Carpenter's Gallery

The Discovery

As I walked among the giants, my eyes turned upward toward the tips of their lofty limbs, and my thoughts turned toward God.  It was a bright clear day, yet the sunlight filtering down, way down through soft fern-like branches, bathed the forest floor in a dark emerald light.  I paused to think of God who had created these living cedar trees high on the mountain; trees so mighty that it seemed that ten men could not possibly reach around the trunk of one, and so tall that it seemed a bird would get dizzy flying to the top.  What immense roots they must have to be able to support the incredible weight of the towering tree above!  I wondered if the cedars of Lebanon were anything like this.  It seemed like a day not that unusual: a family outing in a park with my wife and her parents.  Yet there was something about these gigantic trees, that God impressed upon me and would later use to spark the thoughts for this book.

About a year after our wedding, my wife and I went to visit her parents who lived in Northwest Montana near Glacier National Park.  Though her father has now gone to be with the Lord, he was an avid sportsman who loved God and His creation.  The day after we arrived, he suggested that we go see the cedars.  I have to admit that after just having driven from Illinois, a trip that took three days of driving 600 miles a day, I wasn’t too thrilled about riding another three hours to go see some trees.  The cedars that we have in Illinois are scrubby pine trees about 20 feet tall.   I didn’t realize that cedar trees in Montana would be that much different from the rest of the trees.  When we arrived at the cedars, I was surprised and amazed at the incredible size of these towers of beauty growing on spongy, moss-covered ground with a meandering brook flowing by them.  Somehow they stuck in my mind, even after the trip, as something significant and fascinating.  I began reading and meditating on the passage in I Kings 5-7 where Solomon was building the temple using the cedars of Lebanon.  I found the passage intriguing, sensing that there was a lot more meaning to it than was apparent on the surface. 

When we returned to Illinois, I became involved in work on buildings.  First, I became the chairman of the trustees in our church.  The largest portion of our church building contained a Christian school.  The building is a prefabricated type of construction that required constant maintenance to keep it in good condition as it was under continuous wear and tear from the school children.  Lately, it had been a losing battle to keep up with all the repairs.  I worked diligently at getting everyone in the church to pull together to fix up this building.

Then, my wife and I, after having sought God’s will and counsel from our pastor, decided to purchase a fixer-upper house.  This was partly to avoid going into debt buying a house that was in good condition, partly because it would be a good investment, and partly to be able to move out of the cramped quarters of our apartment.  We spent many weeks ripping out old plaster, putting up dry wall, installing new plumbing, fixing the roof, cabinetmaking, refinishing woodwork, painting, and finishing dozens of other projects.  Five years later as I begin to write this, I’m still working on this old house, and still learning the skills of the carpenter.

I know that God had a purpose for leading me down this path.  He wanted me to understand buildings, how they are put together, how they function, and how to fix them when they need repair.  God’s desire for my life was not to make me into an expert carpenter.   But rather, He wanted me to learn to discover and share with others the principles about God’s building that are in His Word. 

Shortly after I became involved with working on buildings I noticed the verse:

“For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:9

The phrase, “ye are God’s building” stuck out.  I’m a building?  What kind of building am I?  With the experiences I had been having with buildings lately, I wasn’t sure that that was a good thing.  And how does a building relate to husbandry?

As I continued reading in this passage, I discovered what kind of building I am.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” I Corinthians 3:16

These verses appear to be the picture key that allows us to begin to understand the symbolism in the passage in     I Kings, describing Solomon’s temple.  The temple as described in the Old Testament can be looked at as a picture of the reality of Christians as God’s spiritual temple today!  As I read and reread the description of Solomon’s temple, I tried to understand how we are similar to that building.  Then things started to fall into place and make sense.  With the help of God’s Spirit, the words came alive and unfolded into the most awesome brilliant picture, full of life and light and beauty, revealing God’s love for us, and describing our relationship to Him.

As I continued to watch more and more of this picture unfold in front of me, it began to seem that all of God’s Word is woven together into one huge, glorious picture of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  I stand dumb-founded, unable with my feeble mind to comprehend the scope of His character, and His love for me.  I find myself saying as did the Psalmist,

 “…my heart standeth in awe of thy Word.  I rejoice at thy Word, as one that findeth great spoil.”  Psalm 119:161b, 162.  

Just as a map does not show all the details-neither does the Bible.  The Bible presents the main features, but I have to think that it is likely that we will spend all eternity exploring, in detail, the vastness of the beauty of our God and what He has done.  Words fail and fall short of adequately describing our Lord Jesus Christ and His work as seen in the temple.  How can my simple mind begin to describe something so infinitely wonderful?  He is beautiful, more beautiful than anything we associate with the word beautiful.  His works are astounding beyond what we can comprehend!

How does the phrase “For we are laborers together with God…” relate to the temple?  How can I do what He wants me to do?  What type of person do I need to be to labor with God?  What is His work?

It seems that the phrase “For we are laborers together with God…” I Cor 3:9a implies that we must be working at the same thing He is.  How ridiculously inadequate and ill-equipped I feel to do the same work as the One who created the entire world in six days.  Where should I start this daunting task of doing the same work as God?  I was perplexed until I realized that I am not doing the work, but God is doing it through me.  God is the ultimate Master Carpenter.  He understands how it all fits together.  He makes the most beautiful carvings you have ever seen.  I am just fetching a hammer or a chisel for Him, or maybe sawing a board at His mark or sanding a rough spot.  When we are working with and watching how the Master works, it is then that we gain skill and learn how to do things more like the Master.  “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me,” the Master says. (Matthew 11:29)  How much there is to learn from the Master Carpenter!

For much of His life on earth, Jesus was quite likely laboring with Joseph, his earthly father, as a carpenter, working with wood and stone (for carpenters also worked with stone in those days), building things.  That He should have carpentry as His occupation was not by chance.  When Jesus began His ministry, He continued to be a carpenter, but a different type of carpenter.  He became the Master Carpenter of a spiritual building, laying down His very life on the cross that He might be set in place as the foundation Stone of the building, and that we might be able to be a part of that wonderful spiritual building.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”  I Corinthians 3:16

The temple of God is a very special building.  Far more special than the White House, than your house, than the Taj Mahal, than the Vatican, than the Great Pyramid, than any palace or any place you or I could ever go or anyone has ever been.  The temple is not a special place because of the materials from which it is made or how ornately those materials are carved.  Many a palace has fine carvings and gold.  The temple of God is special not because of what it is, but because of Who is in it.  The grand building pales in comparison to the thought of the Almighty God being in it.  Solomon, after having completed the building of the temple, marveled in his prayer saying, 

“…behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”  (I Kings 8:27)

 I find myself asking the same question in awe.  If I am God’s temple and the universe cannot even contain God, how much less my heart?  Why would He choose me?  How can the King of the Universe dwell in such a place?  And yet, I know that He chooses to do so.  It is a sobering thought.  Certainly I am utterly insignificant in comparison to the Spirit of God who dwells in me.  I find myself asking how I should live knowing that God’s Spirit dwells in me?  As we look out over the picture of the temple that God has revealed, we’ll find some answers; and they may not be what you would expect.  I have so much more to show you, and I can’t wait for you to see it all.  Come with me and let’s explore this grand old building, the temple that God calls His house.

Picture of Ed Brill
Ed Brill

Mr. Brill has spent many years as a tool engineer for plastic injection molds working closely with craftsmen. This experience has given him unique insight into the character traits involved in craftsmanship. His engineering background has taught him to sort through things not readily apparent and get to the heart of the real issue. Mr. Brill has done a good deal of work on buildings, having remodeled an old house and having been on the board of trustees and then as a deacon at his church for many years. He has been a student and teacher of the Bible for many years as he serves in his local church.

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