Today our passages are 2 Chronicles 4:1–6:11; Romans 7:1-13; Psalm 17:1-15; and Proverbs 19:22-23. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
2 Chronicles 4-6:11 (The Message)
2 Chronicles 4
Temple Furnishings1 He made the Bronze Altar thirty feet long, thirty feet wide, and ten feet high. 2-5 He made a Sea—an immense round basin of cast metal fifteen feet in diameter, seven and a half feet high, and forty-five feet in circumference. Just under the rim, there were two parallel bands of something like bulls, ten to each foot and a half. The figures were cast in one piece with the Sea. The Sea was set on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east. All the bulls faced outward and supported the Sea on their hindquarters. The Sea was three inches thick and flared at the rim like a cup, or a lily. It held about 18,000 gallons. 6 He made ten Washbasins, five set on the right and five on the left, for rinsing the things used for the Whole-Burnt-Offerings. The priests washed themselves in the Sea.
7 He made ten gold Lampstands, following the specified pattern, and placed five on the right and five on the left.
8 He made ten tables and set five on the right and five on the left. He also made a hundred gold bowls.
9 He built a Courtyard especially for the priests and then the great court and doors for the court. The doors were covered with bronze.
10 He placed the Sea on the right side of The Temple at the southeast corner.
11-16 He also made ash buckets, shovels, and bowls.
And that about wrapped it up: Huram completed the work he had contracted to do for King Solomon:
two bowl-shaped capitals for the tops of the pillars;
two decorative filigrees for the capitals;
four hundred pomegranates for the filigrees (a double row of pomegranates for each filigree);
ten washstands with their basins;
one Sea and the twelve bulls under it;
miscellaneous buckets, forks, shovels, and bowls.
16-18 All these artifacts that Huram-Abi made for King Solomon for The Temple of God were made of burnished bronze. The king had them cast in clay in a foundry on the Jordan plain between Succoth and Zarethan. These artifacts were never weighed—there were far too many! Nobody has any idea how much bronze was used.
19-22 Solomon was also responsible for the furniture and accessories in The Temple of God:
the gold Altar;
the tables that held the Bread of the Presence;
the Lampstands of pure gold with their lamps, to be lighted
before the Inner Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies;
the gold flowers, lamps, and tongs (all solid gold);
the gold wick trimmers, bowls, ladles, and censers;
the gold doors of The Temple, doors to the Holy of Holies, and the doors to the main sanctuary.
2 Chronicles 51 That completed the work King Solomon did on The Temple of God. He then brought in the holy offerings of his father David, the silver and the gold and the artifacts. He placed them all in the treasury of God's Temple.
Installing the Chest2-3 Bringing all this to a climax, Solomon got all the leaders together in Jerusalem—all the chiefs of tribes and the family patriarchs—to move the Chest of the Covenant of God from Zion and install it in The Temple. All the men of Israel assembled before the king on the feast day of the seventh month, the Feast of Booths. 4-6 When all the leaders of Israel were ready, the Levites took up the Chest. They carried the Chest, the Tent of Meeting, and all the sacred things in the Tent used in worship. The priests, all Levites, carried them. King Solomon and the entire congregation of Israel were there before the Chest, worshiping and sacrificing huge numbers of sheep and cattle—so many that no one could keep track.
7-10 The priests brought the Chest of the Covenant of God to its place in the Inner Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the cherubim. The outspread wings of the cherubim formed a canopy over the Chest and its poles. The ends of the poles were so long that they stuck out from the entrance of the Inner Sanctuary, but were not noticeable further out—they're still there today. There was nothing in the Chest itself but the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb where God made a covenant with Israel after bringing them up from Egypt.
11-13 The priests then left the Holy Place. All the priests there were consecrated, regardless of rank or assignment; and all the Levites who were musicians were there—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their families, dressed in their worship robes; the choir and orchestra assembled on the east side of the Altar and were joined by 120 priests blowing trumpets. The choir and trumpets made one voice of praise and thanks to God—orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to God:
Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever!
13-14 Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn't even carry out their duties because of the cloud—the glory of God!—that filled The Temple of God.
2 Chronicles 6
Solomon's Dedication and Prayer1-2 Then Solomon said,
God said he would dwell in a cloud,
But I've built a temple most splendid, A place for you to live in forever. 3 The king then turned to face the congregation that had come together and blessed them:
4-6 "Blessed be God, the God of Israel, who spoke personally to my father David. Now he has done what he promised when he said, 'From the day I brought my people Israel up from Egypt, I haven't set apart one city among the tribes of Israel in which to build a temple to honor my Name, or chosen one person to be the leader. But now I have chosen both a city and a person: Jerusalem for honoring my Name and David to lead my people Israel.'
7-9 "My father David very much wanted to build a temple honoring the Name of God, the God of Israel, but God told him, 'It was good that you wanted to build a temple in my honor—most commendable! But you are not the one to do it. Your son, who will carry on your dynasty, will build it for my Name.'
10-11 "And now you see the promise completed. God has done what he said he would do; I have succeeded David my father and now rule Israel; and I have built a temple to honor God, the God of Israel, and have secured a place for the Chest that holds the Covenant of God, the covenant he made with the people of Israel."
Romans 7:1-13 (The Message)
Torn Between One Way and Another1-3 You shouldn't have any trouble understanding this, friends, for you know all the ins and outs of the law—how it works and how its power touches only the living. For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she's free. If she lives with another man while her husband is living, she's obviously an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite free to marry another man in good conscience, with no one's disapproval. 4-6So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to "marry" a resurrection life and bear "offspring" of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we're no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we're free to live a new life in the freedom of God.
7But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, "You shall not covet," I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.
8-12Don't you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of "forbidden fruit" out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God's good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.
13I can already hear your next question: "Does that mean I can't even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?" No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God's good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.
Psalm 17:1-15 (The Message)
A David Prayer1-2 Listen while I build my case, God, the most honest prayer you'll ever hear.
Show the world I'm innocent—
in your heart you know I am.
3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
surprise me in the middle of the night—
You'll find I'm just what I say I am.
My words don't run loose.
4-5 I'm not trying to get my way
in the world's way.
I'm trying to get your way,
your Word's way.
I'm staying on your trail;
I'm putting one foot
In front of the other.
I'm not giving up.
6-7 I call to you, God, because I'm sure of an answer.
So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
straight to you.
8-9 Keep your eye on me;
hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,
from mortal enemies closing in.
10-14 Their hearts are hard as nails,
their mouths blast hot air.
They are after me, nipping my heels,
determined to bring me down,
Lions ready to rip me apart,
young lions poised to pounce.
Up, God: beard them! break them!
By your sword, free me from their clutches;
Barehanded, God, break these mortals,
these flat-earth people who can't think beyond today. I'd like to see their bellies
swollen with famine food,
The weeds they've sown
harvested and baked into famine bread,
With second helpings for their children
and crusts for their babies to chew on.
15 And me? I plan on looking
you full in the face. When I get up,
I'll see your full stature
and live heaven on earth.
A David Song, Which He Sang to God After BeingSaved from All His Enemies and from Saul
Proverbs 19:22-23 (The Message)
22 It's only human to want to make a buck,
but it's better to be poor than a liar.
23 Fear-of-God is life itself,
a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.
Verse of the Day
“I am determined to be faithful and to respect your laws.” - Psalm 119:30
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, Stephen Hawking wrote, “People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”