“And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house… And 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 5:17, 18; 6:7).
We know from what we are told in the New Testament that the temple that King Solomon reared on Mount Moriah was a type of the Lord’s present dwelling-place, a temple that He has been building through the energy of the Holy Spirit during the last 1900 years, that great temple composed of living stones made up of all in every place who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The temple of old was a picture, a type of this. It is a very remarkable fact that it was erected as no other building of which we have record. Enormous stones were used, and it covered a great deal of ground, and yet there was not a sound of a hammer heard as it was in course of construction. This was because all the stones were prepared and made ready in the quarries before they were brought up to the top of Mount Moriah. They fitted perfectly, and slipped into place and were cemented together without the necessity of any further preparation after they were brought to the top of the hill.
It was our privilege to go through at least a part of the great quarry underneath the city of Jerusalem. It had been known in past centuries that such quarries existed, and that when Titus conquered the city of Jerusalem the Jews hid many of their treasures in great caverns beneath the city which the Romans were unable to locate. It was even rumored that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden there. Then there were others who said it was hidden in Lebanon when Nebuchadnezzar took the city. But it was also said that other vessels of the Tabernacle were hidden there, but none have ever been discovered. These great quarries were lost sight of for some hundreds of years until about eighty-five years ago, an English gentleman by the name of Barkley was walking along the wall of Jerusalem accompanied by his dog. The dog was running on ahead of him and suddenly with a cry dropped from sight. This gentleman hurried to see what had become of him. He found an opening into a cave but no sign of his dog. But in a few minutes it came out from another opening some distance away. The next day with a party Barkley undertook an investigation, to find out just where his dog had been. They located an opening, and with lights entered into a large cave, and were amazed to find themselves in a vast quarry glistening with pure white stone on every hand. Great passages led off, they could not tell how far, in all directions underneath the city of Jerusalem.
Near the Damascus Gate we had the privilege of going into this quarry, and of all the things that we saw on the other side I think this was one of the most interesting. As we approached the mouth of it we could see several Arabs sitting at a little table on which they had spread out a great many curios made out of the limestone from the quarry. It is very soft and can easily be cut into various shapes, but if exposed to the air for a little while it becomes exceedingly hard. We bought a little stone hammer to bring home as a souvenir. After paying a few piasters we were each handed a long taper, and a guide escorted us through a part of the quarry. We walked about a half-mile, taking a round-about passage, and were astounded at what we saw. Above our heads were blocks of stone partially cut out, and on the ground were piles of chips just as they had lain for thousands of years, since B. C. 900, when King Solomon’s servants, and others sent by Hiram, king of Tyre, undertook to prepare the stone of which the great temple was to be constructed. The guide drew our attention to the Phoenician markings upon the stones. There they were just as 2900 years ago. There is a well-known secret society which sets great store by Solomon’s quarries and so we found a great many Masonic signs on the walls, but these were undoubtedly later than the old Phoenician markings.
We entered a great room large enough to contain a congregation of several thousand people, from which the stone had all been cut out. In it the Masons frequently hold their secret meetings. We could see on the walls the places where the old Phoenician workmen fastened their little lamps and the smoke had discolored the limestone. Hanging to the domed ceiling were what looked like a cluster of dark spider-webs but we found they were bats, thousands of which make their home there. On the floor of the quarry were many great blocks of stone. Some are about fifteen feet long, and five or six feet wide, and as many feet in height. How they transported such immense blocks and raised them up on to Mount Moriah and builded them into the temple I do not know, but in those days they were able to accomplish a great many things by some method we cannot now understand.
I asked the guide how they blasted out these stones, and he said that they cut the stone on each side and then went around and cut it away in the back, and that set it loose. On other occasions they simply chopped along the side of the wall and then drove in wooden wedges which they soaked in water from a stream running through the quarry. As the wedges swelled they cracked the stones apart. I think that we now have a better understanding of what actually took place when this temple was built. What a marvelous picture it is of what God is doing now.
The temple stood on the place of sacrifice, the place where Isaac was offered up, but where God provided the ram in his stead. It was also where David offered the sacrifice when the plague was stayed in Israel. And it is upon the place of sacrifice that God is building His great temple today. We speak of standing on redemption ground. An old hymn says,
“Once from my God I wandered far
And with His holy will made war,
But now my songs to God abound,
I’m standing on redemption ground.
“No works of merit now I plead,
But Jesus take for all my need;
No righteousness in me is found,
Except upon redemption ground.
“Redemption ground, the ground of peace;
Redemption ground, oh, wondrous grace!
Here let our praise to God abound,
Who saves us on redemption ground.”
On no other ground could God meet with sinful men and make them His own. This great rock, Mount Moriah, was the extreme foundation on which the temple was built, and that of course speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ for we are told that “that rock was Christ,” and He is the One upon whom the Church is built. “Upon this Rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). I know some people think the rock on which the Church was built was the Apostle Peter. Well, it would have been a pretty shaky one if built on him because, though saved by divine grace, he was a poor, failing man like others. But Christ Himself is the Rock of our salvation.
Built up along the side of Mount Moriah, the ancient foundation of the old temple may be seen. The Jews today come there to wail, to mourn over the desolation of Jerusalem and the scattering of their people throughout the world. On one Sabbath evening we walked down with Pastor Hyman Jacobs and stood by that wailing wall, and there looked at the great stones taken out of that very quarry and built on the foundation upon which the temple rested. Today it has disappeared and in its place is the Dome of the Rock, the Mosque of Omar. But, thank God, even though the old temple has disappeared God is building on Christ Jesus today a temple that shall never be destroyed. The stones which are being builded in have been brought out of the quarry of sin by the power of God. Enter into those quarries of Solomon without a light and all is darkness; and is not that the condition in which men are found in their sins, in darkness and in the shadow of death?
One of the first things that the Spirit of God does when a living stone is about to be quarried out of the great caverns of sin is to bring in the light. The Lord Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus that He was going to make him, “A minister and a witness… to open the eyes and deliver them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:16-18). Of old when God was about to bring this world out of its chaotic condition and make it fit for the habitation of man, He said, “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). “The entrance of Thy words,” the Psalmist says, “giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Ps. 119:130). And so light today is shining in the caverns of sin. And then God sends His workmen in to blast out living stones by the power of the Gospel.
The servants of Hiram worked those quarries of old, where it was their business to break these great stones from the rocks of the caverns and shape them, in order to be fitted into the temple. I was struck by the fact that they used water in order to do that. That is what God is doing today, blasting living stones out of the quarry of sin by the water of His Word. The message is preached in power, the truth of God is proclaimed to men who are otherwise dead toward Him, just as dead toward God as those stones in that quarry, but they are awakened out of their natural condition and then lifted up by power divine and built into the temple of God. The Apostle Paul says in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God… in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22). And the Apostle Peter tells us the same thing when in his first letter he says, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5). And so wherever you find a redeemed sinner, wherever you find a saved man or woman, there you have one who has been brought out of the quarry of sin and delivered, freed from his natural condition, by the mighty power of God, and by the Holy Spirit has been builded into this great and glorious temple where the Lord Himself dwells.
I wonder how many of you know what it is to be living stones in this great temple. It is a wonderful privilege. By nature, you know, we had no interest in the things of God, but the Lord in His grace saw us in our lost condition, dealt with us, gave us to see our need and then led us to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we find ourselves builded together. I like that word, “together”— we are not saved alone. You might take stones out of that quarry and not have a building. Some have been brought out of the quarry and not built together, but these were taken out in order that they might be built into a holy temple for the Lord. And so today God is not merely saving us as so many individuals, but is building us together. That speaks of a wonderful, holy, happy fellowship.
It cost Solomon a great deal to build that temple. All the work of preparing these stones could not be done without cost; it meant much in the way of toil and labor. We are told, “The king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stone-squarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.”
And then see the house going up so silently, so beautifully, when it is in building. “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither.” It was made ready in those dark quarries. Today God is sending His servants through the world, to Africa, Asia, to South and Central America, and here throughout our own country, and they are searching and finding out men and women dead in sin, and through the power of the Word of God they are being blasted out of their natural condition, and by the Spirit made ready to be built for a habitation for the Spirit of God. You cannot hear a sound when a soul is built into this temple. Oftentimes when preaching the Word, as the message is going forth, God by the Spirit is doing His work and building a living stone into the temple. No one hears the sound. There is something going on between that soul and God, and the moment that any poor sinner trusts Jesus he is built into that temple. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are inclined to think that we cannot accomplish anything without a great deal of fuss and noise, but after all it is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). As I am trying to present Christ to you, as the living Stone, if you even now realize something of your lost condition, if you are saying within your heart, “I would like to be a Christian; I have tried to be better but have failed,” let me say, If you look away from yourself, giving up all self-effort and look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, trust Him now as your own personal Saviour, the moment you put your trust in Him, God the Holy Spirit builds you into the temple of the Lord. It can all be done silently, secretly, without any one else knowing anything about it for the moment. “The wind bloweth where it listeth,” said Jesus to Nicodemus, “and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
But on the other hand, when they dedicated that great temple there was a great deal of noise. They were singing and rejoicing and sacrificing, and the praise of the Lord was on every tongue. And so, if now you trust the Lord Jesus, if you will receive Him as your Saviour, do not go away without giving Him glory; let Him have the praise, the honor, the thanksgiving that is His due. He Himself has said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
Mark, it is not necessary that you say anything aloud to any one in order to be saved; it is only necessary that you lift your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, and trust Him as your Saviour. But, on the other hand, having been saved, you can glorify Him by witnessing to others of the riches of His grace. Giving public testimony does not save, it has nothing to do with fitting living stones into the temple of the Lord, but by these means you have the opportunity of making known the work that God in grace is doing in your soul.
This building has been in construction for 1900 years. Solomon’s temple was seven years in building. They took an enormous number of stones out of that quarry. You can go through passages for a number of miles, and they tell us that enough stone has been taken from that quarry to build two great cities like the city of Jerusalem. Not only Solomon’s temple, you know, was built of those stones, but the buildings in that great city and other cities around about, and yet there is enough to build even greater cities. God in grace has already quarried untold millions of souls out of the dark caves of sin, but there are millions more to whom He is ready to extend His grace if they will trust in Him.
You may still be in your sins, in the darkness, in hardness of heart, in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Will you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ? “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart” (Ps. 95:8). Won’t you trust Him? Are you not coming? Will you not be built into this house of God and become a living stone in His temple to the praise of His glory?