Chapter 8: Solomon: The Temple Builder
The book of Kings is the history of the kings of Israel. We in God’s Church are the kings of Israel spiritually today—kings and priests in embryo. So this book is really prophecy about us, and it contains mighty lessons for us. As we go through the book of Kings, let’s try to learn these lessons as much as we can.
Show Yourself a Man
Note this foundational lesson for kings imparted by King David to his son Solomon. “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die,” 1 Kings 2 begins. The king was old, near death. He had almost lost the kingdom twice to his own sons, Absalom and Adonijah, whom he loved in spite of their rebellion.
Here, with a lot of intensity, David gave Solomon some crucial parting wisdom: “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” (verses 2-3).
David told Solomon to walk in God’s ways, His commandments, statutes, judgments and testimonies. Do this, he said, and you will prosper in all that you do. Don’t be like Absalom and Adonijah. Show yourself a man and keep the commandments of God! Then God will take you to the pinnacle of success!
That was the reason David had been successful and why his servants were successful: They obeyed god. Look at the reward David received for that!
This is how to show yourself a real man. If you men want to be masculine, this is how to do it—for real, not a phony, Hollywood-type manliness. This is where our young men will get their masculinity.
This was David’s advice to Solomon. If you follow it, you will prosper and achieve astounding exploits! These are foundational words. The world doesn’t think this way at all. They believe it’s “cool” and sophisticated to break God’s commandments. But if you are going to be a king for God—if you’re going to serve God and rule with God—here is a fundamental lesson you must learn.
In some respects, David learned this lesson the hard way. In several situations, David had been a king with a weak government; a lot of that was because of his own sins. But now it would be different.
Once Solomon assumed the throne, he dealt with Abiathar for his treachery (verse 27). He also had Joab put to death for all of his evil (verses 28-34). Solomon was going to be a strong king.
Solomon’s reign had a splendid beginning. “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5). God appeared to Solomon in a dream! How extraordinary! God loved David, and He had promised to work with Solomon in a special way.
“And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day” (verse 6). Solomon had a wonderful attitude here. He praised his father, and he praised God for using him like He did.
“And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (verse 7). That is the humility we need for God to be able to use us and work with us! It is an outstanding and very important attitude for a king to have!
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (verse 9).
All of this pleased God greatly. He responded by giving Solomon wisdom like nobody has ever been given wisdom! “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days” (verses 12-13). Solomon was greatly blessed by God.
Then God said: “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (verses 14). God really wanted Solomon to follow in David’s footsteps. And for a while, Solomon did.
Before long, he undertook the most inspiring of his father’s final directives: building the temple.
Referring to Solomon, 2 Samuel 7:13-14 state, “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” David prepared mightily for the construction of that house, and then he charged his son with adding to what he had prepared and then carrying out the work (1 Chronicles 22:6-16).
Some of the most wonderful lessons we can learn from Solomon’s reign center around his construction of God’s temple.
An Awesome Construction Project
Most people do not see the connection between the physical temple in ancient Israel and God’s spiritual temple. The physical temple contains prophecy about the spiritual temple.
We can learn many lessons from the history surrounding the physical temple in Jerusalem. We can also learn from Herbert W. Armstrong, the man God used to lead spiritual Israel and the building of another physical house for God, in Pasadena, California. These lessons teach us how to build for God. (They also indirectly teach us how to maintain what we build, whether physically or spiritually. That is not an easy task. We have seen a grandiose failure from the Laodiceans today. They couldn’t maintain what God had built through Mr. Armstrong, spiritually or physically. They cast down all that invaluable truth and mismanaged the physical wealth. They ended up selling God’s house, and look at the shame that has entered that building ever since.)
Solomon had 200,000 workers build the most magnificent structure ever to grace the Earth. He commissioned the most skilled laborers available on the planet. The great building stones of Solomon’s temple were carved and finished at the stone quarry. Then the stones were brought to the building site (1 Kings 5:17).
Today, the Father and Christ have an angelic army of many millions helping to build His spiritual temple. They provide a great portion of God’s spiritual skilled labor.
God the Stonecutter
“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1 Kings 6:7). Each stone was pre-cut. No hammer, ax or tool of iron was heard on the building site when the temple was constructed.
This is a great lesson and powerful prophecy about how the spiritual temple is being built today. God’s very elect are being pre-cut as spiritual stones today. There is a tremendous amount of building going on—but since it is spiritual, the world is unaware of its existence. They don’t realize that there are individual stones—future kings and priests—being shaped and molded. God is doing that work in silence. Then when He gets here, that temple will be waiting for Him! The world will be utterly shocked to see a spiritual nation, or temple, that appears to have been built in a day! (Isaiah 66:8). It will suddenly see the temple—spiritual Israel—that God built with the firstfruits.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). God’s “holy temple” is “fitly framed together.” By whom? By God, through apostles and prophets—men. That means God’s government.
Those who totally submit to God will be pillars in that temple (Revelation 3:12). Clearly, it will be a family government. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (verse 21). We get to share Christ’s throne as He shares His Father’s throne.
Christ continually reminds us about the Father and Son—the God Family. There is a throne—government—that God will share with those saints who understand God’s loving family government.
God places those saints who rebel into the “outer court” of His temple. They will be plunged into the Great Tribulation (the times of the Gentiles) unless they repent. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2). The saints who rise and measure now become pillars in God’s future temple. They are in the inner court today, where God dwells. It is from there that God’s Work emanates.
Today God is measuring, or pre-cutting, His spiritual stones for His spiritual temple—which is far greater than Solomon’s temple! The Laodiceans fail because they refuse to be measured or carved by God’s family government. “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14). Only a tiny few—one from a city and two from a family—will allow God to shape and mold them into His spiritual temple, which is also Jesus Christ’s Bride. God is married only to spiritual Israel today.
This process of shaping temple stones could never be done without God’s family government. That is why the rod is given first—it is a symbol of God’s government. God uses men today to accomplish that job. Only a tiny few understand and submit to God and fulfill their highest potential.
God used an end-time Zerubbabel to build the Philadelphia era of His Church. “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:8-10). God gave a man His commission and a plummet to help God carve, or pre-cut, the temple “stones.” God always uses one man to lead His Work. A plummet is of no value unless God also gives His family government.
A plummet is used to measure precisely, as any construction worker knows. God is not a sloppy builder.
Solomon had to use strong government to construct the most beautiful edifice ever on Earth; isn’t it logical that God must also use His government to build a far more glorious spiritual temple?
Herbert W. Armstrong was used to establish God’s government, and look at the fruits of his work! In terms of numbers, there has probably never been a greater Work of God. In spite of these fruits, all of the Laodiceans have rejected that government—to their own shame.
Soon God will take all of these pre-cut “stones” to Jerusalem and rule this entire Earth! What a magnificent, transcendent master plan God has in building His temple. What a horrifying failure if we fail to understand about God’s fabulous temple!
God used a vast wealth of gold in Solomon’s temple. “So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold” (1 Kings 6:21-22). Today, God’s firstfruits are that spiritual gold. I discuss this subject in my booklet Lamentations: The Point of No Return (free upon request).
Chapter 4 of Lamentations describes the main reason why God is going to plunge His Church into the Great Tribulation. It shows that the main problem lies with the ministry. “‘How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street’ (verse 1; Revised Standard Version). This passage prophesied long ago that the majority of God’s end-time ministry would become Laodicean. God compares the end-time Laodicean ministry to gold that has become tarnished, and to “stones of the sanctuary” (kjv). These ministers had God’s precious truth and then corrupted themselves.
The gold that “has grown dim” undoubtedly refers to the 50 percent of the lukewarm Laodiceans who will repent in the Great Tribulation. The gold has become tarnished, but it is still gold. The stones that have been thrown into the streets surely refer to the 50 percent of the Laodiceans who refuse to repent and will be cast into the lake of fire. They are no longer spiritual gold and have no value to God.
But verse 2 shows that God’s very elect are doing a work at the same time. “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” The very elect have remained humble, so God could shape and mold them.
Look at how God talks about those precious sons of Zion! You can see in the Revised Standard Version this is the most powerful kind of poetry: “The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter’s hands!”
How does God look upon His people? Precious! Fine gold! God wants to make us understand how He loves us! The saints of God are like pure gold! Do we see how precious that character is that we are building? The ministers spoken of here are referred to as “fine gold,” a term similar to that of the “jewels” found in Malachi 3:17. God esteems His Family very highly, for they are rare—the Eternal’s most precious possession. These ministers have remained close to God and are upholding His truths.
Verses 1 and 2 of Lamentations 4 are more proof that a Church split was prophesied to occur. Verse 1 refers to a group of ministers as gold that became dim—or Laodicean. They were ministers of God who became tarnished! Verse 2 refers to the precious sons of Zion, who are compared to fine gold! They have surrendered to God and have been refined spiritually by Him.
That is how God viewed all of His people—but as you can see in verse 1, many of them have grown dim, and that pure gold has changed. What happened to those precious sons of Zion? They were deeply precious to God—noble, golden, pure gold—and then that gold degenerated. It is totally contrary to the nature of gold to change like that! It should also be contrary to us. Woe be unto us if we allow golden character to tarnish or become like common stones.
Is our nature golden like God’s? Oh, how God loves the golden character that is preparing us to marry His Son!
“And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without” (1 Kings 6:29). Now God has carved saints with glorious godly character.
When construction was complete, Solomon staged a grand dedication ceremony. “And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man [a man from the house of David] in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father” (1 Kings 8:22-26). God not only spoke that promise to David, Solomon said, He fulfilled it with His hand. He fulfilled exactly what He had said, though most people in this world would deny that. Solomon was keenly aware of that spectacular covenant, and he believed in it! What a beautiful prayer.
In verse 27, Solomon said that in spite of the glory of the temple, it wasn’t even a good footstool for God. We will study more deeply into this verse a little later. Not even the whole universe can contain God—so why is He so concerned about you? “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day” (verse 28). God still hears our prayers. Why? Because we are His sons. And God doesn’t neglect His Family as most humans do. We are king-priests in embryo. We are being called to help rule the universe as a part of the God Family.
There is a great danger that we must understand, or we could lose that future. “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)” (verses 38-39).
We must overcome the plague of the human heart. And what a plague it is. Most of God’s own Spirit-begotten people have turned away from Him in the midst of a glorious spiritual harvest. Their own evil human nature deceives them into rejecting the government God taught them. The problem always revolves around government. But if we spread forth our hands and cry out to our Father, we can overcome the plague of our evil heart. If we do, the universe is ours!
An Endless Universe
Within this dedication prayer, Solomon made an astounding statement we need to understand.
My booklet Prophesy Again explains the revelation that God has given us about Ephesians 3:9. That verse says, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship [or dispensation] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” It is talking about dispensing or distributing some truth of God that has been shrouded in mystery to this world. It doesn’t just say we should deliver this mystery—which we certainly must do. It says we should make all people understand that this mystery needs to be dispensed, or declared, to all mankind!
As I explain in that booklet, this strongly suggests that the Family of God will continue to grow and grow forever! Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesy, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end”—it will be endless, without limit—“upon the throne of David.” It is on the throne of David from where the kings will be ruling.
Now look again at 1 Kings 8:27. Solomon prayed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” That is the King James Version, but here is the way it reads in the Hebrew: “But will God in truth dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain you; how much this house which I have built?”
The word heavens is the same in all three instances. All three of them are plural. The same word is used in Isaiah 65:17, where it says, “I create new heavens”; Lamentations 3:41 speaks of “God in the heavens,” talking about the universe; Habakkuk 3:3 says “His glory covered the heavens,” or the universe.
The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament says that the word heavens (Hebrew shamayim) is used of the physical heavens, and also of the abode of God, where God lives. It states, “Solomon recognizes that all of heaven and the highest heavens, themselves, cannot contain the Almighty God. As vast as the heavens are, they are merely part of God’s creation, and He stands above it all. Therefore Solomon has no illusions that God has need of His temple or that it can contain Him.”
Our universe contains some 2 to 3 trillion galaxies. Solomon is saying, God created those—and they can’t contain Him! If He wanted to, He could create 3 trillion or 50 trillion more! They can’t contain God because He is their Creator! You can go on with heavens and heavens and heavens, and it still can’t contain God. Just stop and remember that God fashioned all that real estate. He created you and your mind. He is not contained by His own physical creation.
I don’t think anybody can really comprehend just how infinite the heavens and the heavens of heavens will be. But I think this verse is describing something beyond anything we have ever looked at as far as the creation out in the universe—that, no matter what you see and what is out there, it cannot contain God. It is as if the universe itself is without limit!
I believe 1 Kings 8:27 describes an endless universe. If so, it adds another dimension to what we have speculated in the past.
Certainly I think this verse describes something beyond the universe as we know it. Maybe all the universe God needs is already out there, but I don’t believe that is what this verse indicates.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this: “Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking before a joint session of the United States Congress in the time of World War ii, said, ‘There is a purpose being worked out here below.’ … A higher power above, of course, is working out that purpose. That purpose is the creation of perfect, holy and righteous character in separately created beings for continuing God’s creative work throughout the endless universe, perpetually time without end.
“Now I wonder if you grasp all of that? That is far more than anything that we would normally consider as the work of this Church here and now. That is more than a thousand years yet into the future. What God is doing now is preparing for that. He is producing Himself in His Church now. He is going to continue producing Himself when Christ comes to set up the Kingdom of God during the Millennium” (Worldwide News, March 6, 1981).
It seems as if 1 Kings 8:27 amplifies those other scriptures we talk about so often. It synchronizes with Isaiah 9:7—that the government that rules the throne of David, and the peace that it brings, is going to keep expanding and expanding forever! One definition of increase in Isaiah 9:7 is the progeny or increase of a family. This is a clear statement of prophecy that God has a plan to expand His family government forever and ever. It looks to me like the expansion of His Family will go on and on! Now Solomon seems to indicate that the increase of the universe never ends. If the Family of God is endless, there will be a need for endless space!
This is God we are talking about!
Solomon said, “Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens.” Behold! Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says that word means “Lo, behold!”—like you are trying to explain this truth about the universe to somebody, and become so overwhelmed that you say, “Lo, behold!”
Who is going to stop God if He wants to create a trillion or 50 trillion more universes? It is, after all, His creation, and He is not contained by it. The more you think about these verses, the more you realize that you can’t quite come to grips with the awesome mind of God! It just keeps expanding in your thinking all the time. And it becomes more exciting because you know you are going to be in that Family! You and I are a part of that future—we are right in the middle of all that. It is breathtaking to ponder what all we will be doing in the universe forever! This is the truth of God!
God is always capable of expanding the universe. The heavens and the heavens of the heavens can’t contain Him. As one definition of this verse put it, He stands above it all. How little we human beings know about God. We all need to stretch our imagination and let the Holy Spirit magnify it. Pray and study and try to grasp all this because it is not easy.
When God brings the people of this world into the Family of God, they are going to be filled with joy and excitement! Their imaginations are nearly going to burst when they understand what God has in store for them! And we will be honored to be able to teach them that truth.
This is about Solomon and the house of David. You can see that Solomon was quite an intelligent man. He had a lot of wisdom from God, and he made a statement here that I don’t see anywhere else in the Bible. I think it is unique in that way. It is talking about the physical creation, and it seems to add a dimension to all this other wonderful truth we have heard.
It has to change our thinking and our lives to realize how special we are to be the house of David spiritually and sit on the throne with the Creator of all that!
“Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive” (1 Kings 8:28-30).
The same God who cannot be contained by the heavens of heavens hears your prayers! That same God forgives us when we sin, if we repent as David did. And He wants you to know that all that power is there to watch over and protect you, to inspire and encourage you!
We are getting to know God more all the time; that is why we are here. If you really know this God, you are going to fear Him the way David did—and desire to be like Him, to think and act as He does!
God wants to fill us with wonder at what He is accomplishing! There isn’t a lot of childlike wonder in Satan’s world; most people are going in the opposite direction from that. But there is unlimited wonder in the house of David! How can you think about what Solomon was saying in conjunction with other verses like Isaiah 9:7 and Ephesians 3:9, and not be filled with wonder? This isn’t about plucking on harps for eternity—this is the most exciting thing that could come out of the very mind of God! He will fill you with wonder—and we need that! We need to be inspired. We need to use our imaginations to project out into the universe because, after all, we are going to be ruling over it. We need to explain to people how thrilling this all is!
Who are you? Who am I to know this amazing wonder? Who am I to be able to understand this? Who are we to be a part of this? We are mere dust; if we don’t do something spiritually significant on our journey through this life, we are simply going to turn back to dust. There is nothing there worth saving unless we connect that spirit of man with the Spirit of God.
“Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant” (1 Kings 8:56). The world doesn’t believe this, but not one word of God’s promise to David and to us has failed.
God’s Heart Is With His House
When Mr. Armstrong dedicated Ambassador Auditorium in 1974, he said it was “one of the greatest occasions in the lives of all of us.” Do we think that way about Armstrong Auditorium, the house of God today? One day, those people who have visited this house, who were not called or chosen in this age, will be absolutely shocked to realize the message given here.
In his prayer at that 1974 dedication ceremony, Mr. Armstrong said, “[N]ow we come to the time that I want to dedicate this in the name of the living Jesus Christ to the honor and the glory of the great God. Almighty God, please grant that we will always use this building to your honor and glory; that nothing will happen here that will be displeasing to you. I ask you, Almighty God, to honor prayers that go up to you from this building.” We made the same prayer about Armstrong Auditorium.
“I ask you to bless those who come into it,” he continued. “I ask you to bless everyone who will speak in sermons or in Bible studies from this platform. I ask you to bless all the people as they come and to open their ears and their minds to do what will be preached to them in this building. I ask you, Almighty God, to bless it and protect it in every way—to preserve it, because you are the great Creator, and you’re the Creator who preserves that which you create.”
There was only one problem: The people didn’t want to preserve it. Those at the top wanted to rebel against it. It was just another building; so they sold God’s house! That shows how ignorant they are about the Word of God and rebellious toward the end-time Elijah-type whom God used to restore all things and to build that house!
After Solomon finished building the temple, God appeared to him a second time, as He had before in Gibeon (1 Kings 9:2). What opportunity Solomon had! What is it like to have God appear to you twice?
“And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (verse 3).
Armstrong Auditorium is God’s house, and His eyes and heart are upon it perpetually! Our eyes and hearts must be upon this house also—perpetually! We must be wholeheartedly wrapped up in what God is doing! This is God’s house, and how blessed we are to be able to meet in it. God blesses what is done in this house! But He is not going to preserve it if we don’t care to preserve it ourselves.
Solomon’s name implies peace (1 Chronicles 22:9). God gave Israel peace under Solomon’s reign—a type of the wonderful World Tomorrow. God is about to bring peace to the entire Earth! We will establish God’s house in Jerusalem, and also houses of God in other places for worshiping God and educating our children and adults to glorify God. Our hearts and minds will be on everything God is doing—perpetually!
Glorify God on Earth Today
Discussing the second temple in Jerusalem, Mr. Armstrong wrote this in his January 20, 1964, member letter: “Jeremiah had prophesied the rebuilding of the temple after 70 years. These returned Jews had misfigured dates. They thought the 70 years had not yet come …. They were building elegant houses for themselves to live in—but they were neglecting to build the house for God to dwell in.”
Haggai 1:7-8 read: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord.” Building something to glorify God like that is a huge project. It takes a lot of love toward God. There is no room for selfishness. It requires joy and gratitude.
Verse 14 shows that God stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the remnant of the people to do this massive job.
Here is what I wrote before we built Armstrong Auditorium, or God’s house: “Today God wants us to build a house for Him. Can we be stirred up like Zerubbabel? If so, we’re going to build—and build fast—and it will be impressive, and we will glorify God all over this Earth! After all, the book of Haggai is a prophecy for us today (request our free booklet on Haggai).
“The Revised Standard Version, in verse 8, states, ‘Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory ….’ God truly wants to appear in His glory. He wants people to know Him the way He really IS. ‘That I may appear in my glory’ is a fascinating expression. We must build that house so that God takes pleasure in it, and then He will ‘appear in His glory’! In spirit, God will be present and will give us more of His glorified presence! It will be the most beautiful building on the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus by far. And the more we glorify God in that house, the more He will appear in His glorified presence!”
God wants all His splendor and honor to be manifest to the world.
Isaiah 60:1 states: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” We have God’s real glory.
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (verse 3). The Gentiles and the whole world are all going to come to us and come to that light when we are glorified like God. They will be eager to go where God is glorified. We need to manifest as much of that glory as we can today and bring people to that wonderful, precious light.
God’s goal is not to get your money. His goal is to glorify you as He is glorified! Isaiah 60:1-3 show that God is going to glorify us the way He is glorified IF we glorify Him on this Earth today. That is special. God wants His glory here today; that is why you are here!
Mr. Armstrong continued, “[W]hen I read, once again, Haggai’s message from God—it came like a bolt of lightning as a message of God to His Church today! It struck me as a loud message straight from God that we have been planning to build, first, buildings for college use. But here we are at God’s headquarters on Earth. And we were planning to delay the building of God’s house, for Him (in spirit) to dwell in!”
The house we have built is a place in which God can dwell in spirit. If He has a house, and we built that house, that shows something about us. And it has brought and will bring even more blessings!
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Brethren, I went straight to the council of God’s ministers, assembled in our outgrown former assembly hall, and announced to them that God’s house—the new auditorium—the meeting place for the headquarters church—must come next on the priority list” (ibid).
When Christ says to do it, we must do it! He is the Head. What if we don’t? What happened to the house in Pasadena? What a wretched, wretched, miserable history!
Mr. Armstrong got that directive from God! He said in this letter, “This is a commandment direct from God! It is not for us to question. The living Christ is Head of God’s Church. He leads—He directs His Church. And, as Zerubbabel was obedient to the command, and with the enthusiastic and generous help of all the people, started building God’s house, so must we. …
“It will be plain and simple—just a 1,200-seat auditorium—yet a truly fine one in character and quality and architectural design. … We must finance most of this building operation by paying cash as we go! Brethren, this message from God to build the house for Him to dwell in is His command to YOU as much as to me!”
If you know God, you are not going to build a little crackerbox. Would that glorify God? It has to be special. When we set about to build God a house, we worked to make it as beautiful as possible in order to glorify God!
Solomon’s Wall—a Magnificent Discovery and a Warning
The temple was the most magnificent of Solomon’s construction projects, but he also did quite a lot of building elsewhere in the city and beyond. Among his other projects, Solomon fortified Jerusalem by building a wall around it (1 Kings 9:15).
In 1968, Prof. Benjamin Mazar pioneered the excavations just north of the City of David on what is known as the area of the biblical Ophel. After he and his crew dug every summer for a decade, they reached a wall dating to the time of Solomon. The ruins were well preserved, and some parts of the wall stood impressively nearly 20 feet high. Picking up where her grandfather left off, Dr. Eilat Mazar began a small excavation in 1986 (the year Herbert W. Armstrong died) that revealed a large stone gateway complex, 45 by 54 feet, attached to a short section of the wall built by Solomon. In 2009, Eilat Mazar reopened the Ophel excavation, and more fascinating details emerged. Inside the royal structure, Dr. Mazar discovered that the bottom floor and walls of the structure had been constructed during the 10th century b.c.
All evidence indicates that this structure was built by King Solomon and is the one mentioned in 1 Kings 3:1. This scripture speaks of Solomon building his own palace, “and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.” Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Dr. Mazar stated the “reality was that a very highly skilled fortification and sophisticated fortification was built by King Solomon.” Our Herbert W. Armstrong College students were honored to participate in that excavation, which brought this amazing biblical history to life.
Now—look at something God mentions in the context of that construction: “And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about” (verse 1). This was something God was very concerned about. In the context, God says some wonderful things about Solomon, but He could also see trouble looming on the horizon.
Notice: In the same context, it reads, “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (verse 3). That was not good news! God ensured that detail was recorded because it really bothered Him! Solomon had many wonderful traits and good qualities; he had a lot going for him. But he had a lust for women, and it created terrible woe! In this passage, God is warning Solomon to take note and to get control of that sin.
What about you? Perhaps you have some wonderful traits that God is pleased with—but you still have a sin in your life that you are clinging to and haven’t completely dealt with. God says, Beware! You had better deal with everything that’s there!
You know the difference between Solomon and David? David was a man after God’s own heart! He wanted to think like God in every little area! He couldn’t stand it if he had one trait or one quality that was different than God’s. That was not the way Solomon thought at this time.
Solomon was given everything—but eventually ended up almost losing everything! That wall we have uncovered in Jerusalem reminds us of that history. It really is a warning to each of us, if we will heed.
While appearing to Solomon a second time, God gave him a strong warning: “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (1 Kings 9:4-7). God holds a king who sits on David’s throne more accountable than other kings! He warned Solomon that would be the case. And if you follow Israel’s history through the rest of the former prophets, you see that God fulfilled this warning exactly.
In his message at the dedication of the temple, Solomon said this: “Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)” (2 Chronicles 6:29-30).
Only God knows our heart. We do not. David had sins he had no idea about—and had to repent of—before he was able to even prepare for building God’s house. We need to go before God like David and say, God, show me my secret faults. Show me what you see. I want to deal with that. God will give us the correction we need.
It is awfully dangerous when we begin to think we know our heart. But that is exactly where Solomon failed at this time.
God told him not to multiply his chariots or women, but Solomon did both. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3). That is crazy! Imagine, 700 wives and 300 concubines! Was he mad? What kind of a family is that? No wonder he got into trouble! Those wives turned him away from God when he was old (verse 4). They had an impact when he was young too. He was so caught up in this world and its ways, it is hard to even understand.
Solomon had all that wisdom, and the Bible reveals that God appeared to him twice! All those women, though, turned his heart away from God. He thought he could handle that. Would you let a woman or a man turn you away from the living God? It can happen to any one of us if we don’t change our evil heart according to God’s standards.
Thankfully, it appears that Solomon did later repent of his depravity. At the end of his life, he composed the Song of Songs, which God included in the Bible. If you understand the incredibly deep message in that book, you can see that it had to be written by a profoundly repentant man. I urge you to request a free copy of my booklet The Song of Songs—God’s Greatest Love Song.
Nevertheless, Solomon went through indescribable depravity before he turned himself back around. Look at what happened to Solomon. God told him that if the people would humble themselves before Him, He would heal their land; but if they forsook Him, He would turn that house into an astonishment to the world (2 Chronicles 7:21-22). That is just what happened. The same evil has been brought upon the Laodiceans today. Do we see what happened to what used to be God’s house? Oh, the disgrace in that! I believe God wanted us to build Him a house to blot out the ugliness that prevails in the Laodicean Church toxday.
This is the crowning act of the Philadelphia Church of God raising the ruins—the greatest piece of the ruins.
Building for Heavenly Jerusalem
The Laodiceans essentially say that God has temples all over the place. But you can prove who is right and who is wrong, and it is really connected to Jerusalem. It’s about God’s temple. God says those who build His house have their headquarters in heavenly Jerusalem!
Galatians 4:25 shows where we get our orders: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
Jerusalem today is in terrible bondage! What is the solution? There is another Jerusalem! That is the solution.
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (verse 26).
The mother of us all, the Church, is free. The headquarters of the pcg is in Jerusalem above! Imagine that! The directive to build God’s house didn’t come from this Earth! It came from Jerusalem above, the mother of us all! This is the real Jerusalem—the one we should be concerned about!
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). That is where we go, and we are free! God is going to let us help Him free the whole Earth and the whole universe that is in bondage!
Mr. Armstrong wrote the classic conclusion to Mystery of the Ages about the time when God’s people will be made spirit beings. He wrote in the last paragraph, “With God’s great master plan of 7,000 years finally completed—the mystery of the ages finally revealed, and with the re-creating of the vast universe and eternity lying ahead, we come finally to … the beginning.” That is the conclusion of all conclusions: That is the beginning!
Abraham had his heart set on this heavenly Jerusalem. He had faith in that—the city of Jerusalem that was going to come down to this Earth. That was his goal.
Revelation 3:12 states that the Philadelphians, whom God is using today, focus on the Jerusalem that will come down from above to this Earth. That is “the beginning” that Mr. Armstrong was talking about. That will be the real beginning. That is where our heart has to be! In that Jerusalem!