August 26, 2012

King Solomon built the First Jewish Temple. It was later destroyed by the Babylonians and rebuilt by Ezra and Nehemiah. In 70 C.E., the Romans destroyed it again, and the Jews scattered in the diaspora. Somewhere during this time, the Ark of the Covenant was lost … which gives us the background for a good “Indiana Jones” mystery. In the text for Sunday (1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-25), King Solomon brings the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. This passage is a dedication service. It represents the culmination of the long journey of the ark from its conception in the wilderness, its life in the tabernacle, its crossing the Jordon into the Promised Land, its captivity and return from the Philistines, and its trip into Jerusalem to be placed in the Temple’s Holy of Holies. What the Ark symbolizes is “Covenant.” This term, also called “Testament,” refers to the founding principle of both Judaism and Christianity. A “covenant” is a fundamental understanding or relationship people can have with God and each other. It’s like a spiritual contract. The party of the first part (Jews/Christians) agrees to certain things, while the party of the second part (God) agrees to other things. In Deuteronomy, Moses established the Hebrew Covenant (Old Testament). Essentially, people keep the commandments (righteousness) and God assure that they “prosper and live long in the land.” Jesus established the New “Testament,” or New “Covenant.” With it, the “Law” or “Logos” is written on the human heart. People accept God’s Grace (unconditional acceptance), love one another, and thus live amidst God’s shalom, or “salvation.”