Friday, August 23, 2019

The Temple of God

"But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27).

When God instituted the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7, He told David He would work with David’s son when that son became king. The fullness of the Davidic covenant did not become visible until Solomon became king and the great symbols of the Davidic covenant were erected: the temple of God and the palace of the king.

First Kings 6 and 7 describe the building, dimensions, structure, and furniture of the temple, as well as the special God-given palace of God’s viceroy, Solomon. The temple had an outer court, an inner court, an outer room (the Holy Place), and an inner room (the Holy of Holies). The Holy of Holies housed the throne of God, which was the ark of the covenant. The entire temple was the earthly palace of the High King of Israel. In the temple, the ark, which had accompanied the people since they came out of Egypt, found a resting place at last. The building of the temple was the final climax of the exodus.

Let us consider three aspects of the temple’s meaning. First, the temple signified the presence of God with the people. Particularly, in terms of the kingdom covenant, it signified the presence of God with the king. The palace of the earthly sub-king was next to the temple, at the “right hand” of God, so to speak. This arrangement signified that the earthly king was to rule as God’s viceroy.

Second, the temple showed God as housebuilder. The first house God built was creation itself, in Genesis 1. Each time God defeated an enemy, He took the spoils and built Himself a new house. The tabernacle was built from the spoils of Egypt, the temple of the spoils of the Egyptians, and the post-exilic temple of the spoils of Babylon, sent to Israel by the kings of Persia. The temple symbolized God’s people as His true house, measured out and built according to the detailed specifications of His covenant law.

Finally, the temple showed God’s holiness. Only ordained priests were allowed to set foot inside the outer room of the temple, on pain of death, and nobody except the High Priest might enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year. God’s greatness, and His separateness from sin, were graphically represented by the temple.

God’s new temple is the church. Once again He has built this upon the spoils of the war with sin, namely reclaimed sinners. It also means that we are to live according to His measurements. Pray that God’s beautiful presence be ever more clearly seen in every facet of your life.