Introduction: This chapter describes the building of Solomon’s palace and the building of the Temple. This study is relevant today because your body is the Temple where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). As a believer, you are also part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Through the building of Solomon’s palace of judgment and the Temple, God reveals seven timely lessons for restoring mankind’s fellowship with Him. These include: (1) the recognition of sin; (2) the judgment of sin; (3) service out of gratitude; (4) Jesus’ plan for redemption; (5) the purification of sin; (6) the submission to His divine order; and (7) prayer.
First, after building the Temple, Solomon spent a longer time building an even more massive and opulent palace for himself. Although Solomon initially had a heart devoted solely to God, covetousness eventually grew within him. Like Solomon, all have fallen short and have sinned. From Solomon’s error, God reveals that restoring fellowship begins with the recognition of your sins. Second, Solomon built a massive hall for the kings to judge sin. Although God granted Solomon great wisdom, Solomon lacked the moral purity to administer God’s law. Solomon recognized this fact when he was forced to build a separate palace for his pagan Egyptian princess. Yet, Jesus, the King of Kings, will administer judgment without hypocrisy from a similar great throne and hall of judgment. From this, God reveals that fellowship requires the judgment of your sins. Believers are not exempt from judgment. They have merely accepted Jesus’ offer to take their judgment upon Himself. Third, Solomon called for a special builder named Hiram to construct the Temple and his palace using his God-given skills. Hiram obeyed his special calling and gladly served God. From Hiram’s example, God reveals that fellowship with Him should include grateful service to Him. Fourth, the plans for the Temple called for two large bronze pillars in front. One of the pillars was named after Boaz, who redeemed the Moabite named Ruth. The path to redemption ran through these two pillars. From this, God reveals that fellowship with Him requires that your follow His path for redemption. Fifth, the Temple included a bronze sea for the priests to cleanse themselves after the sacrifices. This cleansing was a constant process. From this, God reveals that fellowship with Him requires purity through the constant cleansing of sin. Sixth, God required the Temple to be built in a proscribed manner with multiple things built in increments of ten. In the Bible, the number ten symbolizes the divine order of the Ten Commandments. From this, God reveals that fellowship with Him requires the submission to His divine order. Finally, the inner components of the Temple included a gold altar of incense and a gold table for communion. From this, God reveals that fellowship with Him should include both prayer and regular communion with Him.
Solomon makes his dwelling bigger than God’s dwelling. After Solomon spent seven years building the Temple (1 Kgs. 6:38), he spent 13 years building his palace: “1 Now Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2 He built the house of the forest of Lebanon; its length was 100 cubits and its width 50 cubits and its height 30 cubits, on four rows of cedar pillars with cedar beams on the pillars. 3 It was paneled with cedar above the side chambers which were on the 45 pillars, 15 in each row. 4 There were artistic window frames in three rows, and window was opposite window in three ranks. 5 All the doorways and doorposts had squared artistic frames, and window was opposite window in three ranks. 6 Then he made the hall of pillars; its length was 50 cubits and its width 30 cubits, and a porch was in front of them and pillars and a threshold in front of them.” (1 Kgs 7:1-6). Solomon built the Temple with exquisite beauty. Yet, he built his palace with even greater splendor. It was a large rectangular palace that was 75 feet wide, 150 feet long and 45 feet high. The palace had three rows of a total of 45 cedar pillars from Lebanon. This was meant to create the sensation that the person was in a forest of splendor. Solomon later added 300 gold shields to these pillars to create a sense of opulence (1 Kgs. 10:17; 2 Chr. 9:16). This later came to symbolize an armory in which Judah had placed a false sense of worldly security: “And He removed the defense of Judah. In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest,” (Is. 22:8). Although Solomon was wise in matters of governance, he was blinded to his covetousness. Because he would let his covetousness grow unchecked, he would eventually take 1,000 wives or concubines.
Store up your treasures in heaven. Through the prophet Haggai, God warned the Jews when they lived in comfortable dwellings while the Temple remained in ruins (Haggai 1:3-10). Solomon did build the Temple first (1 Kgs. 9:10). Yet, he showed that his earthly kingdom was worth more to him that God’s eternal kingdom based upon where he invested his resources. Solomon later lamented that his devotion to himself was a waste of effort: “I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;” (Ecc. 2:4). Jesus also warned: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:20). Are your greatest investments on Earth or in God’s Kingdom?
Solomon’s hall of judgement and his house for his pagan queen. Solomon’s grand palace included a hall where he judged cases in an open court, his residence, a residence for his harem, and a separate structure for his Egyptian queen. “7 He made the hall of the throne where he was to judge, the hall of judgment, and it was paneled with cedar from floor to floor. 8 His house where he was to live, the other court inward from the hall, was of the same workmanship. He also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom Solomon had married. 9 All these were of costly stones, of stone cut according to measure, sawed with saws, inside and outside; even from the foundation to the coping, and so on the outside to the great court. 10 The foundation was of costly stones, even large stones, stones of ten cubits and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, stone cut according to measure, and cedar. 12 So the great court all around had three rows of cut stone and a row of cedar beams even as the inner court of the house of the Lord, and the porch of the house.” (1 Kgs. 7:7-12). Solomon’s palace was not only bigger than the Temple, it rivaled the Temple in beauty and strength with its expensive cedar wood from Lebanon and its costly polished stones over nearly every surface.
Solomon’s hall of judgment. The palace had a courtyard at its center that opened up to the exterior with a porch. Here, the king sat on an ivory throne where he tried cases as the highest judge in Israel (1 Kings 7:7; 10:18; Dt. 17:8). “A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses all evil with his eyes.” (Prov. 20:8). “A wise king winnows the wicked, and drives the threshing wheel over them.” (Prov. 20:26). “For there thrones were set for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.” (Ps. 122:5).
The hall of judgment foreshadowed Jesus. Solomon’s hall of judgement foreshadowed the Great White Throne Hall where God will judge non-believers (Rev. 20:11-15). Instead of Solomon, Jesus will be the judge who sits on the throne to judge those who come before Him: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (Jo. 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; 17:31). Even saved believers will be held to account for their actions at the Berma seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9). Using the righteous Spirit inside of you, Jesus wants you to judge your own sins and repent.
Solomon’s hypocrisy in serving as the highest judge under God’s law. Solomon also built a special palace for Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kgs. 3:1; 7:8; 9:24). Solomon obviously knew that it would be improper for his pagan queen to reside in the same residence where he received the Ark: “Then Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house which he had built for her, for he said, ‘My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy where the ark of the LORD has entered.”’ (2 Chr. 8:11). Like Solomon, sin can pollute your ability to judge sin. Is there any area in your life where there is hypocrisy in your walk with Jesus?
Solomon hires Hiram from Tyre to build the bronze fixtures. Solomon specially hired a Phoenician artisan named Hiram, who was only half Israeli, to serve as his chief builder: “13 Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.” (1 Kgs. 7:13-14). Hiram had no relationship to the Phoenician king with the same name who gave Solomon wood for his many building projects (1 Kgs. 5:1). This Hiram had a Phoenician father, but his mother was from the Naphtali tribe from the city of Dan (2 Chr. 2:14). Hiram was a craftsman when Solomon sent for him (1 Kgs. 7:13; 2 Chr. 2:13-14). Hiram was like Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were filled with the Spirit when they built the Tabernacle (Ex. 31:3; 36:1).
Use your gifts for God’s service. God endowed Hiram with his special artistic gifts as a builder: “Now I am sending Huram-abi, a skilled man, endowed with understanding,” (2 Chr. 2:13). God also filled Bezaleel with special gifts to build the Tabernacle: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,” (Ex. 31:1; 35:31). Like Hiram and Bezaleel, God has given you gifts for you to use as a co-builder of His Church: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet. 4:10). “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Ro. 12:6-8). “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Eph. 4:11-12). “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. . . . .4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:1-7). Every person’s gift is needed in the body of Christ because no one person has them all (1 Cor. 12:13-27). Solomon could not have built the Temple on his own. He needed the help of others. There is also no gift labeled “spectator” within the Church. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23). Are you using your gifts for Christ?
God created you for good works. Solomon called specifically for Hiram to do works for Him: “Now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.” (2 Chr. 2:7; 1 Kgs. 7:13). God also called every believer by name before the foundation of the world to do good works for Him: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). Are you responding by volunteering your time, talent, or treasure to help God’s Church?
The Hiram’s half-bred status. Because he was only half Jewish, many would have been suspicious of Hiram and doubted him. Jesus also picked 12 disciples who were ignored or no great influence. God frequently lifts up and esteems the lowly: “But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,” (1 Cor. 12:24). You don’t need a seminary degree to share your faith or the Bible. You are also never too young or too old to serve Him. All God needs is your desire to serve Him out of gratitude and love. Are you motivated out of love to make your life a “living sacrifice” for Him? (Ro. 12:1). Or, are you making excuses for doing nothing?
Hiram builds the bronze pillars. The first thing that Hiram built were two giant bronze pillars in front of the porch of the Temple: “15 He fashioned the two pillars of bronze; eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured the circumference of both. 16 He also made two capitals of molten bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17 There were nets of network and twisted threads of chainwork for the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital and seven for the other capital. 18 So he made the pillars, and two rows around on the one network to cover the capitals which were on the top of the pomegranates; and so he did for the other capital. 19 The capitals which were on the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily design, four cubits. 20 There were capitals on the two pillars, even above and close to the rounded projection which was beside the network; and the pomegranates numbered two hundred in rows around both capitals. 21 Thus he set up the pillars at the porch of the nave; and he set up the right pillar and named it Jachin, and he set up the left pillar and named it Boaz. 22 On the top of the pillars was lily design. So the work of the pillars was finished.” (1 Kgs. 7:15-22). Although the first half of this chapter describes the palace that was built after the Temple, these passages describe two bronze pillars that Hiram built in front of the porch leading to the Temple (1 Kgs. 7:212 Chr. 3:17). Assuming a cubit was 18 inches in length, each pillar was 27 feet high and 18 feet in circumference (1 Kgs. 7:15). On top of each pillar were identical bronze finials called “chapiters” (1 Kgs. 7:16). Each chapiter had structures and chains emanating from it like tree branches with chains, lilies, and pomegranates. Pomegranates were one of the fruits that God promised in the Promised Land (Nu. 13:23; Dt. 8:8). Any person entering the Temple passed between these two pillars. In a similar way, there is only one path that leads to God.
The pillars of judgment. The pillars of the Temple were made of bronze, which symbolized God’s judgment. Jesus is described as having “bronze” feet (Rev. 1:15). His bronze feet will bring judgment to Satan by crushing him (Rom. 16:20). Weapons were also made of bronze. Thus, the two pillars symbolized God’s judgment inside. When the Jews kings became corrupt and could no longer administer God’s law, God removed them: “Now the bronze pillars which were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea which were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon.” (2 Kgs. 25:13; Jer. 52:17). God has to judge your sins if you want His fellowship. Yet, Jesus is willing to take your penalty.
The bronze pillars of Boaz and Jachin. On the north side of the porch, the pillar was named Boaz (2 Chr. 3:15-17). His name meant strength or boldness. On the south side, the pillar was named Jachin (2 Chr. 3:15-17). His name means that Yah or Yahweh establishes. Boaz redeemed and married the gentile Moabite woman named Ruth (Ruth 4:16-22). Their son became the grandfather of the future King David (1 Sam. 16:1-13; 17:12). His pillar symbolized the promise of redemption in the Temple. These pillars will also appear in heaven: “The length of the porch was twenty cubits and the width eleven cubits; and at the stairway by which it was ascended were columns belonging to the side pillars, one on each side.” (Ez. 40:49). Together, the two pillars show that God established a means to judge and redeem both Jews and gentiles. Because the Temple foreshadowed Jesus (Rev. 21:22), Jesus is the means of redemption for both Jews and Gentiles. It symbolized God’s mercy and grace that is available to all. Yet, no matter whether you are a Jew or a gentile, there is only one path to salvation.
The sea of cast metal. For the ritual washings at the Temple, Hiram built the “molten sea”, which was also made out of bronze: “23 Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference. 24 Under its brim gourds went around encircling it ten to a cubit, completely surrounding the sea; the gourds were in two rows, cast with the rest. 25 It stood on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east; and the sea was set on top of them, and all their rear parts turned inward. 26 It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, as a lily blossom; it could hold two thousand baths.” (1 Kgs. 7:23-26). The “molten sea” was a bronze basin that was 7 and a half feet deep and 45 feet in circumference. It held between 11,500 and 14,000 gallons of water (2 Chr. 4:5) and was supported by 12 bronze bulls (2 Chr. 4:6). They faced in every compass direction (1 Kgs. 7:25). The sea took the place of the bronze laver in the Tabernacle, which was used for rinsing during the sacrifices (Ex. 30:17-21). King Ahaz later replaced these with a stone base (2 Kgs. 16:17). The sea served the important role of keeping the priests pure for service.
Let Christ expose your hidden sins. God warned the priests to only approach Him with a clean heart. He made this clear through the symbolism of the bronze laver, the “kiyyor”, which sat in front of the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 30:17-21). Like everything else, the bronze laver pointed to Christ and what He does for believers. A priest who entered the Holy of Holies without washing his feet would die (Ex 30:20). The reason for this is that God is a consuming fire that destroys any evil in His presence (Ex. 24:17; Heb. 12:29). The laver was made of bronze (Ex. 30:18). The bronze symbolized God’s judgment of sin. Jesus wants you allow Him expose and cleanse your hidden sins (Ps. 19:12).
Reading God’s Law allows the Holy Spirit to convict you of your hidden sins. The bronze wash basin would have been highly reflective. If a priest looked down, he would see his own reflection. In a similar way, God’s Law reflects the sin in your heart: “23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (Jam. 1:23-25). To emphasize this point, God told the Jews to use mirrors for the bronze laver: “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Ex. 38:8). The women who handed over the mirrors foreshadowed the Church (the bride of Christ) when it submits to reflect upon its sins. Are you memorizing God’s Law so that He can expose your hidden sins?
Jesus’ warning to wash your feet before you approach Him. At the Last Supper, Peter initially refused Jesus’ offer to wash his feet. Jesus responded by rebuking him: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (Jo. 13:8). Peter then asked Jesus to wash his feet, hands, and head. Jesus responded: “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet.” (Jo. 13:10). “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (Jo. 15:3). In other words, Christ died once for your sins (Heb. 10:12), but your flesh gets dirty each day and must still be washed. To wash yourself, you read God’s Word: “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word . . .” (Eph. 5:26). The process of washing feet also implied that the person with the dirty feet was allowing his or her life to be closely examined by someone else. Likewise, the person washing the feet symbolically became acquainted with the other person’s sins for the purpose of helping to cleanse them. Are you submitting yourself to be accountable to someone else? Likewise, are you taking time out of your busy life to be a mentor to someone younger in the faith?
Failing to let Jesus wash you will also “hinder” your prayers. The priest first had to pass through the altar of sacrifice and the laver before he could reach the altar of incense. This means God wants you to have a clean heart before you pray. In the Old Testament, God warned that He will not hear the prayers of a sinner: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” (Is. 1:15). “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters wickedness.” (Is. 59:2-3; Prov. 15:29; 8:9; Ps. 66:18). Jesus later repeated these warnings: “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but He does listen to anyone who worships Him and does His will.” (Jo. 9:31). Although many claim that Jesus was only speaking about non-believers, the New Testament clarifies that sin can “hinder” your prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Thus, approaching God in prayer without first repenting of your sins will hinder God’s ability to hear you. This might be analogous to making a call with poor reception. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1).
The ten bronze stands. Hiram also made ten movable stands that were made of bronze. 6 feet in width, 6 feet in length and 4.5 feet high: “27 Then he made the ten stands of bronze; the length of each stand was four cubits and its width four cubits and its height three cubits. 28 This was the design of the stands: they had borders, even borders between the frames, 29 and on the borders which were between the frames were lions, oxen and cherubim; and on the frames there was a pedestal above, and beneath the lions and oxen were wreaths of hanging work. 30 Now each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and its four feet had supports; beneath the basin were cast supports with wreaths at each side. 31 Its opening inside the crown at the top was a cubit, and its opening was round like the design of a pedestal, a cubit and a half; and also on its opening there were engravings, and their borders were square, not round. 32 The four wheels were underneath the borders, and the axles of the wheels were on the stand. And the height of a wheel was a cubit and a half. 33 The workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel. Their axles, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all cast. 34 Now there were four supports at the four corners of each stand; its supports were part of the stand itself. 35 On the top of the stand there was a circular form half a cubit high, and on the top of the stand its stays and its borders were part of it. 36 He engraved on the plates of its stays and on its borders, cherubim, lions and palm trees, according to the clear space on each, with wreaths all around. 37 He made the ten stands like this: all of them had one casting, one measure and one form.” (1 Kgs. 7:27-37). The moveable carts with the basins of water allowed the sacrifices to be cleaned. These basins were placed on both sides of the bronze sea (2 Chr. 4:6). They had decorative designs on the borders including “lions, oxen and cherubim.” (1 Kgs. 7:29).
The ten bronze basins. Hiram also made 10 bronze basins that served as water containers for the stands: “38 He made ten basins of bronze, one basin held forty baths; each basin was four cubits, and on each of the ten stands was one basin. 39 Then he set the stands, five on the right side of the house and five on the left side of the house; and he set the sea of cast metal on the right side of the house eastward toward the south. 40 Now Hiram made the basins and the shovels and the bowls. So Hiram finished doing all the work which he performed for King Solomon in the house of the Lord: 41 the two pillars and the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; 42 and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, two rows of pomegranates for each network to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the tops of the pillars; 43 and the ten stands with the ten basins on the stands; 44 and the one sea and the twelve oxen under the sea; 45 and the pails and the shovels and the bowls; even all these utensils which Hiram made for King Solomon in the house of the Lord were of polished bronze. 46 In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained.” (1 Kgs. 7:38-47). These containers were six feet across and held around 240 gallons of water. The shovels were used to scoop of the ash after the sacrifices “You shall make its pails for removing its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze.” (Ex. 27:3). In addition to these brass items, Hiram also built a brass altar (2 Chr. 4:1).
The divine order in the Temple. The repeating sets of ten for the Temple components all had meaning. Ten is a number of divine order. There are Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17; Dt. 5:4-21). There were 10 components to proper incense (Ex. 30:34-38). Likewise, Christ revealed that there are exactly 10 components to the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:5-14). “for God is not a God of confusion . . . But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). If you want to keep or restore His fellowship, you must submit to His order in your life. If you reject His perfect order, you will fall into disorder or rebellion and out of fellowship with Jesus.
Solomon fills the Temple with the gold furnishings. This account concludes with the gold furnishings that went inside the Temple: “48 Solomon made all the furniture which was in the house of the Lord: the golden altar and the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence; 49 and the lampstands, five on the right side and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary, of pure gold; and the flowers and the lamps and the tongs, of gold; 50 and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold. 51 Thus all the work that King Solomon performed in the house of the Lord was finished. And Solomon brought in the things dedicated by his father David, the silver and the gold and the utensils, and he put them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.” (1 Kgs. 7:48-51). David prepared and dedicated these Temple items (2 Sam. 8:7-12; 1 Chr. 22:14). It is believed that the treasuries were most likely the rooms or surrounding structure next to the Temple (1 Kgs. 6:5-6) Each of the gold items inside had a corresponding part from the Tabernacle.
The altar of gold. “The altar of gold” (1 Kgs. 7:48) replaced the altar of incense in the Tabernacle (Ex. 30:2-4). The altar served the purpose of burning incense to God (Ex. 30:1). The altar foreshadowed Christ. His blood was a sweet aroma to God: “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Eph. 5:2). His blood can also make your prayers a sweet aroma to God: “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; . . ..” (Ps. 141:2(a)); Lk. 1:10). “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev. 5:8). “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev. 8:4). Jesus died on the cross to give you special access directly with God the Father in prayer. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16). Are you using the access that Jesus gave you to boldly pray and seek out God’s fellowship?
The gold tables. The Temple included 10 tables “gold tables” (1 Kgs. 7:48; 2 Chr. 4:8). The 10 tables were considered a single unit (2 Chr. 29:18). The tables included the bread of the Presence (1 Kgs. 7:48; Ex. 25:30). The purpose of the table was to show God’s desire for fellowship with His people by presenting holy bread for His people to symbolically dine with Him. Dinning together was considered in Jewish culture to be an intimate act of friendship. Christ also offers to “dine” with any person who opens the door of their heart to Him (Rev. 3:20). The table pointed to Jesus as the means to fellowship with God. The wood represents the fact that He died as a human to restore your fellowship with Him. The gold overlay represents His divinity as your Lord and Savior. Are you seeking out fellowship with Christ?
Christ in the bread. The bread was to be present “at all times.” (Ex. 25:30). God required that the priests prepare 12 loaves of bread using fine flour set to exact specifications (Lev. 24:5-6). The 12 loaves symbolized God’s provision for all of His people. In the wilderness, He provided both manna and quail after the Jews grumbled about their food (Ex. 16:1-8). He later again provided meat when the Jews grew tired of God’s manna (Nu. 11:4-6, 32-33). He transformed the waters of Marah to provide drinking water (Ex. 15:22-27). He made water come out from a rock at Horeb (Ex. 17:6). He also caused the waters to gush out of a rock at Meribah (Nu. 20:10-11; Ps. 81:16; 106:41; Isa. 48:21). He also guided the Jews by a visible pillar of light both by day and by night (Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19). He even protected the Jews’ feet from swelling (Dt. 8:4). He meant for His priests to eat this holy bread (1 Sam. 21:6; Mt. 12:3-4). Every Sabbath, the priests ate the loaves and replaced them with fresh bread. The bread symbolized Jesus as the bread of life (John 3:41; 6:34-35; Matt. 6:31). He was also the “Word” that “became flesh.” (John 1:1, 14). The flour also had to be “beaten” to create the fine flour. To be our bread of life, Jesus was also beaten and then crucified at the cross (Jo. 19:1, 16). As symbolized by the 12 loaves, He also promises to feed everyone who seeks after His righteousness (Matt. 6:25-34). As one of God’s priests, His bread was meant for you to eat through communion (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Are you consuming the bread of life that Jesus has provided for you on a daily basis?
Provide for God’s people. Today, these instructions also symbolically apply to God’s believers as His nation of priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). If you are grateful to God for your salvation, you can make yourself a “living sacrifice” (Ro. 12:1). In the Old Testament, a thank offering to God for His forgiveness of sin was done through a bread offering (Lev. 3). Like the bread that God offered to all His tribes, He wants you to provide for those in need. Jesus’ “food” was doing God’s will: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (Jo. 4:34). Serving God by helping others is also one part of the definition of “undefiled religion”. (Jam. 1:27). Does your worship include helping those in need? Or, are you only feeding yourself?
The gold lampstands. The Temple included 10 tables of pure “gold lampstands”, five on each side (1 Kgs. 7:49). This differed from the Tabernacle, which had only one golden lampstand (Ex. 25:31-40). The gold again symbolized divinity. Yet, unlike the other fixtures which were “gold plated,” the menorah was pure gold. It also had no exact measurements. This reminds us that God is infinite beyond time and space.
The symbolism of the golden lampstand. The lampstand was meant to look like a golden tree. It had three branches on each side and a trunk in the middle (Ex. 25:31-40; Nu. 8:1-4). God promises that believers will one day see this same golden lampstand in heaven (Zech. 4:1-6). Jesus is the trunk of the lampstand (Jo. 15:1-4; 11:25-26). The six branches symbolize all of the believers in Christ (Jo. 15:1-4). God created mankind on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-27). Yet, mankind is incomplete without Him. With Christ in the middle, there were seven complete lights. The lampstand was also perfectly balanced with three branches on each side, a symbol of harmony. We have peace with God through Jesus (Ro. 5:1). Yet, any branch that does not abide in Jesus is cut off (Jo. 15:6). The branches also contained three symbols which represent the stages of a believer’s walk with Christ. The branches included buds, flowers, and almonds. The buds symbolize a life of potential in Christ. The flowers symbolize the beauty of a life in Christ. The almonds symbolize the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Does your life show the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
The symbolism of the light. God instructed the priests to ensure that the golden lampstand remained continually burning to provide a beacon of light (Lev. 24:3-4). He gave the Law to the Jews and called them to be holy so that they would be a light to the nations: “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations,” (Is. 42:6). The golden lampstand symbolized their purpose as light to others (Jo. 1:4-5, 9). The lampstand, however, had to be covered from the eyes of the laypersons until their sinful eyes could be atoned for (Nu. 4:9). Yet, Jesus explained that a lampstand was not meant to be hidden. It should instead give light to those around it (Matt. 5:15). Jesus is the true light of the world (Jo. 8:12). But the world did not want His light (Jo. 1:10). Indeed, people turned away from the light because they love darkness (Jo. 3:19-20). Today, the light of Jesus burns in us because the Temple now lies within us (Matt. 5:14-16; 1 Cor. 3:16). Is your life a light to bring others to Jesus?
The Jews’ broken fellowship with God. If the gold items in the Temple symbolized the plan for God’s fellowship, the later looting of the gold items in the Temple symbolized the Jews’ broken fellowship with God: “He carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, just as the LORD had said.” (2 Kgs. 24:13). Your salvation with Jesus Christ cannot be lost. Yet, open rebellion can cause you to fall out of fellowship with Him.