May 14, 2012

"Prepared at the quarry"

“The house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built.” 1 Kings 6.7

So we are told regarding the building of God’s temple in Jerusalem. King Solomon wouldn’t have any clanking, or banging, or hammering sounds interrupting the peace that prevailed at the temple sight. So all the sawing, and cutting, and chiseling, and shaping, and reshaping had to take place elsewhere. The stones had to be just right before they could be brought to Jerusalem and hoisted into the walls of the house of God.

An interesting tidbit, to be sure. But why was Solomon so particular? Would the noise of hundreds of saws and chisels simply have created too much commotion in the capital city? Or was it that Solomon believed that peace and calm should adorn God’s house, even while it was under construction? Maybe it was a little bit of both. But I wonder if, perhaps, the Holy Spirit didn’t record this little nugget about the silence in God’s house and the work at the quarry for another purpose, too. I wonder if we should not see something of the difference between heaven and earth as we compare the two worksites in 1 Kings 6.

Doesn’t Solomon’s quarry remind you of God’s work, in His people, while we are on the earth? Before we are ready to be fit into the walls His heavenly house, we (like Solomon’s stones) must undergo quite a lot of reshaping. God must apply the hammer of His word, and the saw of His discipline, and the chisel of trials and sufferings to our lives, shaping and reshaping us, until we are molded so as to fit into His house.

All of this work takes place, of course, only in the quarry of this world. The sound of chisel or hammer would be totally inappropriate in heaven! God does not admit any into His house on high whom He has not already chiseled into the likeness of Jesus (Heb. 12.14)! Thus, as in Solomon’s day, there is no commotion or cutting away of sin in the heavenly temple. No! That work takes place while we are still in the quarry of this world, and is completed when, on our way to God’s house, we are smoothed out like stones as we cross the final, raging river of death. And the result is that when the stones finally arrive at the house of God, they are quite ready to be plugged into place!

Isn’t that wonderful to think about? Someday the chiseling and cutting will finally be over! Someday, in God’s timing, the rough edges of your life will all be smoothed away, and you will be ready to dwell in the house of the Lord forever! And in that place, the hammer blows of sanctification and the chiseling away of sins will be no more. All will be perfect peace!

But in the meantime, while you are still in the quarry, there is shaping left to do. And sometimes that shaping is noisy work! Sometimes it elicits loud clanks and groans from us living stones! Sometimes it makes church life seem messy. Just like the rocks in Solomon’s quarry, we are all merely works in progress – complete with all the commotion and dust that is kicked up as God chisels away on our lives; and calling for a great deal of patience as we do life together. But, as we live in the construction site, let us be patient and hopeful – with ourselves and one another. Soon we, like Solomon’s stones, will be transported to our resting place, and there will be “neither axe nor any iron tool heard” anymore!

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