“Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13b)
I have often wondered about the lack of the use of tools of iron mentioned in 1 Kings 6:7 with regards to the building of the temple, but as a parent, I think I am beginning to get a little better picture. You might know that the expression “hammering” is used in common day English to denote not only a physical hammering, but other things as well. For example, if I was to say, “I hammered the message into him”, you would get the picture that I was a little “rough” on this individual of whom I was speaking. I really “drilled” it into him. I didn’t show much gentleness in the process.
During the building of the temple in the book of 1 Kings in the Bible, we read that “…the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” (1 Kings 6:7) This in fact, was God’s decree — there were to be no tools of iron used within hearing of the temple. Have you ever thought of why?
Well, as you know, the temple was the place where sacrifices were offered. These sacrifices were to ‘atone’ for, or ‘make up’ for, or ‘cover’ for the sins of the people. If I sinned, I could bring a lamb or another animal to the temple, where it would be symbolically sacrificed ‘in my place’. The Bible says that these sacrifices were not the ‘real’ thing. Christ was the ‘real’ sacrifice that came along later. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4) In that same chapter, we read that Christ was the ‘real’ sacrifice that does take away sin. “Behold, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” John the Baptist said (John 1:29).
This temple, then, was supremely representative of that place where mercy was to be found. If I sinned, I could go to the temple. Without the temple, there was no forgiveness. Think about that. This temple was supremely important. What then was God’s message when he said that no iron tool was to be heard within the vicinity of the building of the temple? Well, there may be a whole host of other reasons that I have not yet considered, but I think one of them was this: The temple was that place where grace was offered. But the whole notion of “hammering” was not graceful. It was symbolic of something that was harsh. God’s point was, “this is the place where you can find mercy.”
Is hammering or using intruments of metal “unholy” in and of itself? No, of course not. But during the building of the temple, it was very important that these not be heard. Now if it was that important that these things not be “heard” at the place where mercy was to be offered, how much more important is it for us today to offer those whom we love and cherish a place of mercy where no harshness can be heard? In our churches, and in our homes, and in our schools, there must be a place of mercy where no harshness can be heard. There must be room for mercy without judgment. God insists that this be so. And I think that we need to insist that this be so, as well.
Of course, I am deriving all this from the Scriptures. Our supreme example is Jesus Christ himself, and the “mercy seat of Christ”. If we are in trouble, or we have sinned, friend, you can be sure that there is a place to run to where you will not be condemned. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Have you been set free yet, by the mercy and grace of God, that procured forgiveness on your behalf? Come to Christ today!
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)