Blogging Beale | The Temple and the Church’s Mission | Chapter 2, Pt. 2

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:

  1. Bottom of the garment with flowers = outer court = earth
  2. Main body of garment which was blue = holy place = sky
  3. 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)


Blogging Beale | The Temple and the Church’s Mission | Chapter 2

This is the second 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. 

Chapter 2: The Cosmic Symbolism of Temples in the Old Testament

Why do pagan temples resemble Israel’s temples?

It is due, in part, to a refracted and marred understanding of the true conception of the temple that was present from the very beginning of human history. In other words, common grace. People have a vague conception of the truth which is twisted and distorted by sin. Also, Israel shared a common culture with the pagans, and they filled common ideas and structure with theological significance.

What is the OT’s view of Israel’s earthly temple as related to the heavenly, or cosmic, temple?

They saw the earthly template reflecting the cosmic temple. The OT temple was a microcosm of the entire heaven and earth. See texts: Psalm 78:69. Furthermore, the tabernacle was patterned after the “heavenly” temple (Exodus 25:9).

What is the general symbolism of Israel’s temple?

  • Outer court=habitable world (i.e. earth)
  • Holy Place=visible heavens and light sources (i.e. sky)
  • Holy of Holies=Invisible dimension of the cosmos where God dwells (i.e. “heaven”).

What evidence suggests the Outer Court represents the earth?

The wash-basin in the outer court is called the “sea” (1 Kings 7:23-26), and the altar in the temple courtyard is called the “bosom of the earth” (Ezekiel 43:14). Furthermore, twelve bulls encircled the sea and lily blossom decorated the brim calling to mind “earthly” images. Plus, the twelve bulls were divided into four groups of three, indicating the four points on a compass. Plus, all Israelites (representing humanity) could enter at large.

What evidence suggests the Holy Place represented the sky?

Seven lamp stands may be associated with the seven light-sources visible to the naked eye (5 planets, sun, and moon). Genesis 1 uses the word “lights” for these things, when in the rest of the Torah it is used ten times all in reference to the lamp stands. Revelation also associates lamps stands with stars (1:20).

What evidence suggests the Holy of Holies represented God’s dwelling place in heaven?

Just as cherubim “guard” God’s throne (Revelation 4:7-9), there were sculpted cherubim around the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 6:23-28) and cherubim loves into the veil (cf. 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15). No human could enter into the Holy of Holies and see God’s glory. Only the high priest could enter in once a year with a cloud of inches so thick that he could not see God’s glorious appearance (Leviticus 16:13). The cloud could easily represent the visible heavens which point to the invisible realm. The ark was God’s “footstool” of the heavenly throne (1 Chronicles 28:8; Psalm. 99:5; 132:7-8; Isaiah 66:1). The ark is part of God’s heavenly throne room and appropriately, the space above the ark is empty.

How does the temple symbolize both the visible and invisible heavens?

The “cloud” filled Israel’s temple when it was completed, pointing to the invisible heaven (see above question) (1 Kings 8:10-13; 2 Chronicles 5:13-6:2). The “cloud” was like a “bridge” between the visible and invisible heavens, for some times it’s used to mean the visible heavens (Job 26:8-9) and at other times God’s glory is likened to a cloud (Ezekiel 1:4, 28). The earliest forms of the temple (i.e. the tabernacle) was also associated with clouds as God met Israel at Sinai (Exodus 16:10).

Temple is built as an “lofty” house which refers to both visible and invisible heavens (Habakkuk 3:11; Isaiah 63:15). The “winged” creatures around the ark also give upper-atmospheric connections (1 Kings 8:6-7). The veil was made of different colors which resembled the sky (blue, purple, and red): Red represented lightning and sun. Blue and purple represented the sky. The screen of the “gate of the court” was also “blue, purple, and scarlet” (Exodus 26:36; 27:16; 36:37; 38:18). Even the “loops” of the edge of the curtains were be blue and the priests were to cover the tabernacle with “blue” when they transported it (Numbers 4:5-13).

Blogging G.K. Beale | The Temple and the Church’s Mission | Chapter 1

G.K. Beale’s groundbreaking work, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, is worth close interaction, even if you ultimately disagree with his conclusions. The book is massive and dense with Scripture. So slogging through all of the details is hard work. But I think it’s worth it because Beale’s book unlocks many things which were previously a mystery to me, especially in the Old Testament. Today we begin working through the book slowly to understand Beale’s argument and unpack the implications.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Beale begins in the New Testament, specifically in the book of Revelation. For Beale, he is especially puzzled by Revelation 21, where John sees a “new heavens and a new earth” and then a temple. So Beale asks a key question: Why does John see a “new heavens and new earth” but then “zoom in” on the temple-city?

For Beale, one answer could be that John is first given a panoramic shot of the new heavens and earth and zooms in on city of which it is part. Beale find such an answer unsatisfactory because he sees in Scripture the new heavens and earth being equated with the new temple. Why should they be equated? Beale provides three lines of evidence:

  1. There is a parallel between the temple and the new creation: Nothing unclean comes into temple. No uncleanness in temple also means new creation is clean because the wicked are in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:27, 22:15)
  2. There is the “seeing-hearing” pattern of Revelation. John often first “sees” a vision and then “hears” an explanation (e.g. Revelation 5:5-6). John first “sees” the new creation and then hears what this means—the new Jerusalem descending down from heaven.
  3. The Old Testament equates “heaven and earth” with Jerusalem or its temple (Isaiah 65:17-18).

Beale then lays out the thesis of his work: The Old Testament tabernacle and temples were symbolically designed to point to the cosmic eschatological reality that God’s tabernacling presence, formerly limited to the holy of holies, was to be extended throughout the whole earth.

In other words, the Old Testament temples were symbols of God’s presence. And one day, God’s presence would one day invade the whole world. Therefore, in the new creation there is no longer any temple.


Lead Better: Get Pure

Nothing will gut your leadership more quickly than habitual and enslaving sin, especially sexual sin. If you want to lead better, you need to get pure.

Not only does sexual sin hamper our relationship with God, but the subsequent guilt and shame damage our leadership. Satan wants pastors sitting on the sidelines, feeling guilty and totally inadequate to lead God’s people. Satan wants shame to dampen a leader’s courage and boldness for the gospel.

Are you tired of feeling unworthy to be a pastor?

Read more about how live a life of habitual purity over at Rookie Preacher. 

Blogging the Institutes | 1.13.7 | The Son is God

The Son is God

Before I go any further, I want to prove that the Son and Holy Spirit are God. Afterwards, we’ll see how they differ from one another. When Scripture talks about the Word of God, it is silly to believe that it like a fleeting voice which evaporates into thin air. God’s Word comes from Himself as He communicated to the patriarchs and all the prophecies. Wisdom was always with God. And it was through this wisdom that all the oracles and prophecies came from. The prophets spoke through the power of Christ’s Spirit, just like the apostles did (1 Peter 1:11). Although Christ was not yet manifested in the world, we understand that the Word was begotten by the Father from all eternity. If the Spirit, who used the prophets as His mouthpieces, belonged to the Word, then the inference is irresistible: the Word was truly God.

This is shown clearly by Moses in his account of creation. The Word is the agent of creation. Why does he narrate that God, in creating each part of the world, says, “Let there be this!” and “Let there be that!” except to show that the unsearchable glory of God might shine forth in His image! I know that heretics will try to avoid believing this by arguing that the Word was only used to “order” and “command” creation. But the apostles are better teachers when they tell us that the worlds were created by the Son and He sustains all things by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). We see in this verse that the term “word” is used to refer to the Son’s command, who Himself is the essential and eternal Word of the Father. The Word used His word to create!

No one can doubt Solomon’s teaching about wisdom. He introduces Wisdom as begotten from God, present at the creation of the world and all of God’s works (Proverbs 8:22-31). It would be foolish to imagine that God used a temporary command when He was executing His fixed and eternal plan. Jesus is talking about this ongoing “command” when He says, “My Father is working until now, and so am I” (John 5:17). Jesus affirms that He has been working with the Father from the beginning of time. Jesus clearly explains what Moses implied in the creation account. God spoke in such a way as to use the Word in creation so that both He and the Word could be seen as the agents of creation. The apostle John gives us the clearest explanation. The Word, which was with God and also God Himself, made all things together with the Father. John shows that the Word is truly God. Yet the Word also has some distinction from the Father. But he also shows how God spokes the world into existence. Just as all revelations from heaven are called “the Word of God,” so the highest title must be given to the capital-W “Word,” who is the source of all revelation about God. Since the Word never changes, He is forever one and the same with God, and is God.

Blogging the Institutes | 1.13.6 | The Father is NOT the Son and vice versa

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

The Father is NOT the Son and vice versa

Let’s stop talking about mere labels and talk about what they actually mean. When I use the term “person” I mean this: a subsistence within the divine essence. This subsistence, while related to the other two, is distinguished from them by certains properties which aren’t shared by the others. Let’s be clear: the term “subsistence” is different than “essence.” For example, if the “Word” was identical to God in every way, then John would have not said that He was always “with” God (John 1:1). Yet, when John immediately adds that the “Word was God,” he draws our attention back to their shared essence (“God-ness”). But notice the unity and distinction in the passage. The Word is God and shares in the same “essence” as the Father. But the Word is distinct from God in some way: the way of person or “subsistence.”

So each person in the Trinity is related to the others but also each one has its one distinction properties. When the term “God” is used, it can rightly be applied to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. But when the Father is compared to the Son, the particular properties of each person distinguishes one from the other. The Father is NOT the Son. Each person (Father, Son, Spirit) carries with itself its own properties which are not part of the other persons. Whatever properties are solely possessed by the Father can be transferred to the Son. I have no objections to adopting Tertullian’s definition, if it is properly understood: “There is a certain arrangement or economy within God , which does not affect the unit of essence.”