Then Solomon sent word to King Hiram of Tyre:
Do for me what you did for my father David. You sent him cedars to build him a house to live in. Now I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God in order to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for displaying the rows of the Bread of the Presence continuously, and for sacrificing burnt offerings for the morning and the evening, the Sabbaths and the New Moons, and the appointed festivals of the Lord our God. This is ordained for Israel permanently. The temple that I am building will be great, for our God is greater than any of the gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain him? Who am I then that I should build a temple for him except as a place to burn incense before him? Therefore, send me an artisan who is skilled in engraving to work with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and with purple, crimson, and blue yarn. He will work with the artisans who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, appointed by my father David. Also, send me cedar, cypress, and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants know how to cut the trees of Lebanon. Note that my servants will be with your servants to prepare logs for me in abundance because the temple I am building will be great and wondrous. I will give your servants, the woodcutters who cut the trees, one hundred thousand bushels of wheat flour, one hundred thousand bushels of barley, one hundred ten thousand gallons of wine, and one hundred ten thousand gallons of oil.
2 Chronicles 2:3-10
As we near the end of the Kingdom of Judah and the First Temple, it’s good to look back at where the unified Kingdom of Israel had fallen from. The Temple was built at the height of Israel’s power under the reign of King Solomon. He sent a message to a long-time ally of his father, David, to request building materials for the temple he planned to build. In the midst of all the typical protocol for this type of communication, Solomon acknowledges the enormity of the task. He asks two rhetorical questions:
- Who is able to build a temple for him, since even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain him?
- Who am I then that I should build a temple for him except as a place to burn incense before him?
He acknowledged that God was so great that no human building could ever truly contain Him. At most, the Temple would become a place to gather as a community in order to worship and show devotion to God, who could not be contained even by the universe.
Like the building of a temple, we can often try to fit God into boxes and categories that we have constructed. God is bigger than all of these. A true worshiper of realizes that it is impossible to contain God in any system that human beings have constructed. Any effort we make to create such a system at most will serve as a connecting point for us to begin to understand the fullness of the limitless God we serve. God has opened a door to connect with Him through Jesus. Once we have entered that Kingdom, though, we encounter the vastness of who God is and begin to humbly realize how impossible the task is to ever try to fit God into a neat container constructed by our ideas about Him.
This reminds me of the 1980’s song, “Half Light, Epoch, and Phase” by Daniel Amos:
Everyone seems to think they’ve got it made
That you’re on a rack by the door
It’s true, I don’t know much except I am saved
From falling through cracks in the floor
True worship is recognizing that God is greater than any category we try to fit Him into.
- What categories have you tried to fit God into?