Saturday, May 19
Bigger by far!
Scripture: 1 Kings 4-5, 2 Chronicles 2, Psalm 101, 2 Thessalonians 3
2 Chronicles 2:5-6 The temple that I am building will be great, for our God is greater than any of the gods. But who is able to build a temple for Him, since even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Him? Who am I then that I should build a temple for Him except as a place to burn incense before Him?
King Solomon sent a message to Hiram asking for supplies and labor to build a great temple for God. In the message, Solomon was clear that the temple he would build could not possibly contain God—not even the highest heavens can do that! People often thought of their temples as the homes of the gods, but Solomon understands this temple, no matter how grand, could never be God’s home—He’s much bigger than that. In fact, in 1 Chronicles 28:2, David says that the great temple will only be a “footstool” for God—a place to rest one’s feet. The temple was meant to be a place of worship (burning incense) not a home for God, or a place that would contain Him. He’s bigger by far!
I love that King Solomon wanted to make sure Hiram understood how great God was—that no matter how large the temple, God was bigger by far!
Religion always seeks to contain God: to define Him, control Him, regulate Him, reduce Him. Of course, we must try to understand Him, and finite beings trying to understand an infinite One guarantees that we’ll reduce Him! In other words, reductionism is unavoidable to some degree. It’s like trying to put the Pacific Ocean in a bucket—we’re limited by the size of our bucket. So our understanding of God will always be much smaller than God Himself.
This means first that we must be humble. There is so much we don’t know and don’t understand. We can’t let that paralyze us. It’s possible to know a little, but if the little you know is true, it’s still valuable and can be acted upon. But we have to remember that “now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” We can know truly, though not fully—therefore, be humble.
This also means that we must be on guard against the temptation to reduce God to a manageable size. It is one thing when the great temple is God’s footstool; it’s another altogether when God becomes our footstool. I’m guilty of reductionism—we all are. A God this big is dangerous. We value safety so we reduce God to a safe size, a comfortable size—a God who can help us but who won’t bother us or upset us too much. Beware. In the words of J.B. Philips: “Your God is too small!”
Prayer: Lord, You are bigger by far than anything I can build for You—including all my theologies and ideas. Keep me humble and hungry for more of You! Help me know You truly even if it’s not fully.