OK. My lovely bride of nearly 20 years has informed me that I need to make two clarifications to the post on Dinnerware. First, our china was Wedgewood not Westwood. (Like I said, she’s the expert here.) Second, I must admit I did largely embellish the Corn Flakes portion of the story to make a point. (Think of it as a parable?? Maybe? Am I reaching here?) Anyway, thank you. My conscience is now clear, and we can proceed.
But before we leave this topic completely, let’s take a look at one more story from the Old Testament. I shared with you about some of my wedding presents, but this is a story about a different wedding, and a much different kind of wedding present.
King Solomon had a wedding. Actually, he had a number of weddings, but as far as I can tell this was his first. As was common among kings of the earth throughout history, this wedding was the consummation of a political agreement with the bride’s father rather than a solemnization of a union built on love. Solomon and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, made an alliance and his daughter was thrown in to “seal the deal.” (How romantic!)
When his bride (we’re not told her name) was brought to Jerusalem, Solomon built her a separate palace, one just for her. The reason he gives for this is a little obscure, but it teaches us yet another truth about the concept of holiness:
“My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the LORD has entered are holy.” — 2 Chron 8:11b
Interesting comment. Apparently, at some point in the past the Ark of the Covenant (remember Uzzah?) had entered the palace of David, that is, the palace of Solomon’s father, in which Solomon was living. Now recall from earlier, the Ark of the Covenant was the focal point of worship in the tabernacle, the symbol of the very presence of God Himself.
Key point: Solomon was saying that when the presence of the Lord (via the Ark of the Covenant) entered the royal palace, the palace itself was changed into something holy. It was no longer an ordinary building, but one marked by the presence of God Himself. Nothing “unclean” belonged in it any longer.
Solomon rightly recognized that his Egyptian wife was not a follower of Jehovah, rather a pagan (like a number of his future wives, but that’s another story), and therefore it would not be appropriate for her to live there, so out of his vast wealth, he built her a separate palace. The holy and the common were to be kept separate. (The fact that he probably shouldn’t have married her in the first place seems to be lost on Solomon, but that would come back to haunt him in the future. See 2 Kings 11.)
Now the point of this story is not about keeping unbelievers at arms length or not hanging with them (think Jesus on this one; though the New Testament is clear about believers not joining in marriage with unbelievers — see 2 Cor 6:14 & 1 Cor 9:5). This point is this: we are told in I Corinthians 6 that our bodies are temples of God’s Holy Spirit. In other words, we ourselves have been marked by the presence of God in an even more intimate way than the ark of God entering a building!
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? . . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? (I Cor 3:16, 6:15a)
And so the point is, because we have been indwelt by the Spirit of God, our bodies are no longer to be a dwelling place for the common, the unclean, the run-of-the-mill. We have been set apart for something different, something far better!
Paul finishes with the application of this truth:
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you; whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
If we take commands like this in isolation (“Flee from sexual immorality”) without seeing the bigger picture of our position in Christ, they can quickly take on the feeling of just “rules” to obey. But when we see our position more clearly, that we are temples of his Holy Spirit, that we have been touched with the presence of God Himself, we can understand the reason for the command, and the heart behind it.
And obedience to it becomes a privilege and not a duty.