The Temple of Solomon

coverpic_mj10_smGod’s House

“GOD has done what he said he would do: I have succeeded David my father and ruled over Israel just as GOD promised; and now I’ve built a Temple to honor GOD, the God of Israel.—1 Kings 8:20, Message Bible

Edmund Jezuit {FOOTNOTE: This article was compiled
from discourse notes by the author, now deceased.}

The Scriptures use many different things to serve as object lessons, such as the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and Ezekiel’s Temple. People, animals, birds, trees, and insects may also be used to instruct us. Although each of these is separate and distinct, each contains its own lesson relating to the one Divine Plan.

To appreciate Solomon’s Temple, we must apply the type/antitype key to understand that the literal temple is a type or shadow pointing to the antitype or reality, which is a spiritual temple.

The apostle Paul wrote of our bodies as a temple: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17). Peter likened individual church members to living stones: “Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5, ASV). Immediately our minds are directed toward the literal house or temple built by Solomon. Note the relationship between type and antitype, literal stones and living stones.

When Paul identified the Lord’s people as the “Temple of God,” we discover a before-and-after picture. In one sense, our bodies are tabernacles or dwelling places. The original Tabernacle was also a temple because any place where God dwells is a holy place. When Paul referred to the Lord’s people as God’s temple, he indicated that our bodies are tabernacles in which dwells the holy spirit; our bodies are God’s temporary dwelling place.

However, in a fuller, complete sense, eventually there will be a great transformation. The temporary will become permanent. The saints will be changed from flesh to spirit. It is this great change that is represented by that wonderful temple built by King Solomon.

When Peter spoke of the various members of the church as living stones, he was thinking of the literal stones in Solomon’s temple. Before any stone could be used in construction, it went through a shaping and development process. Herein lies a beautiful lesson as to how the living stones are separated from the quarry—the world. The Lord begins to form us while we are still attached to that quarry. We then go through the moving process from the quarry. Bringing together these living stones for a future work is beautifully shown in the erection of Solomon’s temple.

When we think of the Church as a temple under construction, we realize there is a future work to be done. A temple has a definite function to perform. It is not built merely for display purposes. So The Christ, the great antitypical temple, will be functional. It will be used by mankind to gain access to God. It will be a house of prayer for the people. They will approach God through God’s temple, the glorified Christ and his Church. Isaiah wrote: “Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD … and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3).

God will dwell in, and operate through, the glorious church for the blessing of the world, particularly those who look toward God’s holy house, this spiritual temple.

The temple built by Solomon was not the most lofty and massive structure of ancient times. Although many ancient temples were much larger, Solomon’s temple was richer in its ornamentation and more costly than any other. It was unique from the standpoint of the gold, silver, and precious stones used in its construction. Solomon’s father, David, wanted to build the temple, but he was denied the privilege because, as God told him, “Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name” (1 Chronicles 22:8).

David, as a man of war, represents the Church in its present militant condition, warring against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Solomon represents the Church triumphant, the Church in glory.

Although disappointed, David was consoled by the fact that his son Solomon would have the privilege of building the temple. David also had the pleasure of assembling the materials and receiving the blueprint for the temple. All these David bequeathed to his son.

Solomon was instructed to build the temple on Mt. Moriah, the same mountain where Abraham offered his son Isaac. The sides of that place were steep making the construction difficult. Yet God wanted the temple to be elevated so it would receive its proper recognition. The Tabernacle, on the other hand, was erected on a plain.

The magnitude of this project is difficult to comprehend. The gold and silver alone according to present value would amount to about three billion dollars! The total labor force consisted of 30,000 Israelites and 153,000 Canaanites. Even with this huge army of men, it took seven years to build. It took three years just to prepare the material.

The building contained two rooms. The first, called the Holy, was thirty feet high, thirty feet wide, and sixty feet long. It contained ten golden tables, ten golden lampstands and one incense altar. The second room, called the Most Holy, was a perfect cube thirty feet on each side. It contained the original Ark of the Covenant overshadowed by two newly-constructed, huge cherubim. Both the Holy and Most Holy were twice the size of the similar rooms in the Tabernacle.

Both rooms had folding doors, different from Ezekiel’s temple with its swinging doors, and the Tabernacle with its woven curtains (see 1 Kings 6:34).

In front of the structure were two huge pillars and around it was a court in which stood a huge altar (four times larger than the Tabernacle’s altar) and a huge laver measuring fifteen feet in diameter and seven-and-a-half feet high. The laver held thousands of gallons of water. There were also ten small lavers on wheels measuring six feet square by four-and-a-half feet high.

A stone building of any size typically has a cornerstone. That stone becomes a foundation for the walls and establishes a starting point. This temple had a cornerstone.

The plans called for a cornerstone to be laid where there was a sharp decline. Since that cornerstone formed the support for two walls, a strong foundation was necessary. This would be a vital, important corner on which the temple would be supported. The temple builders were equal to the task! Archaeologists have found a unique stone, cut and placed in position. It was fourteen feet long and four feet high. The builders buried that stone into natural rock which provided solid support for the temple. This stone beautifully pictures the great antitypical stone, our Lord Jesus: “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16).

The temple’s walls were of stone selected by master craftsmen. Each had a definite dimension and pattern to its grain. Only an expert could discern the right kind of stone. All the shaping and sizing took place at the quarry. It is said that the stones when quarried were gray and not hard, but when exposed to light, they became white and hard. Each stone was marked for a specific place in the building.

As we consider the magnitude of the project, one would expect a great number of supervisors. There were 550 supervisors and 3,300 foremen: 250 of these were Israelites and 3,600 were Canaanites. With so many Canaanite supervisors, one would expect more non-Israelites than Israelites in the labor force to outnumber the Israelites, and they did. The Canaanites were, of course, foreigners from the commonwealth of Israel. The Lord also approved a heathen king by the name of Hiram to provide gold, silver, and cedar wood for the temple. He also provided skilled craftsmen for the construction.

Why did the Lord permit outsiders to construct this temple, his house? Perhaps the Israelites could not accomplish this great task by themselves. But consider: Who is shaping and chiseling the antitypical living stones? Brethren within the fellowship do so to some extent; but it is the outsiders, the aliens, strangers, foreigners, and even enemies who make a greater contribution. It is the outsiders who hammer, chisel, and polish the living stones that will make up the spiritual temple. Their work is under divine supervision, and these outsiders are not aware of the end result for the work they are performing.

When the temple stones were brought to the erection site and placed into position, they all fit perfectly, all went together without the sound of a hammer (1 Kings 6:7). The lesson is clear: all work on the living stones must be completed here on earth. It is here that all the stones are prepared. Only perfect stones, sized and polished, will reach the heavenly Mt. Moriah, ready to be assembled into the antitypical temple. Each stone will occupy a certain place in that temple.

The Pillars

There were two huge pillars at the temple entrance. The right pillar was called “Jachin,” (or “Joachim”) and the left pillar was called “Boaz.” Each was made of bronze, eighteen feet in circumference and thirty-four-and-a-half feet high.

The names of these pillars are significant. Jachin means “He shall establish”; Boaz means, “In it is strength.” Together they symbolize The Christ who will establish the kingdom, and who will possess strength for its mighty work.

1 Kings 6:15-22 gives a detailed description of an unusual wall made up of three layers. The outer wall consisted of individual stones. The inside of that wall was cedar wood in which were carved figures of cherubim, palms, flowers, and chains. Over these wood carvings came a sheet of gold. The finishing touch was the placement of jewels of various colors set in the gold sheet.

Now imagine these two rooms all in gold, with three-dimensional artwork and the different colors of precious stones. When the seventy lights from the lamps were lit, the reflection from the gold and the jewels would be beautiful to behold!

There is a similarity between these temple walls and the Tabernacle wall. Inside the Tabernacle, each board was supported by two silver sockets and each was overlaid with gold. Because silver sometimes symbolizes truth in the Bible (see Psalm 12:6), this may picture how church members are supported individually by sockets of silver—they are standing in truth. But in the finished, spiritual picture shown by this temple, the Church loses its individuality. One no longer sees individual stones; the Church has become one complete unit.

The Holy

The entrance to the Holy was through folding doors. In this room there were ten golden lampstands, ten golden tables of shewbread, and one incense altar near the back wall. Having ten times more lights compared to the the Tabernacle’s Holy demonstrates that we have a limited amount of light now, but in the final, spiritual picture the Church will dwell in God’s light: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

There were also ten tables of shewbread compared to only one in the Tabernacle. Perhaps this shows that in the kingdom the nourishment from above will be increased to supply everyone’s needs.

This room was greatly enhanced by the precious stones set in the golden walls and ceiling. Immediately we are reminded of Malachi’s words: “They shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). Indeed, the Lord’s jewels will shine in all their splendor in that great antitypical temple. These jewels were set in gold, representing the divine nature.

The Most Holy

This leads us to the most important room in the temple: the Most Holy. One entered this room by passing through folding doors and a veil of purple, blue, and crimson upon which cherubim were embroidered.

This room contained the original Ark placed in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle, but it was oriented differently. In the Tabernacle, its long dimension was north-south; in the temple it was east-west. In the Tabernacle, the cherubim were mounted over the Ark looking downward, with outstretched wings, ready for flight. These represented God’s attributes of love and power. They were waiting for the blood to be applied on that Mercy Seat. When that happened, God’s justice was satisfied and love and power could fly to rescue man from his dying condition.

In the temple these cherubim were much larger: “He set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house” (1 Kings 6:27).

This shows the great attributes of God’s love and power are fully operational in the kingdom: both attributes are united wing to wing.

The cherubim were made from olive wood overlaid with gold. Olive wood reminds us of the oil produced by the olive tree, a beautiful picture of God’s holy spirit.

In the shadow of these giant cherubim stood the Ark of the Covenant from the original Tabernacle. But in the temple, two items within the Ark were gone: the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. Only the two tables of the law remained. This is a forceful picture of the reality of the Church’s position in heaven. The golden pot of Manna represented immortality in a prospective sense: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna” (Revelation 2:17). The members of the Church in glory will no longer seek immortality because they will have it. That is why the golden pot of manna is not in the picture in the temple.

Aaron’s rod that budded showed God’s selection of his priesthood on earth. But in heaven those selected will be there and actually be the royal priesthood. There will no longer be a need to prove whom God selected.

The two tables of the law will never be removed; God’s law remains for eternity.

There was one more difference concerning the Ark compared to the the Ark of the Tabernacle: the staves used to carry the Ark were removed: “And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day.” (2 Chronicles 5:9). The staves were removed because they were no longer needed. During Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, the Ark was continually on the move. But when the Ark was placed in the temple, it had reached its final resting place. Solomon’s temple represented the great antitypical temple beyond the veil, but at that time, those of the priesthood were carrying the Ark as they marched from the tabernacle condition into the temple condition. Most of the royal priesthood have already entered that condition. When the last member enters the spiritual temple, the Ark will have reached its final resting place.

The Dedication Ceremony

After seven years of construction, the temple was ready! But first it was to be dedicated. So immense were the preparations that the dedication was postponed for nearly a year. Evidently it was to take place during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people would just have been typically cleansed. This ceremony was the most magnificent the nation had ever seen. The old tabernacle with all its implements would be retired from service, all except for the Ark.

The ceremony began with a march of triumph. Then the priests accompanied by Solomon placed the sacred Ark in the Most Holy. Then one hundred twenty silver trumpets sounded forth. Solomon in his gorgeous robes ascended a specially made platform erected in the Court. A mighty song of praise by countless voices ascended to God. Then a great glory cloud appeared as a sign of God’s approval. The music hushed and Solomon turned his face toward the huge multitude and pronounced his blessings upon them. He spoke to the people, and gave them the history and significance of God’s new house being dedicated that day. In the presence of all the people, Solomon came forward to the altar, palms upturned toward heaven, and kneeled in prayer. This is the first instance in Scripture where this posture in prayer is mentioned. Men had always stood when praying.

Solomon gave a beautiful prayer; he asked for God’s blessing and exhorted the people to be faithful to God’s commands (see 2 Chronicles 6:14-42).

Then began the stupendous thank offering: 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. We cannot imagine such an immense slaughter. The altar, huge as it was, was inadequate for such sacrifice, so Solomon consecrated the entire Court around the temple, thus making the whole Court one huge altar. The record states that fire descended miraculously from heaven and consumed the sacrifices.

As we review this entire dedication of the literal temple, we see it beautifully pictures the dedication of the antitypical temple in heaven when it is complete. The dedication will not start immediately, as there will be a waiting period. The dedication cannot commence until the Great Multitude will have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb. Not until the Great Multitude is complete and clothed in white robes will the greatest of all dedications commence.

Solomon performed a unique role on this day of dedication. He personally offered sacrifices and did the work of a king, a priest, and a judge. Thus he illustrated the divinely authorized titles assigned to the “greater than Solomon,” The Christ.

At the close of the great dedication service, Solomon sent the people away: “On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people” (1 Kings 8:66).

What a beautiful prophetic picture of mankind after the millennium is contained in these words. It will be at the end of the seventh day that the Church will have completed its work of reconciliation, bringing mankind back into harmony with God. On the eighth day after the Church has fulfilled its work of mediation and mankind has reached perfection, the Church will say to mankind, “Go now, you are on your own.” And to this mankind will offer a response of appreciation.

Just as the people in Solomon’s day blessed their king, so mankind will bless their king, thanking him for the labor of love on their behalf. Just as the Israelites went to their tents, their dwelling places, with joy and happiness, mankind will do the same. Isaiah wrote of this time: “My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32:18).

David expressed the attitude of all mankind at that time when he wrote: “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works” (Psalm 9:1).

What a glorious future lies in store for all mankind!