here anymore; he's deceased, finished. I’ve done with that old life.

Yet in another sense, the work in me remains very much unfinished.

Jesus' burial underlines the reality of his death. He was not taken from the cross in an unconscious state from which he later recovered. Jesus was truly dead. The Roman soldiers had made certain of that. They had broken the bones of those crucified with Jesus to hasten their deaths, but had not needed to do so with him; he was already dead. Just to make sure, one of the soldiers had stuck a spear into his side, "bringing a sudden flow of blood and water" (19:34). The spear prod was intended to see whether Jesus was really dead; if the body did not jerk or respond to the spear thrust then it was lifeless. The mixture of blood and water suggest also that the blood had already begun to congeal and separate. Jesus was dead.

Matthew tells us that he was sealed in the tomb and that guards were placed outside to ensure that the disciples did not come by night to steal his body. No human power opened the tomb and removed the body; he was raised by the power of God. No human power can give us resurrection life. But the power that raised Jesus from the dead is already at work in us giving us life, and will give us life in all its fullness on that last day.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21.)

Heavenly Father, I praise you for the finished work of Christ which is the ground of my hope and the source of my assurance. Show me more and more of the perfection of Christ's saving work that I may be filled with thankfulness, wonder, joy and peace. Thank you that you have promised by your Spirit to finish that work which you have begun in me. Help me to turn from everything that belongs to my unredeemed nature and to grow in likeness to my perfect Saviour even as I shall be made perfectly like him at his appearing.

Peter Misselbrook