Good Advice for Great Leadership

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

This is the essence of the kind of leadership that God blesses: If you will position yourself to be a servant of the people, the people you serve will always serve you. Unfortunately, most leaders don’t grasp the brilliance of God’s logic. Humanistic thinking leads them to see the people as their servants, and once they attain power, their overriding effort is to retain it—on the backs of the people. Ultimately, that philosophy of leadership always fails—either in a shortened shelf life of that leader’s administration, or in the negative consequences of future administrations. Rare is the leader who understands that his or her divine mandate is public servant. When a leader truly understands that at an organic level, there you have the making of a leader for the ages.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 12:6-11

Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?” The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisors. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

What a contrast we find in this account between really good and really bad advice. Especially if you are a leader, or aspire to leadership, you ought to listen up on this one! What you will get here in just a few lines is better than anything you will get through years of education in the world’s best business schools—and a lot cheaper.

The story revolves around the transition of leadership from King Solomon to his son, Rehoboam. We don’t know for sure, but we can surmise that growing up in the luxurious living of his father’s kingdom had led to a sense of entitlement. His sense of reality was askew from all Solomon’s well-known kingly excesses—all the women and all the wealth. As the new king, Rehoboam wanted what his father had amassed, and them some, without doing any of the hard work to get it. But his father had gained much of his wealth on the backs of the Israelites; the people had paid heavy taxes, endured the conscription of their sons for the king’s army and the confiscation of their property for royal use. And now that Israel had reached an unprecedented level of security and success, the people rightly asked for a little relief from governmental demands as administrations changed hands.

When the request for relief was presented to the new king, he wisely asked for advice, first from his father’s experienced counselors, then from his untested friends. But he unwisely rejected the former and heeded the latter. In essence, his posses of spoiled friends advised him to double down on the demands his father had made of the people, and it turned out to be a mistake of epic proportions. Of course, the spiritual forces for a national rebellion had been seeded during Solomon’s backsliding, but Rehoboam didn’t help himself by following the bad advice of his tin-eared buddies. As a result, the nation split apart—the north broke from the south, and Israel never again existed as a unified nation.

So what is the leadership lesson we learn from Rehoboam? It comes from the rejected advice of the older counselors: “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” (1 Kings 12:7). Don’t miss that—it is the essence of leadership that God blesses:

If you will position yourself to be a servant of the people, the people you serve will always serve you.

Unfortunately, most leaders don’t grasp the brilliance of God’s logic. Humanistic thinking leads them to see the people as their servants, and once they attain power, the overriding effort of their administration is to retain it—on the backs of the people. Ultimately, that philosophy of leadership always fails—either in a shortened shelf-life of that leader’s tenure, or in the negative consequences of future administrations. Rare is the leader who understands that his or her divine mandate is public servant. When a leader truly understands that at an organic level, there you have the making of a leader for the ages.

Are you a leader, or do you aspire to leadership? Serve your people, and your people will always serve you.

Going Deeper With God: Memorize the words of Jesus found in Mark 10:42-45, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Don’t Dance With What God Despises

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

The hardening that happened in King Solomon’s life toward the end, as close to God as he once was, can happen to us, too. How? When we began to love things that God hates, we have entered the danger zone of spiritual drift. When, like Solomon we insist on loving “foreign women”, whatever that is for us—questionable things that do not honor God or promote kingdom values—we will soon be giving our worship to their gods. Perhaps there is no greater exercise that you could do today than to honestly evaluate your own mindsets and practices, then courageously dump what you shouldn’t be doing.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 11:1-4

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

I would like to think that ultimately, Solomon made it to heaven. I hope to see in the eternal kingdom this incredibly wise man who is responsible for penning a good portion of the wisdom literature that we now enjoy from the Bible. And there in heaven, if speaking of the former things is even a worthwhile exercise (which I doubt, given that the focus will be on the indescribable glory of God and the unending joys of our heavenly reward), I would love to compare notes with the wisest man who ever lived on how God’s mercy rescued us both from our self-inflicted plunges (yes, the plural is correct since some of us do it early and often) from grace.

In Ecclesiastes, a book many evangelical scholars believe that King Solomon authored toward the end of his life, we find this very simple yet prophetically profound line: “Finishing is better than starting.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) I just wish Solomon had heeded that advice the closer he got to the finish line. Solomon didn’t; his love for God drifted toward things that God despised. Over time, his fascination with foreign women turned into an addiction for even more women, along with the worship of their gods:

King Solomon loved many foreign women … He insisted on loving them anyway. (1 Kings 11:1-2)

Predictably, Solomon’s fleshly desires gave birth to sinful patterns which produced deadly results: he drifted from his faithful allegiance to the one true God, his heart hardened, and the forces that would ultimately remove the blessings that God had bestowed upon him (prosperity, power, impact for himself and the nation of Israel) were unleashed. (see James 1:14-15) Because of God’s loving patience, divine punishment would not afflict the nation just yet; that would come in the next generation which would take Solomon’s spiritual drift and plunge headlong into even greater rebellion against the Lord. (1 Kings 11:9-13)

So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son.” (1 Kings 11:11-12)

One of the practices of application to which scripture calls current readers is to consider stories like this as warnings to us. What happened to Solomon, as close to God as he once was, can happen to us, too. How? When we began to love things that God hates, we have entered the danger zone of spiritual drift. When we insist on loving “foreign women”, whatever that is for us—questionable things that do not honor God or promote kingdom values—we will soon be giving our worship to their gods. A generation or two ago, our forefathers who came out of the holiness movement referred to this as worldliness. Unfortunately, many from that movement became rigid and legalistic in their faith, and the next generation of believers reacted by going to the other extreme; we threw the holiness baby out with the legalistic bathwater. Today, the boundaries of holy living are pretty blurred.

To accurately apply Solomon’s spiritual demise calls from us for a truly open heart, the exercise of spiritual discernment, and a willingness to love God above all else. Solomon’s story ought to soberly remind us of what can happen when we insist on loving what God insists on hating. Perhaps there is no greater exercise that you could do today than to honestly evaluate your own mindsets and practices, then courageously dump what you shouldn’t be doing.

I would like to think in Solomon’s life that God’s grace got the last word, but since we don’t know for sure, when it comes to you and me, why chance it!

Going Deeper With God: Evaluate the practices of your life—and the heart attitude behind them: what you view through media, what you take into your body, what occupies the things you desire in your mind, the kind of people you allow to influence you. Are there patterns that run in opposition to the things that God loves? Are there desires that God despises? Bring them before God in a repentant heart, and let the Holy Spirit arrest your spiritual drift.

The Best Use of Your One and Only Life

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Solomon was living proof of that. As long he passionately pursued making God famous, his life was a blurry photo of heaven on earth. When his focus shifted from heaven to earth, he became a clear picture of the squandered life. As long as we make glorifying God the mission statement of our lives, we will gain something far greater than the ephemeral fame, power and wealth of Solomon; we will have gained the eternal joy of making Jesus famous.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 10:1, 4-5, 7-9

When the Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions…When the Queen of Sheba realized how very wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed…She exclaimed to the king, “Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told. How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”

There is nothing wrong with wealth, power and fame—so long as we use them to glorify God. If we have the right perspective in the process of attaining those things, and keep the right perspective once we do, then they will be divine blessings in our lives. If they change us into prideful, self-absorbed, pleasure-seeking, power-hungry people, then the blessing will become a curse.

We will see in the next chapter that the very things God gave to Solomon as blessings turned into curses. Solomon began to misuse them for his own selfish purposes, and they turned his heart from God. But I am getting ahead of myself. In this chapter, we see how Solomon’s great achievements brought great attention from people near and far. Kings and queens came from around the known world to interview the King of Israel, and like the Queen of Sheba, what they had heard of Solomon was not half of what they found. He was uncommonly blessed because of the favor of his God.

What was the secret of Solomon’s success? It was the very first thing we read of when the queen encountered Solomon on her visit to Jerusalem. His wealth, power and fame “brought honor to the name of the Lord.” (1 Kings 10:1) Once she realized how true that was—that Solomon was far more impressive in person than his impressive résumé—she redirected her praise to the source of it all, the God of Israel. Here was a case of a person’s fame being used as an irresistible witness to his faith. This queen, not a believer, as far as we can tell, exclaimed,

Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king so you can rule with justice and righteousness. (1 Kings 10:9)

C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Solomon was living proof of that. At this point in his life, his passionate pursuit was to make God famous. As long as his did that, God blessed this earthly king with heavenly treasure. Solomon’s life was a blurry photo of heaven on earth. When his focus shifted from heaven to earth (1 Kings 11), he forfeited the source of all that fame, the glory of God, and he became a clear picture of the squandered life.

Whether you become famous, attain power or amass wealth is immaterial, even though the godless philosophy of this present age will tell you it is the most important pursuit in life, that it is the determinative evidence of success, that it is the pathway to happiness. It is not. What is of utmost importance, what is true success, what is the wellspring of joy is making Jesus famous. Money, power and fame are a distant second to that. If you make the glory of God the passionate pursuit of your life, and keep it your focus even if God sovereignly gives you the other, then you will have surpassed the greatness of the wisest, wealthiest, most winsome human being who ever lived, Solomon.

Make Jesus famous. Make that the motto of your life—your mission statement, and nothing much can go wrong for you. With your one and only life, pursue the glory of God and you will automatically and always be right!

Going Deeper With God: Reassess your attitude toward fame, power and wealth. Do you desire it? Why? If it is for the glory of God, great! If it is for your own pleasure, comfort and status, repent. Make making Jesus famous your mission in life—and stick with it through thick and thin.

A Temple That Pales In Comparison To You

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Do you know who are you? You are not purposeless. You are not insignificant. You are not average. No way—you are the temple of God himself, a far more precious and glorious home of the presence of God than even the holy structure Solomon erected. Solomon’s temple pales in comparison to you. Seriously! That is who you are—you new identity in Christ. So live like it!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 9:2-7

The Lord said to Solomon, “I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations. Then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name.

It took twenty years for Solomon to complete two of his major work projects—his palace, which was beyond spectacular, and more importantly, the temple, which housed the glorious presence of the Lord. And while we don’t know exactly what the temple looked like since the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it some 400 years later (keep that in mind—God is under no obligation to protect his holy places when his people persist in unholy living, cf. 1 Kings 9:6-10), it must have been magnificent, knowing the brilliant Solomon’s architectural achievements—impressive even by modern standards. But as jaw dropping as the building was, even that compared to God’s presence that inhabited the place as it was dedicated, which you can read about in 1 Kings 8.

When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:10-11)

While the temple certainly was equal to the Hellenistic list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, What made it so special wasn’t Solomon’s engineering brilliance or the building’s awe-inspiring beauty, it was the presence of the Lord. And what added to the inspiration of his presence was the certainty of his promise:

I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. (1 Kings 9:3)

Fast-forward to your life and mine today. Do you realize that Solomon’s temple in all its splendor has been replaced? Replaced by what? Not by what, but by whom. You—as a follower of Jesus Christ, who is the complete revelation of God’s presence, the fulfillment of his promise, and the expression of his power—are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. That is who you are, and me too, together with every other surrendered follower of Jesus: We are God’s temple. That is what the Apostle Paul says,

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:13)

Now the implications of that are huge. Not the least of which is the fact of your redeemed identity. You are not purposeless. You are not insignificant. You are not average. No way—you are the temple of God himself, a far more precious and glorious home of the presence of God than even the holy structure Solomon erected. Solomon’s temple pales in comparison to you. Seriously!

That is who you are—you new identity in Christ. So live like it!

Having trouble grasping that truth? My guess is yes! So I am praying this prayer for you today:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

By God’s sovereign grace, you are a wonder to behold.

Going Deeper With God: Take a moment before you go a step further to pray Paul’s supplication for a Holy Spirit revelation of your true identity as God’s holy temple. As God reveals that truth to you, it will change everything about your day.

Why God Answers Your Prayer

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Why does God desire to answer our prayers? Not for our petty purposes—although he graciously takes those into account—but for his redemptive purposes God supplies our needs and fulfills our desires. He blesses us with abundance, graces us with favor, covers and cares for us, supplies us with success so that people will look at us and be attracted to him. Through his blessings upon us, he receives glory, honor and praise. As we were created to do, we bring glory to him being a real, live example of answered prayer.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 8:59-60

And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.

In 1 Kings 8, Solomon prays one of the most moving prayers you will ever encounter in. It is long, but worth reading—and if your heart is tender toward God, you will be moved, for Solomon is really praying what you and I often pray. He asks for forgiveness—repeatedly and in advance; he prays for protection; he requests provision; he invites God’s abiding presence; he appeals for success.

We pray those prayers, too. And God is faithful to answer our supplications—even when it doesn’t seem like he is or it feels like his answer is way too slow in coming. God forgives—repeatedly, he protects and provides daily, he is with us always—even when we can’t see or feel him, and at the end of the day, he grants us the kind of success that is eternally celebrated in the heavenly realm.

So why does God do that? Why does he answer the prayers of little ol’ insignificant us? Is it because we are just so lovable? Perhaps—he really does love us with a crazy love, you know. Is it because we are so deserving? Not a chance! Is it to make us more comfortable? Perhaps, but probably not, since he is much more concerned with our character than our comfort. Is it to relieve our pain and soothe our hurt? It could be—he really is moved with compassion by our plight. God answers prayers for a variety of reason, some of which we will never grasp. God has his reasons, and for those of us who call out to him, whatever his reasons, we are eternally grateful that he is a God who not only hears but answers prayers. How blessed we are to be the people of God!

Yet there remains a reason God answers our prayers that we don’t often think about. If we could ever get our brain around this, I think we would probably present our prayers and petitions in a lot better frame of mind and with a great deal more trust than we are prone to do. What is the reason God answers?

So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. (1 Kings 8:60)

There you have it. Not for our petty purposes—although God graciously takes those into account—but for his redemptive purposes God supplies our needs and fulfills our desires. He blesses us with abundance, graces us with favor, covers and cares for us, supplies us with success so that people will look at us and be attracted to him. Through his blessings upon us, he receives glory, honor and praise. As we were created to do, we bring glory to him being a real, live example of answered prayer.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:7-8)

Now understanding the purpose of answered prayer in that light ought to make praying a whole different—and better—experience for us, wouldn’t you say? Get addicted to God’s glory—even in your praying—and you will likely see a significant uptick in your prayers being answered.

Going Deeper With God: Take a moment to reconsider what you are asking God for in prayer. Rather than making relief, comfort or success your most urgent outcome, try making the glory of God your chief aim! Try and, and you will pray a lot differently—and more effectively.

Estate Planning As Discipleship: Get In On The Act Long After You’re Gone

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Whether you are wealthy or poor, you can and should think of how to impact the Lord’s work posthumously. Why? Because you believe in laying up treasure in heaven—even after you are gone—and because you are so grateful for God’s undeserved blessings in your life that you just want to keep on giving back. Make plans now to bless God’s work later—wherever you choose—through visionary estate planning, and get ready to watch your investment grow from the great cloud of witnesses!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 7:51

So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple.

King David was now dead and gone, but his impact on God’s kingdom continued in both large and small ways. As the new king of Israel, Solomon, was finishing up his amazing job of constructing and furnishing the temple, we are told that he brought out treasure after treasure that his father David had prepared in advance of death in anticipation of this day. Now that is visionary estate planning!

There was not a man more passionate about God than David. He was deeply flawed—that is well known—but deeply committed to living a repentant life before God as well. He pursued the Lord with reckless abandon, so much so that God himself declared of David, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22)

God didn’t want David to build the temple; he had sovereignly ordained Solomon to that task. David desperately wanted to, but he humbly accepted God’s decision. That didn’t stop David, however, from making preparation for the day when a grand temple would be dedicated to the glory of God by one of his sons, hopefully Solomon. So in the bell lap of his reign, David began to think through things that would elevate the worship experience of the Israelites when they finally had a permanent house in which to offer their worship to God. Moreover, he began to craft gifts that would be lovingly presented to God for no other purpose than to make God smile. We don’t know exactly what those gifts were, but they were meaningful enough, and impressive too, that they met the well-heeled Solomon’s high standards for use in the temple.

David’s action took faith and vision along with careful planning and determined effort to do what he did. And he knew he would never see his gifts in use—at least not from the perspective of earth. Perhaps he had a sense that he would be in that great cloud of witnesses watching the temple’s dedication from the grandstand of heaven. Whatever the case, David leveraged his life when he had it to advance the kingdom and glorify God when he no longer had the breathe of life. His was an excellent example of estate planning long before seminars on how to prepare for your demise existed.

What about you? Do you love the Lord enough to want the material wealth he has given you to advance his kingdom long after you are gone? Out of gratitude for God’s undeserved blessing in this life, are you, like David, willing to exercise faith and foresight so that God’s work will be resourced through your estate? Do you want your love for God to live on even when you are gone from the earth? I hope so!

Now you may be thinking, since I am a pastor, that I’m fixin’ to take an offering? Not at all! I simply want you to invest in things that will produce an ever-increasing return even after you have joined David in that great cloud of witness. I want you to passionately love God so much that even what you leave behind continues to witness to his great name. I want you to do the kinds of things out of the kind of heart David offered to the Lord that Almighty God will say about you what he said of David, “I have found one who has a heart after me.” By the way, it is not the amount that matters; it is the intent of your heart. Whether you are wealthy or poor, you can and should think of how to impact the Lord’s work posthumously.

Now I am not suggesting you do something that I haven’t done. After much heartfelt discussion, my wife and I spoke to an estate planning attorney and legally bound a percentage of our material wealth, such as it is, to resource God’s work through our church and the missions ministry of our choice. We did that because we believe in laying up treasure in heaven—even after we are gone. We did that because we have seen the impact of financial resources in advancing kingdom business. We did that because we are so grateful for God’s undeserved blessings in our lives that we just want to give back—and keep on giving. We did that because we know that “tis one life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I hope you will receive this in the right spirit. Mostly, I hope you will do something about it. Make plans now to bless God’s work later—wherever you choose—through visionary estate planning. And get ready to watch your investment grow from the great cloud!

Going Deeper With God: Do not wait any longer. At the next opportunity, talk to an attorney or attend an estate planning seminar, and set a strategy for kingdom advancement even after you are gone.

The Details of You

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God has a plan. He never does things randomly, but he always does them redemptively. Every project he begins he brings to a completion befitting his glorious sovereign plan for the ages—which includes you.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 6:11-13

Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”

As you read 1 Kings 6, you could pick any verse in the chapter, save for those I have selected as our devotional focus, and you will encounter details about the construction of the temple. This is a chapter that an architect or a builder might enjoy, but the endless accounting of the building materials that were used in this project are mind-numbing for ordinary people like you and me. And this isn’t the first place in the Bible, nor will it be the last place, that we will be treated to the architectural minutiae of buildings belonging to God.

When Moses constructed the tabernacle, we were treated to the details. Between Exodus 25-31, pick a verse, any verse, and you will get more information on the construction of the tabernacle, its furnishings and the priestly garments that you will know what to do with. But those details mattered to God, who told Moses, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40)

When we go to the end of the Bible, we are again invited into the architectural details of the heavenly Jerusalem—and this place we will call our eternal home is beautiful beyond words:

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelations 21:19-21)

I am not even sure what some of those precious materials are, but my guess is the stunning wonder of the place will cause my jaw to drop in amazement. And then John the Revelator adds this word at the end of his description:

But I saw no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)

So why is God so enamored with the details? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the writers of scripture to include the minutiae of the building projects. Well, there are probably more reasons than I understand, but at the top of the list is the fact that God is preparing a place where he can dwell with us forever. As the Lord told Moses, “make it according to the pattern I gave you,” and as he showed John, “I will be the temple,” God is giving exacting attention to the place where you and I live forever.

In light of that, there are several things we learn about God as we consider his concern over how things get done:

  1. God is a God of details. He is orderly and purposeful; creative and organically artistic. What that means, among other things, is that he hovers over the chaos, as he did by his Spirit over the formlessness of creation in Genesis 1, and forth brings order, purpose and beauty out of it. And if he did that for the larger creation, he will do that for even the smallest features of his creation—you and me.
  2. God has a plan. He never does things randomly, but he always does them redemptively. Every project he begins he brings to a completion befitting his glorious sovereign plan for the ages—which includes you and me.
  3. You are God’s building. You are God’s temple. The Apostle Paul said, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) The implication of Paul’s context is that God cares about the details of how you are being built as his dwelling place. He is not pleased when his temple—you—are violated with unholy things, and he is pleased when you are edified with holy and eternal things. As he reminded Solomon, he is working on you because he plans to make his home with you and in you.

Why the details; why does God fixate on the minutiae of his buildings; why does he include these “laborious” accounts so often in scripture? Because he has you in mind. He cares about the details of you. He is watching over you, constructing you and has great plans for you that will be lovingly displayed throughout all eternity.

When you are getting bogged down in the details, just read yourself into the description. Just as God worked on the details of the tabernacle, and the temple, and is working on the details of the New Jerusalem, God is also just as committed to working out the details of you.

Going Deeper With God: Re-read this 1 Kings 6 in this light, that it is about you. Take a moment to celebrate God’s plans for your life.