Introduction: Like the Tabernacle, God’s Temple was meant to allow His holy presence to dwell again with His people so that they could restore their broken fellowship with Him (Ex. 25:8). Jesus is our Temple (Jo 2:20-21). Every detail about the Temple foreshadowed Him. Through the details of the Temple, Jesus reveals several lessons for restoring fellowship with Him. These include: (1) His redemption, (2) His sanctification, (3) His guidance, (4) our submission, (5) our service to Him, (6) our love and provision for others in need, and (7) His refinement.
First, the largest thing in the Temple courtyard was the bronze altar for sacrificing animals. Without faith in the blood of atonement, sin will separate every person from God. Jesus came to fulfill the animal sacrifices with His death. Today, fellowship with Jesus requires faith in His atoning sacrifice. Second, the Temple also included a large bronze sea to cleanse the sacrifices and the priests after the sacrifices. Today, fellowship requires Jesus’ cleansing of sin in your walk through the confession of sin. Third, ten golden lampstands provided the light to guide the people in the Temple. Jesus is the light of the world. Today, fellowship with Jesus requires that you let His light guide you. His light can guide you by reading His Word and through prayer. Fourth, entering the Temple required believers to follow the set path through the courtyard and the bronze doors. Jesus is the door who all must go through to find eternal life. Today, fellowship requires that you submit to Him by following His narrow path. Fifth, the Temple required both skilled builders and priests who served God. Today, fellowship should include your desire to serve Jesus out of devotion, not obligation. Sixth, the Temple included tables where the priests served God’s bread to those in need. Today, fellowship should also include your love and provision for others in need. Finally, the Temple included many items of pure gold inside. This represented the inner purity that Jesus offers all believers. Today, fellowship should include allowing Jesus to refine and mold you into His precious stones.
The bronze altar. The first thing that a person would see upon entering the Temple courtyard was a large and elevated bronze altar for sacrificing animals: “1 Then he made a bronze altar, twenty cubits in length and twenty cubits in width and ten cubits in height.” (2 Chr. 4:1). The Tabernacle had a bronze altar, but only half this size (Ex. 27:1-8). The altar had several components, including: (1) the strongest wood; (2) a bronze overlay; and (3) horns on all four corners. These things all pointed to Jesus.
(1) The wood for the mizbeach altar – Jesus who became human and died for us. The priests performed animal sacrifices in the Temple courtyard at an altar called the “mizbeach” or the “Mizbeach Ha'ola,” the altar of the burnt-offering. This altar was made of incorruptible wood (1 Kgs. 6:15-21; 5:8; 2 Chron. 3:5; Ex. 38:2, 6). Jesus' body also was not corrupted (Ps. 16:10(b); Acts 13:35). His body was also the sacrificial food at the altar. Eating the peace or “shalom” offering prepared at the altar was a prerequisite to fellowship with God (Lev. 3:11, 16; Matt. 26:26). Thus, He is both altar of sacrifice and the sacrificial food that brings you into communion: “We have an altar from which those who serve the Tabernacle have no right to eat.” (Heb. 13:10; 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18). Jesus also offers you peace by offering to dine with you when you open your heart to Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’” (Rev. 3:20-22). Are you accepting His invitation?
(2) The bronze covering the mizbeach altar - Jesus bore our judgment when He was sacrificed. The mizbeach altar was covered in bronze (2 Chr. 4:1). In the Bible, bronze symbolizes God’s judgment of sin. Jesus is described as having “bronze” feet (Rev. 1:15). His bronze feet will bring judgment to Satan by crushing him (Ro. 16:20). The bronze also protected the altar from the fire inside it. The fire further symbolized God’s judgment: “for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29; 10:27; Ex. 24:17; Dt. 4:24; 9:3; Ps. 97:3; Is. 33:14; 2 Thess. 1:7). No person can treat sin lightly (Ro. 6:26). “For the wages of sin is death, . .” (Ro. 6:23). For those who do not repent, God warns: “I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow on you with the fire of My wrath, . . .” (Ez. 21:31(a); Jer. 23:29). “The soul who sins will die.” (Ez. 18:4(b)). Unless you accept that God will judge sin, you will feel no need to repent. Staying silent about sin doesn’t help others. Are you helping others to repent? (Matt. 28:16-20).
(3) Horns on all four corners – Jesus’ blood is powerful enough to cover all the Earth. The altar had four horns (Ex. 27:2). Some of the blood from the sacrifice was put on the horns before the rest was poured out at the base (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18). In the Bible, horns symbolize power and refuge (Ps. 18:2, 89:17; Lk. 1:6; Lam. 2:3; 1 Kgs. 2:28; 1 Kgs. 1:50). If the horns symbolized power or refuge, the pouring of the blood on the horns means that it had great power. In fact, the power of Jesus’ blood is so strong that anyone who believes in it has “no condemnation” for any prior sins (Ro. 8:1). The horns also “reached out” in all directions (Ex. 27:2). His sacrifice also provided atonement for the entire world for anyone who might believe in faith (Jo. 3:16). There is no sin that is beyond the power in His blood.
The bronze altar of sacrifice1
The importance of faith in the blood used in the atonement process. With continual sacrifices every day, the altar would have been blood soaked, the air would smell, and black smoke would have been everywhere. It would not be a pretty sight. If an architect were retained today to design the Temple courtyard, it would most likely have fountains, flowers, and manicured hedges. Why would God instead select this bloody and unsightly process as His symbol of atonement? There are at least three reasons. First, you are not likely to have much faith in Jesus’ sacrifice if you don’t appreciate the cost of your sins. The blood lets you know how gross your sins are before God. He wants people to see the consequences of their sins before they can approach Him. Thus, Jesus came first to preached repentance (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). Even saved believers will know the cost of their sins at the “Bema” seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Thus, an altar call should never be given without first giving an invitation to repent. Second, blood is the perfect symbol for what Jesus does to the sin in a believer’s life. Blood is an agent of life for all the organs in the body. It brings life-giving oxygen. It further acts as a cleansing agent. It also carries impurities from the body to the kidneys where they are filtered and removed from the body. Thus, “the life of every creature is its blood.” (Lev. 17:14; Gen. 9:4). When you repent, Jesus will cleanse you of your sins (1 John 1:9). Third, the shedding of the blood symbolizes the exchange of Jesus’ life for your own (Lev. 17:11). The rule requiring that the blood of one be used to pay the price of another still applies: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22). Jesus’ blood fulfilled God’s law by being spilled in exchange for your own (Ro. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21). The power of Jesus’ blood is limited only by your faith. If you still feel condemned after repenting of your sins, the enemy is deceiving you and exploiting a weakness in your faith in Jesus.
The transfer of sins from the blood of the sinner to the sacrificial animal. During the atonement process, a person put his or her hands on the animal that he or she was sacrificing. God then cast the person’s sins onto the animal (Lev. 1:4, Ex. 29:10, 15, 19). This, however, again required the sinner to have faith. If they did not believe that their sins were being transferred to the blood of the animal, the process was meaningless to God: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). The transfer of sins from the sinner to the blood of the sacrifice also foreshadowed what Jesus did for us (2 Cor. 5:21; Ro. 3:25; Gal. 3:13; Mk. 14:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; Is. 53:4-5, 10, 12). If you don’t believe that your sins were transferred more than 2,000 years ago onto Jesus, does His death have any real meaning to you?
The problem with the daily animal sacrifices. For individuals ready to come forward to atone for sins and find salvation, the priests were commanded to be ready to make the sacrifice: “Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement, and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to consecrate it.” (Ex. 29:36). On behalf of the nation, the Jews also had to sacrifice each day two one-year old male lambs as a burnt offering (Nu. 28:3; 7:15). Any lambs or bulls also had to be without defects (Nu. 28:3; Lev. 1:3; Ex. 12:5). But while these sacrifices complied with God’s law, they could not by themselves take away sins. They could only cover the sins of the people (Heb. 10:11). Thus, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were imperfect. Also, when the Romans destroyed the second temple 30 years after Jesus’ death, they left the Jews without a way to comply with God’s sacrificial law. The Jews needed a long-term solution. Jesus was the one and only answer to their dilemma.
Jesus’ one-time blood sacrifice. Jesus offered a solution to the need for sacrifices with the Temple now gone: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14). “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.” (Rev. 1:5). If God was willing to accept the sacrifice of animals on our behalf, we have no reason to doubt Jesus’ ability to atone for even the worst sinners: “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). How are you thanking Jesus for His sacrifice for you?
The metal sea. The Temple courtyard also included a large metal sea basins to cleanse both the burnt offerings and the priests who prepared the sacrifices: “2 Also he made the cast metal sea, ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits and its circumference thirty cubits. 3 Now figures like oxen were under it and all around it, ten cubits, entirely encircling the sea. The oxen were in two rows, cast in one piece. 4 It stood on twelve oxen, three facing the north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east; and the sea was set on top of them and all their hindquarters turned inwards. 5 It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom; it could hold 3,000 baths. 6 He also made ten basins in which to wash, and he set five on the right side and five on the left to rinse things for the burnt offering; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.” (2 Chr. 4:2-6). 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 also served the important role of keeping the priests pure for service.
The “metal sea”2
Let Jesus 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. Bronze again symbolized God’s judgment (Rev. 1:15; Ro. 16:20). 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 to expose and cleanse your hidden sins (Ps. 19:12). When you accept Him as your Lord and Savior, you review eternal life. You don’t need to repeatedly repent to receive eternal life. But believers are contaminated by sin in their daily walk. You need to turn to Jesus to repent of your daily sins to maintain fellowship.
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?
Failing to let Jesus wash you may 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 may also 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). Have you repented of your sins so that your prayers will not be hindered before God?
The ten bronze stands. The Temple also had ten movable stands that were made of bronze. They were six feet in width, six feet in length, and 4.5 feet high (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. The Temple also had 10 bronze basins that served as water containers for the stands (1 Kgs. 7:38-47). These containers were six feet across and held around 240 gallons of water. The shovels were used to scoop off 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).
The Temple’s bronze basins3
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, Jesus 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 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. Is there any rebellion in your walk?
The golden lampstands. The Temple also included ten golden lampstands for God’s light to guide His people: “7 Then he made the ten golden lampstands in the way prescribed for them and he set them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. 8 He also made ten tables and placed them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left. And he made one hundred golden bowls.” (2 Chr. 4:7-8). The 10 tables with gold lampstands were divided with 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 symbolized Jesus’ divinity. The light symbolized Jesus’ light and His guidance for all who seek Him.
A golden lampstand (Menorah)4
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 Jesus (Jo. 15:1-4). God created mankind on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-27). But mankind is incomplete without Him. With Jesus 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 Jesus. The branches included buds, flowers, and almonds. The buds symbolize a life of potential in Jesus. The flowers symbolize the beauty of a life in Jesus. 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). But 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 altar of gold. As mentioned below, “the altar of gold” (2 Chr. 4:19; 1 Kgs. 7:48) also 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 Jesus. His blood was a sweet aroma to God: “and walk in love, just as Jesus 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 given to you to boldly pray and seek out His fellowship?
Jesus will also guide you through His Word and prayer. Jesus wants you to seek out His light to guide you (Jo. 8:12). You can do this in two ways. First, His Word can be a light unto your path. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). Second, you should pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26). Are you regularly reading the Word and praying for guidance? If not, you may slowly drift out of His fellowship.
The court of the Temple. Access to the Holy of Holies required that a person pass through both the courtyard and bronze doors: “9 Then he made the court of the priests and the great court and doors for the court, and overlaid their doors with bronze. 10 He set the sea on the right side of the house toward the southeast.” (2 Chr. 4:9). These details again foreshadowed Jesus. He is both the narrow path and the door to salvation.
The Great Courtyard with the altar sat in between the palace and God’s Temple5
There is only one path to reconciliation through Jesus. A believer did not have an alternative path to reach the Holy of Holies. A believer had to pass through the courtyard and the bronze altar to reach the Holy of Holies. Today, a believer must also go through Jesus to find eternal salvation. This may offend modern notions of political correctness, where all beliefs are considered equal. But God warns: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). The road to Jesus is narrow. The path to destruction is broad “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14). Are you submitting to Jesus and His narrow path?
Jesus is also the door leading to salvation. The bronze door that all had to pass through to enter the courtyard also foreshadowed Jesus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. . . I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jo. 10:1, 9). Telling people that they must submit to the narrow door and path that Jesus offers is likely to offend some. But it is the truth which can set a sinner free. “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jo. 8:32). Are you sharing the true path to salvation with others?
Huram’s service in building the Temple and its contents. The Temple required both skilled builders, like Huram. It also requires priests to serve the people and maintain the Temple using the utensils for sacrifice: “11 Huram also made the pails, the shovels and the bowls. So Huram finished doing the work which he performed for King Solomon in the house of God: 12 the two pillars, the bowls and the two capitals on top of the pillars, and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on top of the pillars, 13 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 pillars. 14 He also made the stands and he made the basins on the stands, 15 and the one sea with the twelve oxen under it. 16 The pails, the shovels, the forks and all its utensils, Huram-abi made of polished bronze for King Solomon for the house of the Lord. 17 On the plain of the Jordan the king cast them in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredah. 18 Thus Solomon made all these utensils in great quantities, for the weight of the bronze could not be found out.” (2 Chr. 4:11-18). Without the skilled builders and the priests to run the Temple, believers could not find atonement with God. These things all point to the important role of believers today in helping to serve Jesus.
God’s gifts were meant for His glory. In a similar account of the building of the Tabernacle, Moses directed each skilled worker to use his or her gifts for God: “10 ‘Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the Lord has commanded:’” (Ex. 35:10). 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: . . .” (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 . . .” (1 Cor. 12:1-7). Every person’s gift is needed in the body because no one person has them all (1 Cor. 12:13-27). Moses could not have built the Tabernacle on his own. Solomon also could not build the Temple by himself. Jesus wants you to labor for the Church (Col. 3:23). Are you using your gifts for Him?
Serving God fulfills your highest calling. God has 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). How are you fulfilling your calling for His “good works”?
Serve others for the good of the Body of Christ. David and Solomon called together the nation of Israel because building the Temple would require the combined and unified effort of the nation. As a believer, you are also called upon to work together with others under the unity of the Body of Christ: “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). Are you working together with others to work for the greater good of the Body of Christ?
The tables for food. The Temple also included tables with food, called the “bread of the Presence”: “19 Solomon also made all the things that were in the house of God: even the golden altar, the tables with the bread of the Presence on them,” (2 Chr. 4:19). The gold altar is discussed above. It was necessary to establish God’s fellowship through prayer. The tables and the bread both symbolized Jesus and His desires that we love one another. Jesus provides for us in our time of need. He wants you to also help others in need.
The table with the bread of the Presence6
God’s desire for fellowship. 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. Dining together was considered in Jewish culture to be an intimate act of friendship. Jesus 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 His fellowship?
Jesus is the bread of life. 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 quail 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?
Show God’s love to one another. God’s desire that you provide for others in need should stem from your love for others: “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jo. 13:34-35). If you give money and only help at a distance, the chances are you aren’t helping out of a genuine love for someone else. Jesus wants you to love others just as He loves you.
The gold contents. Finally, the contents of the Temple were filled with gold: “20 the lampstands with their lamps of pure gold, to burn in front of the inner sanctuary in the way prescribed; 21 the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs of gold, of purest gold; 22 and the snuffers, the bowls, the spoons and the firepans of pure gold; and the entrance of the house, its inner doors for the holy of holies and the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold.” (2 Chr. 4:20-22). This symbolized Jesus and what He offers to believers.
The gold contents inside the Temple7
The purity of God. These items inside were overlaid with pure gold (1 Kgs. 7:48-49). The Holy of Holies was also overlaid with pure 24 karat gold (1 Kgs. 6:21-22). The gold symbolized God’s riches, His beauty, His purity, and His divinity. The gold in the Temple also foreshadows the gold throughout heaven (Rev. 21:18). “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Rev. 21:21). If your body is now the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), God wants you to be pure as well (2 Cor. 6:16). Are you tolerating evil anywhere in your life?
Let Jesus refine you. Jesus also wants you to establish fellowship with Him by refining you into precious metals, like the contents of the Temple. This requires that you submit to His refining fire to burn away the things that are not of Him. Jesus is a “refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3). The Holy Spirit also purges sin from us through fire and tribulation (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:7). Jesus further revealed that He is the vine and the vinedresser (John 15:1). When a vinedresser trims a vine, it helps the vine grow. If you are rooted in Jesus, His fire will refine you. Yet, those who are not rooted in Him will be thrown into the fire (John 15:6). Are you welcoming Jesus’ pruning and refinement of the dead flesh in your life?
Show your gratitude by living a holy life. No one is comparable to Jesus’ holiness (1 Sam. 2:2). Yet, Jesus still wants you to try to live by His holy example out of gratitude: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’” (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:16; Dt. 18:13). “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48; Eph. 1:4, 5:1). Is your life a holy testament to your gratitude toward Jesus? Are you an example to others?