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The Lord Built a House by the Nations and for the Nations

"The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple." 1 Kings 5:18

When we look at Solomon within the context of the Book of Kings, we see a reflection of Joshua. Both were mandated by their mentors to be “strong and courageous.” Both had meaningful interactions with women who were sexually exploited. Both established a place of worship. The only recorded times that Israel makes covenants with Gentiles are with Joshua and Solomon. With this reflection in view, Solomon’s interactions with other nations can be clouded with suspicion. After all Joshua was tricked into a covenant with the Gentile Gibeonites. Suspicion and fear may arise even now in regards to our relationships with other cultures. This image of Joshua still lingers. 

During the resistance of Dutch Protestants against the Catholic Spanish, the resisters referred to themselves as “God’s spiritual Israel”. And I have always wondered how thoroughly this image saturated into the first interactions between European nations and the peoples of Turtle Island. It seems that colonists learned from the treaty of Joshua and ensured they would get the better deal in our treaties with Indigenous people. And now as Turtle Island changes before our eyes with new peoples, tongues and nations, and we are surrounded on all sides, we remain suspicious and afraid. According to Statistics Canada (2022), projections indicate that by 2041, one out of two Canadians will be BIPoC. Do you think the CRC in Canada will reflect this new trend? I am not sure.

This is where Jesus comes in. He is the greater Adam, Joshua and Solomon.

However, there is another way to see Solomon: not as a reflection of Joshua but of Adam. In 1 Kings 4:24, Solomon’s rule is described as having dominion, the same word used of Adam’s relationship with the land in Gen 1:26. With this reflection in view, the gentiles take a new form and shape. Suspicion gives way to generosity as Solomon is eager not only to square an equal deal with Hiram king of Tyre, but to love his neighbour as himself. 

Looking at the structure of 1 King’s as a chiasm (a sequence of elements which are repeated and developed – but in reverse order), the pinnacle of Solomon’s life is the building of the temple. And at the heart of this is the fact that the Lord built a house through the nations. In fact most of the builders are descendants of Canaan – the very people Joshua was supposed to destroy.*

However, even seeing Solomon as a type of Adam does not seem enough. Similar to today, it feels like there is movement in the right direction, however, it is not even close to where we want to be – to that picture of Revelations 7:9-10. 

This is where Jesus comes in. He is the greater Adam, Joshua and Solomon. He even said: “destroy this physical temple and I will raise it up in three days”, referring to his body (John 2:19). Christ’s body became the founding cornerstone to a new temple. Like the temple stones from Ephraim which were hewn by the Gebalites aka the “stone squarers,” Jesus was the cornerstone quarried from Israel and polished in Egypt. He is, according to 1 Peter, the Living Stone who was rejected by his own people and yet supported by a person & gentile of peace, Simon of Cyrene, as he was cast towards death on the cross. Simon carried the lumber, prepared by the Romans, with which the Cornerstone was laid.

The Spirit of Christ has birthed new creation, a new culture and he is building us together

And yet with even these words in mind I can’t help but feel both hopeful and discouraged because the temple of God, the church, seems so far away from this image of a beautiful house of all peoples. I uncomfortably sit staring at the scene in 1 Kings 5 both in anticipation and cringing. The work required for the building of Solomon’s physical temple is analogous to the exhausting work of anti-racism needed in the spiritual house of Christ. 

As a chaplain in the hospital, I recently went to a seminar looking at a non-Western perspective on Attachment Theory. There the speaker stated that Western cultures look at problems from a “how to” perspective – that is finding a solution on “how to” fix racism, “how to” become more culturally diverse, etc. In contrast to this, the response from many people of colour is to “build culture.” It is not looking at solving one issue at a time. Rather it is creating a new way of being and seeing the world as a collective whole.  

The Spirit of Christ has birthed new creation, a new culture and he is building us together – all the peoples of the world, even when we don’t see it or comprehend it around us. This is good news for me that does not make me work less hard in this in-between time of the Spirit pressed within the Kingdom-here-and-not-yet. The Lord built his house through the nations and for the nations and the Spirit of Jesus is continually building it together even today.

*Tyre, Lebanon, Sidonians, Byblos (men of Gebal) can all be traced back to the Canaan.

Photo by Laura Siegal on Unsplash


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