Is it a Temple Yet?

Posted: October 28, 2010 in 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 3-5, “Is it a Temple Yet?”
——————-

If there’s a central event that the Chronicler has been building up to in both books, this is it. David was the king in which the covenant of God rested, and the idea of the temple was begun. Solomon is the king under which the Temple was built & the covenant began to be fulfilled. If Solomon had done nothing else in his lifetime, this alone would have been significant enough. This is a major transition in the life of Israel as their central point of worship moves from the Tabernacle (given under Moses) now to the Temple.

Yet there’s only so much Solomon can do in preparation. He can gather the materials, the workers, & the design. He can build the building & put everything into place. But only God can truly make it His Temple & He does so by His blessing & His presence. Ultimately (like everything else) it comes down to the work of God…and only then is it perfect.

2 Chronicles 3 (NKJV)
1 Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

A. Recall that David had an encounter with God during the middle of a plague that came on the land on account of his census & David visually saw the Angel of the Lord standing at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chr 21:16) (Verification here that the Angel of the Lord was indeed a Christophany…) This was the same spot on Mt. Moriah.

B. David’s encounter wasn’t the 1st time that God had appeared on Mt. Moriah. Almost 1000 years earlier, God appeared to Abraham when Abraham’s faith was tested… Genesis 22:2-3 (2) Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (3) So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. []

C. The point? Mt. Moriah wasn’t a random choice; it was specifically chosen by God as the location for His temple. [] If God put this much care into choosing the spot for His physical temple, how much does this say about the care that He put into His spiritual temple, the Church? You have not been saved by random chance…you did not “luck” into grace. God specifically loved you & knew you & chose you for His very own. Jesus made provision for you before you were ever born out of His great love & grace!

2 And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.

A. Why did Solomon wait 4 years into his reign? Good question – after all, this was the primary task he had been charged by his father with. Keep in mind that the author of Chronicles leaves out some information on what happened when Solomon ascended to the throne. God had certainly established Solomon as king, but it wasn’t exactly seamless, politically speaking. Solomon obviously didn’t push off the project too long – but it probably took 4 years to get settled into the throne, as well as gather send letters to & from Tyre, get the extra materials, recruit workers, etc. The point for us is simply that the work got started…they even made a note of the exact day that ground was broke for construction.

a. Our problem is sometimes just in getting started. Some might criticize Solomon for taking 4 years to get to it, but at least he got to it.

B. Solomon built the building, but keep in mind that it was God’s design. The Chronicler is going to go into great detail about what went into the actual construction, and paint a pretty vivid picture for us of how the original Temple would have looked. (Remember he was describing this for the Jews that were returning from captivity – the temple that they built as a replacement was a mere shadow of what would have originally stood on the spot!) Yet as beautiful as the building was, it wasn’t due to man’s creativity…this was a building designed expressly by God for the people of God to have a place to worship & interact with God. (1 Chr 28:12)

a. Likewise, the Church is the Church by God’s express design. … When we get off of God’s design for the Church & start trying to worship Him in our own ways & preferences, leaving the Bible behind, putting man & entertainment at the center of our worship, etc., we get into a lot of trouble. We need to stick with God’s design for the Church. HE’s the Designer!

3 This is the foundation which Solomon laid for building the house of God: The length was sixty cubits (by cubits according to the former measure) and the width twenty cubits. 4 And the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary was twenty cubits long across the width of the house, and the height was one hundred and twenty. He overlaid the inside with pure gold. 5 The larger room he paneled with cypress which he overlaid with fine gold, and he carved palm trees and chainwork on it. 6 And he decorated the house with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was gold from Parvaim. 7 He also overlaid the house—the beams and doorposts, its walls and doors—with gold; and he carved cherubim on the walls. 8 And he made the Most Holy Place. Its length was according to the width of the house, twenty cubits, and its width twenty cubits. He overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold. 9 The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold; and he overlaid the upper area with gold.

A. What jumps off the page is the amount of gold that was used (33 tons just in the Most Holy Place!). Obviously David & the people had collected quite a bit (3K talents from David; 10K darics from the people – 1 Chr 29)…but the amount used in construction was simply massive to the point of overwhelming. That’s the way it should be. Gold speaks of the holiness & divinity & royalty of God…and that ought to be overwhelming to us.

B. From a construction standpoint, this must be pretty incredible. Gold is a very heavy metal – the walls would have had to have been pretty solid to be able to hold up under the weight of it all. We get a bit of a glimpse in that in the size of the nails. We think of 3-penny nails; these were 50-shekel nails! (1.25 pounds)

10 In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold. 11 The wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits in overall length: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub; 12 one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing also was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub. 13 The wings of these cherubim spanned twenty cubits overall. They stood on their feet, and they faced inward.

A. Huge cherubim! Would have been somewhat reflective of the design of the Mercy Seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant.

B. Question: why would these statues in the middle of the Most Holy Place not be considered making a graven image, in violation of the 2nd Commandment? … These statues were not made for worship; nor were they made to be any kind of representation of God – instead they were representative of creatures that served God. God Himself was not represented in the images & in fact is known to be supreme over them. BIG difference!

a. The idea behind the 2nd Commandment is creating an image of God Himself, or creating an image to receive the worship due to God alone. That’s not limited to ancient statues; we do the same thing all the time when we start thinking up unbiblical ideas of what we think God ought to be like. Or when we give worship & spiritual adoration to anyone other than God Almighty as revealed through Jesus Christ.

14 And he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it. 15 Also he made in front of the temple two pillars thirty-five cubits high, and the capital that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. 16 He made wreaths of chainwork, as in the inner sanctuary, and put them on top of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates, and put them on the wreaths of chainwork. 17 Then he set up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left; he called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz.

A. Brief description of the rest of the temple.

B. The veil. Apparently a brand-new veil was made specifically for the temple – which makes sense considering that the dimensions of the temple were far bigger than the tabernacle. The original veil simply wouldn’t have fit; it would have been too small. What was the purpose of the veil? In Christ, the veil is torn!

C. The pillars are interesting in how they are named. “Jachin” = “He shall establish.” “Boaz” = “In it is strength” (actually the name of Solomon’s great-great-grandfather…) Notice how this points directly to the work of the Lord Jesus!

a. He shall establish: We are established in Christ by Christ. It’s completely by His work that we are built up & established as the children of God.

b. In it is strength: More correctly in regards to Christ, “in HIM is strength.” In Christ there is strength to overcome death – strength to overcome sin – strength to endure adversity. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

2 Chronicles 4 (NKJV)
1 Moreover he made a bronze altar: twenty cubits was its length, twenty cubits its width, and ten cubits its height.

A. New altar. This would have been huge compared to the original! The tabernacle altar was 7.5 x 7.5 x 4.5; the new altar would be 30’ x 30’ x 15’. It’s interesting that virtually all of the furniture that was used in the Tabernacle (with the exception of the ark) was recreated for use in the Temple. Why it was all made new, we’re not told. However, the purposes of the different pieces furniture don’t change at all – it still all points to Christ. We simply see a new revelation of the furniture from the Mosaic Covenant to the Davidic Covenant. (Not unlike the 1st & 2nd Comings of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t change; but the way He is revealed is drastically different.)

B. Only one line dedicated to describing the altar, but don’t get the impression that the altar was unimportant. The altar was absolutely essential in order to worship God. A priest couldn’t properly enter the temple without 1st performing the proper sacrifice (specifically on the Day of Atonement). Likewise, the Cross is absolutely essential to our faith. There, the blood of the sacrifice was shed, providing atonement for sin & paving the way for a new covenant with God the Father.

2 Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. 3 And under it was the likeness of oxen encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The oxen were cast in two rows, when it was cast. 4 It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. 5 It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained three thousand baths. 6 He also made ten lavers, and put five on the right side and five on the left, to wash in them; such things as they offered for the burnt offering they would wash in them, but the Sea was for the priests to wash in.

A. The Sea was the basic replacement for the Tabernacle laver… 1 bath = 6 gallons…the Sea would have held 18,000 gallons. (“Sea” was a good name!) The Sea was also much more ornate in the Temple version – it makes sense, considering the permanence of it. Why the oxen? Likely, they are symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel & their previous wandering through the wilderness.

B. Another major difference is the use of the smaller lavers. The smaller lavers were apparently used to wash/purify the various temple instruments (like the original laver was used); the Sea was used to wash/purify the priest himself. With the tabernacle laver, the priests could wash their hands & feet; with the Sea, their whole body could be immersed if need be.

a. Although it wasn’t exactly the same thing, this seems to be the precursor to baptism. Seen most evidently in John the Baptist’s usage. His baptism was a baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4); the priests used water to likewise ritually cleanse themselves. After Jesus’ resurrection, baptism took on an entirely new meaning in that it’s not merely a symbolic cleansing; it’s a public declaration of someone’s identification with Christ. We are spiritually baptized into Christ when we receive Jesus as our Savior; our physical baptism is the public symbol of what has already taken place: that we’ve been cleansed from our sin & given new life in Christ!

7 And he made ten lampstands of gold according to their design, and set them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. 8 He also made ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. And he made one hundred bowls of gold.

A. The tabernacle had one lampstand & one table for showbread. The temple had 10 of each. Why multiple versions? Part of it was surely practical. The tabernacle was a much smaller structure. The one lampstand would have surely generated enough light, though it still would have been dim. The temple needed much more light available. Why the need for 10 tables? Great question…we can ask Solomon when we see him. 🙂

9 Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court and doors for the court; and he overlaid these doors with bronze. 10 He set the Sea on the right side, toward the southeast. 11 Then Huram made the pots and the shovels and the bowls. So Huram finished doing the work that he was to do for King Solomon for the house of God: 12 the two pillars and the bowl-shaped capitals that were on top of the two pillars; the two networks covering the two bowl-shaped capitals which were on top of the pillars; 13 four hundred pomegranates for the two networks (two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowl-shaped capitals that were on the pillars); 14 he also made carts and the lavers on the carts; 15 one Sea and twelve oxen under it; 16 also the pots, the shovels, the forks—and all their articles Huram his master craftsman made of burnished bronze for King Solomon for the house of the LORD.

A. Summary of everything Huram (Hiram) made for the tabernacle. Recall that Huram was the half Israelite/half Gentile that King Hiram of Tyre sent to Solomon as the master craftsman.

B. In the temple building itself, virtually everything was made of (or overlaid with) gold. Outside the temple building, virtually everything was made of bronze. What’s the difference? Gold signified the holiness & divinity of God; bronze symbolizes His judgment. The altar is made of bronze – the instruments for tending to the altar are made of bronze – the cleansing sea is made of bronze, etc. Our sin must 1st be dealt with in judgment before we can worship God the King in His holiness. Obviously we cannot bear our own judgment…our infinite sin is worthy of infinite judgment. We’d never get off the altar! Yet JESUS is truly sufficient in bearing the judgment we deserve! His work in taking our judgment allows us the invitation to be brought before the holiness of God in worship & relationship.

17 In the plain of Jordan the king had them cast in clay molds, between Succoth and Zeredah. 18 And Solomon had all these articles made in such great abundance that the weight of the bronze was not determined.

A. That’s a lot of bronze! Keep in mind that bronze was a valuable metal at the time & widely used in military applications. Shields were made of bronze for strength, etc. To use the bronze in the worship of God (instead of the battlefield) shows the importance Solomon (and others) put on worship. The bronze was far better used in the atonement of sin, rather than as a temporary shield in battle.

19 Thus Solomon had all the furnishings made for the house of God: the altar of gold and the tables on which was the showbread; 20 the lampstands with their lamps of pure gold, to burn in the prescribed manner in front of the inner sanctuary, 21 with the flowers and the lamps and the wick-trimmers of gold, of purest gold; 22 the trimmers, the bowls, the ladles, and the censers of pure gold. As for the entry of the sanctuary, its inner doors to the Most Holy Place, and the doors of the main hall of the temple, were gold.

A. Other items made of gold. Some (like the lampstands & tables) had already been mentioned. Others (like the altar of incense) only have a brief mention here.

2 Chronicles 5 (NKJV)
1 So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God.

A. The construction was complete – the extra gold & valuables were stored. Is the task complete? Not yet. Even though the construction is over, it still wasn’t ready for worship yet. Why? Because the presence of God was not yet there. It was a beautiful building, but it was just a building…not truly a temple. For something to accurately be called a temple, the presence of God has to be there.

B. This is no less true for the Church! Obviously we’re not speaking about buildings – building are just buildings. They can be valuable & beautiful & they can assist someone in worship by giving them a quiet place in which to pray & praise the Lord with other believers…but in the end it’s just a building. The presence of God isn’t in the building; He’s in the people in the building. His indwelling presence in someone’s life is what makes a born-again believer a temple of the Holy Spirit. God’s presence within the Church overall makes us the temple of God. If we are not IN Christ & He is not IN us, then we cannot truly be called the temple of God.

a. People can call themselves a church all day long – but without Christ, their words are empty.

2 Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD up from the City of David, which is Zion. 3 Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month.

A. Public assembly to move the ark into the Temple. This was to symbolize bringing the presence of God into the house. The mercy seat on top of the ark symbolized God’s very throne, thus by bringing the ark into the temple, they were demonstrating that God’s presence was to dwell in the temple. Little did they know how God would verify this!

4 So all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. 5 Then they brought up the ark, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. 6 Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude.

A. Absolutely massive sacrifice. Reminiscent of the sacrifice that took place when David was transporting the ark to Jerusalem after Uzza’s mistake.

7 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 8 For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 9 The poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.

A. Setting the ark in its place. The cherubim of the temple overlooked the cherubim on the Mercy Seat.

B. Knowing that the poles stuck out from behind the veil emphasizes the fact that the priests always knew that the ark was in the next room.

10 Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt.

A. Interesting that the two tablets of the Law were the only things mentioned as being in the ark. What happened to the manna & Aaron’s rod? No one knows…

B. Yet despite the questions, we know that the Law remained. That’s exactly the way it should have been. The Law remains for everyone outside of Christ. Not one jot or tittle has passed away from it – it is only fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Mt 5:18).

11 And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), 12 and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—

A. Once the ark is set up, the whole company of Levites break out in praise & worship! They had glorious reason to do so!

B. The priests had been sanctified; the Levites had been clothed in white linen. Very appropriate. The sanctification speaks of the priests’ purification & that they had been set apart & dedicated for the task at hand. The white linen of the Levites symbolizes the righteousness given to them by God for the task of praise & worship. All of this is fulfilled for the believer in Christ Jesus!

13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

A. Incredible! The visible glory of God actually filled the temple… We typically think of the glory of God being light (it’s often portrayed that way in the NT), but in the OT it’s often portrayed as smoke. Vividly seen in the giving of the 10 Commandments. Exodus 19:16-18 (16) Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. (17) And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (18) Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. [] Why smoke? Because no man can see God & live (Exo 33:20); God must be concealed in His righteousness & holiness. It’s only through the grace of Jesus & Jesus’ own righteousness that we are allowed to gaze upon the face of God the Son & are brought into the very presence of God. In Christ, we’ve got full unfettered access to God the Father in all His glory!

a. At this point, NOW it’s a house of worship! NOW it’s a temple! The presence of God makes all the difference.

B. Interesting to note when God’s glory filled the temple: (1) When they were unified as one. … (2) When they sounded forth praise.

a. Would we understand more of the glory of God if we did the same? What would happen if the Church was truly unified in spirit & was known more for praising the Lord & ascribing Him worth, rather than caught up in division & controversy? The good news is that this will be exactly the case in eternity! God’s people will rise with one voice in praise & worship in the midst of His presence & we will see the glory of God with our own eyes. Let’s not wait until then to get started.

What a joy & privilege it is to have been made the temple of the Holy Spirit! God chose you for that purpose & God has indwelled you for that purpose. Nothing that we face in this world can possibly compare with this privilege. May God help us keep things in proper perspective in light of this privilege.

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