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The Spade-work of the Kingdom
1 Kings 5:15
Alike as to its structure, furniture, and services, the temple of Solomon had a spiritual and an evangelical signification. Our Lord institutes analogies between Himself and the temple, and the apostles repeatedly refer to the sacred palace as typical of the Christian Church. The temple on Zion, with everything relating to it, was full of prophetic significance; and we do no violence to the text when we see in it an anticipation of a large class of evangelical workers and of a considerable branch of evangelical work. Tens of thousands today 'bear burdens,' are 'hewers in the mountains' are servants of Christ, working in wild, difficult, and distant places; bending themselves to obscure tasks and the very drudgery of things that the living temple of a regenerate humanity may be built. About these particular workers of the kingdom we propose now to speak; to recognize the vastness and seriousness of their service, the greatness and certainty of their reward.
I. The Initial Service in the Salvation and Uplifting of Man is peculiarly the Vocation of the Christian Church.
1. The initial work of uplifting the race is spiritual.
2. The initial work of uplifting the race is by spiritual workers beginning at the basement.
II. The Initial Work of the Church of God Implies Immense Sacrifice. The burden-bearers and hewers in the mountains encountered great trials and made severe sacrifices that the stone and timber necessary for Solomon's temple might be forthcoming; and the living temple of a regenerate humanity is possible only as evangelical workers are prepared greatly to deny themselves. And tens of thousands of such workers are today making manifold sacrifices for the world's salvation.
III. The Splendid Hopefulness of this Initial Work. Out of the rugged mountain and wild wood these strenuous workers brought the wondrous temple. Coarse, dull, forbidding as their toil might seem, it at last took shape as the palace of God. 'Great stones, costly stones, hewed stones,' formed the foundation of the house. 'The doors were also of olive-tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubim, and palm-trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold.' 'And the cedar of the house within was carved with gourds and open flowers
Our undistinguished brethren are occupied with raw material; they are subject to distressing conditions; the result of their strain and sacrifice is often ambiguous and disappointing, yet is their work grander than they know; they build a living temple of moral splendour which no Nebuchadnezzar shall spoil, a New Jerusalem no Titus shall destroy.
The sculptor can discern in the jagged quarry of Carrara galleries of beauteous imagery; in the wild forest of Lebanon the architect can see palaces and temples; and since Christ opened our eyes compounds and slums dazzle us with the most splendid possibilities of life and destiny.
W. L. Watkinson, The Fatal Barter, pp. 228-244.
Reference. VII. 5, 6. S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany