The Cedars of Lebanon

 

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The Cedars of Lebanon

“And Solomon determined to build a house for the name of the Lord” (1 Chron. 2:1). This was the motivation behind Solomon’s request of King Huram (Hiram) for wood. Solomon was a type of Christ, being the son of David and King of Israel with great wisdom. He desired to build a structure to house the presence of God in Jerusalem so that all his subjects and people throughout the world could come to worship the Lord. So the request was sent to King Hiram who received it with gladness. He immediately responded by acknowledging “the Lord God of Israel” as the Maker of “heaven and earth” (v. 12). He considered it a privilege to be playing a part in the construction of God’s house. He is a type of John the Baptist and all ministers of the Gospel since, preparing the way for the Lord and doing their part to build the church of God.

The process of preparing and delivering the timber for use in building is also a type of the new birth and discipleship. The cedars of Lebanon were known for their strength and beauty, but as long as they remained where they were and in that condition, they could not be used. They had to be hewn down, stripped of their limbs and bark, and then removed from their natural habitat. Does this not picture sinful man being brought to Christ? We are strong, and are the beautiful creation of God, but how useless we are until our sin and pride are stripped away! And how were these logs to be transported to Jerusalem? They would be floated on rafts by sea, then carried up to Jerusalem (v. 16). What a picture of the new believer’s baptism and consecration for service! There are times when our weakness causes us to feel hopeless. In these times, others must carry us onward and upward.

It is amazing that King Hiram should say to Solomon, “thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.” As a type of Christ, he was to bear the load of the timber. Jesus bore His cross of wood through Jerusalem and up to Golgotha for us. Now when we are weak, He has His servants to carry us (in prayer) so that we can continue on the path of service. As king, Solomon would have had his servants do the burden-bearing. Our Lord, however, bears the load for us.

Once the logs were in Jerusalem, they were used to construct the Lord’s temple. The logs did not have the ability to choose where they would be placed; only the builder was given that right. We do not choose where or how we will serve the Lord. God has already prepared us for works of service that He has chosen (Eph. 2:10). Once all the timber was in place, the Lord’s house was finished and consecrated. This pictures the believer, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). One last observation must be made: only after all the work of building was finished did the glory of God fall on the place (1 Chron. 5:13, 14). The glory falls once the work is finished, not before! Dedication comes before glorification! Then the temple (your body) is fully ready and equipped for service.

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Where are the Nethinims?

As the Israelites returned from 70 years of exile, they came back to find their holy city of Jerusalem in ruins.  The prophet Nehemiah was sent by God to encourage and direct them to rebuild their beloved home, especially its walls, so that it might once again bring glory to their God.  In the long list of all those who did work on the walls, we come across one specific group who was highly esteemed although their normal work was very menial.  “The temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower” (Neh. 3:26 NASB).  The Hebrew for “temple servants” is Nethinims and is translated as such in many older versions of our Bibles.  Who were these people?  They were descendants of the temple servants that kings David and Solomon had put in place during their respective reigns.  They were not priests or Levites, the ones who were specifically chosen by God to handle the holy things of the temple. These “temple servants” were not given that duty.  No, their responsibilities included the everyday chores within the precincts of the temple.  They did the cleaning, repairs, maintenance, wood-cutting, and cooking.  So what, you may say.  The fact is, the Church of God today needs more of these.  Nethinims seem to be a dying breed.  So few are willing to serve the Lord in the simplest of ways where there is no benefit or reward from man.  But God sees this labor of love.  He will reward it one day.  The Nethinims were recorded in His Word because they were faithful in even the smallest tasks.  Are you willing to follow their example?