The building and dedication of the temple play an important role in the life of Solomon. The building is described in 2 Chronicles 3-4. In 2 Chronicles 3:1 Solomon starts to build. The description of the building runs until 2 Chronicles 4:10. He is seen as the builder, although others have actually built. The same goes for the Messiah who will build the temple by others.
There are seven temples in Scripture:
1. the temple of Solomon (destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar);
2. the temple of Zerubbabel (after the exile; this temple was changed and expanded by Herod and destroyed in the year 70 by the Roman armies led by Titus);
3. the temple in which the antichrist will show up;
4. the temple of Ezekiel, built in Jerusalem in the kingdom of peace.
These are all material temples.
There are also three spiritual temples, temples in which the Spirit of God dwells:
1. the physical body of the Lord Jesus (Jn 2:21);
2. the church of God, the spiritual body of Christ and the spiritual house of God (1Cor 3:16; 1Tim 3:15);
3. the body of the individual believer (1Cor 6:19).
For us, the deeper meaning of the temple of Solomon is its spiritual meaning. In the temple, just like in the tabernacle, we have in the picture a revelation of God’s glory in Christ. Of Him we read “and dwelt among us”, which is literally “and tabernacled among us” (Jn 1:14). Everything in the temple refers to Him.
There is a significant difference between the description of the temple in the first book of Kings and that in the second book of Chronicles. In the first book of Kings the description is longer and gives much more details. In the second book of Chronicles, written after the exile, the description may be more concise because the description of the first book of Kings already exists. In the second book of Chronicles we have a description of the altar and the veil. This is not in the first book of Kings, while that book describes the dwellings of the priests and we do not find these in the second book of Chronicles.
We can say that the main differences in description are seen in the following aspects:
1. The temple is the dwelling place of God. That’s more what comes out in the first book of Kings. There we also find priestly dwellings connected to the temple. That underlines the main idea of dwelling. This has a spiritual application. Just as God bodily dwelt in Christ when He was on earth and also dwells in Him now He is heaven (Col 1:19; 2:9), so He dwells in the church as a temple.
2. The temple is a place of worship, where man can approach God on the basis of sacrifice. That is more the side of the description in the second book of Chronicles. There we find the altar to sacrifice and the veil that speaks of approaching.
There are some other differences between the tabernacle and the temple.
1. The tabernacle is a movable tent, while the temple is a permanent building.
2. Therefore, as a next difference, everything in the temple can be bigger and more numerous.
3. The temple has priestly dwellings, you can dwell there. In the tabernacle there are only ‘pitches’.
4. The temple has its singers.
5. There are also the huge cherubim.
Everything in the temple is much larger and more than in and around the tabernacle. This is in accordance with the extent to which God is known and served in the land.
The only thing that stands in its original size and as the only sample both in the tabernacle and in the temple is the ark with the mercy seat and the cherubim.
The tabernacle is found in the letter to the Hebrews, which we can call a ‘wilderness letter’. This letter speaks about the life of the believer on earth. Israel has travelled through a literal wilderness, believers travel through a world that is compared to a wilderness. The Hebrews live in the country. They have never seen the tabernacle and are only familiar with the temple. Yet the letter to them does not refer to the temple, but to the tabernacle, for the previously mentioned reason that they are seen as living in the wilderness of this world. The letter to the Ephesians places us spiritually in the promised land and in that letter we hear about the temple (Eph 2:21-22). There the believers of the church are in the heavenly places in possession of all the blessings of the land (Eph 1:3).
An Israelite comes to the temple on three special occasions: on the occasion of the Passover, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths (Deu 16:1-15). We find these three feasts also in Leviticus 23 among the seven feasts mentioned there (Lev 23:1-36). Several of the seven feasts of the LORD are harvest feasts, which also include Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. In a way, this also applies to the Passover with which the Feast of the First fruits is connected. On the occasion of the various harvests in Israel, the Israelite then goes to the temple with the fruit of the harvest, the blessing of the land, and brings it before God. This fruit is not in the wilderness. To have fruit, the people must live in the promised land.
God has a temple in the promised land, that the fruit of the land may be brought there. For us this has a spiritual meaning. Everything that has to do with Christ as the blessing of the land, we may bring to God. That is, we can tell God what we have all seen from the Lord Jesus and what heavenly blessings we have received from Him.
1 - 2 Building the Temple
1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where [the LORD] had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2 He began to build on the second [day] in the second month of the fourth year of his reign.
The place where Solomon starts to build the house of the LORD is indicated in connection with several names. It is “in Jerusalem”, that is the city God has chosen for it. It is the city of His election. It is “on Mount Moriah”. The threshing floor of Ornan (1Chr 21:18-30; 22:1) appears to be here on Mount Moriah. It is the mountain where Abraham offered his son (Gen 22:2). Moriah is reminiscent of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. We do not see a God who demands a sacrifice, but a God who gives a sacrifice. The sacrifice that God has given in His Son forms the basis for the building of God’s temple now, which is the church.
The next name is that of David to whom the LORD has appeared. In the first book of Chronicles there is talk of “the angel of the LORD” who appears to David (1Chr 21:16), while here it is said that the LORD himself appears to David. This is a clear indication that by the angel of the LORD the LORD himself is meant. God the Son appears before He becomes Man as the Angel of the LORD.
The LORD appears to David the moment He stretches out the sword over Jerusalem. However, the verdict is not carried out. The place designated for the temple has to do with the judgment that has raged and been brought to an end (1Chr 21:15-18). This is “the place David had prepared” to build the temple there. The threshing floor is from the heathen, the Jebusite Ornan, but was taken from him – and thus from the Canaanites – and made into a place where God can have His house built. In the time of the New Testament, which is the time after the cross and since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God has also conquered a place from the Gentiles and built His temple there.
After the indication of the place where Solomon starts building the temple, we are informed when building starts (verse 2). The chronicler only mentions that Solomon starts building in the fourth year of his government. If we compare this with the dating in the first book of Kings it is striking that the chronicler does not make a relation with the exodus from Egypt (1Kgs 6:1). He will have omitted that mention because he is more focused on those who have left Babylon to come and live in Israel again.
3 The Foundation
3 Now these are the foundations which Solomon laid for building the house of God. The length in cubits, according to the old standard [was] sixty cubits, and the width twenty cubits.
Verses 3-17 give the description of the building. Solomon builds according to the plan his father David showed him (1Chr 28:11). In this way we must also be busy building the church according to the plan God has laid down in His Word.
First the foundation is mentioned, the basis on which to build. The foundation for the church is the confession of Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). Peter can say that, as the Lord Jesus then declares, because the Father has revealed it to him (Mt 16:17). Then the Lord adds a new revelation to the Father’s revelation to Peter. That is the revelation that the confession of Peter is the rock upon which the church will be built (Mt 16:18a).
The confession of Peter – that Christ is the Son of the living God – means that life is in the Lord Jesus. It is also connected with this that He has life-giving power. That He is the Son of the living God means that He has this life in Himself. What is built on it has that life and cannot be affected by death or anything connected to it. The life of God cannot be nullified. The church is founded on His Person. He is the rock, the unshakeable foundation.
For the revelation of the foundation of the church, the Lord Jesus uses the meaning of the name of Peter. By saying to him ‘you are Peter’ (Peter means ‘stone’) the Lord indicates that Peter is one of the stones that will be built on the rock (in Greek ‘petra’), that is He Himself. That Peter has understood the allusion of the Lord to his name, we see in his first letter. In it he writes about the believers as living stones that together form a spiritual house (1Pet 2:5a). The believers are living stones because they have come to Him Who is the living stone and therefore are connected to Him (1Pet 2:4).
The apostles and prophets in their teaching have pointed to that foundation, to that rock, and built upon it in God’s way (Eph 2:20). Paul is well aware of the responsibility not to build on any other foundation and to do so with the right material: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Cor 3:10-11). In a spiritual sense, Solomon also works in this way by keeping to what his father told him.
The sizes are given. No new sizes are used. The original specifications, “the old standard”, are maintained. Nothing is added to it and nothing is taken from it (cf. Ecc 3:14). As calculated by David using the old measure, Solomon performs it. He doesn’t dare to use the sizes that have become common in his time. He does not work according to his own ideas.
4 - 7 The Front Porch and the Holy Place
4 The porch which was in front of the house was as long as the width of the house, twenty cubits, and the height 120; and inside he overlaid it with pure gold. 5 He overlaid the main room with cypress wood and overlaid it with fine gold, and ornamented it with palm trees and chains. 6 Further, he adorned the house with precious stones; and the gold was gold from Parvaim. 7 He also overlaid the house with gold—the beams, the thresholds and its walls and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.
These verses describe the building of the porch which was in front and the holy place, that is “the main room” (verse 5). We can see the following spiritual meaning in the materials used. The “pure gold” and “fine gold” represent the glory of God in Christ. The “cypress wood” represents the true Manhood of the Lord Jesus. The “palm trees” speak of victory. Christ is the Victor. The “chains” are a symbol of the bonds of love through which the believers are connected. The “precious stones” represent the believers in whom Christ becomes visible (Col 3:12).
8 - 9 The Holy of Holies
8 Now he made the room of the holy of holies: its length across the width of the house [was] twenty cubits, and its width [was] twenty cubits; and he overlaid it with fine gold, [amounting] to 600 talents. 9 The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He also overlaid the upper rooms with gold.
The holy of holies has the form of a cube. This refers to “the breadth and length and height and depth” of Christ’s love, which in its true meaning transcends knowledge (Eph 3:18-19). The love of Christ is perfect on all sides. In Him we see Who God is in His perfection, without ever being able to fully understand Who God is.
The golden “nails” serve to keep the golden wallcovering in place. This speaks of what serves to uphold the testimony of the Godhead of Christ. We use such ‘nails’ when we quote words from God’s Word in which the Godhead of Christ is expressed. An example is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). Here we find unambiguously that Christ is the eternal God (Jn 5:17-18; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:8; 1Jn 5:20).
In his book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon also speaks of nails: “The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of [these] collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd” (Ecc 12:11). They are nails that are given by the Lord Jesus, the one Shepherd, in His care for His own. The Christian must be a master in collecting these ‘nails’. They must first be well driven [literally: planted] deep into himself to then occasionally use them to plant them deep into others.
10 - 13 The Cherubim
10 Then he made two sculptured cherubim in the room of the holy of holies and overlaid them with gold. 11 The wingspan of the cherubim [was] twenty cubits; the wing of one, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and [its] other wing, of five cubits, touched the wing of the other cherub. 12 The wing of the other cherub, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house; and [its] other wing of five cubits was attached to the wing of the first cherub. 13 The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits, and they stood on their feet facing the [main] room.
The two cherubim are given extensive attention. They fill the entire room and have a view of the house. They watch, as it were, how people behave. They are symbolic expressions of God’s judgmental and reigning power (Gen 3:24). They close the way to blessing for the fallen man. But in the tabernacle and the temple the way is opened by virtue of the sacrifice. Blood was sprinkled on and in front of the ark. Yet God’s holiness must also be maintained, even if it concerns a redeemed people.
There are four cherubim. On the ark are two small cherubim. They stand with their wings down and with their faces they look down, on the mercy seat. They form a whole with the mercy seat. There are also these two big cherubim, which cover everything and face the main room.
The cherubim watch and protect. They ensure that God’s glory is maintained and they protect God’s people. The fact that they fill the entire room with their wings indicates the all-encompassing character of the protection of the dwelling place of God Who dwells among the cherubim on the ark.
The cherubim that form a whole with the mercy seat on the ark, look down, on the law in the ark, the holy demands of God. But first they see the blood on the mercy seat. The large, covering cherubim face the main room, in the direction of the holy place, that is to the east (verse 13). They see, as it were, everything that happens in the house of God. They keep watch over the service. Their presence and impressive size make it clear: here lives in truth the holy God!
14 The Veil
14 He made the veil of violet, purple, crimson and fine linen, and he worked cherubim on it.
The veil is another means of guarding the holiness of the holy of the saints. The cherubim attached to the veil ensure that no unauthorized person enters the holy of the saints. The colors speak of Christ. In the violet or blue purple we see Him as the heavenly Man. In [red] purple and crimson we see His royal dignity. In the fine linen we see His perfect life.
The veil represents the flesh of the Lord Jesus, that is, His Person as He walked on earth. The moment the Lord Jesus dies, the veil tears “in two from top to bottom” (Mt 27:50-51a; Lk 23:45). Perhaps we could say that the veil in the Gospel according to Matthew tears so that man may enter, and that in Gospel according to Luke it tears because God comes out to man, for He is kind towards him. For us the veil is no longer an obstacle, but an entrance by grace, by the blood of Christ (Heb 10:19-20).
15 - 17 The Two Pillars
15 He also made two pillars for the front of the house, thirty-five cubits high, and the capital on the top of each [was] five cubits. 16 He made chains in the inner sanctuary and placed [them] on the tops of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates and placed [them] on the chains. 17 He erected the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right and the other on the left, and named the one on the right Jachin and the one on the left Boaz.
The two pillars, each seventeen and a half meters high, are also not present in the tabernacle. The pillars are in front of the house, Jachin on the right, that is on the north side, and Boaz on the left, that is on the south side. The names indicate on which God’s building rests. Jachin means ‘God confirms’ and Boaz means ‘in Him is strength’. The two pillars illustrate that the building of God is a fixed building, well attached, unshakeable and supported by the power of God.
The church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim 3:15). In the house of God believers experience what these pillars mean. In this house believers are established in their connection with the Lord. They also receive power from the Lord there. Coming to the church means being confirmed and receiving strength. Believers can become pillars in God’s temple if they faithfully hold fast to God’s Word (Rev 3:12a; cf. Gal 2:9a).