It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor.
Christ Himself is the builder of His spiritual temple, and He has built it on the mountains of His unchangeable affection, His omnipotent grace, and His infallible truthfulness. But as it was in Solomon's temple, so in this: The materials need to be prepared. There are the cedars of Lebanon, but they are not framed for the building; they are not cut down and shaped and made into those planks of cedar whose fragrant beauty will make glad the courts of the Lord's house in paradise. There are also the rough stones still in the quarry, which must be hewn out and squared.
All this is Christ's own work. Each individual believer is being prepared and polished and made ready for his place in the temple; but Christ's own hand performs the preparation-work. Afflictions cannot sanctify, except when they are used by Him to fulfill His purpose. Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashions our hearts correctly.
As in the building of Solomon's temple, where "neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard"1 because it all arrived perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy, so is it with the temple that Jesus builds; the preparation is all done on earth. When we reach heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no maturing us with suffering.
No, we must be made ready here--and all that Christ will do He will do now; and when He has done it, we will be ferried by a loving hand across the stream of death and brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, to live as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.
Beneath His eye and care,
The edifice shall rise,
Majestic, strong, and fair,
And shine above the skies.
1) 1 Kings 6:7
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.