II Chronicles 4

 

 

This chapter is occupied with some account of the contents of the house,

following naturally upon the account of the structure, dimensions, and

main features of the building given in the previous chapter. The parallel, so

far as it goes, is found in I Kings 7 and 8.

 

1 "Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and

twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof."

An altar of brass. This in worthier material superseded the

temporary altar of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:1-2), made of shittim

wood, and its dimensions five cubits long and broad and three cubits high.

Large as was the present altar of brass as compared with the altar that

preceded, it fell far short of the requirements of the grand day of dedication

(I Kings 8:64). No statement of the making of this altar occurs in the

parallel. The place of it would be between vs. 22 and 23 of 1 Kings 7.

But that Solomon made it is stated in I Kings 9:25, and other

references to its presence are found in ibid. ch. 8:22, 54, 64, etc. The

position given to the altar is referred to alike in ibid. v. 22 and here ch. 6:12-13,

as in the court of the temple. It may be well to note that the altar, sacrifice,

comes first, and is first spoken of.

 

2 "Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round

in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty

cubits did compass it round about."  A molten sea. The Hebrew of this verse

and of I Kings 7:23 are facsimiles of one author, except that here קָו stands, where

the parallel shows קוה, probably the fruit merely of some error in

transcription. Verses like these point not to the derivation of Chronicles

from Kings, but rather of both from some older common source. This sea

of brass superseded the laver of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18, 28;

31:9; 35:16; 39:39). It was called a sea on account of its size. We are told

in I Chronicles 18:8 whence David had drawn the supplies of metal

necessary for this work. The size of the diameter measured from upper rim

to rim (ten cubits) harmonizes, of course, to all practical purposes, with

that of the circumference (thirty cubits); it would assist questions

connected with the contents of this large vessel, however, if we had been

told whether the circumference were measured at the rim, or, as the form

of language here used might slightly favor, round the girth. (For these

questions, see v. 5 below.) This sea for the washing of the priests

significantly follows the altar. Beside the general suggestion of the need of

purification or sanctification, it here reminds of the fact that the earthly

priest and high priest must need the purification, which their great Antitype

would not need.

 

3 "And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it

round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two

rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast." The similitude of oxen. The parallel

gives simply “knops” (i.e. flower-buds) in the room of this expression, and no

word “similitude” at all, the characters spelling the word for “knops” being פְּקָעִים,

and those for "oxen" being בְּקָרִים. The presence of the word “similitude” strongly

suggests that the circles of decoration under description showed the

likenesses of oxen, not necessarily (as Patrick) “stamped” on the so-called

knops, but possibly constituting them. For the ambiguous under it of our

present verse the parallel says with definiteness, “under the brim of it.”

There is intelligibility, at all events, in the ornamentation being of these

miniature oxen, presumably three hundred in the circle of the thirty cubits.

The symbolism would harmonize with that which dictated the

superposition of the enormous vase on twelve probably life-size oxen.

There is a general preference, however, accorded to the opinion that the

present text has probably been the result of some copyist’s corruption, and

that the text of the parallel should be followed.

 

4 "It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and

three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south,

and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon

them, and all their hinder parts were inward."  The words of the Hebrew

text of this verse and the parallel (I Kings 7:25) are facsimiles.

 

5 "And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like

the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received

and held three thousand baths."  An handbreadth. Not זֶרֶת, “a span”

(nevertheless tabled by Conder, ‘Handbook to the Bible,’ 2nd edit., p. 79, as a

handbreadth, and put at eight digits, two palms, or 5.33 inches), but טֶפַח,

the palm of the open hand,” the breadth of the four fingers, which Thenius

puts at 3.1752 inches, but Conder’s table at 2.66 inches. It received and held

should be translated, it was able to hold. Three thousand baths. The parallel has

two thousand baths, and this latter is the likelier reading. It is, however,

conceivable that the statement of Kings may purport to give the quantity of

water used, and that of Chronicles the quantity which the vessel at its

fullest could accommodate. As to the real capacity of the bath, we are

hopelessly at sea. Josephus’s estimate of it is about eight gallons and a half,

that of the rabbinists about four gallons and a half (see Smith’s ‘Dictionary

of the Bible,’ 3:1742), and Conder, in the ‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p. 80, a

fractional quantity above six gallons. The largest bowls on the Assyrian

bas-reliefs, the silver bowl of Croesus, and the bronze bowl in Scythia

(Herodotus, 1:51; 4:81), did not, under the lowest estimate of the bath,

hold as much as one-half of the contents of this vast sea of brass of

Solomon. The use of this vessel was, as we read in the next verse, for the

priests to wash in, or, as some would read, to wash at (Exodus 30:18-20).

 

6 "He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on

the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt

offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in."

This verse, with vs. 14-15, are all here that represent the lengthy account of bases

rather than layers, occupying in the parallel of I Kings 7:27-39, which,

however, omits to state the use of either sea or layers.

 

 

Acceptable Worship (vs. 1-6)

 

“He made an altar of brass.” This is a simple sentence enough, but it is one

which had a great significance to the people of God. For to that brazen

altar they came for many generations, and there:

 

Ø      they either worshipped God and gained his Divine favor, or

Ø      they failed to do the one and to secure the other.

 

It was the place of:

 

Ø      sanctity or profanation,

Ø      victory or defeat.

 

It, with the various regulations that applied to it and provisions that

were made for it, taught them, and it teaches us:

 

  • THAT MAN MAY MEET WITH GOD, IN WORSHIP AND

COMMUNION. God is not so far removed from us in His nature, nor are

we so separated from Him by our sin, but that He is willing to draw nigh to

us, is indeed desirous of meeting us. He is the Infinite and Eternal One,

imeasurably above us; but he is our heavenly Father, profoundly interested

in us and mindful of us. He is the Holy One, who hates all manner of

iniquity; but He is also the Merciful One, delighting to forgive and to

restore. He, therefore, not only permits His human children to meet Hhim

at His altar, in the sanctuary, but He positively enjoins this as a sacred

duty; He is displeased when we neglect to do so. But, apart from its

obligatoriness, it is “a good thing” for us, an exalted privilege and a most

valuable opportunity, “to draw nigh to God.”  (Psalm 73:28)

 

  • THAT THERE HE SHOULD SEEK GOD’S MERCY. This altar of

brass was to receive sacrifices; and among these, sin offerings and trespass

offerings were to be conspicuous. We are to draw near to the God whom

we have grieved and wronged:

 

Ø      with the language of confession on our lips, and

Ø      pleading the Great Sacrifice as a propitiation for our sin.

 

  • THAT THERE HE SHOULD DEDICATE (RE-DEDICATE)

HIMSELF TO HIS SERVICE. Burnt offerings (holocausts) and peace

offerings as well as sin offerings were presented at that brazen altar. In the

house of the Lord we are to consecrate our whole selves to HIM, and are to

recognize that all we have and are is HIS, to be spent in His fear and service.

 

  • THAT HE MUST SEE TO IT THAT BOTH HIMSELF AND HIS

SACRIFICE ARE PURE. In that “molten sea (v. 2) the priests were to

wash, that they themselves might be unspotted when engaged in their

sacred work. And in the lavers (v. 6) they were to wash “such things as

they offered for the burnt offering,” the “gifts and sacrifices themselves.”

Both offerers and offerings were to be perfectly pure when the Holy One

of Israel was approached in worship. And with what purity of heart should

we draw nigh to HIM now! It is only those who have “clean hands and a

pure heart”  (Psalm 24:4), that can “see God” (Matthew 5:8), or that will

be accepted by Him. It is only those who worship “in spirit” who worship

Him at all (John 4:24). And as now we all — the whole Christian community

— are “priests unto God,” and are charged to present “spiritual sacrifices”

unto Him (I Peter 2:5), it becomes us to remember that both

 

Ø      our own hearts and also

Ø      our sacrifices, i.e. our thoughts, our feelings, our purposes, our

vows, our prayers, our praises, must be “clean” and pure!

 

We must be clean who “bear the vessels of the Lord  (Isaiah 52:11),

who speak His truth, who lead His people in prayer to Himself. And the

spiritual “gifts” of all who worship Him must be cleansed of all impurity,

of all selfishness and worldliness, of all insincerity, of all unholy rivalry

or envy, that they may “come up with acceptance” in the sight of God.

 

7 "And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and

set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left."

Ten candlesticks of gold. The only allusion to these in the parallel is found

later on in part of I Kings 7:49.  According to their form. This expression,

though so vague, might point to the fact that the form of the old candlestick

of the tabernacle was adhered to (Exodus 25:31). But considering the recurrence

of the same words (v. 20), there can be no doubt that the phrase is identical in

its meaning with the use found in such passages as Leviticus 5:10; 9:16, and

means “according to the prescribed ordinance.”

 

 

Lights in the World (v. 7)

 

There are many difficulties and disagreements about the spiritual

significance of the temple furniture; but there is a general agreement as to

the meaning of the “candlestick,” or of these “ten candlesticks of gold” to

which the text refers. As in the “Divine compartment” of the “most holy

place the Shechinah was the symbol of the Divine presence, and spoke of

the Lord God of Israel as the one true Light of the world, so in the human

department of the “holy place’ these lights were the symbol of the Hebrew

Church, regarded as the center and source of light in the midst of

surrounding darkness. And such it was. We may well regard:

 

  • ISRAEL AS THE SOURCE OF LIGHT. Perhaps rather as the

possessor than THE SOURCE, for communication between neighboring

countries was very much more limited then than it is now; and it was in its

later days that the Jew was such a traveler and such a propagandist. But

from the time that God made Himself and His will known to Moses, down

to the birth of Christ, Divine truth was known in Israel as it was not known

elsewhere, and “salvation was of the Jews”  (John 4:22), as our Lord declared.

Comparing the theological and ethical ideas of the people of God with

those of contemporary peoples, we see how really enlightened they were.

And some of the most essential doctrines, on which all Divine wisdom, and

all moral excellency, and all national prosperity, and all individual well-

being (and to think that the United States of America, through Progressivism

via the Judicial System has repudiated this,  defies reason and imagination!!!

– CY – 2016) must always rest, were carried by the worshippers of Jehovah to

Egypt, to Persia, to Rome, to still more distant countries. The light that

shone in the sanctuary went forth and illumined A LARGE SPACE!

 

  • THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF LIGHT. Said the

great Teacher to His disciples, and through them to his Church for all time,

“Ye are the light of the world.” The Apostle Paul wrote to his converts at

Ephesus, and through them to us, “Ye are light in the Lord.” (Philippians

2:15)  And it becomes us to do two things:

 

Ø      Manifest the great characteristic of lightpurity. To “walk as children

of light,… in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:8-9);

as the servants of Him who Himself “is light, in whom is no darkness at

all  (I John 1:5); to be “holy as He is holy.” (I Peter 1:15)

 

Ø      Discharge the great function of light — to reveal. To “make manifest”

(Ephesians 5:13) those great verities which renew and sustain and

ennoble us in heart and life. We are so to let our light shine that men may

see our good works, and glorify our Divine Father. (Matthew 5:16) 

It does not take any prolonged study, or any range of experience, or any

remarkable talent, to cause men to know the redeeming truths which restore

them to God; which give them spiritual rest and abiding joy, and a hope

that will not make ashamed; which build them up in manly virtues and in

Christian graces; which prepare for the heavenly kingdom. Even the

humbler disciples, who claim no rank in the community, may render this

valuable service by:

 

Ø      living a true, faithful, earnest life, day by day, in the love of Christ;

Ø      speaking familiar Christian truth to those who are willing to hear it,

this good work can be wrought.

 

8 "He made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the

right side, and five on the left. And he made an hundred basons of gold."

Ten tables. These tables also (the use of which is given in v. 19) are not

mentioned, so far as their making is concerned, in the parallel,

except in its summary (compare I Kings 7:48.), where furthermore only one

table, called “the table” (Exodus 25:23), is specified, with which agrees

our ch. 29:18. It is hard to explain this variation of statement.

It is at least an arbitrary and forced explanation to suppose that ten tables

constituted the furniture in question, while only one was used at a time.

Keil and Bertheau think that the analogy of the ten candlesticks points to

the existence of ten tables. The question, however, is, where is the call for,

or where are the indications of any analogy? An hundred basins of gold.

The Hebrew word employed here, and translated “basins,” is מִזְרְקֵי, as

also vs. 11, 22, infra; and I Kings 7:40, 45, 50; Exodus 27:3; 38:3;

Numbers 4:14; but it is represented as well by the English

translation “bowls” in I Chronicles 28:17; II Kings 25:15;

Numbers 7:13, 19, etc. The “pots,” however, of our vs. 11, 16 has

for its Hebrew הַסִּירות. It were well if, in names such as these, at any rate,

an absolute uniformity of version were observed in the translation, for the

benefit of the English reader, to say nothing of the saving of wasted time

for the student and scholar. These basins, or bowls, were to receive and

hold the blood of the slain victims, about to be sprinkled for purification

(see Exodus 24:6-8, where the word אַגָּן is used; ibid. ch. 29:12, 10, 20-21;

Leviticus 1:5, and passion; Hebrews 9:18-20; see also Exodus 38:3;

Numbers 4:14,) The Hebrew word מִזְרָק, whether appearing in

our version as "basin” or “bowl,” occurs thirty-two times, sixteen in

association exactly similar with the present (viz. Exodus 27:3; 38:3;

Numbers 4:14; I Kings 7:40, 45, 50; II Kings 12:13; 25:15;

I Chronicles 28:17; here ch. 4:8, 11, 22; Nehemiah 7:70;

Jeremiah 52:18-19; Zechariah 14:20), fourteen as silver bowls in

the time of the tabernacle for the meat offering of “fine flour mingled with

oil(viz. Numbers 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79, 84-85),

and the remaining two in an entirely general application (Amos 6:6;

Zechariah 9:15). It is evident, therefore, that the מִזְרָק was not the

only vessel used for holding the blood of purification, nor was it

exclusively reserved to this use.

 

 

God’s Bounty and Our Response (v. 8)

 

The significance of the table of shew-bread (of which Solomon, in his

desire for fullness and richness of provision, now made ten) depends on its

position and on the objects it was to sustain. The table stood in the “holy

place,” very near to the inner sanctuary, where the presence of God was

symbolized; and it bore upon it the shewbread, or “bread of presence;” this

was so called because it was “the shewbread before me always”

(Exodus 25:30), continually in the presence of God. There were also

some vessels (ibid. v. 29) which were probably intended to receive

wine (“to pour out withal”), which was the ordinary accompaniment of

bread, as the source of daily sustenance. The whole arrangement pointed to:

 

  • A CONTINUAL RECOGNITION OF DIVINE BOUNTY. The bread

and wine which largely constituted and adequately represented the

provision for the nation’s need were placed in the near presence of God, as

the One from whom they came. It was well that the Israelites should be

continually acknowledging that the fruit of the field was of Divine origin.

They were very mindful and very proud of the great gift of the manna,

which was a palpable and very remarkable provision from above — a clear

produce of the power and goodness of God. They would be in danger of

thinking that there was less of the Divine in the annual harvest; for this

was, in part, the result of their own labor, and came gradually, by ordinary

and gradual processes of nature. But Divine goodness and power were as

truly in the latter as in the former. From God Himself came the soil, the

seed, the sunshine, the rain, the airs and winds of heaven; from Him came

the power that made all these work together for the germination, growth,

and ripening of the grain (Jesus said the kingdom of God, as if a man

should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day,

and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  For the earth

bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full

corn in the ear.– Mark 4:26-28 – CY – 2016) from Him also came the

knowledge and the skill which enabled the farmer to cultivate his ground

and to secure his harvest; it was also of God’s goodness that He required

of His children the putting forth of these powers, both of body and mind,

on the exercise of which so largely depended their health and character.

The shewbread and the wine, standing where they stood, were a perpetual

acknowledgment that all things which sustained and strengthened the nation

came from THE LORD THEIR GOD!

 

  • A SOLEMN DEDICATION OF HUMAN STRENGTH TO THE

SERVICE OF GOD. It was significant enough that “pure frankincense

[was to be placed] on each row” of the loaves or cakes (Leviticus 24:7).

“The offering of incense was embodied prayer, and the placing of a

vessel of incense upon this bread was like sending it up to God on the

wings of devotion” (Fairbairn’s ‘Typology’). It was, therefore, “a kind of

sacrifice,” and is spoken of (ibid.) as “an offering unto the Lord.”

To present to God those things which are the recognized sources of

sustenance and strength, is to acknowledge that our power and our

resources belong to Him and should be paid to Him; it is, indeed, solemnly

to dedicate them to His service in formal worship. We do the same thing

now in our harvest thanksgiving services, and when we sing in the

sanctuary hymns ascribing all our comforts and all our well-being to the

good hand of our God. We only “perform our vows” when we dedicate to

God, in daily life, the strength and the possessions with which He has

enriched us; when we live in grateful remembrance of His love, in cheerful

obedience to His will. in active and earnest endeavor to serve His children

and extend His kingdom.

 

9 "Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court,

and doors for the court, and overlaid the doors of them with brass."

The court of the priests (compare I Kings 6:36, where this

court is denominated the inner court, and any other court an outer one, i.e.

the great court only implicated thereby). The construction of this court of

the priests, withheld here, given there, leaves it ambiguous whether the

“three rows of hewed stones and one row of cedar beams" intends a

description of fence, as the Septuagint seems to have taken it, or of a

higher floor with which the part in question was dignified. The citation

Jeremiah 36:10, though probably pointing to this same court, can

scarcely be adduced as any support of J. D. Michaelis’ suggestion of this

latter, as its עֶלְיון (translated “higher”) does not really carry the idea of

the comparative degree at all. For once that it is so translated (and even

then probably incorrectly), there are twenty occurrences of it as the

superlative excellentiae. The introduction just here of any statement of

these courts at all, which seems at first inopportune, is probably accounted

for by the desire to speak in this connection of their doors and the brass

overlaying of them (I Kings 7:12; II Kings 23:12; here ch. 20:5;

Ezekiel 40:28; Condor’s ‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p. 370). It is

worthy of note that the word employed in our text, as also here ch. 6:13,

is not the familiar word חַצֵר of all previous similar occasions, but

עֲזרָהַ, a word of the later Hebrew, occurring also several times in Ezekiel,

though not in exactly the same sense, and the elementary signification of

the verb-root of which is “to gird,” or “surround.”

 

10 "And he set the sea on the right side of the east end, over against the south."

The right side of the east end, over against the south (so also I Kings 7:39; compare

Exodus 30:18). The sea found its position, therefore, in the place of the tabernacle

laver of old, between altar of brass and porch. It must be remembered that the

entrance was east, but it was counted to a person standing with the back to the

tabernacle or temple, as though he were, in fact, going out, not entering in, the

sacred enclosure; therefore on the right side will be southward, as written in this

verse.

 

11 "And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And

Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for

the house of God;" The pots. As stated above, the Hebrew word is הַסִּירות. It

occurs in the Old Testament twenty-seven times; it is translated in our

Authorized Version “pans” once and “caldrons” four times. By a manifest

copyist’s error, the parallel (I Kings 7:35) has כִירות, “layers,” by the

use of caph for samech. The use of the סִיר was to boil the peace

offerings, though some say they were hods in which to carry away the

ashes; and it certainly is remarkable that it is no one of the words employed

in I Samuel 2:14. In addition to these twenty-seven times, it occurs

also four times in Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Hosea, Nahum, with the meaning of

thorns,” and once in Amos it is translated “fish-hooks.” The passage in

Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 7:6) is additionally remarkable, in the fact

that the root occurs twice in the same sentence in its different

significations, e.g. “the crackling of thorns under a pot.” The shovels. The

Hebrew word is הַיָעִים. This word occurs in the Old Testament nine times

in Exodus, Numbers, Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah. The use of the

shovel was to remove the ashes. The basins should very probably read

flesh-hooks.

 

 

The Manufacture of the Temple Furniture (v. 11)

 

  • THE CHERUBIM. (ch. 3:10-13.)

 

Ø      Their appearance. Colossal winged figures; but whether, like the

cherubim of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:6) and of John (Revelation 4:7),

possessed of four faces (of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle) and six

wings, cannot be decided. Probably they had only one face, resembling that

of a man. Unlike the cherubim in the tabernacle, which were “beaten out of

one piece of gold” (Exodus 37:7), these were made of olive wood

(I Kings 6:23), presumably on account of its durability and firmness,

qualities which induced the Greeks to select it as the best material out of

which to construct idols (see Riehm, ‘Handworterbuch,’ art. Oelbaum”).

The woodwork was overlaid with gold.

 

Ø      Their dimensions. In height ten cubits (I Kings 6:23); their wings

were each five cubits long, or twenty cubits in all. They were thus twice as

broad as high, and probably altogether double in size to those on the

capporeth. (The English phrase mercy seat is a translation of the Hebrew

kapporeth (in the Masoretic text) and Greek ἱλαστήριονhilasterion

mercy seat - in the Septuagint) by William Tyndale influenced by the

German word Gnadenstuhl as in the Luther Bible; Gnadenstuhl,

literally meaning seat of grace - Wikipedia)

 

Ø      Their position. In the holy of holies, their feet upon the ground, their

wings touching the walls on either side, and their faces directed towards

the interior of the building, i.e. towards the holy place, whence only an

intruder could enter the secret shrine. Underneath and between their

outstretched wings, the ark, with the mercy-seat and the lesser cherubim,

were subsequently placed (here ch. 5:8).

 

Ø      Their meaning. That similar winged figures are met with in the

mythologies and religions of Oriental peoples, in particular of the

Egyptians and Assyrians, does not prove the cherubim of Jewish theology

to have been derived from those. That in those the beast-figure prevails,

while in these the human face predominates, marks an essential distinction

between the two. Hence the notion that among the Hebrews the cherubim

had no higher significance than such winged creatures had in Egypt,

Assyria, or Babylon — were, in short, merely symbols of the underlying

idea common to Oriental religions, that the life of nature is identical with

the life of God (Bahr) — is to be rejected. So also is the opinion that they

were purely mythical figures, like the Egyptian or Greek sphinxes (the

former half-man and half-lion, the latter half-woman and half-lion), or like

the colossal winged lions at the doors of Babylonian and Assyrian temples

(Hengstenberg, ‘Egypt and the Books of Moses,’ p. 153; Schrader, ‘Die

Keilinschriften, p. 40). That they represented real beings is now generally

believed (Hofmann, Kurtz, Keil, Kliefoth, and others), and appears implied

in the passage where they are first mentioned (Genesis 3:24). That they

belonged to the same order of super-terrestrial existences as the angels and

the seraphim of Scripture seems a necessary inference, from the fact that all

three — angels (Psalm 68:17), seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and cherubim

(II Samuel 22:11; Psalm 18:10) — are depicted as attending

Jehovah in His theophanies, or manifestations of Himself to men. That they

were different from angels may be inferred from the fact that these are

never exhibited as winged, and are usually represented as Jehovah’s

messengers (Psalm 104:4), which the cherubim never are. It is not so

certain that they were different from the seraphim, or shining ones

(Isaiah 6:2): who in appearance, situation, and function resembled

them, having six wings, appearing always in the vicinity of the self-revealing

Jehovah, and proclaiming aloud the presence of His glory. Yet

from the fact that they are commonly exhibited as bearers or upholders of

the Divine throne (Ezekiel 1:26), whereas the seraphim surround the

throne (Isaiah 6:2), it may be concluded that the two, though belonging

to the same order, were not the same species of being (cf. Delitzsch on

Isaiah to 6:2). At the same time, whilst holding the cherubim to have been

images intended to represent real existences, it need not be assumed that

the actual cherubim had really the four faces of a man, of a lion, of an ox,

and of an eagle. These belong to the department of symbology, in which

supersensuous ideas are set forth in sensuous images. Hence, inasmuch as

the human face represents the notion of intelligence, the leonine that of

strength, the bovine that of endurance, and the aquiline that of keenness of

vision, combined perhaps with the idea of swiftness of motion, the

ascription of these to the cherubim can only mean that these heavenly

beings were possessed of all the elements of a perfect life, and, as the

crown and summit of creation, stood nearest GOD.

 

Ø      Their function. Comparing the Scriptures in which they are alluded to,

the following may be regarded as the complex function performed by the

cherubim:

 

o        To proclaim the Divine pretence, so that, wherever they are or appear,

GOD IS (Psalm 18:10; Exodus 25:22; Ezekiel 1:26);

 

o        to keep guard over places rendered holy by the Divine presence, so that

no unholy person might irreverently intrude therein (Genesis 3:24); and

 

o        to symbolize that only beings themselves perfect could stand in the

presence of the glory of God (Revelation 4:8). All three functions may

be said to have been performed by the colossal figures in Solomon’s

temple as well as by the smaller cherubim on the capporeth in the

tabernacle (see Kurtz, in Herzog’s ‘Real Encyclopadie,’ art.

“Cherubim; “Riehm” in ‘Handworterbuch,’ art. “Cherubim;” Keil,

‘Die Biblische Arehaotogie,’ pp. 92, etc.).

 

  • THE ALTAR OF INCENSE. (v. 19.)

 

Ø      Its material. Like the other articles in the interior of the house, it was

made of cedar wood and overlaid with gold (I Kings 7:48). That in the

tabernacle was formed of shittim wood overlaid with gold; was two cubits

high, one long, and one broad; was furnished with a covering, and horns of

the same wood overlaid with gold (Exodus 37:25).

 

Ø      Its position.

 

o        In the holy place; and

 

o        immediately in front of the entrance to the holy of holies, i.e. before

the curtain, or second veil.

 

o        Its use. As in the tabernacle (Exodus 37:29), so in the temple, it was

intended for the burning of fragrant incense before the holy of holies

day and night, to symbolize the adoration of Jehovah’s worshipping

people.

 

  • THE CANDLESTICKS. (v. 7.)

 

Ø      Their number. Ten. This was demanded by the larger dimensions of the

temple in comparison with the tabernacle, which contained only one.

 

Ø      Their form. Each seven-branched, as in the tabernacle, i.e. consisting of

a main stalk with three branches on either side, rising to the same height as

that, each of the six branches and the middle stalk being crowned with a

lamp (Exodus 25:31, etc.; 37:17, etc.).

 

Ø      Their ornaments. Bowls, knops, and flowers, as in the tabernacle

candlestick, seeing that each in the temple was constructed “according to

its form.”

 

Ø      Their utensils. Snuffers and basins; the former to trim the wicks, the

latter to receive what was removed by the process.

 

Ø      Their use. To keep a light continually burning in the holy place and

before the holy of holies (Exodus 25:37; 27:20).

 

Ø      Their material.  Of gold (v. 7), pure (v. 20), and perfect (v. 21). In this,

again, they resembled the candlestick in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31).

 

Ø      Their position. In the holy place, before the oracle, five on either side.

 

Ø      Their significance. To symbolize either:

 

o        the light of God’s favor which the worshippers or the sacred

community (represented by the priest who ministered in their name)

enjoyed, when their sins had been first covered by the blood shed

in the forecourt (Psalm 36:9; 89:15); or

 

o        the illumination which the Spirit-enlightened Church of God,

collectively and individually, should shed forth upon the world

(Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15).

 

  • THE TABLES OF SHEWBREAD. (vs. 8, 19.)

 

Ø      Their number. Ten; in the tabernacle, one.

 

Ø      Their position. Five on either side of the holy place. The one table in the

tabernacle stood upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the

veil (Exodus 40:22).

 

Ø      Their material. Of gold (I Chronicles 28:16).

 

Ø      Their purpose. To receive and set forth the shewbread, or the loaves of

unleavened bread, twelve on each table, which were commanded to be set

before the face of Jehovah continually (Exodus 25:30).

 

Ø      Their significance. To symbolize religious truths which it concerned

Israel to know. The “face loaves” were so called, not because with them or

the eating of them the sight of God’s face was associated, but because they

stood continually in God’s presence as emblematic:

 

o        of the spiritual food Israel should present to God in the good works

they should perform through Divine assistance, and

 

o        of the spiritual nourishment pardoned worshippers should receive

from God (Exodus 24:11).

 

  • THE BRAZEN ALTAR. (v. 1.)

 

Ø      Its position. In the interior of the fore court (I Kings 8:22, 64).

Ø      Its dimensions. Twenty cubits long, twenty broad, and ten high.

Ø      Its material. Brass.

Ø      Its use. To offer thereupon the burnt offerings presented by the

worshippers who came to the temple.

 

  • THE MOLTEN SEA. (vs. 2-5.)

 

Ø      Its appearance. A huge metallic basin, supported on the backs of

twelve metallic oxen — “three looking toward the north, three looking

toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward

the east,” all having their hinder parts inward. The basin had the form of a

cup, decorated on the brim with flowers of lilies, underneath the brim with

two rows of “knops,” ten in a cubit, therefore with three hundred in all,

compassing the basin around (v. 4; compare I Kings 7:28).

 

Ø      Its size. Ten cubits in diameter and thirty in circumference, five cubits

high and a handbreadth in thickness, with a capacity of three thousand, or,

according to a more accurate measurement (I Kings 7:26), two

thousand baths, i.e. upwards of twelve thousand gallons. With this may be

compared the basin borne by twelve lions in the Alhambra at Granada, and

the two giant sandstone vases which were found by Muller at Amathus in

Cyprus, each of which was oval-shaped, thirty feet in circumference, had

four handles, and rested on eight bulls, four in each half- round of the oval

(see in Herzog and in Riehm, art. Meer ehernes”).

 

Ø      Its situation. Between the brazen altar and the porch, on the right side of

the west end, over against the south of the court (v. 10).

 

Ø      Its use. For the priests to wash in when they came to engage in the

sacrificial worship of the sanctuary (v. 6; compare Exodus 30:19-21).

 

Ø      Its significance.

 

o        The form and decorations of the vessel showed it was designed for

priestly service. “Its form, that of an open lily cup, corresponded to its

purpose. If all budding and blossoming signified holiness and

priesthood (Numbers 16:7; Psalm 92:14), the flower named the white,

i.e. the lily, must have been pre-eminently the priestly one” (Bahr).

 

o        The twelve oxen on which it rested accorded with the same idea. Oxen

were the principal sacrificial animals, especially for the priests (Exodus

29:10, etc.; Leviticus 4:3, etc.; 16:11; Numbers 8:8). Twelve were

selected, hardly for the sake of symmetry (Thenius), or to represent the

twelve months of the year (Vatke), but, like the twelve loaves of

shewbread, and the twelve lions on Solomon’s throne (I Kings 10:20),

to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel, which also when in camp

were placed, like the oxen, three to each quarter of the heavens

(Numbers 2:2-31).

 

o        The washing of the priests was emblematic of that inward spiritual

purity without which none can approach a holy God, or render to

Him acceptable service (Isaiah 1:16; Hebrews 10:22).

 

Ø      Its history. In after years it was taken down from off the brazen oxen by

Ahaz and set upon a pavement of stones (II Kings 16:17); it was

ultimately broken in pieces by the Chaldeans, and its brass conveyed to

Babylon (II Kings 25:13). The brazen oxen the Chaldean general

transported as booty to the East (Jeremiah 52:20).

 

  • THE LAVERS. (v. 6.)

 

Ø      Their material. Brass.

Ø      Their number. Ten.

Ø      Their position. Five on the right and five on the left of the brazen altar.

Ø      Their appearance. Basins resting upon bases or pedestals with wheels

(v. 14), of which a minute description is given in I Kings 7:27-37.

Ø      Their dimensions. Every laver or basin four cubits in diameter.

Ø      Their contents. Forty baths, or two hundred and forty gallons.

Ø      Their use. To wash the victims in when these were brought to the

priests to be offered upon the altar.

 

12 "To wit, the two pillars, and the pommels, and the chapiters which

were on the top of the two pillars, and the two wreaths to cover the

two pommels of the chapiters which were on the top of the pillars;"

The pommels. The Hebrew word is גֻלֹת, translated in the

parallel “bowls.” The word occurs in the Old Testament twelve times, and

is translated six times (in Judges and Joshua) "springs,” four times “bowls,”

and twice “pommels.” It was an architectural ornament to the capital, in

shape like a ball. The chapiters. The Hebrew word כֹּתֶרֶת occurring

twenty-three times or more, and always translated thus; in modern

architecture, the head or capital of the pillar. The two wreaths. The word

is כֹּתֶרֶת, occurring fifteen times, and translated seven times “net-work,”

five times “wreath,” or “wreathen-work,” once a “snare,” once checkerwork,”

and once a “lattice.” These wreaths were of some lace pattern

plaiting and festoons of fancy chain-work. The fuller expression of them is

found in I Kings 7:17, though in description not more distinct, certainly

“nets of checker-work, and wreaths of chain-work.”

 

13 "And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of

pomegranates on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters

which were upon the pillars." Four hundred pomegranates. This number of

pomegranates substantially agrees with the parallel (I Kings 7:20), There were two

hundred of them on each wreath that encircled the chapiter. The

pomegranate was a favorite ornament in work as well as in more solid

architectural forms (Exodus 28:33-34). The popularity of the fruit as

food (Numbers 13:23; 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8; Joshua 15:32; 21:25),

its simple beauty to the eye (Song of Solomon 4:3,13), and its

welcome homeliness, will quite account for this beside any symbolic

significance that may have become attached to it. The description of the

pomegranate as a fruit may be found in any Bible dictionary, but especially

in Tristram’s ‘Natural History of the Bible.’

 

14 "He made also bases, and lavers made he upon the bases;

15  One sea, and twelve oxen under it." Bases. The first mention of these in

Chronicles, on which so much is said in the parallel (I Kings 7:27-39). The

Hebrew word is מְכונָה, occurring eighteen times in Kings, twice in

Chronicles, once in Ezra, and three times in Jeremiah. These bases were,

as may be learned more fully in the parallel, pedestals of brass four cubits

square by three and a half high, supported by wheels a cubit and a half in

diameter. The pedestals were richly decorated with moldings, and with the

similitudes of lions, oxen, and cherubim, and with other subordinate

ornamental work, and were designed to bear the layers, the use of which

is given in v. 6. Vs. 6-16 in our chapter strongly suggest, in their

repetitiousness, the writer’s resort to different sources and authorities

for his matter.

 

16 "The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their

instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the

house of the LORD of bright brass." Flesh-hooks. Hebrew, מִזְלָגוח,

occurring twice in Exodus (Exodus 27:3; 38:3), once in Numbers, and twice

in Chronicles.  Another form of the same root, מַזְלֵג occurs twice in

Samuel, in the same sense of “flesh-hook” (I Samuel 2:13-14), where also

its use is made dramatically plain. Huram his father; i.e. his chief artist.

 

17 "In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground

between Succoth and Zeredathah.  18 Thus Solomon made all these vessels

in great abundance: for the weight of the brass could not be found out.

19 And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God,

the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set;"

In the plain… in the clay; i.e. in the Ciccar (or round,

equivalent to the New Testament “region round about “) of Jordan, a

distinctive designation of the Jordan valley (Conder’s Handbook to the

Bible,’ p. 213). The region here intended lies east of the river, in what

became the division of Gad. Succoth lay a little to the north of the river

Jabbok, which flows almost east to west into the Jordan. Zeredathah; i.q.

Zarthan of I Kings 7:46; and this latter is in the Hebrew also the same

in characters and all with the Zaretan of Joshua 3:16. Very possibly the

place is the same as Zererath (Judges 7:22). The exact sites of these

places are not known, though the range within which they all lay is clear

(see Grove’s article in Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 3:1817). The clay

ground; that is, "the clay of the ground" (Hebrew). The radical idea of the

word here translated “clay” is “thickness,” which should not be rendered,

as in margin, “thicknesses.” The word (עָב) occurs in all thirty-five times,

and is rendered a large proportion of these times “clouds” or “thick

clouds” (e.g. Exodus 19:9), clouds being presumably thicknesses in air;

but if the subject-matter in question be in wood, or growing timber, or the

ground, the word is rendered conformably “thick planks” (I Kings 7:6;

Ezekiel 41:25-26), or “thickets” (Jeremiah 4:29), or “clay” (as

here), to distinguish from other lighter or more friable soil.

 

20 "Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the

manner before the oracle, of pure gold;" Candlesticks... lamps, that they should

burn after the manner before the oracle. Ten candlesticks, as we learn here and in

v. 7, supersede in Solomon’s temple the one candlestick, with its central shaft

lamp, and the three branch lamps on either side of Moses and the

tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-37; 37:17-24; Leviticus 24:4; Josephus,

Ant.,’ 3:6. § 6, 7; Maimonides [1135-1205], “De .temple, vasis

sanctuarii,” etc.). This single candlestick was restored in Zerubbabel’s

temple. The present ten candlesticks, or strictly candelabra, of Solomon

are said at one time to have been placed in a row like a rail before the veil,

and connected with a chain under which the high priest went on the Day of

Atonement into the inner sanctuary. The removal of these candelabra is

recorded Jeremiah 52:19. The expression, “after the manner,” points to

the various and somewhat minute regulation for the lighting, trimming, and

keeping alight of the lamps, all or some, of the candelabra (Exodus

27:19-21; Leviticus 24:1-3). The use of the word for “lamp” (נֵר) in

some passages (I Samuel 3:3; II Samuel 21:17; Proverbs 13:9; 20:27;

Psalm 18:28) suggests not the part as used for the whole in speaking

of the candelabrum, but more probably that the perpetual burning

was not of all seven lamps, but of one, the central shaft.

 

21 "And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold,

and that perfect gold;" The flowers; Hebrew, פֶרַה, occurring sixteen times,

of which number it is translated "flowers" thirteen times, “buds” twice, and

blossom once. The flower was a part of the ornamentation of the

branches of the candelabrum (Exodus 25:31, 33). The tongs; Hebrew,

מֶלְקָחַיִם, occurring six times, of which number it is translated five times

tongs,” but once “snuffers” (Exodus 37:23). This latter is the

correcter translation, perhaps. The instrument, at any rate, was to trim the

lamp-wicks (Exodus 25:38).

 

22 "And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers,

of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for

the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were

of gold." The snuffers; Hebrew, מְזַמְרות, occurring five times, and

always translated “snuffers.” A slightly different form of the word is

translated “pruning-hooks" four times in the Prophets Isaiah, Joel, and Micah.

No doubt these snuffers were something different from the tongs of the

preceding verse; the use of one may have been rather to cut the wicks, and

the other to trim them. The spoons; Hebrew, כַפ. This is the word used so

often for the “hand,” but the essential idea of which is the hollow of either

hand or foot or other thing, and among other things of a spoon shape. The

word is used of the frankincense-cups (Numbers 7:14, 20, 26) brought

to the dedication of the tabernacle by the several princes. The censers;

Hebrew, מַחְתּות. These were “snuff-dishes” (Exodus 25:38; 37:23;

Numbers 4:9). The entry of the house; Hebrew, פֶּתַח. Some think

this word refers to the door-frames, as distinct from the door-leaves or

doors themselves. But the parallel (I Kings 7:50) gives us what is

translated as “hinges” (Hebrew, פות), a word that occurs only here in any

such sense, as presumably (Gesenius, ‘ Lexicon ‘) “the hollowed part of a

hinge,” and Isaiah 3:17 for the pudenda muliebria. The mistaken

transcribing of a kheth for a tau will amply account for the difference.

 

 

The Preparation for the Building of the Temple

(ch. 3:1-4:22)

 

These two chapters deal with temple, its site, its exact proportions and measurements,

its contents and furniture, vessels and instruments. Upon the first glance, and merely

superficial reading of these, it may seem that they bear little relation to us, address

no special messages to us, and proffer but little instruction adapted to our

light, our times, our confessedly more spiritual form of religion. A

little longer thought, more patient inquiry, and deeper consideration will go

far to correct, or, at any rate, to modify, an estimate of this kind. Perhaps

no devout mind, in a healthy state, unsophisticated and unvitiated by

special freak of education, will fail to feel, free of argument, that the

principles underlying the directions of minutest detail of outward work

once, find their use and application now within the domain of motive, of

purity of motive, and exactitude in judging, not the motives of others, but

our own; within the domain, again, of cheerful, ungrudging giving to

Christ and to His living Church; and within the domain of that exalted but

perfectly simple law of giving, not the lame, the blind, the blemished, and

the utter superfluity of our own possessions, but the first and the best, and

of what may call for some self-denial, some self-sacrifice. Add to these

considerations the hard fact that, in the name of Christianity, in the purer

name of Christ Himself, and for the love of Him, now for twenty centuries

(repudiating that narrowest of all things, a narrow construction of the

spirituality of the simplest and purest religion possible) the instinct of the

disciples and followers of Christ has expended on the art of ecclesiastical

architecture, the art of ecclesiastical painting, the art of ecclesiastical music

all things of the outside, if so they must be called — an amount of care,

time, skill, devotion, exactness, and wealth of precious things, exceeding

by millionfolds all devoted to the temple of Solomon and all its successors,

and required for them, even by highest inspiration of the pattern showed on

the mount. It is, therefore, a great historic mistake, and a blinded or

oblivious reading of history, when any presume to suppose that the detail,

exactness, material grandeur, and contribution of all costly things

commanded for the temple of the ancient Jew are not paralleled by their

almost identical likes in the Church of the Christian! For such reasons as

these it is interesting, and it is useful, to review the injunctions and the

methods and the accomplished results of Solomon’s work as rehearsed in

these chapters. They contain the seminal principles which Christian work

still demands, and by which the Christian Church should be guided. Far,

then, from slighting and underrating the significance of the sacred

principles that underlay the religion of elder days, and of that chosen

people, to whom it was conveyed in all its outer detail by special

revelation, let us be encouraged to consider it attentively, now, in respect

of that holy house, the temple, which stood for so much in the minds of a

great and remarkable nation, and which was a manifestation of so much of

the mind and will of God to them first, and through them and after them to

the world. For we are here reminded of:

 

  • THE STRESS LAID UPON THE VERY PLACE WHERE THE

FOUNDATIONS OF THE TEMPLE SHOULD BE PLANTED. It was

the place:

 

Ø      Where sin had been sternly reminded of its just punishment

(I Chronicles 21:15-17), and had grievously felt it.

 

Ø      Where the interposing angel of the Lord appeared, and spoke and stayed

the destruction and pestilence (ibid. v. 27), in answer to confession,

repentance, and sacrifice.

 

Ø      Where that same sacrifice was offered on the new-builded altar, which

was paid for, and everything necessary to the sacrifice upon it paid for by

David, that it might as far as possible be the perfect offering of self. The

house and the altar were almost synonymous (I Chronicles 22:1). And

we are reminded of the greatest fact, the central fact, that there is no such

thing as a true Church without altar. The one, only true and ever-abiding

Church of the living God on earth is the sacred environment of the solemn

altar, is founded one with it, built up round about it, grows out of it,

commences, as did the temple of David (ibid. v. 2) and

Solomon, from it, and ever must have it for its center.

 

  • THE FACT OF THE DIVINE INSTRUCTION GIVEN FOR THE

BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE IN ALL ITS PARTS. This fact, per se,

may be justly regarded as marking:

 

Ø      The Divine estimate as to human need of revelation for all that pertains

to real religion. There is something that inevitably and invariably

differences natural religion from revealed religion. It lacks direction,

stability, and a real living connection between the worshipped and the

worshipper, the great Adorable and the humble sinful adorer. This is

supplied by revelation, which is by most deliberate preference not partial,

not fitful, not a thing to be taken or left, but uniform, spreading everywhere

and penetrating to each detail.

 

Ø      The reverence towards all that affects our spiritual and eternal weal,

which Heaven would help us to feel and earnestly to believe in.

 

Ø      The kind sympathetic interest with which the August Majesty Himself

would wish to help us assure ourselves that He tends even the human side

of religious institutions. He “dwells in light unapproachable” (I Timothy 6:16),

and yet Himself is not inaccessible, is not afar off, is nigh to us. What a

welcome thought, inspiring thought, that He helps us build our very place of

worship! Notice:

 

  • THE CAREFULNESS AND EXACTITUDE WHICH THAT

DIVINE INSTRUCTION MODELLED FOR OUR IMITATION. After

the tabernacle, in time indeed, but second to it in no other sense, nor

strictly separable from it, here was the beginning of corporate Church life

and institution and building. All things must be done “decently and in

order(I Corinthians 14:40); “as to the Lord, and not to men” alone;

not with eye-service.” (Ephesians 6:6-7)  And as real religion is the only

real life, how sure were all the carefulness and exactitude now prescribed

and exemplified to draw up, and constantly to tend to draw up, lesser life,

home life, and individual life! The individual life (time and illustrations

without number have shown it) will grow more divinely ordered for that

man whose taste, whose knowledge, but, above all, whose deep principle

reverences, observes, and “observes to do” all the words of such

commandments, with those that correspond with them, and

are their heirs and successors, as are contained in these chapters.

 

  • THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED IN THE MATERIALS AND

CONTENTS OF THE TEMPLE, IN THEIR BEING SUFFICIENT IN

ALL SMALLEST DETAILS, BEAUTIFUL IN DESIGN AND MAKE,

GENUINE AND SOLID, AND COSTLY.

 

  • THE THINGS IN OR BEFORE THE TEMPLE, WHICH WERE

GREATER THAN IT. Beside the many lesser vessels and instruments,

each of which had its ancillary (and therefore not unimportant) relation to

the greater vessels, or to the worship, service, and sacrifices for which

those greater were ordained, there were some of special, marked, leading

importance; while the distinguishing importance of some others lay strictly

in their import. Call attention to just the things which arc said of:

 

Ø      The greater house; its gold; its ceiling, with fine gold, palm-tree

figures and chains; its walls, with graven cherubim.

 

Ø      The most holy house; its fine gold; its two symbolic cherubim;

its veil, with wrought cherubim.

 

Ø      The two pillars; their height; their chapiters, with chains and

pomegranates; their names and respective positions.

 

[The general homiletics of ch. 3. and 4. combined close here, and the more

particular homiletics appropriate to ch. 4. separately, follow here].

 

 

The Altar, The Sea, The Light, and The Bread (vs. 1-22)

 

The homiletics of this chapter, viewed in certain general aspects, have been

already treated with those of ch. 3. But it remains to notice other

interesting and important aspects of the contents of this chapter. As soon

as these are exhibited in such a manner as to make their relative importance

apparent, they do indeed become of marked interest.

 

  • First, and no doubt first in importance, we read of the great ALTAR OF

BRASS. The contents of the temple begin from this. The sacrifice is the

great feature; nay, the great fact of worship on the part of the Church on

earth. By this early forecast of prophecy; by the earlier of the tabernacle; by

the much earlier of the patriarchs’ house and family; by one earlier even

than that — by the earliest of all, just outside the garden of Eden, and

eastward of it, and in the presence of “cherubim” and “flaming sword”

there, — the sacrifice is what Scripture brings prominently to our view.

Take note also of the “golden altar” (v. 19). Well may it be that, though

in every corruptest form of religion, no heathen tribe that emerges to view

in our wide fields of missionary enterprise needs to be taught one thing,

viz. the place of “sacrifice and offering” in religion, the call for it, the

efficacy of it. Can we deny, all charity granted, that the lesson all this

teaches nothing short of blindness can fail to see and acknowledge!

 

  • We notice that, second in order, comes the great SEA OF MOLTEN

BRASS, with its symbolic lily-flower ornamentation. The use of the

molten sea” is expressly stated. That use reminds us primarily of the need

on the part of the priests of old, and of those of modern day, who in even a

more real sense take their place, of all cleanness of hand, of deed, of word,

of thought, of conscience; furthermore, of the perpetually recurring need of

the cleansing and renewing of their spirit; and of this most solemn thought,

that even in their holiest work impurity and defilement may be first

contracted, and most disastrously. (I just experienced a touch of this about

ten minutes ago.  I read of Mr. Spurgeon, that he said he could have very

bad thoughts, even when praying!  CY – 2016)  And then, by all most just

and certain of inference, it reminds all believers, all servants of God and

our Lord Jesus Christ, all saints and faithful, of their perpetual need of such

purification as consists of self-examining and self-watching together

with the direct and only all-sufficing sanctification of the Holy Ghost.

 

  • We notice, third in order, the TEN LAVERS. These, for the washing

of the victims and sacrificial offerings themselves, remind us what pure

offerings and genuine sacrifices all that we bring to God should be; broken

and contrite hearts, simplest motives, genuine affections, and the outward

objective gifts we bring, not merely ungrudged, but — best proof of the

sameOF OUR BEST of what may have cost us self-denial, some

preparation, some honest labor to make them a little less unworthy of the

Master’s work. To bring the blemished, to bring what we can so utterly

dispense with, that we either do not know it is gone, or are glad to know it,

is, in plain words, to bring POLLUTED OFFERINGS.

 

  • We find, next in order, the TEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS, each

probably of sevenfold lamps. They were for actual light. They were typical

of that yet more actual SPIRITUAL LIGHT that must ever be present in the

true Church, must ever be witnessed to by it, and which must ever be shed

forth from the true Church. We are not to forget that these, too, were made

from the pattern shown in the mount. And the various and beautiful

Scripture references to them are most animating to think of (see, for

instance, Zechariah 4:1-3, 11-14; Revelation 1:12-13, 20; 2:1; 11:3-5).

 

  • We have next THE TEN TABLES on which was placed the

shewbread, which lay there one week, and was after that to be eaten by the

priests alone. Though it is not distinctly revealed what the twelve loaves of

shewbread intended, the very mystery left hanging about it enhances our

interest in it, since high importance is repeatedly attached to the mention of

it. It must justly be regarded as an ordinance; it must surely typify

nourishment, and that not the mere nourishment of the body, but of very

spiritual life. It was the shewbread, i.e. of God; the presence-bread, i.e. of

God. Was it not one perpetual standing type of THE BREAD OF LIFE

the Bread that was to come down from heaven for the life of the world?

And after these five leading declarations of the contents of the temple, and

the preparation of them, there follow descriptions of several lesser ones, all

beautiful, all pure and costly in their material, each with its distinct

tributary service and use. Distinct attention may be invited to the

seventeenth verse, specifying the place where King Hiram cast the precious

metal vessels, and the pillars, etc. It must not be said that this statement

may not be important, and may serve merely some perhaps evidential use

at some time or another, in corroborating the general contents of this holy

history.

 

Yet, if it be so, the mere suggestions it inevitably excites are worth giving

some expression to. The moral suggestions of the clay ground and

thickened clay, by help of which and in which the finest vessels, and most

enduring monuments of metal were cast and fashioned, are fruitful. They

may recall to us the very mould original of that body into which the

Almighty breathed the breath of life, and countless instances in the history

of the individual and of the Church, when the Master-Potter has indeed

shown his sovereign power and unchallengeable right over the clay. Out of

it, what vessels of grace and beauty and enduringness has not He fashioned!

by aid of it, and all its humiliation, what grand results to character,

discipline, and sanctification, has not He brought about! and — not the least

encouragement to our faith and patience in trial, in affliction, in the horrible

pit and miry clay — how has the very contrast astonished and delighted the

beholding Church and world, between the methods used and the Divine

results obtained! But the humble sufferer himself has been not a mere

admiring beholder. His tears have been turned into smiles and joy; and even

on earth he has learned how the “suffering” has been outweighed beyond all

estimate by gain, advantage, and that which he best knows to be the

earnest of a certain “eternal weight of glory.”  (II Corinthians 4:17)

 

 

Completeness in Christian Service (vs. 11-22)

 

Sacred service may be of two kinds: it may be feeble, slight, slovenly,

wholly incomplete and unsatisfactory; or, on the other hand, it may be

vigorous, effective, thorough, commanding the esteem of men and securing

the commendation of Christ. The way in which Solomon’s temple was built

brings before us the more excellent order of service. It was characterized by:

 

  • SOLIDITY. The “two pillars” (v. 12), and the character of the timber

and of the gold, are suggestive of strength and solidity. Our work for

Christ should have no slightness about it; it should be good, solid, durable;

work that will resist the disintegrating forces about us; that may be “tried

by fire” and still endure (see I Corinthians 3:12-15). For such a result

we must not be content with stirring the emotions; we must convince the

judgment, must produce conviction in the soul, must reach and win the

whole spiritual nature.

 

  • BEAUTY. The strong pillars were ornamented with pommels, with

wreaths, and pomegranates (vs. 12-13). Beauty as well as strength was

in the building of the temple, and should be in the sanctuary of God, in the

service of Jesus Christ (Psalm 96:6). We should introduce into the

work we do for our Master all the graces that we can bring — meekness of

spirit, unselfishness of purpose, conciliatoriness of tone and temper,

excellency of workmanship. On the top of the pillars should be

pomegranates; covering and adorning our service should be sweetness and

loveliness of manner and of spirit.

 

  • FITNESS. “In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them” (v. 17).

That was obviously a more fitting place for such an operation than the near

neighborhood of the site of the temple. Everything in its own time and

place. That which is wholly unfitted for the sanctuary may be quite right

and altogether suitable and desirable in the hall or in the home. The fitness

or unfitness of the surroundings of a work may make all the difference

between the excellent and the objectionable, between the useful and the

harmful.

 

  • ATTENTION TO THE MINUTE. “Hiram made the pots, and the

shovels, and the basins” (v. 11). “And the flowers, and the lamps, and the

tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold” (v. 21). Nothing was too

small or too trivial to be made by this skilled artificer, or to be made by him

with the best material. There is nothing we can do in the service of our

Lord that is not honorable and worthy of our manhood; nothing that we

should not do to the full height of our ability.

 

  • ABUNDANCE. (v. 18.) It is not right that we should do our work in

Christ’s vineyard in a spirit of perfunctoriness, as the workman who will do

no more than is imperatively demanded of him. Ours is not a slavery; nor

are we hirelings. We are the children of God; we are the friends of Jesus

Christ; we are co-workers with Him; His interests are ours also; we long

intensely for the coming of His kingdom. We shall not do stintingly or

grudgingly what we do for Him. We shall not count the hours, or the days,

or the weeks we spend in His service; we shall not measure the powers we

employ for His glory. We shall gladly pour forth all our faculties, shall give

in “great abundance” of our resources, that His Name may be extolled, and

that He may be made “very high.”

 

  • PURITY. All these things were made “of pure gold” (vs. 20, 22);

the flowers, etc., of gold, “and that perfect gold” (v. 21). The purest gold

that could be obtained was used. The thought, the feeling, the energy, that

is most perfectly refined of all dross of earthliness and selfishness, should

be brought to the service of THE DIVINE REDEEMER!

 

  • CONTINUANCE. “Hiram finished the work that he was to make”

(v. 11). “The end crowns the work.” Well is it for the Christian workman

when, having endured all criticisms, having borne all rebuffs, having met

and mastered all difficulties, having submitted to all disappointments,

having cheerfully wrought all his labors and having struck his last stroke,

he can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

(John 17:4)  For him is a generous commendation and a large reward

(Matthew 25:23).

 

 

 

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