Practical and Purposeful

While the chronicler recounted the construction of Solomon’s temple, in 2 Chronicles 4 he mentioned a number of the furnishings prepared in the process. Among these he included a bronze altar (2 Chr. 4:1), the Sea of cast bronze (2 Chr. 4:2-5), ten lavers (2 Chr. 4:6), ten lamp stands (2 Chr. 4:7), ten tables (2 Chr. 4:8), the court around the temple (2 Chr. 4:9-10), pots, shovels, carts, and forks (2 Chr. 4:11-16), and wick-trimmers, bowls, ladles, censers, and doors (2 Chr. 4:17-22). Considering the elaborate nature of the temple itself, built with the best materials and then covered in gold, the practicality of these utensils offers an astounding contrast. However, this difference reminds us of an important point. Solomon did not build the temple, nor the LORD accept it, based on its ascetic qualities. These merely served as an expression of the grandeur Yahweh deserved, or at least the best that man could create to demonstrate that in worldly form. Nevertheless, the temple existed for spiritual reasons. It required all the various implements necessary to serve the practicalities of the spiritual. And that fact deserves serious consideration in principle today.   

The Holy Spirit did not inspire any example, any exhortation, or any entreaty to amuse Himself or to impress mankind. Everything in scripture exists for a practical purpose. Does the Bible contain doctrine? Yes. Does the Bible teach theology? Yes. But these too are practical—practical because God expects it to affect how we think, affect how we feel, and affect how we live. He does not describe the assembly of the saints just because it is interesting; he expects us to order our assemblies accordingly. He does not explain how Jesus and the apostles interpreted scripture just so we are reminded of what the Old Testament but also so that we learn how we should interpret scripture. He does not address daily life, the problems of the tongue, attitudes of the heart, and spiritual maturity to increase the length of the New Testament; He expects us to listen, learn, and live with these things in mind. God did not send His Son to this earth so that we could “theoretically” become His people; He did so in order that we might not just be called His people but so that we would act accordingly. Therefore, when we study the Bible, let us not simply sit in judgment over the people of the past or the false doctrines of the present, but let us humbly examine ourselves so that what the scriptures reveal may not just be our doctrine but also our practice.

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