An Open Notebook

Temple Erosion


Kings shows the Jerusalem Temple, slowly, tumultuously torn down piece-by-piece. After Solomon dedicated the Temple (incredibly important to the book, as you’d find in Solomon’s prayer 1 Kings 8:1-66), the Temple fades into the background, like a movie-trailer. As the faith, the Torah itself, and Yahweh personally, the building suffers continual neglect from king-to-king.

First, pieces are taken from it by Shishak (1 Kings 14:25-28). Then, its treasuries are mined to pay off invaders in 15:18. Ahaz switches out the altar of Moses for his own (16:10-18).

Even after Josiah makes some brief repairs (2 Kings 11-12) and Hezekiah prays in it (19:1), [being the only king to do so after Solomon] Manasseh puts the capstone on Israel’s decadence by defiling the sanctuary. Eventually, even Hezekiah’s grievous error to show the Babylonians the storerooms comes back to haunt Israel, as they complete its destruction for good. Wisdom, Torah, and Temple were among the most important things to Israel, and they all fail to save it. Nothing within Israel can save Israel.

Josaiah’s recommitment to the Torah cannot save the land. Solomon’s wisdom could not save the land (1 Kings 1-11). Revolutions (Jeroboam) and political coups could not (Jehu). Private piety could not. Hezekiah’s ecumenical efforts could not (gathering peoples for Passover from both kingdoms). The ecclesia within the ecclesia could not (Elijah and Elisha and the prophets). Restoring the temple-system could not. 

As an ultimate demonstration of sola gratia (‘grace alone’) the Protestant mantra, only Yahweh could save Israel. ‘Grace alone’ by ‘faith alone’ in ‘Yahweh alone’ is the message of Kings. All the Protestant cornerstones, known as the ‘solas’ come to life in the dual-volume work.

These all correspond to objects people rely upon today. A recommitment to history, education, or health will not save us, our communities, or our nations. Science, physics to psychology, will not save us. Politics will not save us. Moral piety will not save us. Only the Lord can rescue us from our pleas and plights. Nothing within our culture, or within ourselves, can rescue us.

And, the erosion of the Temple is just a symbol for all other sorts of entropy known to Kings. The erosion of the Temple is like the hardening of hearts. If we depend on anyone, or anything, but the Lord, we commit the idolatries so vividly displayed in Kings

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