Tabernacle to Temple to Revelation: Temple Magnitude

June 6, 2012

While recently reading through the book of Exodus, and all the instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, I found myself wanting to skip through it all. I’m going to be honest, it is a little boring. But after walking away from it, and thinking about the measurements, and comparing them to the Temple, and then to the city in Revelation, I got an interesting idea in my head. One criticism I’ve heard from atheist when they map out the city as explained in Revelation is that the size and shape of the city would throw off the revolutions of the earth, destroying any sort of ecosystem on the Earth. Now I’ve heard Christians come back with the answer, “Well God could keep the Earth in place.” Sure, why not.

But as I made my way through classes at Multnomah, and specifically the book of Ezekiel, the new temple described in Ezekiel is never built by those dimensions, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason why the new city is so huge. But Dr. Kutz and Dr. Harper, in two separate classes, placed the idea before us that maybe they aren’t supposed to be literal buildings, so much as a growing in magnitude of the temple, sort of like the size of the fish you caught; it gets bigger every time. They didn’t use the big fish story, but you get the point. Rather the growing of the temple paints the picture of a growing knowledge of God in the world.

So I started thinking about the Tabernacle, and it’s relative size to the wandering people of Israel. They were a large group of people, but still covered little land. And then I thought about Israel the nation, with David/Solomon’s temple built, a nation covering more land, with more peoples coming in contact with the Law and YHWH. And it got me thinking that maybe the city in Revelation (which I should point out has a cube shape, like the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God is) isn’t just a big fish story, so to speak, but a future image of hope, that the presence of God, and His works, will not just be in a small group of wanderers, or a tiny nation, but will one day be known throughout the entire world. And as the entire world becomes the people of God, thus the entire surface of the earth becomes the temple, with the holy of holies in a cube like place.

Just a thought on what that could all be about. Thoughts?

Cameron

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Chronicles: Solomon’s Covenant

April 14, 2011

I Kings 9:1-9 lays out God’s response to Solomon’s build and dedicating of the Temple:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple, the royal palace, and all the other construction projects he had planned, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The LORD said to him, “I have answered your prayer and your request for help that you made to me. I have consecratedthis temple you built by making it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there. You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations. Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will notfail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.

“But if you or your sons ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecratedwith my presence, and Israel will be mocked and ridiculed among all the nations.  This temple will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by it will be shocked and will hiss out their scorn, saying, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God, who led their ancestors out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why the LORD has brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Good old Solomonic covenant right.  So, Chronicles just repeats the same thing right?  No.  Ooooooh, no my friends!  Here’s the Chronicler’s take:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple and the royal palace, and accomplished all his plans for the LORD’s temple and his royal palace, the LORDappeared to Solomon at night and said to him: “I have answered your prayer and chosenthis place to be my temple where sacrifices are to be made.  When I close up the sky so that it doesn’t rain, or command locusts to devour the land’s vegetation, or send a plague among my people, if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray,seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Now I will be attentive and responsive to the prayers offered in this place. Now I have chosen and consecrated this temple bymaking it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there.  You must serveme as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will establish your dynasty, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will not fail to have a successor ruling over Israel.’

“But if you people ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove you from my land I have given you, I will abandon this temple I haveconsecrated with my presence, and I will make you an object of mockery and ridicule among all the nations.  As for this temple, which was once majestic, everyone who passes by it will be shocked and say, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors, who led them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why he brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Whereas Solomon’s covenant makes sense of exile in Kings, it more precisely clarifies how the post-judgment people are to make their way back to God (in bold above)–a very pertinent bit of information for the inferred audience of Chronicles.


Chronicles: David/Solomon

April 13, 2011

Think about David.  What do you think of?  Goliath?  “Saul killed his thousands, David his ten thousands”?  Saul chasing David?  David and Jonathan?  David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah?  Tamar’s rape?  Absolom’s rebellion?  David the old man who can’t keep himself warm?  David’s psalms?  Adonijah’s attempt to usurp Solomon?  If that’s what you think when you think “David”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Think about Solomon.  What do you think of?  700 wives?  300 concubines?  Solomon the idolater whose heart is drawn away? Solomon the worshipper of Astarte, Milcom and Chemosh?  Solomon the king beset by enemies from Edom and Syria?  Solomon the one whose sin caused God to tear ten tribes away from David’s line?  If that’s what you think when you think “Solomon”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Chronicles spends very little effort portraying either David as the great warrior or Solomon as the great breaker of Deuteronomy’s description of Israel’s ideal king (Dt. 17).  Alternately, the identities of both kings are almost completely related to the Temple.

  • David becomes king and captures the Holy City (I Ch 11-12)
  • David moves the Ark to Jerusalem (I Ch 13-15)
  • David leads in worship (I Ch 16)
  • David wants to build God a house (I Ch 17)
  • David consolidates the kingdom, amasses wealth.  Result: collecting necessary gold, silver, bronze, etc. for building the Temple (I Ch 18-20)
  • Sin in the census leads David to purchase the Temple site (I Ch 21-22:1)
  • David commissions Solomon to build the temple and prepares everything (I Ch 22-27)
  • Solomon made king, people contribute, David celebrates and dies (I Ch 28-29)

Temple, temple, temple.  The idea spends basically his whole self consumed with leading the people in worship and preparing for the building of God’s house (Remember the questions supplied by Chronicles genealogy).

Similarly, Solomon is not the horrible guy we’ve come to know from I Kings.  Take a look:

  • God gives Solomon wisdom (II Ch 1)
  • Solomon builds the temple (II Ch 2-4)
  • Solomon leads the people in worship, dedicates the Temple, God responds by fire (II Ch 5-7:10)
  • God’s responds to Solomon (II Ch 7:11-22)
  • Solomon spends the rest of his reign amassing wealth and gaining worldwide acclaim (II Ch 8-9)

Yes, Chronicles mentions some of Solomon’s sin (horses and gold; leaving out the wives and idolatry), but for the most part, Solomon is a positive example.

Again, the Chronicler is not bent on showing us how sinful the kings are (thus justifying exile), but answering the question of what God’s coming king will be like.

 


Studies in Mark Part II – “Passover Lamb” Mk 14:12-52

September 24, 2008

Having brought freedom, healing and truth to the houses of Israel, Jesus’ ministry culminates in his final teaching and cleansing of “the house of Prayer for the nations” (11:17).  After a period of teaching in the Temple (note the absence of miracles, showing the lack of faith, cf. Mark 6:5-6), Jesus directs his Disciples to prepare the Passover (note that the lamb is never mentioned) in one of the city residents’ homes (Mark 14:13–as a poor person would have, cf. Ex 12:3f).  Once “they prepared the Passover” (14:16), “he [Jesus] came…with the twelve.”  Now that the Passover had arrived (i.e. Jesus), they consume the offering–his body (14:22) and blood (14:24)–in anticipation of Jesus immanent death (14:21).  Once betrayed (14:18) the Passover Lamb would “go as it is written about him” (Is. 53:7-8–“Like a lamb to the slaughtering block.”).  This divinely pleasing one (1:11) would be presented by the priests (Mark 8:31; 10:33; 14:43, 53, 55; 15:1, 3, 10, 11, 31-32) in Jerusalem (10:33) as Malachi 3:1 explained would happen.  From There Jesus and his disciples go out (Ex 12:22) where only Jesus will stand fast (14:27-31, 43-52) to keep vigil (14:32-42; cf. Ex 12:42).

Update:

Thinking yet more over Marks’ portrayal of Jesus as the Passover lamb, I got to thinking of the happenings in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Here again, having gone out of the house (as Ex 12:22 prohibits), Jesus stands in the place of the Passover Lamb as he absorbs all of the mob’s attention.  When judgement comes (again in the middle of the night–cf. Ex. 11:4)–i.e. the mob (instead of “the destroyer” in Ex. 12:23)–Jesus alone is arrested, (even though one of the bystanders clearly should be arrested for cutting off the High Priest’s servant’s ear; Mk 14:47!) while the others are “passed over.”  Even further than the other Gospel writers, Mark points out not only that “all the disciples left him and fled” (Mk 14:50) but that “A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth. They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.” (Mk. 14:51-52), further highlighting just how alone Jesus is in his role as Passover lamb.


Prophets in Kings

May 22, 2008

Just a quick post on prophets in the book (“books” for those of us who can not reconcile the fact that I and II Kings are really just one book…).

First of all, prophets and their prophecies–specifically the fulfillment of their prophecies–seem to litter the book.  Here are the prophecies which I found to be given and fulfilled within Kings:

  • I Kings 13:26 fulfills I Kings 13:22
  • I Kings 14:18 fulfills I Kings 14:12
  • I Kings 15:29 fulfills I Kings 14:10
  • I Kings 16:12 fulfills I Kings 16:3
  • I Kings 17:16 fulfills I Kings 17:14
  • I Kings 22:38 fulfills I Kings 21:21
  • II Kings 1:17 fulfills II Kings 1:4
  • II Kings 7:16 fulfills II Kings 7:1
  • II Kings 9:26; 10:17 fulfill I Kings 19:17
  • II Kings 23:16 fulfills I Kings 13:2
  • II Kings 24:2 fulfills II Kings 21:13-14

Though there may be others I have missed, I have only spotted two fulfillments of prophecies given outside of Kings:

  • I Kings 2:27 fulfills I Samuel 2:33
  • I Kings 16:34 fulfills Joshua 6:26

With all the prophecy/prophet emphasis noted above I am let to ask two questions: 1) Why is there so little prophetic involvement in the life and times of Solomon (chps. 1-11)?  And 2) Why does the author of Kings place such a large emphasis on the prophets?  Here is my stab at an answer to these questions:

1) The author of Kings uses the temple building/Solomonic era as one of the litmus tests which will    clarify the outcome of the book for the reader.  To illustrate: when Solomon builds his temple God offers him an ultimatum:

“Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David…But if your or your sons ever turn away from me…then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecrated with my presence, and Israle will be mocked and ridiculed among the nations.” -I Kings 9:4-7

If in fact there is a divine ultimatum being issued here, then it sets the reader up over the course of the book with a clear guide by which he or she will be able to judge the actions of the following kings (cf. II Kings 25:9).

2) The answer to the second question (regarding the heavy emphasis on prophets) is that their function within the book is to declare the current state of things in view of God’s ultimatum (above).  Their role, as ones who remind God’s people of God’s standard, is central to the book, because it taps in to one of the central questions to the book: How will God’s people perform according to God’s ultimatum? 

Ultimately the outcome of the prophets’ involvement in Kings is the explanation of the demise of Israel/Judah (though there remains a point of light in II KIngs 25:27-30) and the establishment of God’s position on his people’s actions throughout the monarchy period. 

 


Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

May 13, 2008

I often look at the temple that David built as a place for worship, a place for slaughtering of animals and where the priests get to hang out; I’m sure they play hearts and gossip to each other while they sit around in their robes. But that point is neither here nor there; I was reading in 1 Chronicles and came upon this passage in the 28th chapter:

1 Chronicles 28:10 “Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong and do it!”

I was thinking about this sanctuary that is built; it is a mighty building with fortified walls and with much splendor inside of it. It is one of the central places within Jerusalem and something that the Jews must have often looked towards. And for the Jewish people this building was the place where the Lord resided.

Exodus 25:8 “Let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.”

My mind got to thinking though about the Psalmist use of the idea of a hiding place, a fortress for them to go to, about God being his Rock and Strength, his Strong Tower, his sanctuary. And I wondered, these ideas floating around in the Old Testament, how integral the temple really was for these people. When they say things like, “You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance” (Psalms 32:7) I wonder how much the temple plays into things like that. If the Lord is a hiding place, and his residence is in the temple, maybe things like this aren’t just a figurative thing but a real literal meaning as well. They could hide in the presence of the Lord because the temple was a strong tower, a literal hiding place. And maybe when they were building the temple it was not just merely a building, but as David put it, a “temple as his sanctuary.” Maybe the Jews had this understanding that this wasn’t just a place to worship but also a sanctuary, a place of safety and rest, a literal place where they could go and hide away from their enemies. Maybe it meant something to the Psalmist when he talks about going to the Lord for shelter; he knew the literal place that he was talking about.

And maybe I’m just reading into things too much, but it seems like when the Jews used this idea of a sanctuary, a Rock, a might fortress, they didn’t just mean figuratively but that there really was a place where they could go and hide in the presence of the Lord, a place of refuge. They had a temple that enveloped all of these attributes. And they wholeheartedly believed this was a place of refuge. Maybe we need to start reading those words differently.