The temple in Jerusalem played a huge role in the lives of Jews. Not only was it part of their cultural heritage, it was where God resided. But despite this significance, the Jews weren’t always good at taking care of it, and several times it had to be repaired.
The original temple was a masterpiece, and was constructed during the reign of Solomon. Now Solomon was a guy with some serious cash. He was the Bill Gates of the day. Despite his wealth, Solomon listened to God and built his temple accordingly. And so it honored God.
Fast forward a few hundred years to the time of Jesus. And we find a man named Herod as the ruler over Jerusalem. And once more it was time to “improve” the temple. Now Herod had two problems.
1. He didn’t really follow God
2. He wanted to impress pagans
So he decided to build an elaborate temple that rivaled the much larger pagan temples which had been dedicated to Greek and Roman gods. But he found himself stuck – the dimensions of the original temple were limited by what God had commanded. So Herod struck out on a new idea – he would build several outer courts of the temple. That way he could make it match the size of the pagan shrines, but still not break the legalistic requirements of the temple size.
He was consumed with the idea that showing off his money and wealth would bring him glory.
After spending something like 40 years constructing the temple it was finally completed. Seven years later the temple was destroyed by the Romans.
Solomon once said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income…As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?”
Solomon realized something that escaped Herod: building things and having great wealth doesn’t bring you success and glory. Every physical thing, at some point, will fade away. And that basic reality was why Herod had started his building campaign.
How often do I try to make things fit with my will instead of God’s? How often am I chasing after wind?