This is the third installment of the series, Blogging Beale, working through G.K. Beale’s work, The Temple and the Church’s Mission. From now on, the posts will be in Q&A format, summarizing Beale’s arguments. Part one. Part two.
Chapter 2: The Cosmic Significance of Temples in the Old Testament, Pt. 2
How does the priest’s robe relate to the temple’s symbolism?
It was made of “blue, purple, and scarlet” like the veil of the temple. Square breastplate corresponded to the square shape of the holy place and the temple (Exodus 27:1; 30:2; Ezekiel 41:21; 43:16) The jewels on the priest’s breastplate, which were a small replica of the Holy of Holies, also symbolized heaven and earthly cosmos. The same jewels are part of the city-temple in Revelation 21:19-20. The three sections of the priest’s garment match to the three sections of the temple:
- Bottom of the garment with flowers = outer court = earth
- Main body of garment which was blue = holy place = sky
- Square ephod = Holy of Holies = invisible spiritual dimension
How much precious material was put into the temple and why is this important?
Foundation of temple laid with gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Kings 5:17). Inside was pure gold (1 Kings 6:20-21) The altar, cherubim, floor, and engraved work were all overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20, 28, 30, 35). The same precious stones and metals used in the construction of the of the temple were also used in making the priest’s clothing (Exodus 28:1-43). The precious metals and stones were to symbolize the stars, which in turn symbolized God’s dwelling place (heaven)
What is the connection between the priest’s clothing and temple?
The precious stones reflect the glory and beauty of the stars and also of the temple, which in turn reflects God’s glory and beauty. The main light sources of the old creation were representations, though only faintly, of the glorious light that God would shine in the new creation. The earthly temple was called “beautiful” because it was a reflection of God’s “beautiful” dwelling place in heaven.
What is the connection between God “resting” and the temple?
There are parallels between the creation of the world and the construction of the tabernacle (Genesis 1:31; 2:1-3 with Exodus 39:32, 43; 40:33) Parallels between “seven acts” of God: “And God said,” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26) and “And the Lord said,” (Exodus 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34; 31:1, 12). Parallel of sevens with the temple (seven years to build the temple, dedicated it on the seventh month, during the Feast of Booths, and prayer structured around seven petitions (1 Kings 6:38; 8:31-55). Thus, the building of the temple seems to have been modeled on the seven-day creation of the world. Just as God “rested” on the seventh day from His creative work, so when the tabernacle was finished (and especially the temple), God takes up a “resting place” in it (Psalm 132:7-8; 13-14) The purpose of the temple was to be divine “resting place” (1 Chronicles 28:2; Isaiah 66:1; 2 Chronicles 6:41). There is a connection between resting and conquering of chaos (cf. Creation account, Genesis 1:1, 2). Solomon recognizes that God had given him “rest” (1 Kings 5:4-5; 1 Chronicles 22:9-10; 18-19; 23:25-26). God’s “sitting” in the temple is an expression of His sovereign rest or reign, which is underscored by God being described as “sitting” or “enthroned above the cherubim” (Exodus 15:17; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalms 80:1; 99:1)