This is a short study on the lampstand in the Tabernacle. The original design. Comparing the description Moses recorded of the lampstand with other stories in the Bible about lamps casts a whole new light on the subject. This is one view you will find no where else.
Exodus 25:31-40 NLTse “Make a lampstand of pure, hammered gold. Make the entire lampstand and its decorations of one piece–the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and petals. (32) Make it with six branches going out from the center stem, three on each side. (33) Each of the six branches will have three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (34) Craft the center stem of the lampstand with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. (35) There will also be an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extend from the center stem. (36) The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. (37) Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. (38) The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. (39) You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. (40) “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.
Here is a lesson in digging deep, far deeper into God’s word than anyone has gone before. Look at this text. See anything unusual? Matthew 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Why did only the wise have vessels and lamps? Everyone is usually wrapped up in the simple, easy to understand interpretation of the oil, they don’t bother to study the differences between the foolish and wise.
So what does the vessel spiritually represent? If you think you can answer that question at this point, forget it, you already disqualified yourself from learning a spiritual lesson. You see, you can only learn a spiritual lesson when you admit you do not have the answer. This opens the mind and the heart to the Holy Spirit. The first step is to pray.
This study requires a bit of inductive thinking. We have to find something similar, related, or the same as a vessel and a lamp in the Bible. What is the Spirit telling you? The most likely answer would be the candle stick in the Tabernacle.
As a whole, the candlestick was a lamp. What was the vessel portion of the candlestick? Now you have to read carefully to catch it. Remember, from the parable we already know the vessel holds the oil.
A basic oil lamp consists of a container for the oil, a section to hold a wick, and the wick. The candlestick contains seven lamps, each branch must contain each of the parts. Since Exodus 25:31-40 contains the detail which describes the body to hold oil. “A knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.” The bowl is the body of the candlestick made to hold oil.
See how easy that was? Now you learned something, the portion of the candlestick holding oil is called the bowl. But wait, where is the spiritual lesson? Has this taught us anything we didn’t know before?
What are the bowls shaped like? Almonds, which are going to tell us exactly what the vessels represent. What story does almonds remind you of? “Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” Numbers 17:8.
There you have it, almonds represent God’s miracles. This is why God used almonds to hold oil for the candlestick. Using inductive thinking, we can see the almond shaped bowls, or vessels on the candlestick represent God’s miracles. Only the wise virgins had both lamps and vessels. Only the wise, or true followers of Jesus will have both God’s word, and the gift of miracles. Jesus gave His disciples the gift to perform miracles when He sent them out. First the twelve, then the seventy.
Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Matthew 10:7-8 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (8) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Luke 10:8-9 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: (9) And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
The gift of healing continued after the resurrection. Proof is recorded in the book of Acts.
Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (7) And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Acts 5:14-16 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) (15) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. (16) There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
That is a study I wrote years ago. It seems to be the type of study people are looking for. They are looking for the mystical side of every item in the Tabernacle. Most authors mix the Tabernacle with the temple. Why? Because the grand temple gives writers the pizzazz they are looking for and they know readers want. The simple fact of the matter is, we have three items here, and their design is basic.
This is the end of chapter 25. When we look at the next chapter, Moses began describing the curtains. Those three items, the Ark, table, and lampstand are the only items in that compartment known as the Most Holy. The design is simple and so is the message,.
The lampstand is basic. It is made of pure gold cast in one piece. We have no idea how large the lampstand is, but we do know it had seven branches. One in the middle with three on each side. The last item described in the Most Holy place shows balance. Each branch is made the same.
The lampstand had a pattern of cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. God used flowers to give His compartment or apartment a little decorating flare. Those also point us back to creation and remind us, God is the Creator.
The God of the universe has three simple items in the room He said He will live. God wasn’t out to impress people. The gold covered Ark and table may appear far more valuable to people than they really are. They’re not pure gold, only covered in gold. Their simple design tells us how people will always be trying to put more value on them then they really have. True the Ark does have a solid gold cover, but it is what’s inside that really counts. Those angels on top are solid gold because they are supposed to remind us there is an entire universe out there keeping that set of laws they cover.
People like to envision a huge lampstand of solid gold. It may be made of pure gold, but how solid is it? It has to be hollow to carry the oil. Most of the lampstand is made up of oil much like the Ark and table are made of wood.
The table is small. The main function is to invite people in to sit down and enjoy a simple meal. What is more important, the table or the conversation held over the table? It’s the conversation that is more valuable than gold, like those angels who keep the law.
The lampstand is useless without the oil that is burned to provide light. Again, like the Ark, it’s what’s inside that counts. The law and oil have one thing in common. Neither is of any use unless they are brought to the outside and shown to the world.
How about you? Is the house you live in that simple? Let me guess. The room you’re in has a couch, chair, table, lamp, big screen TV, surround sound, DVD player, stereo amplifier, and six speakers complete with a sub woofer. Did we learn anything from the Tabernacle, or did we learn it all from the temple?
Moses was told to make everything was made according to the pattern shown on the mountain. God wanted His room simple to convey a message. That room pointed to the simple life Jesus led in Heaven and earth.
But people want to take all those items out of God’s room and use them all over the place. The lampstand is the perfect example. Solomon gave us a simple explanation to consider. For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life. (Proverbs 6:23 NLTse). Solomon showed the simple connection between the light and God’s law. It’s difficult to miss because there are only a few items in that room. There isn’t a lot of reading material. Moses put the set of regulations and a copy of the law in the side of the Ark.
A lot of people like to use another verse to explain what the light from the lampstand represented. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20 KJV). They like using this verse because it’s easier to take out of context and use it any way they please. Most often people use this verse to prove the authority of their doctrines. They also use Isaiah to prove their authority over future prophecy. The problem is, that lampstand is inside a tiny room known as the Most Holy where God met with Moses and Aaron. Two men out of more than a million people. The pattern Moses was given didn’t included any man made doctrine and certainly didn’t mention a word about any future prophecies.
Moses made it clear every item in that room was a pattern of what he was shown in Heaven. But people pull that lampstand out of God’s dwelling place, and use it to look for prophecies about this world. There are no items or symbols supporting that interpretation, but people use it all the time. And they repeated it so many times, the world believes them, leaving God in the dark.
But God is smarter then them. If they bothered to read the next few sentences, they would find out what happens when they try to misuse God’s light. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness. (Isaiah 8:21-22 KJV).
Moses told us the lampstand is made out of seventy-five pounds of pure gold. In today’s market price of $1200 per ounce, that lampstand would be worth $1,440,000. A small fortune but not a great deal of money compared to today’s standard. It would be just enough to be comfortable. You could retire on that sum if you wanted to live a simple life.
1 Samuel 8:1-3 NLTse As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. (2) Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. (3) But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.
This part of the story always made me wonder why Samuel’s sons turned out to be like Eli’s sons. I always wondered why, and what the spiritual lesson behind it is. Since this is the introduction to a new chapter, the rule of introductions tells us, the chapter will help explain the answer, and we should look back at how the previous chapter ended.
Chapter seven ended by telling us how Samuel traveled all around the country setting up court to judge matters between people in Israel. That tells us a few details. Samuel didn’t spend enough time at home to properly raise his children. It also tells us, no matter what kind of relationship people have with God, if father don’t spend time with their kids, anything can happen. We should be aware, the devil will not take a vacation just because you aren’t home. Those few verses showed, Samuel was more dedicated to Israel than to his family. It also shows how little support Samuel received in return.
We can see how a number of factors effected that particular situation. There were both inside and outside influences Samuel should have dwelt with. But how could a man of God make such a major mistake with his sons? It happens more often than we think.
When we do what Moses taught Israel to do, look back, we see some interesting details in Egypt. Why didn’t God have any trouble getting millions of animals and insects to listen, but people who should have been thankful, people who should have given their lives to God, decided to ignore Him. Which brings up the question, how do we worship God?
In the previous chapter, we’ve seen how God used thunder to give Israel a victory over the Philistines. When most people look at God using elements, like the sun, rain, lightening, thunder, and other natural powers, we tend to think, that’s what God does, and give it little more thought. We are used to people calling it, natural disasters, or something along those terms. The enemy has a plan to hide the fact, God is still alive and in control of every element, every molecule, and atom in this world.
Yesterday I saw huge clouds all over the sky stop. They weren’t moving at all. I didn’t even see shifts in their shapes you normally see on the edge of clouds as they move with the upper winds. I looked at one cloud, more than a square mile, and several hundred feet high just standing still. It had to get there somehow. Something had to move it. And something had to stop it. I’ve seen the calculations to design brakes. Like brakes used in a car. The short story is, the calculations deal with energy and heat. Any type of energy can be converted into a value relating to heat, sometimes known as a calorie, but more often using the value of Btu’s. Not to get too in depth, but think of the energy God had to exert to stop one cloud. Then look at the horizon. Now think of the energy involved to make those clouds travel at thirty miles per hour.
One time I saw a plane flying at a very high altitude. The plane must have been going at least 300 miles per hour. Clouds at the same altitude kept up with that plane. It took about five minutes to see the plane putting any kind of distance between itself and that cloud.
We have no idea how much energy God puts into this planet everyday. But look around. You can see God’s energy at work all around you, all the time. It becomes so natural, we rarely notice. I just looked outside to see rapidly moving clouds at three different layers, traveling at three different speeds. Who divides the atmosphere and winds into different layers, and how does He do it? Have you ever seen clouds at different levels traveling in different directions? I know weathermen try to explain it. But how do we know they are right? All I know is, they are drawing attention away from God.
I wish I could explain it. But what kind of Bible Study would that be? We would be straying very far away from the rules of context we’ve learned in this series of books. And we don’t want to do that. We would also be straying away from God. That would be another example of men relying on themselves, instead of their Father and Creator.
We also have to ask, how much control does the devil have over nature? I’ve seen people trying to explain that topic. They want to appear to have all the answers. But do they? When we look at Samuel’s sons, how much control did Samuel have? How much control did God have? How much control did the devil have? And how much control, or influence did the people in Israel have over Samuel’s sons?
Israel Asked for a King
1 Samuel 8:4-9 NLTse Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. (5) “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” (6) Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the LORD for guidance. (7) “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. (8) Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. (9) Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”
On the surface, this seems like a normal request. Samuel was a great leader. People knew how dedicated and reliable he was. They couldn’t have thought of a better man to lead and judge Israel. But Samuel’s sons were a different matter. Samuel’s sons were corrupt judges, taking bribes, and distorting judgment for monetary gains. The last people Israel wanted to lead them after Samuel was gone, were his sons. So the elders got together behind Samuel’s back, and made a decision. They wanted a king, someone new to lead them.
At first this looks like an open and shut case. But who made the decision, Samuel’s sons would lead Israel after Samuel died? Did anyone bother to consult God on the issue? It seems the elders had their own process to follow. They got together, discussed the situation, came up with a plan, then asked Samuel to initiate their plans. Sounds exactly the way the world operates today. But is that the right way to do things? Who was the corrupt party, or parties in this story? It seems those elders dropped the ball when it came to Samuel’s sons. Samuel didn’t record a word about any of those elders lending him a hand, or helping to raise his sons. All of a sudden, the elders showed up with a request.
Israel wanted to be like other nations. What did that mean? Most other countries followed different gods. Those other gods didn’t seem to tinker in business matters like God did. Those other nations had man made laws and regulations which were easily amended to allow for exceptions to the rules. More often than not, those exceptions were designed explicitly for rich and powerful people. And who was asking Samuel for a king? The elders who controlled the religion and for the most part, Israel’s economy. God originally designed the promised land so religion, or keeping God’s Commandments, was directly linked to the economy. If they kept God’s Commandments, Israel would be blessed, and protected. It seemed like a simple plan, but required a degree of effort many in Israel refused to comply with. It seemed to them, a corrupt economy would fetch higher profits. Isn’t that the way big business still thinks today?
This is a sort of paradox. On one hand, the elders were trying to avoid corruption, while on the other hand, they are inviting, or opening doors for a higher level of corruption. Like most religious leaders, they think if they can get a king appointed, that king would be thankful. In return, the king would grant them special favors and privileges. In other words, those elders were smart enough to know, they couldn’t control God, but they stood a pretty good chance of controlling a king. And when it came to the blame game, the elders, and everyone in Israel had a king to blame if things didn’t work out as planned. A quick review of Israel’s history in Kings and Chronicles shows, the country went the way of the king. When the king was bad, sin ran rampantly throughout the country. When the king was good, a certain amount of reform swept through the country.
We’ve seen how Samuel was rejected by Israel long before this idea cropped into their heads. No one bothered to ask Samuel if they should, or shouldn’t attack the Philistines when the Ark was captured. Israel thought, all they needed was the Ark, and God was in their control. That plan didn’t work.
Then they heard silence for twenty years. I think most Christians think God is silent today. Of course those people insist, we are in the last days. They are quick to point out world events, and tell people exactly where those events were predicted in books like Daniel and Revelation. They claim, this or that prophecy is being fulfilled in front of our eyes. And they tell us exactly where we are on God’s timeline. Mix in a little scripture with a lot of publicity from this world, and that’s all you seem to need to be a prophet these days. Ask them to show you exactly how they study scripture and what kind of answer will they give you? None at all. Not a single reply.
I’ve been discussing Bible Study methods with some people claiming to be world authorities on prophecy today. They claim to know all the truth, but are incapable of explaining a single step in the process they use to study scripture. If I were to open a window, or unlock a door, I would be able to explain the step by step process to anyone. I could tell you how to turn the latch on a window and lift it up. Or unlock the window and turn the crank to open it. If there were two locks to open, I’d be able to relate that information. The same with opening a door. If all you had to do was turn the knob to open it, I could tell you. If you needed a key, I could provide one. If the door required two keys, there would be no problem explaining that. Opening windows and doors are easy to explain. Having a simple process to open them should not make it impossible to explain. But that is what all those prophets claim. Their study process is so simple, they cannot explain how to do it. I find that hard to believe. I will say, if no process exists, there is nothing to explain.
I also find this strange to write about Israel’s request for a king in an election year. Especially this election year. I cannot remember two worst choices for president. Trump and Clinton are, well less than perfect choices. What I can’t stand is people pushing me to make a decision. I would never vote for either one of them, unless God directed me. Is that to hard to understand?
I don’t want to begin ranting about what is wrong with either candidate, but the fact is, democracy takes God out of the picture every time we choose new leaders from local, up to federal positions. Does anyone pray before they vote? Does anyone receive and answer when they tell God to choose between this person, and that person? Then people wonder why they don’t hear God. Do they expect to hear an answer while trying to back God into a corner?
That’s what Israel tried to do since arriving in the promised land, paint God into a corner. Israel wanted to do things their way, and they wanted to be blessed. They thought, God had no other choice but to protect His chosen people. Then they thought, God had no other choice than to protect His Ark. God defended His Ark, but not in a way anyone expected to see.
God has a funny way of letting people have their way. God let Israel have a king. God told Samuel, “Do everything they say to you.” God knew when He wasn’t appreciated, or wanted. God knew, after a few years, people would finally cry out to Him for help again.
Warning About a King
1 Samuel 8:10-22 NLTse So Samuel passed on the LORD’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. (11) “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. (12) Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. (13) The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. (14) He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. (15) He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. (16) He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. (17) He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. (18) When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the LORD will not help you.” (19) But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. (20) “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” (21) So Samuel repeated to the LORD what the people had said, (22) and the LORD replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.
When we look at how governments treat people today, it seems God didn’t tell Israel one tenth of the problems. If government only took one tenth of our income, most of us would be dancing in the streets. Some people pay close to one tenth on sales tax, or state income tax. On top of that pile on a long list of other taxes. Federal income tax is often twice, or three times what God warned about. So why do people still insist on keeping God out of politics? I have no idea why.
We still see countries drafting people into armies. Here in the US, we have a volunteer army. But that could change at any moment. We don’t have forced labor in fields, but after taxes, many people feel like slaves to the government. Especially with payments to the national health care system that seem more like car, or house mortgage payments.
The government does control all the land. Between the government and banks, few people actually own their own land. After the mortgage is paid, there are still properly taxes. Many homes, businesses, and farms fall to the tax collector, and are sold of as tax foreclosures. Seems government missed a few chapters Moses wrote about the Jubilee years.
I think we are, or should be way past the point to beg God for relief from the king. But people want to cling onto that last hope, the next president will fix everything. Isn’t that what they promise during election campaigns? Don’t all of them break the promises they made? But people still want to believe, democracy is better than serving God. Having freedom to make our own choices is better than being tied down by Ten Commandments.
1 Kings 6:1-8 NLTse It was in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, that he began to construct the Temple of the LORD. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt. (2) The Temple that King Solomon built for the LORD was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. (3) The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet wide, running across the entire width of the Temple. It projected outward 15 feet from the front of the Temple. (4) Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple. (5) He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. (6) The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves. (7) The stones used in the construction of the Temple were finished at the quarry, so there was no sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site. (8) The entrance to the bottom floor was on the south side of the Temple. There were winding stairs going up to the second floor, and another flight of stairs between the second and third floors.
It took four years of planning to begin construction on Solomon’s temple. Are you getting the picture? Can you see how much planning went on behind the scenes? Can you imagine how many delays and problems they had to face? Can you see how easy it was to distract Solomon from his other duties, or how those other duties added to construction delays? Now you can see why Solomon and Hiram had to wait for a peaceful time period before planning construction.
I’m not sure if that 480 years after leaving Egypt is significant. That would be about seven generations. It would be about 440 years, or about six generations after reaching the promised land. We could go on about those numbers forever, but we want to look at the recorded details about the temple.
When we compare the sizes of Solomon’s temple, 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high, to the Tabernacle, 45 feet long, 13 1/2 feet wide, and 15 feet high, we see the first contrast. Solomon’s temple was twice as long, a little over twice as wide, and twice as high. Solomon basically doubled the size of the Tabernacle tent.
It is a little difficult to calculate the size of the Tabernacle.
“For the framework of the Tabernacle, construct frames of acacia wood. Each frame must be 15 feet high and 27 inches wide, with two pegs under each frame. Make all the frames identical. Make twenty of these frames to support the curtains on the south side of the Tabernacle. Also make forty silver bases–two bases under each frame, with the pegs fitting securely into the bases. For the north side of the Tabernacle, make another twenty frames, with their forty silver bases, two bases under each frame. Make six frames for the rear–the west side of the Tabernacle— along with two additional frames to reinforce the rear corners of the Tabernacle. These corner frames will be matched at the bottom and firmly attached at the top with a single ring, forming a single corner unit. Make both of these corner units the same way. So there will be eight frames at the rear of the Tabernacle, set in sixteen silver bases–two bases under each frame. (Exodus 26:15-25 NLTse).
But the size of the court is easier to find.
So the entire courtyard will be 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with curtain walls 7 feet high, made from finely woven linen, (Exodus 27:18 NLTse)
Solomon did follow the plan, having two rooms in the Temple. They were known as the holy, and most holy rooms in the Tabernacle. “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26:31-33 NLTse).
Solomon added a new feature to the temple, he added windows. “Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple.” The Tabernacle didn’t have any windows, or openings in the side. It was covered by layers of curtains. And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. (Exodus 36:19 KJV).
Why windows? Are those windows good or bad? What purpose did they serve? People usually associate windows with fresh air and sun light. Modern day churches used the concept of windows using stained glass to create elaborate scenes. Most of which usually depict scenes of Jesus’ final days. Those scenes normally center around the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice. But they didn’t have glass windows in those days that opened and closed. That would have let the rain in whenever there was a driving rain in the right direction. The windows would have to be slanted so the water drained out during normal rains. Windows would have also let birds and insects in the temple. There is no mention of shutters on the windows, but that is a possibility.
What did windows represent on the spiritual side? Before we answer that, we have to look at a few other details in the original design of the Tabernacle.
And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. (Exodus 36:19 KJV).
Originally, the Tabernacle was designed with a number of coverings on the outside to make the tent completely waterproof. That was one reason for God’s design. The Tabernacle didn’t have any windows. The boards, bases, and rods used to construct the Tabernacle were designed to work together and support the exterior, waterproof coverings. Together they formed a spiritual lesson showing how we, and Heaven and earth work together to support what the Tabernacle represented as a whole, God’s plan of salvation.
Without windows, or any other openings, the Tabernacle relied on a single light source, the seven branched candle stick using olive oil as a fuel source. Gold covered walls radiated the light, reflecting it to every corner of the outside compartment or room. Windows changed all that. Now a new light source was introduced from the outside. What difference did that make?
When we look at the concept of Jesus within our hearts, being the one and only light source to light our spiritual way, we try to avoid outside sources. At least we should. Adding windows to the temple distracted from the concept of a single, interior light source.
Solomon continued that theme of an outside source, or continuous work on the outside by adding a network of rooms around the initial structure. “He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves.”
Why did Solomon add rooms to the outside of his temple? Those rooms must have been used for some type of activity. Did priests live in those rooms? Were they used for meetings, or storage? Rooms were not in the original plans for the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was constructed as a single structure, with no man made rooms attached.
Solomon’s design was strange to say the least. The rooms were built on three levels, widening towards the top. In a sense, they were like an upside down pyramid. To accommodate those rooms, the outside walls of the temple were not flat and straight, but had ledges built out of them to support roof and floor beams for the surrounding rooms.
People like to make mention of the stones finished off site at the quarry. They give that a spiritual interpretation I don’t see mentioned in this chapter, or anywhere else in scripture. Some people claim those finished stones represent so many things. But where is a spiritual interpretation in scripture? I haven’t seen any.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:1-9 NLTse).
This seems to be the scripture many people attempt to use as text to back up their interpretation of those physical stones Solomon had sized and finished in the quarry. But let’s examine this text Peter wrote to see if he was referring to Solomon’s temple, or using it as a symbol.
Peter talked about Christ, calling Jesus the Cornerstone of the entire spiritual temple, which is also referred to as the body of Christ. Peter simply referred to those living stones as God’s temple, his holy priests. This raises a question. Were the rooms covering the walls of the stone temple used to house priests, pointing to some type of symbol? The description of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings doesn’t repeat details about those outer rooms like God typically repeated other symbols in scripture.
Looking at the design of those rooms, they cover the temple walls. Most likely, they covered the corner stone. Would God design a spiritual temple that covered up His Son? Would God design a physical temple that hid His Son?
Look at the strange physical design of those walls. Facing the front of the temple, the attached walls were higher at the top than the bottom. That exerted unusual forces on the entire building. If we looked at that from the aspect of a simple stress diagram, we would see, the wall on the right would exert forces down and to the right, in a clockwise direction. The wall on the left would exert forces down, and to the left, in a counter clockwise direction. In other words, the forces would tend to rip the base structure of the temple apart.
If we knew the actual weight of those exterior rooms, we could accurately calculate the forces involved. A quick guess would tell us, downward forces greatly outweighed those in the right and left rotational directions. There wasn’t much of a force in the outward direction compared to the downward direction, but they did exist. Those are details of Solomon’s temple most people overlook.
People often overlook outside forces tearing apart their churches, and their lives. People tend to give less consideration to those forces than they give to the design of Solomon’s temple. We can agree, if God agreed, or disagreed with Solomon’s design, God had a way of using the design to teach a host of lessons.
When we take a closer look at Peter’s letter, we see a few details about God’s spiritual temple we should pay attention to. God’s temple is designed to get rid of all evil behavior. There are no evil influences in God’s design. That may seem impossible to us. If we examined one day in a church, or one day in our lives, we would be amazed at all the evil influences and distractions in a single day. Peter offered a solution. Peter used the symbol of being born again, starting from scratch, forgetting everything we’ve learned, looking to God and Jesus for that spiritual milk in His Word. Not only look for it, but cry out for God’s Word. That is a rather strong way of saying, “listen to God.”
Peter pointed out who the master builder is. It is God’s job to build. Did Peter mention anything about God chiseling away at us in some distant location until we fit in at the local church, or the church body of our choice? Of course not. That is a man made concept. One of those traditions we need to forget, before we can see what is written in God’s Word, and listen to His voice.
Peter was very direct in pointing out Jesus as our mediator. Peter used a Greek word with a wide variety of applications. The NLT translation caught onto the dynamic translation of Peter’s message and used the word mediation. Most other translations used a much more passive translation. Let’s take a look at the actual Greek word Peter used.
Διά dia dee-ah’
A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal or occasional). In composition it retains the same general import: – after, always, among, at, to avoid, because of (that), briefly, by, for (cause) . . . fore, from, in, by occasion of, of, by reason of, for sake, that, thereby, therefore, X though, through (-out), to, wherefore, with (-in). In composition it retains the same general import.
It seems rather strange to see the Greek work was dia, the English abbreviation of diameter. After writing about two opposing rotational forces on Solomon’s temple, I have to ask myself if God planned this as a type of confirmation, or is it just a coincidence?
If you looked at a copy of my Bible with all the key words highlighted, you’d be amazed at the way Peter repeated a number of words and phrases. You can look at them yourself and see how he emphasized priest, and rejected. Two words showing us, Peter used a contrast to teach a lesson. That word translated mediation in the NLT pointed out how we work with Jesus to change, for lack of a better term, or evil ways. No one knows us like Jesus does. No one is better equipped to point out our evil tendencies than Jesus. No one has a chance of showing how doctrines and traditions tear us away from God. And no one can tell us how God needs us to perform as his priests. So why do churches want to use that sentence from 1 Kings to say, “we’re supposed to finish off your rough edges so you can fit into God’s temple.” That’s the another popular interpretation of that stony about finishing stones in a quarry.
Let’s take a look at how Peter finished that particular lesson and how he summed it up.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:21-25 NLTse).
Everything Peter wrote pointed to people coming to Christ, learning from Him, and refining themselves while they are part of God’s spiritual temple. Can we explain how that happens? We’d be fools to try to explain how God makes that work, or why He choose to use that process. But some people think they have to explain everything. Those are people who think it is their job to change lives. And the saddest part is, they think they can do it.
Based on the brief description of Solomon’s temple, two questions come to mind. The temple was 45 feet tall, with windows all around. The rooms were three stories high, each 7 feet tall, less than half the height of the temple. That left plenty of room for windows to allow direct sunlight. This seems logical from a design standpoint, but is there a spirit side?
The east end of the courtyard, the front, will also be 75 feet long. The courtyard entrance will be on the east end, flanked by two curtains. The curtain on the right side will be 22 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases. (Exodus 27:13-14 NLTse).
The Tabernacle had one opening facing east, in other words, the courtyard, which contained a number of items with spiritual meanings.
Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the Tabernacle entrance. Set the washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar, and fill it with water. Then set up the courtyard around the outside of the tent, and hang the curtain for the courtyard entrance. (Exodus 40:6-8 NLTse).
Up to this point, God hadn’t revealed the spiritual meaning of the washbasin or altar. Solomon may have had an idea of what they pointed to, but he didn’t receive a full description of their spiritual meaning. God had a reason for the single opening in the Tabernacle to point in one direction with the altar in plain view. The two worked together to explain Jesus’ ministry, as well as steps in that ministry. Did those windows in Solomon’s temple point to outside influences in Jesus life, that interference He endured, or some type of interference we face while Jesus moved unto the next phase of His ministry inside the Heavenly Sanctuary? We’ll have to see if the Bible explains those details. When we look at openings, we have to consider all the aspect. The number of openings, where they are located, the direction each opening faces, and differences between the original Tabernacle, and its replacement.
Solomon Completed the Structure
1 Kings 6:9-10 NLTse After completing the Temple structure, Solomon put in a ceiling made of cedar beams and planks. (10) As already stated, he built a complex of rooms on three sides of the building, attached to the Temple walls by cedar timbers. Each story of the complex was 7 feet high.
We finally see how tall those rooms on the outside were. As usual, we see the style of writing where details are added at a later time. We also see how those exterior rooms are repeated. Which of course is arranged to draw our attention to the detail. We also see how Solomon added cedar beams and planks to the inside of the temple.
We must have missed a detail on those rooms. When we see how they were attached, we see ledges stuck out from the temple sides. Special ledges designed to support beams, that supported the floors and roof of the rooms. We also see how the temple stones were finished in the quarry, so no tools were used on site. Did that mean no tools were used anywhere in or on the temple, or was that just referring to the stones?
If beams were fastened to stone ledges to support rooms with the slighted outward force, those beams had to be fastened to the ledges using something. Today we would use large nuts and bolts. Solomon must have used something like pins. Were holes for those pins bored at the quarry, and the holes in the beams drilled off site? That could have been done. But there are hundreds of details we have not considered that would have required tools. We don’t know for sure, but there may be a possibility.
God Talked to Solomon
1 Kings 6:11-13 NLTse Then the LORD gave this message to Solomon: (12) “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. (13) I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”
After all that work, God spoke only two sentences to Solomon. What was Solomon supposed to see in those two sentences? The core of the message centered around keeping all of God’s decrees, regulations, and obeying all of God’s commands. Where were those stored? The Ten Commandments were inside the Ark. The laws and decrees Moses recorded were stored in the side of the Ark. The Ark was the center, or heart of the Tabernacle. God was reminding Solomon what the center of the temple should have been. God reminded Solomon why He used such a simple design. The Tabernacle was not designed the way God designed it just so the tent could be taken apart and transported. God’s design didn’t draw attention away from the important details in the Tabernacle, but to keep the proper focus on them.
Who lived in the center of the Tabernacle? God of course. Is that what the design of the Tabernacle pointed to?
Solomon’s Design in Detail
1 Kings 6:14-38 NLTse So Solomon finished building the Temple. (15) The entire inside, from floor to ceiling, was paneled with wood. He paneled the walls and ceilings with cedar, and he used planks of cypress for the floors. (16) He partitioned off an inner sanctuary–the Most Holy Place–at the far end of the Temple. It was 30 feet deep and was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. (17) The main room of the Temple, outside the Most Holy Place, was 60 feet long. (18) Cedar paneling completely covered the stone walls throughout the Temple, and the paneling was decorated with carvings of gourds and open flowers. (19) He prepared the inner sanctuary at the far end of the Temple, where the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant would be placed. (20) This inner sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high. He overlaid the inside with solid gold. He also overlaid the altar made of cedar. (21) Then Solomon overlaid the rest of the Temple’s interior with solid gold, and he made gold chains to protect the entrance to the Most Holy Place. (22) So he finished overlaying the entire Temple with gold, including the altar that belonged to the Most Holy Place. (23) He made two cherubim of wild olive wood, each 15 feet tall, and placed them in the inner sanctuary. (24) The wingspan of each of the cherubim was 15 feet, each wing being 7 feet long. (25) The two cherubim were identical in shape and size; (26) each was 15 feet tall. (27) He placed them side by side in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Their outspread wings reached from wall to wall, while their inner wings touched at the center of the room. (28) He overlaid the two cherubim with gold. (29) He decorated all the walls of the inner sanctuary and the main room with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. (30) He overlaid the floor in both rooms with gold. (31) For the entrance to the inner sanctuary, he made double doors of wild olive wood with five-sided doorposts. (32) These double doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors, including the decorations of cherubim and palm trees, were overlaid with gold. (33) Then he made four-sided doorposts of wild olive wood for the entrance to the Temple. (34) There were two folding doors of cypress wood, and each door was hinged to fold back upon itself. (35) These doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers–all overlaid evenly with gold. (36) The walls of the inner courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone. (37) The foundation of the LORD’s Temple was laid in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. (38) The entire building was completed in every detail by midautumn, in the month of Bul, during the eleventh year of his reign. So it took seven years to build the Temple.
There are some details recorded about Solomon’s temple, but not as many as the Tabernacle. God was very detailed about the Tabernacle, the items, as well as how the material was collected, and how He chose and trained the labor force to construct all the items associated with the Tabernacle. By my count, descriptions of the Tabernacle span twelve chapters, plus a number of chapters on the services, and more on the sacrifices. The temple has seven chapters recording descriptions of its details.
One would think, a larger grander structure would require much more planning and details to build it. At any rate, that gives us nearly twenty chapters in the Bible to research and compare. I’ve been praying about this, and would prefer to stick with the verse by verse style of study used throughout this series of books. But I don’t see how chapters can contain all the information and references to compare all the details recorded about the Tabernacle and temple. We will have to take the chapters in 1 Kings, compare them to chapters in Chronicles, then go back to compare the stone temple to the Tabernacle, That would be one long chapter. Or it could be split in a series of chapters, taking each detail as the come along, in the order they appear in 1 Kings.
1 Chronicles 13:1-14 NLTse (1) David consulted with all his officials, including the generals and captains of his army. (2) Then he addressed the entire assembly of Israel as follows: “If you approve and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send messages to all the Israelites throughout the land, including the priests and Levites in their towns and pasturelands. Let us invite them to come and join us. (3) It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.” (4) The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. (5) So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. (6) Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the LORD who is enthroned between the cherubim. (7) They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. (8) David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments–lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. (9) But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. (10) Then the LORD’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God. (11) David was angry because the LORD’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today. (12) David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” (13) So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. (14) The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.
I never noticed how quickly Chronicles moved through events and the order recorded until I looked at the subject of the temple and when it appears in the Bible. I have no idea why the return from Babylon is followed by David moving the Ark. If nothing else, that is a strange sequence. What is even stranger is what 1 Chronicles 13 followed.
All these men came in battle array to Hebron with the single purpose of making David the king over all Israel. In fact, everyone in Israel agreed that David should be their king. They feasted and drank with David for three days, for preparations had been made by their relatives for their arrival. And people from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali brought food on donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen. Vast supplies of flour, fig cakes, clusters of raisins, wine, olive oil, cattle, sheep, and goats were brought to the celebration. There was great joy throughout the land of Israel. (1 Chronicles 12:38-40 NLTse).
Chronicles quickly moved from men fighting to make David king to David moving the Ark. That raises a few questions by placing the relocation of the Ark in the hands of a king rather than God’s direction. We can see how David consulted his officials, and placed the decision in God’s hands, but we don’t see God’s answer. We don’t see how God communicated with David or any of those people.
It seems David placed the responsibility on the people like he wanted to wash his hands of the act in case something went wrong. Chronicles continued its own style of writing by leaving out a lot of details. Where were they bringing the Ark back from? Scripture mentioned Kiriath-jearim which takes us back to another story.
So the men of Kiriath-jearim came to get the Ark of the LORD. They took it to the hillside home of Abinadab and ordained Eleazar, his son, to be in charge of it. The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time–twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the LORD had abandoned them. Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the LORD, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the LORD; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:1-4 NLTse).
It seems that after the Philistines returned the Ark, no one took it back to the Tabernacle. Eli’s sons removed the Ark from the Tabernacle and lost it in a war against the Philistines. Eli’s sons thought the Ark had some kind of magical power to help them in a war. Or they were trying to force God into helping them.
What happened to the Tabernacle? One of the last places the Tabernacle was mentioned was in a story about Solomon during the early part of his reign.
Solomon son of David took firm control of his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him very powerful. Solomon called together all the leaders of Israel–the generals and captains of the army, the judges, and all the political and clan leaders. Then he led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle was located there. (This was the Tabernacle that Moses, the LORD’s servant, had made in the wilderness.) David had already moved the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. But the bronze altar made by Bezalel son of Uri and grandson of Hur was there at Gibeon in front of the Tabernacle of the LORD. So Solomon and the people gathered in front of it to consult the LORD. There in front of the Tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in the LORD’s presence and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings on it. That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (2 Chronicles 1:1-7 NLTse).
What happened to the Tabernacle after that is guesswork at best. Another question came up in 2 Chronicles chapter 1. Why was Solomon sacrificing sheep? Solomon may not have been doing all the work, but when were kings given authority to write new laws about sacrifices?
The sequence centering on the temple is something we have to consider. Why is God leading us into something that is lost? Why is God leading us into a question no one can answer? This is telling us how important prayer is, and why we need God’s guidance to study. I had to pray about this one and ask God why He had His authors arrange such a strange sequence of events about the temple in an order obviously out of the natural order of a timeline. Whenever we see anything unusual, it is time to pray.
After a few days of prayer, I saw the connecting factor. God always set up links to draw our attention. Details the stories have in common. What do the three stories have in common? Nebuchadnezzar took all the articles out of the temple. The priests returned to rebuild the temple. The third story is about David moving the Ark to Jerusalem. What do those three stories have in common? All three of those stories involved a king.
2 Kings 25:8-10 NLTse On August 14 of that year, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. (9) He burned down the Temple of the LORD, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. (10) Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side.
Ezra 1:1-3 NLTse In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the LORD fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: (2) “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. (3) Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you!
1 Chronicles 13:1-3 NLTse (1) David consulted with all his officials, including the generals and captains of his army. (2) Then he addressed the entire assembly of Israel as follows: “If you approve and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send messages to all the Israelites throughout the land, including the priests and Levites in their towns and pasturelands. Let us invite them to come and join us. (3) It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.”
We see how this story draws on more books to study. This shows how stories are linked to other sections of scripture. We see how difficult it would be for anyone to interpret the spiritual meaning of messages God placed in scripture. We do see how God uses His recorded Word to lead us to the proper interpretation. This is nothing short of the evidence every Christian needs to prove beyond any shadow of doubt. No person, or collection of people could have written the Bible. There had to be a creative hand and mind behind the planning and arrangement of the Bible.
What is the message hidden within the stories of those three kings? The first story is about Nebuchadnezzar, who may be one of the most familiar kings, and the easiest to figure out.
2 Kings 25:18-21 NLTse Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took with him as prisoners Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three chief gatekeepers. (19) And from among the people still hiding in the city, he took an officer who had been in charge of the Judean army; five of the king’s personal advisers; the army commander’s chief secretary, who was in charge of recruitment; and sixty other citizens. (20) Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. (21) And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land.
Nebuchadnezzar had a reputation of dealing with a problem or issue by killing the people involved. We see this throughout the most concise book about his reign in Babylon. But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! (Daniel 2:5 NLTse).
We’d have to read a number of books to learn as much as we can about Nebuchadnezzar’s personality. We can’t judge a person by a single proof text. Daniel also told us how God worked so hard to bring Nebuchadnezzar back into a personal relationship with Himself. King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations. (Daniel 4:1-3 NLTse).
It seems every chapter in Daniel contains the good and bad aspects of king Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had to be an inspired writer to cover both sides of king Nebuchadnezzar. In Ancient times, writers or scribes could face the same fate Nebuchadnezzar threatened his court with if they ever recorded the wrong thing, anything negative about the king. When a nation was conquered, the new king would replace all the former king’s achievements with his own. That is why history is so one sided. No modern historian was there to verify exactly what happened. Historians gather what little information they find, then write volumes to fill in details they way they imagined it happened. The Bible is one of the few reliable sources of ancient history telling two sides of the story, the good and bad ways kings acted and conducted business. The fact those scriptures survived is only the tip of the ice burg.
God had to scatter those stories around to protect the stories themselves as well as His prophets. That opened the door to spiritual interpretations some people can see, and most people miss. Like this story about the three kings, and their personalities.
We are only going to take a brief look at those kings. An in depth study would take another series of books. Finding that information on your own is what God really wanted all those generations. Can you imagine the facts and details God has shown people over the past 2000 years that was never recorded, or may have been recorded, but read by so few people it disappeared for a time, only to be rediscovered generations later.
Our brief look at those kings will be like flying over the landscape at 50,000 feet where we see some of the major features, but we experience nothing when it comes to the personalities of the people living on the land, little about the environment, and almost nothing about the little details that make up day to day life, or the hidden beauty of the land. To find that out, we have to come down to earth to walk among the people, smell the flowers, and watch the sunset. We have to be there to experience what life was really like.
How do we do that with the Bible? There is no other way than to take Nebuchadnezzar’s advice. “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.” We have to be in God’s presence. God was there watching the entire scene. All you need is enough faith to know He was there, remembers every detail, and can’t wait to tell you every detail. Some people describe Jesus as the great story teller as He walked this earth. Do you think anything has changed? This will be nothing more than the cold, clinical look people are used to seeing, and accepting as, shall we say, the total truth, or story. But once we see how each of those stories are connected, and how each of those stories are derived from a collection of stories, we’ll begin to understand how we can look deeper into God’s Word when we make that connection with God, He tried to teach to Nebuchadnezzar, and other kings.
Nebuchadnezzar is one of the most abrasive personalities in scripture. The author of Kings showed us a small part of how Nebuchadnezzar chose to deal with situations. He was the king, judge, and jury. No one stood in his way, and his decision was final, and decisive. But one man stood up to Nebuchadnezzar. There was only one reason Daniel could and did stand up to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had God on his side. Daniel’s bravery stemmed from a close relationship with God. A relationship we see God tried to establish with king Nebuchadnezzar.
King Cyrus of Persia is the most difficult king to study. Bible authors had this habit of recording the king’s name in some stories, then his title in other stories. I had trouble figuring that out until I took time to gather all the information about Persia’s kings, then looked at the names in the Concordance. That told me when authors used names, or titles. Dates recorded in the stories laid the foundation of a timeline. That allows us to place names on the titles.
After I posted my study, of course I received a lot of flack. Scholars had the habit of reading only a small portion of a study, then making negative comments without checking scripture to verify their thoughts. In other words, scholars from all walks of life decided the things they’ve been taught by the world were more reliable than God’s Word, or getting together with God to go over the details.
King Cyrus is one of the most interesting characters to study in scripture. Once the timeline recorded by God’s prophets was arranged, it opened the door to a view of books including Daniel, Esther, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah in a whole new light.
Among other things, Cyrus was touched by God and opened the door to rebuild the temple and walls around Jerusalem. He assigned people to the task, funded the projects, and kept Ezra, and Nehemiah’s enemies at bay.
Many people think they know king David. But how well? What fascinated me about David is his growth in God, which began at a very young age. David met, and learned about God when he was alone tending his father’s sheep. David had little more than the clothes on his back, and a place to sleep whenever he returned home. Solitude in the fields was God’s choice of a classroom. We can only imagine the lessons God shared with David.
Those sheep and the responsibilities his father trusted him with taught David a great deal about trust and dedication. David learned to trust God, and respect king Saul, who was famous for making mistakes. David was anointed king of Israel at a very young age, and never forgot that day Samuel came to visit. David had opportunities to kill Saul and take the kingdom, but he would rather place his trust in God.
Finally, David was crowned king. That was when he made some major mistakes. He married a lot of women, had a lot of sons and daughters, and went as far as killing one of his best friends to take his wife. Each of those stories explained what God had to do to call David back.
David also recorded the book we refer to as Psalms. Some of that book is what David wrote about his history, other parts focus on prayers, and praising God. David’s personality runs deep in scripture. The fact it is scattered over many books in the Bible tells us, the same is true for the other two kings. So we have our assignment from God. Study every detail on each of those kings. Drink deep from the well of knowledge and be satisfied.
Now that we reviewed a little about each king, what do we do with the information? While I was praying, the LORD told me to look at those personalities. Each was different. What did they point to? They pointed to three major groups of Christians today. Nebuchadnezzar pointed to a group I refer to as the squeaky wheel. People who have to get their way at any cost. Like Nebuchadnezzar, some people make a decision, and I’ve seen this, if you don’t go their way, they pull out the burn in hell card. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, some people decided they have the only answer, and [f you don’t agree, it doesn’t matter what other aspects you have, what you accomplished, or what your relationship with God is, those Nebuchadnezzar type personalities will condemn you. Nebuchadnezzar sent people to take Daniel to his execution, and threw three of his most trusted advisers in an oven because they decided following God was more Important than satisfying a whim.
We have to also remember how God set up a number of circumstances to reach Nebuchadnezzar. God also worked with where Nebuchadnezzar was to reach him. And of course, God took Nebuchadnezzar out of his comfortable environment to reach him. In other words, we can’t even judge the squeaky wheels, no matter how abrasive they appear.
Since many people like to associate with king David, we can look at his personality next. David grew up in God’s grace. God protected David. God taught David how to communicate directly with Him. Once in a while David showed his human side by slipping away, or forgetting about God. Sometimes David thought he could get away with something behind God’s back. David spent a great deal of time looking back on his life. That was the only way he could have written those Psalms. That is also something all of us has to learn to do.
David had the type of personality difficult to place a finger on, or sum up in a few words. That is what made David, David. That may be one of the reasons God loved David. It was one of the reasons David loved God. David could mess his life up, and God still loved him. David is one of the few people in the Bible, and the world able to define a real relationship with God. Not in a few words, but in the life he lived. Maybe that is why people like to associate with David.
Now we get to the difficult king to analyze, Cyrus. Like I mentioned before, his story largely remains a mystery based on the fact, he is often hidden in scripture, meaning, not as easy to find as Nebuchadnezzar and David. Cyrus represents all those Christians difficult to figure out. Cyrus shows us how people are difficult to define until we take time to do a little in depth study.
Many Christians carry themselves far different than the world. There is something about them the world can’t figure out, or place their finger on. So the world looks at one detail, and writes its own assumption. Little may be true, but that is just how the world works.
We now have three basic personalities to look at. The abrasive personality. The personality that wants to follow God, but finds ways to fail. And the elusive, hard to define personality. People are made up of combinations of all three. Being a Christian means you want to find and follow God., but that is not always consistent. The degrees vary with every person. Everyone is abrasive to one degree or another. And we should all know, everyone has a private side to them that takes time to know.
God didn’t set up that sequence of stories to tell us something new about the temple. And maybe He did. That’s for others to find out. I can only follow the direction God gave me when He gave it to me. God wanted us to see those personalities to see where our lives lie in the mixture. Which king are you more like, and which of those qualities do you need to work on? Of course, you can’t go far on the brief explanations I gave here. All I can do is suggest a new spiritual journey.
Getting back to the story, we see David consulted his cabinet, and the entire community. David was concerned about the Ark, he felt Saul neglected. David had his own way of honoring God. His only mistake may have been to consult people, and not God. This reminds us to always turn to God. Popular belief and what people think is right may not always lead to the best decision.
Where did David get the idea of using a new cart to transport the Ark? Long before David was crowned king, during the days he was on the run from Saul, David spent a great deal of time living among the Philistines. David may have heard a story about the Ark during that time.
The Ark of the LORD remained in Philistine territory seven months in all. Then the Philistines called in their priests and diviners and asked them, “What should we do about the Ark of the LORD? Tell us how to return it to its own country.” “Send the Ark of the God of Israel back with a gift,” they were told. “Send a guilt offering so the plague will stop. Then, if you are healed, you will know it was his hand that caused the plague.” “What sort of guilt offering should we send?” they asked. And they were told, “Since the plague has struck both you and your five rulers, make five gold tumors and five gold rats, just like those that have ravaged your land. Make these things to show honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps then he will stop afflicting you, your gods, and your land. Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go. “Now build a new cart, and find two cows that have just given birth to calves. Make sure the cows have never been yoked to a cart. Hitch the cows to the cart, but shut their calves away from them in a pen. Put the Ark of the LORD on the cart, and beside it place a chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors you are sending as a guilt offering. Then let the cows go wherever they want. If they cross the border of our land and go to Beth-shemesh, we will know it was the LORD who brought this great disaster upon us. If they don’t, we will know it was not his hand that caused the plague. It came simply by chance.” (1 Samuel 6:1-9 NLTse).
Did David copy something that worked for the Philistines without seeing the difference between himself, the Levites, and priests? Didn’t David know, God holds us responsible for what we know, or are supposed to know. It turned out bad for David. The plan didn’t work, and that cost Uzzah his life. It was a shock to David and everyone there. Now what were they going to do?
The first question was, “is God angry with us, and why?” It should have been a time to search the heart. It was also a time to search scripture. That story showed us how they go hand in hand. Do we search our hearts based on scripture, or the world? David learned what happens when you rely on popular belief.
Some people stop at the obvious, or shall we say the worldly way of looking at that story about Uzzah. He touched the Ark, God was angry, and killed him. That seems rather simple, but what does that teach us about God? And what is God telling us about Himself?
We do know, David used the wrong process to move the Ark.
When the camp moves, Aaron and his sons must enter the Tabernacle first to take down the inner curtain and cover the Ark of the Covenant with it. Then they must cover the inner curtain with fine goatskin leather and spread over that a single piece of blue cloth. Finally, they must put the carrying poles of the Ark in place. “Next they must spread a blue cloth over the table where the Bread of the Presence is displayed, and on the cloth they will place the bowls, pans, jars, pitchers, and the special bread. (Numbers 4:5-7 NLTse).
At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, and to stand before the LORD as his ministers, and to pronounce blessings in his name. These are their duties to this day. That is why the Levites have no share of property or possession of land among the other Israelite tribes. The LORD himself is their special possession, as the LORD your God told them.) (Deuteronomy 10:8-9 NLTse).
Not only was the Ark to be carried by Levites, it was to be covered by the inner curtain, and a blue cloth. Neither item is mentioned in 1 Chronicles chapter 13. David missed a lot of details. Did everyone miss them, or were they afraid to speak up? What about Uzzah? Did Uzzah know something was wrong, but was afraid to point out the mistake because he didn’t know all the details?
What we have here is a story about one of David’s most trusted men. David appointed Uzzah a position close to the Ark. A place Uzzah was within everyone’s sight. Out of all the men positioned around the Ark to protect it, only one man stepped up when the cart began to tilt. Only one man acted when he saw something was going wrong.
Did other people die by touching the Ark? What about those people who looked in the Ark when the Philistines returned it to Israel? The LORD killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the LORD. And the people mourned greatly because of what the LORD had done. (1 Samuel 6:19 NLTse). God didn’t kill those people the second they touched the Ark. God killed seventy men after they looked inside the Ark.
When people make up stories, or try to explain why something happened in the Bible, they have to collect all the information on the subject. Now look at a few verses then run with whatever seems to sound right. That is interpreting scripture with what sounds good to the world.
And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers! Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting you to save me. (Romans 16:17-18, Psalms 55:20-23 NLTse)
Is it possible God saw Uzzah’s heart, his willingness to help, his concern and love for the Ark and God, then used Uzzah to set an example, open the eyes of everyone present, and send them back to God? Did God use Uzzah’s death to call attention to a mistake? Did Uzzah die serving the LORD like he wanted to assist the Ark? Why doesn’t the world spend enough time on this story to give God a good report rather than a black eye?
The Ark found its way to Kiriath-jearim after Eli’s sons tried to use it as a weapon to defeat the Philistines. The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:2-3 NLTse). God had a new problem to deal with. How was God going to get that belief the Ark was a weapon out of their heads? Israel invented a new idol out of a box of wood covered in gold. That box didn’t have any power. All the power is from God, and all the glory comes from God. Still, people took that lesson and twisted it into a hundred different forms which amount to nothing more than a worldly best guess. People make the same mistake Israel made with the Ark. They gave the glory to an object.
Do people still celebrate when making a decision on their own? How far does God have to go to break people out of that mood? In this case it took a lot to get their attention. This story only showed us one example.
David wanted to place the Ark under his care. Was that another mistake? Could David protect the Ark like God did in the wilderness? On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern–at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the LORD. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the LORD commanded. Then at the LORD’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the LORD’s command, and they did whatever the LORD told them through Moses. (Numbers 9:15-23 NLTse).
Not only did that cloud and pillar of fire protect the Tabernacle and Ark, it provided light at night, shade during the day, and told Israel when to travel, where to travel, and when to rest. Could David do the same for Israel? Was that the role of the king?
This world has its own way of looking at just about every subject. More often than not, without consulting God, or asking how to do things. What does God have to do to get His view across?
When David changed his plans and left the Ark on Obed-edom’s property, God blessed him. God didn’t direct where He wanted the Ark, but seeing David think about what he did was enough for God. What does that tell us about God? Even when we make mistakes, blessings come when we think about what we did wrong, and how we left God out of the decision. David reestablished communication with God. That was a step in the right direction.