The Lord Does Not Live In Temples Built By Human Hands

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2 KINGS 9:14-10:31 | ACTS 17:1-34 | PSALM 144:1-15 | PROVERBS 17:27-28

“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” This is Jehu’s question to Joram when he comes with the intent to remove Joram as king of Israel. 

Jehu is the one who has been newly appointed by Elisha as king, if you recall, and it seems as though the time has come for some housekeeping. 

Again, these accounts might not be in the best chronological order, but the details of the events are all too clear.  Jehu comes up to Joram and Ahaziah and kills them both.  Next, he goes looking for Jezebel.  Her fate has already been predicted, and Jehu need only ask her attendants to throw her down the window.  This, they do immediately and without compunction.  And that is how Jezebel meets her end.

Next, Jehu cleans house with the rest of Ahab’s extended family, and finally, he does away with all the temples and idols of Baal, thereby bringing to an end the practice of Baal-worship which was the bane of Israel’s existence for many a generation now. 

Jehu seems to mean business, and yet, toward the end of this passage it is said that even Jehu did not go all the way in turning a new leaf and affecting a new era.  Jehu, unfortunately continues to allow the worship of the golden calves.  It doesn’t take much to know that this will not bode well for him in the long run. 

We shall see what might lie next in the history of the people of Israel.

But now, we turn to our reading in the book of Acts, and find Paul and Silas in the city of Thessalonica.  There is a man by the name of Jason who is their host, and who unfortunately takes the brunt of the people’s anger when they rail up against Paul and Silas for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the local synagogues. 

The people didn’t wish to believe that the Messiah had already come and gone, and some didn’t want to even consider the idea that there might be a king greater than Caesar! 

And so, Paul and Silas are made to leave the city, and they soon find their way to another city named Berea.  Here, it is said, the people were much more receptive to Paul’s preachings, and many new believers were added to the body of Christ.  But the Thessalonicans were trouble-makers, and when they learned that the Bereans were gracious hosts to Paul and Silas, they came out to rouse the crowds and sow seeds of doubt and discord among them which inevitably resulted in Paul being shipped out to Athens.

In Athens, Paul is appalled to see the extent of idol-worship in the city.  Plus, there is no dearth of philosophers.  And so, in true form, Paul goes up to the synagogue and begins to do what he does everywhere he goes:  he begins to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

But he offers a preface to his usual message.  He speaks directly about the prevalent practice of idolatry, and this is what he has to say:  “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

He says further:  24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

And still furthermore:  29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

And that is how it is done, folks! 

Paul knew how to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ even as he referenced the Greek philosophers.  Paul was a highly educated man who knew his Jewish theology as much as he knew of Greek mythology and Greek philosophies.  And yet, he did not hesitate to proclaim what he considered to be the truth, even if it meant persecution and scorn.  Wherever he went, he said his piece, and he said it well. 

May it be that we might be like that.

Turning now to our reading of the psalm for the day, we find one in which the psalmist is unabashedly acknowledging the might and power of an omnipotent supreme being.  He asks plaintively:

3 LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?

4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

And yet, we know that despite the fleeting shadow that man is, there is a God that seeks a personal relationship with each individual human being.  It is this belief that causes the psalmist to say of his God:

2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge.

Finally, two brilliant verses from the book of Proverbs penned by Solomon, one of the great kings of Israel:

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.

4 thoughts on “The Lord Does Not Live In Temples Built By Human Hands

  1. I’m fascinated by this speech of Paul at Athens. It’s so brilliant, as you point out in your reflection, how he takes stock of his surroundings and his audience and speaks to them in terms they would appreciate and understand and yet he remains faithful to his message. In your words: “And that is how it is done, folks!”

    1. It is a brilliant speech. Logical, rational, thoughtful, and simple.

      And yet, despite the best of speeches, unless and until a person willfully chooses to be open to the message, the Holy Spirit cannot work within one’s heart to prepare one to become receptive to the gospel of Christ.

      And therein lies my own view on the great debate of Election vs. Free Will. We are all predestined to exercise our free will of our own volition. Because it is through the preaching of the gospel (that may include reading and/or listening), a person who is open to the message (as opposed to being already-convinced or close-minded) is convicted of the Holy Spirit (an essential entity in allowing for revelation to occur), and is able to personally accept the gift of grace and salvation (personal as opposed to corporate) that is made available by virtue of one’s belief and confession in the saving grace of the work completed on the cross by Christ.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. God bless you.

      1. I’m writing to thank you again for taking the time to read and comment, and in doing so, allowing me the opportunity to yet again elaborate on my initial content of the post. I hope that my recap on this exchange here from last year might be thought-provoking to the reader.

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