1 Kings 5:1-6
Every time I climb the Lincoln Memorial steps, the colossal statue of Lincoln makes me feel small. The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address, engraved on walls to his left and right, change my perspective. They connect me to this nation’s ideals and the generational hope of making this a “more perfect union.” Reading those words in that place reminds me that I am part of a democracy dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all its people.
Solomon’s Temple marked Jerusalem as Israel’s holy city for over 350 years, longer than any major building has stood in the United States. As the construction of capital buildings, churches, schools, and civic statues do today, the Temple embodied symbols and institutions that lasted for generations. This week, we will consider how God works through the building of institutions over generations.
Solomon ironically turns to an outsider, Phoenician king Hiram of Tyre, to help build the Temple. The Phoenicians build ships from the wood of Lebanon’s forests, and no one . . . knows how to cut timber like them (v. 6). He willingly pays whatever wages Hiram demands.
Solomon needs the Phoenicians, though, for more than their craftsmanship. Institutions and structures that last generations almost always enlarge our circles. They create new partnerships and opportunities. Perhaps that’s why the prophet Isaiah spoke these words from the Lord: “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is 56:7).
The purpose and potential of such buildings is to connect us to one another and to ideals that are bigger than we are.
What buildings, places, and institutions connect you to things that are bigger than your own life? What values do they instill in you?
God, on this All Hallows’ Eve, help me appreciate what previous generations created to enrich my life. With gratitude, help me strengthen the institutions that will enhance the generations to follow. Amen.