A Picture of the Church Class
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
The history of Israel has brought many wonderful lessons to the New Creation. Solomon’s Temple is an example of how God used ancient Israel to point to greater realities. The temple was one of the most beautiful structures of ancient times. King David himself gathered the raw materials to build the temple and, evidently, God provided the building plans for that holy structure.
The Apostle Paul wanted us to know about the symbolism of the temple (1 Corinthians 3:17, Ephesians 2:21). He said plainly that it represented the Church. In Paul’s lifetime the temple that would have come to mind was Herod’s Temple. But that temple was built long after Solomon’s Temple and does not occupy the same level of importance in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Description of Solomon’s Temple
There are two main Bible references that provide a description of Solomon’s Temple. They are 1 Kings, chapters 5 through 8 and 2 Chronicles, chapters 2 through 7. The details are thrilling, but from an architectural standpoint, they are insufficient to make a comprehensive reproduction of the temple. The fact that scholars and architects offer a wide variety of designs also suggests that we lack sufficient details to be exact. But the descriptions that are given are sufficient in conveying lessons to the New Creation.
For Israel, there were two places where Jehovah abode, the Tabernacle and the Temple. Here are some basic observations:
(1) The ancient Tabernacle represented the temporary or transient dwelling place of Jehovah, where He communed with Israel, whereas the Temple represents His eventual and permanent abode with His completed spiritual family.
(2) The two structures represent the Church in her two conditions. (a) The Tabernacle pictures the Church in her present condition, yet in the flesh, in a spirit begotten condition, possessing the “treasure” of the New Creation in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7, 5:17). (b) The Temple pictures her future spirit born condition wherein she shall possess her spiritual body and the divine nature (1Corinthians 13:10, 2 Peter 1:4). (1)
“As David sat in his house … David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in: For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day: but have gone from tent to tent and from one tabernacle to another … Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning. … Furthermore the LORD will build thee an house. … I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.” (1 Chronicles 17:1-5,9,10,12,15).
Key Points from This Passage
(1) David was not permitted to build the temple. (2) Jehovah would eventually plant Israel to be moved no more. (3) Jehovah would build David a house! (4) David’s seed, his son, would build the temple. (5) David’s seed would have his throne established forever!
The natural question is, “Why was David not permitted to build the temple?” The answer comes from Jehovah. “God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3).
Because David’s reign involved warfare and the shedding of blood, he would not be allowed to build the temple. The temple was to be associated with peace, not war. This is shown even more pointedly in the following passage, which contrasts the warfare of David’s reign with the peace of Solomon’s reign.
“David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God: But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee (1 Chronicles 22:7-11).”
Lessons from David and Solomon
The contrast between the reign of David and Solomon has wonderful symbolic applications. The Reign of King David pictures the Gospel Age because, like David,
- The Church is in warfare with the world, the flesh and devil.
- The Church is not yet at peace!
- The Gospel Age is a sacrificial age —blood is being shed!
The Reign of King Solomon pictures the Millennial Age because, like Solomon,
- The Church will be in glory, peace and rest.
- Blessings will flow to the world as a result of the reign of Jesus and the Church.
- The World will be in awe of the rulers! (The Christ — Kings and Priests)
- The name Solomon means “peace,” and so the Millennial reign will bring peace to the world (see R1910).
The Raw Materials and Laborers
The gathering of the material for building the temple was done before Solomon’s reign began. This illustrates that the preparation of the Church occurs before its glorious reign!
It is interesting to note that non-Israelites, i.e. “strangers,” were used in the preparation work of the temple. “And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God” (1 Chronicles 22:2).
The participation of non-Israelite strangers suggests that the world plays an important part in the preparation of the Church. The strangers of this world are a source of difficult trials. These trials “carve” us; they shape our characters and give us opportunities to demonstrate our faith, loyalty and love for our heavenly Father. This can help us to appreciate the value of these experiences, knowing that Jesus, the antitypical David, has gathered together the precise combination of “strangers” to help us in our quest of Christ-like character. Their hatred, their animosity, their cruelty, is all overruled for the development of the saints. This principle is evidenced in the following citations.
- Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13).
- Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12,13).
- The Lord’s followers in the present time are called upon to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, not because it is either reasonable or proper, but because the Lord, wishing to test, prove, and polish his people is willing to permit the evil … influences to prosper and to persecute and oppose his ‘members,’ and thus to serve his cause in the preparation of his elect for a future work of service. Thus the persecutors of the body, as did the persecutors of the Head, are cooperating to fulfill the divine plan in a manner they little suspect” (Reprint 4813).(2)
Preparation of the Stones
Regarding the preparation of the stones of the temple, we read an interesting fact in 1 Kings 6:7, “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.”
The lesson here is that when each member of the Church goes beyond the veil, his preparation for a place in the temple class will be necessary. Each individual will be given a work to do which will reflect that preparation.
1 Kings 7:15-22 provides a description of one of the prominent features of the temple. When one approached the temple from the front, they would behold two huge pillars, one on either side of the temple entrance. Curiously, these pillars are named! The pillar on the right (facing the temple from in front) is named Jachin and the one of the left is named Boaz.
Because the temple represents The Christ in glory during the Millennial Age, we would expect that these prominent pillars represent some aspect of the Kingdom work. A reasonable suggestion is that the two pillars represent certain qualities of The Christ as the world of mankind will recognize them. Neither Jesus nor the church will actually be visible to the world, but will be seen only in the sense of mental perception. However, the world will remember the saints as they once knew them when they dwelt among them in the flesh.
This is consistent with the fact that the two pillars were made of copper (mistranslated brass), because copper represents perfect humanity. The world will recognize that the saints had been honored even while in the flesh! From God’s standpoint they were perfect, justified by the blood of Christ. The “chapiters” (ornamental tops) on the pillars had artistic representations of pomegranates and lilies. The pomegranates signify that God had already recognized their fruitfulness and the lilies represent the beauty and fragrance of their characters.
These pillars, framing the entryway to the temple, bring to mind the 87th Psalm: “ The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. … And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah” (Psalms 87:2,3,5,6).
Perhaps the “gates of Zion” have reference to the position these two “pillars” bore at the entrance of the temple! Prophetically, this may indicate that the world will recognize how The Christ had been pillars of strength while living in the flesh and are now part of the antitypical temple through whom the world will worship God!
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
What’s in a Name?
Bible Students recognize frequent lessons associated with names in the Bible, and it is so here also. The name Jachin means “He will firmly establish.” The name Boaz means “In Strength.” Both names relate to the kingly line of Jesus. Boaz was the forefather of all the Kings of Judah. The name Jachin suggests a promise that the kingly line would be established forever.
In addition, there is an interesting visual context of the pillars on either side of the temple. Reading the names Jachin and Boaz with the temple in the middle, suggests the following sentence: “He (God) Will Firmly Establish — the Temple — In Strength.” This is a beautiful promise that the temple class has been designed by God and will be granted full power and authority.
Dedication of the Temple
1 Kings 8:62-64 records the dedication of the temple. King Solomon himself offered the sacrifices. This is unusual because only the Priests were authorized to offer sacrifices. (3)
Yet, King Solomon offered peace and burnt offerings seemingly with God’s full approval. But this exception makes sense from a prophetic standpoint. Since Solomon represents Jesus and the Church in glory, we see illustrated the fact that Jesus and the Church will accept the sacrifices of the people in the Kingdom. In this case Solomon becomes the equivalent of Melchizedek, the King-Priest. Peace offerings were offered in conjunction with making a covenant or assuming vows (Tabernacle Shadows pages 81-82, 98, Leviticus 9:18-21). This indicates that the New Covenant will then be in operation.
It is interesting to note, however, that Solomon offered no sin offerings! This also is entirely consistent in the antitype. The time for sin offerings will have been in the past. Sin offerings were done and accepted before the glorification of the great antitypical Solomon. The burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings that Solomon presented were “free-will” offerings. They represented the people of the world who will offer themselves in consecration to Jehovah through Christ.
“Consecration will also be in order in the next age, though, owing to the changed government of the world, consecration will no longer, as now, mean unto death, but on the contrary, it will be unto life; for with the close of the reign of evil comes the end of pain, sorrow, and death, except upon evildoers. Consecration must always be a voluntary presentation of one’s powers, and hence this is represented in some of the sacrifices after the Atonement Day” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 94).
The temple, then, is a beautiful type of the glorious work of blessing the world by a sanctified group of individuals who have undergone the chiseling and polishing experiences of this life. They will have been rightly prepared to act as the means of bringing the world to a proper worship of God. What a grand privilege to be called to be part of that Temple Class! Strive to be faithful.
(1) R1237 — “The humble Tabernacle, whose glories were all hidden, typified the presence of God with his people in the present time, while the glorious Temple typified the Church in glory during Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.”
(2) 2 Chronicles 2:17,18 indicates that there were 153,600 strangers working on the actual construction of the temple. It breaks down as: 70,000 Bearers (common laborers), 80,000 Hewers (skilled laborers), 3600 Overseers (bosses!). Perhaps there are further lessons in these numbers.
(3) A later King named Uzziah attempted to burn incense in the temple and was soundly repudiated for the action and stricken with leprosy for the rest of his life (2 Chronicles 26:16-19).
Categories: 2015 Issues, 2015-September/October