Friday, February 12, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 13. The Temple Furnishings

Prophets And Kings
Day 13
The Temple Furnishings

We looks today at how King Solomon furnished the temple and we find some impawtant spiritual truths in some of the objects made for the temple.

1 KINGS 7:13-51
"King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the bronze work assigned to him. He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high. A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits high. On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed." (1 Kings 7:13-22) The meaning of the names of these pillars is "He Shall Establish" and "In Him Is Strength". It is not known why Solomon chose to do these huge bronze pillars but any visitor to the temple, including the king, would be reminded that God alone has established Israel and that God alone is her strength.

"He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it---ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea. The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreath in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths." (1 Kings 7:23-26) The priests washed their hands and feet in the Sea before entering the temple to perform their duties for the Lord. This washing can be considered symbolic of the washing away of the things of this world before entering the presence of God. 

This Sea reminds us of the one that is before the throne of God in heaven, "Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal." (Revelation 4:6a) Because the Sea is in front of the throne of God, this tells us that our sins must be washed away before coming into His presence. I feel that the Sea in Revelation is probably symbolic like the one in Solomon's temple, for we know it's the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ that washes us clean. I once heard someone compare the Sea before God's throne to this verse by the prophet Micah, "You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19) The casting of our sins into the sea means they are forgotten, never to be dredged up from the depths and thrown in our faces. What if, when we come to Christ and repent of our sins, God literally takes those sins and casts them into the Sea before His throne? What if every sin of our lives is buried there forever, reminding Him day and night that we are made whole in Christ? When we come into His presence, that Sea will remind us that we were washed, sanctified, and justified by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

"He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high. This is how the stands were made: They had side panels attached to uprights. On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim---and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit deep. The opening was round, and with its basework it measured a cubit and a half. Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal." (1 Kings 7:27-33) These stands were to hold basins for the purpose of washing the offerings. The tabernacle in the wilderness evidently had only one basin, since only one is mentioned, but the enormity of the amount of offerings that would be brought into the temple necessitated there be ten basins.

"Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand. At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same molds and were identical in size and shape." (1 Kings 7:34-37)

"He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the temple. He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls." (1 Kings 7:38-40a) The items such as pots and shovels were needed for the types of offerings in which the fat was burned to God and the bringer of the offering could consume the meat afterwards. The bowls were for the purpose of sprinkling blood, such as for sprinkling on the altar. One of the purposes of sprinkling blood is that it signifies covenant: an agreement between God and man. When reading God's covenant with man, Moses sprinkled the people with blood to confirm that they had agreed to the covenant. The author of the book of Hebrews points out that we who are in Christ are partakers of a new covenant and that we are sprinkled by His blood. (Hebrews 12:24) When we accept Christ as our Savior, His blood is poured out on our lives, washing us clean and sealing a covenant between us and God. We have agreed to the terms of the covenant God proposed to us and the blood confirms this.

"So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the Lord: the two pillars; the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars); the ten stands with their ten basins; the Sea and the twelve bulls under it; the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls. All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were burnished bronze." (1 Kings 7:40b-45) 

"The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined." (1 Kings 7:46-47) Usually we are given a weight for cast metal objects but there were so many bronze objects and they were of such immense size that Solomon did not weigh them.

"Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord's temple: the golden altar; the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence; the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary); the gold floral work and lamps and tongs; the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers; and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the temple. When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated---the silver and gold and the furnishings---and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord's temple." (1 Kings 7:48-51) When King David was prevented from building the temple, like a good father he laid up treasures for his son to use, and we find in 1 Chronicles 29 an account of David dedicating objects for King Solomon to use someday.

Sometimes these detailed accounts of what things looked like or how they were constructed seem a bit difficult to spiritualize, but we have found in today's passage several things about the temple that speak of God's mercy and grace. First of all, it's astonishing that a holy God would want to commune with sinful mankind, yet He does. Second, He has made a way for us to be cleansed of our sins by the blood of His own Son. Third, He has cast our sins into the sea, forgotten and covered. Like a good Father, He has bestowed treasures upon us, both for this life and for the life to come.

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