Thursday, April 30, 2009

Solomon and 1844

The history of Israel has been interesting in many areas but one of the most difficult points is Israel’s constant seeking to be like the world. They chose to stay in Egypt for over 200+ year, chose to have a king like all of the other nations, and then incorporated the world’s lifestyle into their religious practices over and over again. When Solomon was reigning he took the spiritual practice issue to whole new levels.

Shortly after the reign of Solomon came to a conclusion, Solomon’s son assisted in the division between Judah and Israel and the development of two "nations". This lack of unity in the two nations set up inter-tribal fighting and a general distrust between the two groups. This finally led to the conquering of Samaria by Assyria in II Kings 17. Judah lasted another 100 years before they to were conquered by Babylon in II Chronicles 36

Israel stayed in Babylon captivity for 70 years as a result of their rebellion against God. Jeremiah 25:12; Daniel 9:1-2. While in Babylon God raised up three prophets – Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. During this time God used these prophets to set out the outline of when Israel was to return and to establish the principles of God’s kingdoms. Not only that but God used Daniel to establish a time line of how Israel would be re-established and even more importantly set out the prophecy of when Messiah would come to Israel. This prophecy is in Daniel 8:14 and reveals the 2300 day/year prophecy. The first 490 years of this 2300 day/year prophecy tells us when the Messiah would come and get anointed by the Holy Spirit, when Messiah would be crucified, and when he probationary period of time for Israel would be completed.

During the time of Daniel God used him to influence many mighty leaders in the Babylonian Empire. God used Daniel, and his three friends, to spread the gospel throughout the world by the influence of interpreting of dreams. In addition God used Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah standing up to Nebuchadnezzar. When they came out of the furnace unscathed, the influence of the gospel had an effect that we can but dimly imagine. When Daniel watched over Nebuchadnezzar, while he was insane, he effectively ruled over the then greatest nation in the world, and the gospel continued to be taught through God’s people. Also, while this was all going on Daniel must have had contact with Cyrus and Cyrus was so impressed with Daniel, and all of the spiritual events that took place around Daniel, that when the Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon, Daniel was spared.

When Cyrus took over the kingdom of Babylon he was instructed regarding the prophecies of Isaiah 44:26-45:13, probably by Daniel. Cyrus recognized a Divine Hand working in his personal life. Cyrus gave the decree that Israel could return to Canaan and rebuild the city and the temple. All through the influence of Scripture, and mighty people of God, like Daniel.

The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi all tell the story of how God worked to help Israel get re-established, rebuild the temple, rebuild the city of Jerusalem and allow them to get focused on getting done what needed to get done in Israel. It also allowed them to completed the building of the temple in 515 BC. In accordance with the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-25 the 70 weeks portion of the 2300 day prophecy was started when Artaxerxes sent out his letter allowing the Jews to continue building the city of Jerusalem and to enhance the temple service. This letter was issued in 457 BC.

Through the support of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi Israel continued to build the temple and through the ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah completed reforms to get the people to reject the errors that Solomon had made so acceptable. For Israel was incorporating the same intermarriage issues that Solomon had done. See Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 13. When these issues had been settled then Israel could proceed toward the time of the Messiah.

In approximately 5-4 BC Jesus was born in Bethlehem which would allow Jesus to be about 30 years old in 27 AD. When He heard the call of John the Baptist He came to be baptized by the prophet and when He came up out of the Jordan river, the Holy Spirit fell on Him in the shape of a dove and the Father Himself stated "This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:13-17 and Luke 3:1-23. Thus Jesus of Nazareth became the Anointed One – The Messiah – The Christ.

Daniel 9:27 states that Messiah would confirm the covenant with many for one last week – 7 years- and in the middle of that last week of the 70 weeks would be cut off – He would die. Through His death in 31AD, He would cause the sacrifices and the oblations to cease. All of these things were accomplished by the death of Jesus and through His life and death, His resurrection, and His ministry in heaven, Jesus would fulfill the list of issues of Daniel 9:24.

During the next 3.5 years Jesus would send out the disciples to the Jews only to be sure that Israel would have every chance to surrender to Jesus and accept Him as the One and Only True Messiah. Instead of accepting Jesus the Jews, as a nation, rejected the messages given to them by the disciples. In 34AD they chose to stone the prophet Stephen and through this act they effectively sealed off their ability to repent and they were confirmed in rebellion and the probationary time granted through the 490 years was closed. The door was shut for their access to God as a nation. So the 70 weeks prophecy ran from 457BC to 34 AD a total of 70 weeks x 7 – 490 years. This prophecy covers all of the highlights of the coming and ministry of Messiah.

But the 2300 days/years, of which the first 490 years was allocated to the probationary time of Israel, was not finished. This prophecy indicated that there was 1810 more years left to this prophecy. 34AD plus 1810 brings us to the year 1844. During this time the gospel went out to the world and influenced people. During this time Satan did everything he could do to cover and darken the gospel and he developed the period called the Dark Ages. In this time the message of the gospel was twisted and distorted in every way possible to keep it from having its proper influence on the minds of the people. Yet God raised up mighty men of God to preserve the Word of God and to establish a Reformation to allow the gospel to be presented in it’s purity to prepare the people of God for the events of 1844.

We must remember that Daniel 8:13-14 was written in the context of the little horn attacking the truth, the sanctuary, the daily, and the people of God. The question is asked "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary (God’s building and doctrines) and the host (God’s people) to be trodden under foot? And He (Jesus the Wonderful Numberer see margin) said unto me (Daniel) Unto two thousand and three hundred days: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (and restored)." So we have to understand that 2300 days is either literally 6.4 years or it is a day for a year, just like the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24. Most scholars perceive the truth that the 70 weeks could not literally extend from the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem (457 BC) to Messiah for 70 weeks is only 1.3 years. So the only way it can make sense is to understand the prophetic principle of a day equals a year. With this understanding in mind the 70 weeks or 490 prophetic years fits perfectly, as we have displayed above.

Now the great question is the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 are literal or are they prophetic years? If they are literal then there still has to be established a starting point and an ending point. The only starting point is given in Daniel 9:25 the decree to restore and build Jerusalem and to proceed to Messiah the Prince. If the first section were a day for a year then the last section would have to abide by the same principle. So we will cover the last 1810 days for years after 34 AD. Again this brings us to the year 1844.

The greatest event happening in 1844 was the culmination of the Millerite Movement, a renewal of Bible study and prayer, and a desire to see the Second Coming of Jesus. When October 22, 1844 came and went the Millerites experienced a disappointment almost as intense as that of the Disciples when Jesus died on the cross. The Disciples hopes had been dashed when Jesus died, but when He subsequently explained the fact that He must die to fulfill Scripture and that He must go back to heaven to minister for the Disciples then they regained their vision and they had renewed hope. See Luke 24.

This same event happened to the Millerites. When they came to October 22, 1844, the date for the Day of Atonement (See Leviticus 23 and Daniel 8:14 – the "cleansing of the Sanctuary") they expected to see Jesus come in the clouds of heaven. When He did not come they were disappointed. The next day when meditating as to what went wrong, the Millerites discovered that there was a different "coming". The found in Daniel 7:13 that Jesus, instead of coming to the earth, came to the Ancient of Days in the beginning of the Judgment scenes of Daniel 7:9-14. This coming is also referred to in Malachi 3:1-2, and Matthew 22:11-14; and Matthew 25:5-7 When the Millerites understood that there was a judgment scene, similar to that of the Day of Atonement of Leviticus 23, their hearts were overjoyed. They had briefly lost site of Jesus, and then found Him again in Scripture.

After due study they found that in Revelation 10:1-11; and Revelation 14:1-12 they had been granted another mission, and another task; to prophecy again about Bible time, and to proclaim the three angels messages. In these messages is the task to present the everlasting gospel, the time of the judgment had come, to teach about the true worship of the Creator through the Sabbath day of the Ten Commandments, to proclaim the fact that Babylon has fallen, to educate against accepting the mark of the beast, to refuse the wine of Babylon and all of its errors, and to uplift the commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus.

One of the interesting qualities of the Bible is to present truth in a compare and contrast manner. God brackets the messages of Revelation 10 and 14 around Revelation 13. Revelation 13 is the chapter that displays all of the anti-typical messages of Solomon’s fall from grace. Revelation 13, we have read in an earlier article, is fulfillment on a world wide level all of the errors that Solomon had displayed in the later years of his reign in Israel, including the definition of 666, the dependency on the power of man, the ecumenical movement, and the incorporation of false forms of worship. All of these things the messages of the three angels is to correct. All who read and understand will be "…wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3

This is the message of Solomon and 1844. Solomon initiated many errors that led to much chaos and confusion in the kingdom of God. Yet God in His infinite wisdom used this chaos and confusion to reveal the principles of the kingdom of Satan and used it to teach His children what to recognize and how to avoid error, and practice truth. This is now our task to learn these things, see the truths for our time, and share them faithfully to God’s people. May you go forward and "be established in the Present Truth". II Peter 1:12

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Solomon and Spiritual Abominations

In our last study we discussed the issue of homosexuality and how Solomon had opened the door for this abomination by marrying many non-converted wives and then allowing his wives to influence him, as king, to allow their religious practices to be conducted in Israel. In this study we used Leviticus 18 to be the central point of discussion because Leviticus 18 describes a variety of sexual practices that the Canaanites participated in on a regular basis, and which they had incorporated into their religious practices.

In this study I want to briefly discuss several more issues that Solomon allowed to come into Israel. First of all Solomon made the decision to allow these religious practices to occur in Israel, even though God had clearly forbidden these ordinances to happen in His kingdom. To enhance these religious practices Solomon actively built altars and temples on the Mount of Olives so that his wives could practice their religious activities outside of Jerusalem. Thus Solomon not only countenanced these practices, but also actively aided them to occur, and then participated in them himself. We know this because his heart was turned away from the true God of Israel to the false and non-existing gods of his wives. This happened just as God predicted it would do. Deuteronomy 17:17; Exodus 34:10-17

In opening the door to these religious practices Solomon gave permission for all of the various abominable practices that the heathen practiced. Leviticus 18 has a variety of these evil practices. One of the major practices was to conduct various forms of incest – sexual contact between close family members. Leviticus 18:6-18. This included sexual contact with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law. No intimate contact with the near of kin. Apparently this was normal practice in the heathen cultures of Canaan, the very places, that many of Solomon’s wives came from.

Another abominable practice was sexual contact with a woman while she is experiencing her monthly cycle. Leviticus 18:19. God did not want to disrupt this part of the cycle and wanted to have it completed before regular sexual contact. Leviticus 20:18

God also forbade sexual contact with ones neighbor’s wife, and we would have to assume that with your neighbor’s husband as well. God has strictly forbade any sexual contact outside of the marriage relationship, and especially forbade adultery as part of the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20:14,17. This was a manifestation of loving your neighbor, to honor the marriage relationship and to encourage fidelity between husband and wife rather than to undermine it. Adultery is also forbidden in the New Testament as well. See Romans 2:22; 13:9; James 2:11. On the other hand apparently adulterous behavior was approved of behavior in the Canaanite lands. Solomon allowed this to happen in Israel and thus was willing to undermine the commandments of God to satisfy his wives.

Another abomination was that of bestiality. God forbade sexual contact between humans and animals but Canaanite religions rejected the counsel of God to allow the indulgence of the flesh. Leviticus 18:23. God calls this behavior "confusion".

In the list of abominations in Leviticus 18 God specifically forbids the practice of worshipping Molech. Solomon specifically allowed this worship to take place on the Mount of Olives. Among all of the evil qualities of worshipping Molech was the ordinance of allowing your children to pass through the fire. Leviticus 18:21; II Kings 16:1-4; Psalms 106:36-39. To pass your child through the fire was to ask the god a question and then expose the child to some form of fire and if they did not get burned then that was a yes to the question, and if they did get burned then that was no. Thus the people sacrificed their children to false God, and many children died as a result of this worship service. To pass your children through the fire was to offer human sacrifice. This was one of the many abominations that Solomon participated in.

Solomon, through neglect or plan, attempted to conduct a form of syncretism – an attempt to combine, or amalgamate, two opposing worship systems. Solomon had been strictly warned against such a practice but apparently he felt that he was wise enough to attempt to join what God had said could not be joined. God has no working relationship with Baal, or any false god for several reasons. First of all, God recognizes that there is not other god out there to interact with. There is only One God – Jehovah. All other gods are figments of man’s imagination, with a lot of help from Satan. Therefore it is impossible to syncretise a true religion with a false religion. Secondly, God bases all of His interactions on the point of truth. God does not lie, nor does He mislead in any way. All of His ways are truth therefore to try to mingle truth and error is not possible from God’s point of view. God only wants truth and nothing but the truth. Thirdly, God wants the best for His people. Therefore to introduce error is to cause harm to His children. God does not condone harm, nor does He condone error. Thus all of God’s recommendations are to be a blessing to His people, and thus when they share with others, the blessings of truth that God wants to share are to be a blessing to all of the world.

All of these things Solomon distorted by introducing error into the kingdom. God wanted truth, and Satan wanted to introduce error and all of the chaos and confusion, that error brings. Solomon allowed these things to come into Israel, and thus countenanced this error then, and set the precedents of creating error today – the fruit of his decision making.

We have the opportunity of learning from Solomon’s errors. If we want to know what happens when someone attempts to unite Christianity with Paganism, all we have to do is look at the kingdom of Solomon and study all of the chaos and confusion that happened in the kingdoms after his death. We will study these things in more detail in future articles. Our job is to "see" the impact of Solomon’s decision making and learn not to do those things that he did. We can make a difference if we will turn away from any attempt to mingle Christianity and Error. God says it will not work, Solomon showed the foolishness of attempting to do these things. It is abomination. May we learn to trust in the ways of God.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Solomon and Homosexuality

In I Kings 11:1-2 we find the following comments from God: "But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the Children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."

This counsel to stay away from intimate interaction with these heathen nations was given to Israel by God in Exodus 34:10-17 and reads as follows:

"10And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

11Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

12Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

13But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

14For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

15Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

16And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

17Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

All of the above data was available to Solomon and should have been incorporated into his view of life. But Solomon, as we have discussed earlier, had slowly but surely cast off the Bible as His source of instruction and guidance. He apparently was living in the security that he could trust his own wisdom and need not consult with God to guide his footsteps. Proverbs 16:9; Psalms 73:2-3

After making the decision to have strange wives, Solomon began to reap the harvest of his decisions. As a result of marrying these wives in rebellion against he counsel of God, they turned his heart, and they enticed him to worship their gods in harmony with their religious traditions. As a result of this decision many strange errors came into Israel. One of those errors was the sin of homosexuality – sexual contact with persons of the same sex.

We know that homosexuality was one of the many activities of the Canaanites from the book of Leviticus 18:1-5, 22, 24-30:

"1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.

3After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.

4Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.

5Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

22Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

24Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

25And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

26Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:

27(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)

28That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.

29For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.

30Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

We will be visiting this list in Leviticus 18 for several different studies to discuss various abominations of the lands for which Solomon chose to take his wives. But for this study I want to discuss just one issue that is the abomination of a man being sexually active with a man or a woman being sexually active with a woman. Leviticus 18 clearly states that one of the activities, which God calls an abomination, was that of homosexual contact.

When Solomon opened the doors to participate in his wives worship activities then one of the things that came with it was to introduce homosexuality to the nation of Israel and thus to communicate this abomination to the rest of the world. We know this because the world was coming to Solomon for instruction on how to do things the way that God would have them to live. His worship activities would be part of that instructional process.

We know that homosexuality was started and developed in Israel because the Bible tells us it happened. I Kings 14:22-24 "And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations, which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel" This happened during the time of Rehoboam Solomon’s son.

A Sodomite is one who practices Sodomy. Sodomy is defined in the dictionary as the homosexual proclivities of the men of Sodom; carnal copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal; or non-coital copulation with a member of the opposite sex. In some studies a Sodomite is one who is a male temple prostitute. One who is an active sexual partner, for males, and possibly females, in a religious service. But however one wants to define a Sodomite God pronounces it as an abomination especially in the context of any sexual conduct outside of the marriage arena, and certainly in light of what we have read in Leviticus 18:22 – "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.

Solomon should not have married his wives, and he should not have allowed his wives religious practices to contaminate the land. God wants purity of character to be seen in all human conduct and especially including sexual behaviors. But Solomon, once he had let his hold go on God, was not manly enough to stand up to his wives but was a pawn in their religious activities.

Some think that the prohibition against homosexuality is simply an antiquated Old Testament error. But all through Scripture God is very consistent in his rejection of homosexuality as a behavior. Whenever any of the kings of Israel were in a state of righteousness one of the things that happened was that any signs of Sodomy/Homosexuality were removed. See Deuteronomy 23:17-18; Judges 19-20; I Kings 15:11-12; I Kings 22:44-45; II Kings 23:7.

In the New Testament one of the consistent themes of Paul is his condemnation of sexual activity outside of the marital relationship and especially that of man with man or woman with woman. Romans 1:24-27. Paul even goes to far as to copy the Old Testament provision that homosexuality was worthy of death, along with all of the other sins listed in Romans 1:29-32. Paul was not isolating homosexuality from all of the other sins but was directly including homosexuality as something worthy of death. Paul repeats this concept in I Corinthians 6:9 by incorporating effeminate behavior and abusing of themselves with mankind.

John the Revelator states that any abomination – mankind having sexual contact with mankind, will have its part in the lake of fire. Revelation 21:8. He then repeats this when talking about dogs – male homosexual or male sexual prostitute Deuteronomy 23:17-18 – can not enter into the New Jerusalem. John includes this sin in a list of other sins; again, to God all sin is worthy of death. Revelation 22:14-15

In conclusion, when Solomon allowed his wives to bring in their religions, many grave errors came with this religious expression including the error of homosexuality. This is a part of the process of Solomon’s rebellion, and this error is also seen in the many errors of Babylon, the end time abomination that is the Anti-type of Solomon’s rebellion. I pray that each one who reads this study, if they have a problem with homosexuality will take it to Jesus to receive the help that only He can give.

Solomon and His Fall From Grace

One of the great theological debates in Christianity is can someone fall from grace. We discussed this in some detail in a previous article on Solomon and Once Saved Always Saved. In this article I want to delineate the issues that contributed to his fall.

We know that Solomon fell from grace because God had warned Solomon not to do a variety of evil things, and especially not to marry wives of other nations for "…surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." I Kings 11:2; Deuteronomy 17:17; Exodus 34:16; II Corinthians 6:14-17. Scriptures states clearly "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father." I Kings 11:4. Then we see the reaction of God to Solomon’s condition. "And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice." I Kings 11:9

So we can clearly see that one can fall from grace in this example of Solomon. We also know that one can fall from grace because the Apostle Paul clearly states that we can in Galatians 5:4. The great question is whether disobeying God on one point is the major issue or, as in Solomon’s case was his "turning" a result of many small issues leading to the clear and visible issue? This is the purpose of this article to show that Solomon’s fall from grace was a culmination of many issues, as conversion is the culmination of many little issues as well.

As we have noted before David did not treat Solomon well and did not allow many experiences of suffering to get to Solomon. He was the first surviving son of his relationship with Bathsheeba and thus tended to be on the pampered end of the spectrum of the royal children. In addition David had a tendency to not discipline his children as we saw in the cases of Adonijah and Absalom, Solomon’s older brothers. So this lack of discipline was an issue in Solomon’s experience that would contribute to his decision making over time.

Another issue for Solomon was that he grew up in a household that was dominated by polygamy, and all of the evils that come with this household arrangement. In Genesis 21:9 Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac and she told this to Abraham and told him that the bondwoman and her son must be cast out. Genesis 21:10 This was a very painful and grievous test for Abraham but he was willing to obey God, even in the painful issues, and he did what God, and Sarah, asked him to do. Genesis 21:11-21. David would have saved much suffering if he had obeyed God’s original plan of one man and one wife. David could have role modeled God’s plan for Solomon but it was not to be. Thus Solomon subconsciously learned about polygamy as a normal rather than an abnormal way of life.

As we discussed in an earlier article Solomon did not appear to have any prophetic input into his reign. He appeared to think that his wisdom alone would be enough to guide him through the difficulties of life. Oddly enough it was Solomon himself who spoke in Proverbs 11:14 that in a multitude of counselors there is safety. In future Scripture the same truth is restated "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." I Corinthians 10:12

We have no record of Solomon spending daily time reading the book that he had been commanded to have written and to read all of the days of his life. Deuteronomy 17:18-20. Again, this would have been a barrier to self-exaltation and the idea that wisdom makes one wiser than the origin of wisdom – God.

When Solomon began to build the Temple of God, he sought after a talented builder. He did not take into account what God had done for Israel in the time of Moses. God raised up talented men and endowed them with the necessary spiritual gifts to build the Sanctuary in the time of Moses. God would have done the same thing for Solomon if He had been asked. It appears that Solomon chose to go to the world to find this talented person rather than to God. This kind of thinking was a sign of the decision making that would put Solomon at risk of falling. The choice of Hiram, and the appeal to Hiram of Tyre for support, both indicates a lack of awareness of the dangers of becoming unequally yoked with non-believers. The choice of Hiram set in motion many evils in his kingdom.

A similar issue for Solomon was the "affinity" with Pharaoh and the marriage of Pharaoh’s daughter. Both of these events set Solomon’s mind that it is safe to relate to idolatrous nations and enter into emotionally vulnerable relationships. Again, this behavior was a violation of what God had instructed, a perception that one is wise enough to handle these things alone, and a slow turning away from the things of God for the things of the world.

As a result of Solomon’s affinity with Pharaoh he made a decision to purchase horses and chariots in direct contradiction to the instruction that God had granted Solomon in Deuteronomy 17:16. By doing these things Solomon showed contempt to the Word of God and it opened his thinking to the thinking of the world. He turned to have the idea that the weapons of the nations were better than the promises and protection of God. In addition, to support the purchase of horses, and all of the riders, and the barns, and feeding of the horses was a financial drain on the kingdom. It also taught the people that Solomon leaned on the arm of flesh rather than the arm of God.

Solomon was also instructed not greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:17. God knew that when man has an abundance of money then his awareness of his need for God decreases. As we have discussed in earlier articles Solomon accrued gold at the rate of 666 talents of gold in a year. I Kings 10:14. He made gold some common in Israel that silver was considered like brass or wood – a cheap and common substance. This attitude set up the idea of extravagance and waste in the land as well as in Solomon’s own mind. He left the simple things of life and indulged in the vanity of money and pomp and circumstance. It appears that Solomon did not study how to use money and resources in a manner that reflected the virtues of frugality and simplicity. Solomon also did not study how to use these monies to take care of the poor that God has promised would always be with us, nor did Solomon use these monies to spread the gospel to the world. Solomon used the money for buildings and to maintain the splendor of his court.

It appears that as Solomon continued down the path of riches and glory that he began to think more highly of himself than what was wise for him. It appears that he began to think that he was wise in and of himself, that he had no accountability for this gift of wisdom to God. The natural heart always tends toward vanity and it appears that his vanity was indulged to the highest point. Ecclesisates 2:1-11

As Solomon continue to build buildings and continued to develop display and ornamentation as a way of life, he needed to augment the income for the kingdom and began to turn to taxation of the people. This increased the burden of the people but was tolerable to some extent because of all the building in the land supporting the work of the people. But eventually the people became so tired of this that after the death of Solomon the people stoned Adoram who was in charge of the tribute gathering. I Kings 12:18

This whole business of taxing the people to support the extravagance of the court violated the principle of the cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7. God wanted His people to give to the support of the Temple service, out of the desires of their hearts as in the time of Moses. Exodus 35:21-22; 36:1-7; I Chronicles 29:1-14. Thus taxation was violation of the freedom of giving from the heart. Solomon initiated these taxes and thus his heart was growing hard due to errors in is personal theology regarding how God wanted to conduct the business of the state.

Another issue was that after a time, Solomon was willing to take credit for building the Temple of the Lord. This temple eventually began to be called Solomon’s temple rather than the Temple of the Lord, which God had allowed Solomon to build. This subtle shift was another of the many little steps that lead to the major decisions of life.

Finally, Solomon had grown so out of touch that he could violate God’s specific command not to marry many women. Not only did Solomon began to accumulate wives but his wives were not of Israel. We have no record of any of Solomon’s wives being from Israel. All of Solomon’s wives apparently were strange women. We have covered this issue of strange wives before in previous articles. But God had told Solomon not to do this for they would turn his heart, and they would introduce their belief systems into the pure religion of Israel. This they most certainly did. Solomon, in order to pacify his wives, began to build temples and altars to their gods, knowing full well that there is only One God, the God of Israel. Yet with this knowledge, and no protection, from God, Solomon opened the doors of Israel to all of the errors of the false religions of the world.

Thus Solomon’s heart was turned away from God and all of the evils that come with this decision happened in Israel. In the following articles I will discuss many of these errors and how these errors set things in motion that affect us to this very day. May God bless us as we study to find these issues ask God to remove these errors from our hearts and to help us find the truth and hold onto it for dear life. Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Solomon and the Great White Throne

In all of Solomon’s building he decided to build a "…porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other." I Kings 7:7.

In this "porch of judgment" Solomon had a special throne built and there was none like it in any kingdom. I Kings 10:20 This throne was made of ivory and was therefore white. It had gold sheets on it to convey wealth and value of character. It had 6 steps to the throne, the throne level being the 7th step. At each end of each step were two golden lions. Verse 19 of I Kings indicates that there were 2 lions at the top of the throne one on each side of the throne. Depending upon how one views the throne one could calculate 12 lions, 2 for each step, and 2 more on the throne level for a total of 14 lions.

At this throne it would appear that Solomon me with his subjects and was able to deliver the judgments necessary to assist with the functioning of the kingdom. Assuming that Solomon was still in right connection with God at this time, this throne would have some deep symbolic qualities to it.

We know that there was not a throne like this in any kingdom on earth. However, there are some similarities between this throne that Solomon had built, and the throne in heaven. In heaven we know that there is a great white throne and that this throne will be brought to earth for the resurrected wicked "went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city…" Revelation 20:9

We know that all of the wicked had been destroyed by the brightness of the coming of Jesus II Thessalonians 2:8 and by the earthquake and hail of the 7th plague. Revelation 16:18-21. We also know that these wicked had remained dead for a thousand years and only when Jesus, and the saints, returned from heaven, and were accompanied by the holy city. When all was prepared the wicked were resurrected, and Satan was loosed to gather the resurrected dead and seek to attack the Holy City. When this occurs then the great and final judgment occurs.

In this Great White Throne Judgment scene the wicked will be judged out of the records that have been kept in the books referred to in Revelation 20:12 and Daniel 7:10. We also know that the wicked will have had their names blotted out of the Book of Life. Revelation 3:5 and Exodus 32:31-33; Revelation 13:8. Jesus will judge the wicked ones for their works done in the flesh. Revelation 20:12-13.

We know that in the throne room scene in heaven, as described in Revelation 4-5, there is a central throne, surrounded by 24 thrones for the 24 elders. In the midst of the throne are 4 "beasts" having 4 faces and 6 wings. One of the faces of the beasts is that of a lion. Revelation 4:6-7. In addition another Lion comes to the throne in the form of the Son of God the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Revelation 5:5

There is another picture in the Throne Room in heaven and that is the individual referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is also presented as the "Lamb as it had been slain". Revelation 5:6. Thus symbolizing that Jesus is both Judge and Sacrifice. In Him is united the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Matthew 23:23. Jesus is the perfect Judge. John 5:22.

So as Solomon, the Type of Jesus, was the judge in his time sitting on a great white throne, so the Reality, the True Judge, will sit on His great white throne and complete the judgment once and for all.

Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

After building the Temple for God, and having the then known world come calling on a regular basis to consult with Solomon regarding wisdom, the highest point of Solomon’s reign is fulfilled with the Queen of Sheba. This Queen hears of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord and she came to prove him with hard questions. I Kings 10:1; II Chronicles 9:1 This statement is a wonderful testimony for Solomon for the Queen of Sheba had heard of Solomon’s fame concerning the name of the Lord. We know from Exodus 34:5-7 that the "name" of the Lord is to reveal His character. So for the Queen of Sheba to hear about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord would mean that she had heard how Solomon revealed the character of God and she wanted to come and experience this. There is no greater honor in this world than to reveal the name of the Lord in our lives. Ezekiel 36:23

Apparently the Queen of Sheba came to meet with Solomon and brought a great train with camels, spices, precious stones, and gold. This is very similar to the wise men that came to see Jesus in Matthew 2:1-11. They too brought spices and gold to see One who revealed the character of God.

When the Queen came to Solomon she communed with him of all that was in her heart. I Kings 10:2 When she had shared her thoughts on the mysteries of life "Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not." I Kings 10:3 She had many questions and could not understand these things and God had instructed Solomon how to answer each and every question just as Phillip did to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. God knew the issues that the Queen of Sheba wanted to discuss, and how she needed answers to the concerns of her heart. As God addressed the woman at Jacob’s well so He ministered to this woman through His ambassador Solomon. John 3 and II Corinthians 5:20.

After answering her questions, Solomon took her on a tour of the kingdom that God had placed him over. She had the opportunity to see the Temple of the Lord, the other things Solomon had built, what kind of health message Solomon had at his table (see Daniel 1), how his servants conducted themselves, how they were dressed, and how he conducted the affairs of the kingdom. When she had seen all of these things there was no more spirit in her. This testifies that the spiritual issues of the Queen of Sheba had been so moved that she was ready to testify to the glory of God. Her heart was melted with the beauty of holiness. She had experienced what her two sisters, Rahab Joshua 2:8-11 and Ruth Ruth 1:15-18,had experienced. She was ready to confess that the Lord of Israel was the true God of the world and the universe. This she states in I Kings 10:6-9:

"And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in my own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I had heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear they wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice."

Her heart had been filled with the joy of the Lord, her questions had been answered, and she was able to testify from her heart that the Lord God of Israel was the true God. She was converted.

When she left she gave many great gifts and much spices and gold to Solomon as testimony of the softness of her heart. She left to return home and like all converted people she to wanted to tell of the goodness and greatness of the God of Israel.

At this time Solomon was at the height of his experience with God and was giving a clear testimony in life and action of the glory, the character, of God. This is the opportunity of each and every Christian. This is also the testimony of the people who make up the 144,000. They have the name of God in their foreheads and thus testify of God, as did Solomon so long ago. Revelation 14:1

Solomon and the Spirit of Prophecy

In I Kings 4:1-21 is a listing of the various officers who led out in the affairs of Solomon’s kingdom. In this list are no references to any prophet who gave counsel to Solomon. In David’s kingdom there are various references to prophets who counseled with David during his reign. Among those prophets are Gad the king’s seer; and Nathan the prophet. II Chronicles 29:25. Also listed is a series of singers who "prophesied" for David. This list consists of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthan. I Chronicles 25:1-5. In verse 5 Heman is listed as the King’s seer in the word of God. Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse suggests that Heman, and Asaph, and Jeduthun may have been trained in the school of the prophets when Samuel had been alive. None the less it is interesting that in the list of Solomon, and in much of his story there is little mention of prophecy or prophets.

In II Chronicles 9:29 there is a list of prophets who recorded the events of Solomon’s life. This list consisted of Nathan the prophet, who anointed Solomon, Ahijah the Shilonite who prophesied to Jeroboam the Son of Nebat in I Kings 11:29-39, and Iddo the seer. We have no record of any of these prophets interacting with Solomon during his reign.

Now the part of this story that is interesting is one would think that with all of Solomon’s wisdom he would see the value of interacting with the prophets or of asking God for the presence of the gift of prophecy in the land. It is possible that Solomon perceived himself as a prophet since God came to him to speak to him in the night dreams. I Kings 3:5-15; I kings 6:11-13; I Kings 9:2-9. In the book Prophets and Kings – by E.G. White – page 77 there is a statement that the message of I Kings 11:9-13 was delivered by a prophet but we are not told who that was.

It appears that David, a prophet himself, was truly appreciative of the gift of prophecy and he sought out after Divine instruction through prophets and through seeking to inquire of the Lord through the High Priest and through the "ephod". I Samuel 30:7-8. This is repeated in II Samuel 5:17-25 when David inquired after the Lord as to whether to battle with the Philistines. In all of these efforts David was willing to humble himself before God, and was willing to obey the counsel that came to him. We do not know if Solomon was of this spirit of meekness or whether he trusted in his own wisdom.

In Ecclesiastes 1-2 we see Solomon seeking to "commune with mine own heart" as to what he should do and whether he should follow a certain line of reasoning or action. We do know that Solomon disobeyed the commands of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and so we have some evidence that he had greater faith in himself than in God and was content to trust in the wisdom granted to him by God. Of course we know that the heart of a man is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 Apparently Solomon did not learn this until the ends of his days when he finally recognized his foolishness and his need of a Saviour.

Again, it is hopeful that we can learn the lessons from Solomon’s fall, and from his many mistakes. It is this writer’s hope that we will ask God for a willing heart to listen to the prophets of old and to study out the things that God has wanted us to understand about the gift of prophecy. Hopefully, we may seek this gift from God and when He sends a prophet that we will be willing to respond to them.

In Amos 3:7 we are told that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." Amos 3:7 We are told that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and that what they wrote was for us. I Peter 1:10-12. To receive a prophet and to believe what a prophet says is considered by God to be an act of submission to Him and an acceptance of a wise gift from Him that will bless us. II Chronicles 20:14-20. On the other hand, to have God send us prophets and for us to reject them, is in effect a rejection of Him. II Chronicles 36:15-16; John 5:45-47; Matthew 21:33-46

All through Bible history God has sent His prophets to His people to guide, instruct, and encourage them. Yet the general nature of the people is that they usually do not want to hear the Words of God through His prophets, and the life of a prophet was always at high risk and many prophets died at the hands of God’s people. Acts 7:51-60 Yet God, in His great mercy keeps sending His prophets because He knows the needs of His people.

In fact one of the signs of God’s last day church is that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of His true church. In Revelation 12:17 we have the following statement by the prophet John and he says "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and wen to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus." Jesus follows this thought up with the following text, also in Revelation 19:10 "And I fell at his feet to worship him ( the angel giving the message to John). And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy." So we can see that in God’s remnant church the commandments of God are a central feature as well as the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy.

This gift of prophecy will be an identifying mark all of the way to the end of time.
God also says that there will be many false prophets and false Christs that will come in the end and will intend to deceive the very elect of God. Matthew 24:23-27. So when God sends out true prophets, Satan will also send out false prophets with the intent to deceive. This will continue to the very time of the coming of Jesus in the clouds of heaven. So God wants us to spend enough time His Word so that we will know how to determine a false prophet from true prophet.

God has provided a few fundamental concepts so that we can know on whose side the prophets really are on. Here is a short list for you to meditate upon and which will give you some ideas of how to assess a prophet, whether they be good or evil.

A true prophet of God will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh of mankind. Anyone who denies this truth is not of God, according to the Bible. I John 4:1-3

The Bible says that you can identify a false prophet by his fruit. One of those fruits is whether the prophet will listen to the sayings of Christ and then actually do them. Those who do the sayings of Christ are of Christ and the false ones will talk it but not do them. Matthew 7:15-28

A true prophet will be in harmony with God’s Word, His Commandments, and His prophets. Isaiah 8:20

A true prophet will teach that Jesus is the True Lord of the universe. I Corinthians 12:3.

A true prophet will teach that Jesus of Nazareth is the true Anointed One, or the Christ, and that Jesus is the sent of the Father. I John 2:22

A true prophet will teach that Jesus is the Son of God. I John 4:15

A true prophet, when their prophecies come true will encourage people to continue to obey God in all that He has taught through the Word of God. Deuteronomy 13:1-4

A false prophet will teach in such a manner as to violate one or all of the concepts above.

The above principles are important because we need to know how to identify the true gift of prophecy and to avoid the false gift of prophecy. In a previous study we examined the similarities between Solomon, when he was in apostasy, and the beast of Revelation 13. We have seen how this beast of Revelation 13, sought to present blasphemies as truth, to blaspheme the name of God, to seek to distort the truths about God’s sanctuary/temple, and to blaspheme those who are of heaven. Revelation 13:6. This beast also persecuted God’s saints through time, was slain, was resurrected near the end of time, and who seeks worship again by forcing people to accept error and false miracles. Revelation 13:7-17.

This beast is symbolized in Revelation 16:13-14 as part of a system consisting of a dragon (Revelation 12:3-9,13-17; 13:2), a beast (Rev 17:3; 7-17, and a false prophet. Unclean frog like beasts come out of the mouths of these three entities which are the spirits of devils that are able to work miracles and they want to bring all of the world to battle against God Almighty. When these agents of Satan come to us, looking good (II Corinthians 11:13-15; II Thessalonians 2:1-13) we want to be able to stand firm with God on the truths of His Word. We do not need to fall like Solomon, and we can stand if we learn the lessons from Solomon’s experience.

When Solomon finally was reclaimed from Satan, he was able to state the following in his book of confession – "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 If we heed these messages we will be able to distinguish between the false and the true and we will need to hold on to the truth though everything else fails.

Solomon and the House of the Forest of Lebanon

While Solomon was building the House of the Lord, he was also building his own house and the House of the Forest of Lebanon. The Temple of the Lord took 7 years to build and Solomon’s personal house took 13 years to build. I Kings 7:1. In addition Solomon also built a house for his wife – Pharaoh’s daughter.

The House of the Forest of Lebanon is the building that the Bible chooses to focus upon and gives the most descriptions of what the building looked like. It was 100 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. This would be translated to 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high – this is equal to about 4 stories high in a building today. In addition the length of the building would be equivalent to a 15-story building laid on it side. It was a large building. In the building there were 4 rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams, and covered with cedar. There are some traditions that say that the 4 rows of cedar pillars were actual cedars and the whole building was supported by 45 pillars. Thus, according to some traditions the inside of the house looked, and smelled like a forest of cedars. In addition, Solomon had 200 targets of gold – 600 shekels of gold apiece, and 300 hundred shields at 300 shekels of gold apiece, placed in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. II Chronicles 9:15-16. There were also drinking vessels in this house and they were all made of gold and none of silver. II Chronicles 9:20

Now, the interesting point of this whole building is that there is no stated purpose for the building. It was big; it was set with costly and hewed stones some of 10 cubits length and some of 8 cubits length. I Kings 7:9-11. So there was a lot of thought and expense that went into the building but with no stated purpose for the building that is clearly stated in the Bible or in the vague historical accounts that have come to us. So we can assume that the House of the Forest of Lebanon was a banquet place, or it could have been some kind of armory due to the shields, but no spears. John Bunyan even thought this house could have actually been in Lebanon facing Damascus. Song of Solomon 7:4

Another perspective is that provided by Ellen White in her book Prophets and Kings page 54-55, that discusses Solomon and his thinking about events. She poses the following ideas about Solomon and his buildings.

"The king's alliances and commercial relations with heathen nations brought him renown, honor, and the riches of this world. He was enabled to bring gold from Ophir and silver from Tarshish in great abundance. "The king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance." 2 Chronicles 1:15. Wealth, with all its attendant temptations, came in Solomon's day to an increasingly large number of people; but the fine gold of character was dimmed and marred.

So gradual was Solomon's apostasy that before he was aware of it; he had wandered far from God. Almost imperceptibly he began to trust less and less in divine guidance and blessing, and to put confidence in his own strength. Little by little he withheld from God that unswerving obedience which was to make Israel a peculiar people, and he conformed more and more closely to the customs of the surrounding nations. Yielding to the temptations incident to his success and his honored position, he forgot the Source of his prosperity. An ambition to excel all other nations in power and grandeur led him to pervert for selfish purposes the heavenly gifts hitherto employed for the glory of God. The money, which should have been held in sacred trust for the benefit of the worthy poor and for the extension of principles of holy living throughout the world, was selfishly absorbed in ambitious projects.

Engrossed in an overmastering desire to surpass other nations in outward display, the king overlooked the need of acquiring beauty and perfection of character. In seeking to glorify himself before the world, he sold his honor and integrity. The enormous revenues acquired through commerce with many lands were supplemented by heavy taxes…"

Solomon had many building projects; he built the House of the Forest of Lebanon, his own palace, a palace for the daughter of Pharaoh, a porch of pillars, a porch for holding court, he built to the fort of Millo, rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, built Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer; and then he also built Baalath, Tadmor, and his storage cities, and all of the support systems for his horses and chariots. I Kings 7:1-12; I Kings 9:15-19

After all of these building projects Solomon eventually got involved with building temples to all of his wives gods. So Solomon was a very busy man when it came to building things. His purposes in building started out well but he eventually began to build, not just for the glory of God, or the functionality of the state, but for personal vanity and aggrandizement. When he came to the point of vanity building he was no longer in harmony with the will of God for God does not do things for vanity alone. He does only those things that fulfill a purpose and brings people to a deeper relationship with God.

I pray that we to can learn lessons from Solomon even in the area of building things. We need to bring all of our plans to God and to be willing to surrender them to His will if they are leading us away from God. As in all things, building projects, of various kinds, takes resources of planning, energy, and monies. The project may be good in and of itself but we must be willing to ask God if our pet project will exalt Him or exalt ourselves at the expense of God. If it will not be for the glory of God then it would be wise for us to use those resources to accomplish something for God and give all glory to Him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Solomon - and God's Second Visit

"And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared unto him at Gibeon." I Kings 9:1

Solomon had completed his great task and had built the Temple of God. He had been faithful, although with a number of mistakes, and he had coordinated the building of this wonderful Temple. Now while the thoughts of success ran strong in his mind, God visited Solomon and attempted to ground Solomon in an awareness of his need.

In the night God came to Solomon, as He had at Gibeon, and God reiterated some of the concerns that God had for Solomon. He said:

"And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (God states that He has made holy what man had built, and that His eyes and His heart would be there perpetually.)

And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:

Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. (God promises to bless if Solomon will obey His laws. I believe that God is trying to remind Solomon to Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: (God is alerting Solomon to His future potential. Will Solomon listen and learn?)

Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: (God says that if Solomon, and his people turn away from Him, the Temple will be cast off.)

And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?

And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil." I Kings 9:3-9 (The reason for destruction is that God’s people turned away from Him. God does not turn away from His people.) Highlighted comments are writer’s thoughts.

It is this writers’ belief that God was trying to remind Solomon that he needed to be serious about the things of God. He wanted Solomon to remember that his security was not in his wisdom, his glory, or his wealth. Solomon’s security was in the fact that Solomon had known God and God had blessed him with prosperity. Jeremiah 9:23-24 If Solomon could hold onto this thought he would be protected from the natural vanity that man develops as success happens to him. When that pride gets to the point that man feels that he does not need God then he is totally lost for he is now dependent upon himself. God wanted to remind Solomon that his success came from God and God alone.

Thus Solomon set out on the greatest time of his life. He had been blessed by God with peace and security all around. I Kings 4:24-25 He has astronomical amounts of money coming into the kingdom. Many visitors from other countries came to seek out his wisdom, to see the Temple, and to learn how to better handle their kingdoms. He had opportunity to introduce all to the Lord God of the kingdom. All was prepared for the greatest evangelistic efforts the world had ever known.

But, everything cultivated to entice man to a positive view of himself was granted to Solomon. While he was settled in God he was safe. While aware that all good gifts come from God and that it is He that blesses and exalts then there would be hope. If he would choose to exalt himself then he would be in terrible danger of slowly losing his awareness of dependence upon God and would become dependent upon his earthly wisdom. If he would do this he would eventually turn away from his awareness of God and, as God had predicted, he would turn his heart after other gods, and he would abandon the God of Israel. All of this awaited Solomon, and when we read his story, all of these lessons await us. We can learn from the successes and failures of Solomon. I pray we will learn more than he did.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Solomon - Fire from Heaven

"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lords’ house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever." II Chronicles 7:1-3

Just prior to Solomon’s prayer of dedication God had revealed Himself through the Shekinah filling the temple after bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple. Now God reveals Himself in a display of supernatural fire coming down to accept the sacrifices and the sacrifices of the hearts of the people. The people display their hearts by not running away from the fire and desiring to worship the God who sent the fire. II Chronicles 7:3

This positive response by the people of Israel is one of the remarkable stories in Scripture. When God revealed Himself to fallen Adam and Eve in Eden they ran away and hid. Genesis 3:8-11. When Israel heard the voice of God talking to them and the display of fire they were afraid and ran away from God. Exodus 20:19-21; Hebrews 12:18-21. When Moses came down to talk to the people, after talking to God, the people ran away from the brightness of God on the face of Moses. Exodus 34:29-35. Yet Israel, at the dedication of God’s Temple, remained, rejoiced, and worshipped God. Praise God for His ability to move upon the hearts of His people.

The Bible goes on to state that the people stayed at Jerusalem and continued to worship for seven days and the feast for seven days. And Solomon sent them home on the 23rd day of the seventh month. They went home into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people. II Chronicles 7:8-10 What a wonderful experience that must have been for God, for His people, and all of the visitors who were in attendance on this special day. What wonderful stories must have been told of the wonders of God and of the joys of His people. I wonder how many people made a decision that day to serve the God of Israel. Esther 8:17 "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast, and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."

As in many of the stories of Solomon there is the obvious story line, of dedication of the Temple, and the blessings of the Lord revealed for the sake of mortal man. But there are several other connections to this story in the Bible, which need to be explored. We know that the fire coming from heaven was very similar to that which Moses and Israel experienced at the dedication of the Temple in the wilderness. In Leviticus 9:22-24

"And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces."

This event is quite similar to the dedication at the Temple that Solomon built for God and praise God the people’s response was similar as well.

In the very next chapter there is the story of Nadab and Abihu who offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, or fire that God did not approve of, and fire went out from the Lord and devoured them. Leviticus 10:1-3. This story is similar in that rebellion called forth fire from God out of the Temple. In Numbers 16:35 fire came out of the Temple and consumed 250 princes of Israel who had presumed to offer incense before God. So fire from God is not always a pleasant activity.

When David numbers the people of Israel he is informed that he has sinned against God and is offered several ways of dealing with the problem of his sin. David throws himself on the Lord and the Lord chooses to send a pestilence that ends up killing 70 thousand men. When God concludes that sufficient punishment has been delivered allows David to entreat Him by sacrifice. When David offers the sacrifice God answers by fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and reveals His mercy to Israel. I Chronicles 21:18-30 especially vs. 26.

In the story of Elijah there was a call for all of Israel to gather at Mt. Carmel. After a lengthy display of apostate prophets asking for a sign of fire from Satan, Elijah brings the people together, sets up the Altar of Sacrifice on the top of the mountain and then asks God to reveal Himself in a display of fire to consume the sacrifice. God answers this prayer and consumes the sacrifice, the stones, and the water that Elijah had poured on the Altar. In response to this display the people declare "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God." I Kings 18:39

In the NT John the Baptist states that Messiah will come and "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Matthew 3:11. Jesus caused so much light to be revealed that sin was not comfortable in His presence, and either must be removed or the bearer of this sin would be destroyed. His Spirit could cleanse all who wanted to so that when Jesus comes the second time they will not be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. II Thessalonians 2:8.

In the church at Pentecost Jesus reveals Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit falling on His people with a display of fire. Through this fire His people are enabled to burn away the darkness of the heart so that the light of life could shine on people and 3000 people made decisions for God. The church grew in grace and truth that day under the display of fire from heaven.

But as we showed earlier not all displays of fire come from God. In Revelation 13:11-14 the two horned beast (kingdom) is able to call down fire from heaven in the sight of men to deceive people by those miracles that he has power to do in the sight of the beast. Revelation 13:13-14. This display of fire does not come from God for the express purpose of this fire is to deceive. Revelation 13:14. We must always remember that Satan has powers that he can use and he can even change himself into angel of light, and he can give powers unto his ministers as well. II Corinthians 11:13-15. God has also revealed that Satan will be able to do signs and lying wonders. II Thessalonians 2:9. So we must constantly be on guard to compare even miracles with the Word of God.

So in closing let us remember that Israel was blessed by the display of fire at the dedication of the Temple that God had built by His servant Solomon. We can study these things, we can meditate upon them, and learn the mighty lessons of God. We can learn the real so that if and when Satan seeks to deceive us we can discern the difference between the sacred and the profane. Let us be blessed so that we may bow our heads and worship in the presence of God.

Solomon's Dedicatory Prayer

In Solomon’s dedicatory prayer it is best to let Solomon speak for himself and for us. I will briefly comment on a few passages but let his testimony speak for itself.

When Solomon was praying this prayer he was on his knees on a scaffolding prepared (II Chronicles 6:12-13) so that all may see and hear him as he spoke to the Lord for himself and for the people whom God had given him to rule over.

2 Chronicles 6

1 Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

2 But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.

3 And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood.

4 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying,

5 Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:

6 But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.

7 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.

8 But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart:

9 Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.

10 The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.

11 And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel.

12 And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:

13 For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.

14 And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:

15 Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.

16 Now therefore, O LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.

17 Now then, O LORD God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David.

18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built! (Solomon acknowledges that God can not live in a man made house but He knows that God has blessed his efforts and has accepted this gift as an honest offering.)

19 Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee:

20 That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.

21 Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive. (All Israel is to pray towards the Temple because of the presence of God acknowledged there.)

22 If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;

23 Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.

24 And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;

25 Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. (If Israel acknowledges their sin and repents then please forgive.)

26 When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;

27 Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.

28 If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be:

29 Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house:

30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)

31 That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.

32 Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name's sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;

33 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name. (Solomon acknowledges the prayers of the stranger and that these prayers have a right to come before God to be attended to.)

34 If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;

35 Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;

37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;

38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name:

39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (When someone repents with all of his or her heart and soul then please God listen to them and help them.)

40 Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

41 Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.

42 O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.

See also I Kings 8

Remember reader, that this prayer is for you and me. It was prayed many, many years ago but God still accepts this prayer on our behalf.

Solomon - Bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple

In I Kings 8:1-11 and II Chronicles 5:1-14 we have a wonderful testimony to the care of God over His people and over His Temple. We are told that Solomon gathered all of the elders of Israel, and all of the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel unto Jerusalem. In addition since it was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles then all of the males of the land were in attendance as well. In addition in Prophets and Kings 38 Ellen White also states "At the appointed time the hosts of Israel, with richly clad representatives from many foreign nations, assembled in the temple courts." So all of God’s people, and many visitors from many nations, were in attendance to participate in the dedicatory events.

When all things were settled the Levites picked up the ark to carry it upon their shoulders and started the procession to bring the ark to the newly built Temple. In the process of moving the Ark they stopped and offered sacrifices to God, as did David when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem. Prophets and Kings 38.

When they arrived at the Temple the Priests took the Ark into the Most Holy Place and placed the Ark, with the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai safely in the Ark, into the place between the two Cherubim. When all was completed the Priests came out of the Holy Places and began to sing unto the Lord for His grace and mercy. Then the Priests and the Levites, and 120 Priests sounding with trumpets, began to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord. Then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; So that the Priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God. II Chronicles 5:13-14

This cloud filling the Temple was a testimony to the acceptance of the building by God and to state that the God of Heaven presence had come to the Temple to be as close to His people as possible. This was also a visible testimony to the presence of the Shekinah in the Most Holy Place.

This event was very similar to that experienced by Moses and Israel upon the completion of the mobile Temple in Exodus 40:33-35. It is also similar to the times when Jesus cleansed the Temple in John 2:13-16 and Matthew 21:10-17. He came in such a manner to drive out the evil and the poor and humble of spirit were left. This same issue was displayed in Pentecost when the fire of God came upon the newly dedicated the Temple of God – the disciples. They were anointed with the presence of the Shekinah, and was of such a witness that 3000 souls joined this Temple.

A final display of the filling of the Temple with God’s presence is presented in Revelation 15:8. In this presentation God fills the Temple because of His last great work in preparing the earth for the coming of the glories of God at the Second Coming of Christ. At that time His Presence, and all of His glory, will be so intense that it will destroy all the wicked. II Thessalonians 2:8

One final observation regarding the glory of God filling the Temple at the dedication by Solomon. Can you imagine the impact on all of the people when they saw the presence of God? Can you imagine the impact on the people from foreign nations? What kind of stories would they take back to their kingdoms? Do you think there were any souls saved on that day? What would you think and feel if you had been there to see this glorious display of God? Today, you can see this story fulfilled if you allow Jesus to reveal these things in your mind by faith. This story was written just for you and I pray that God will reveal Himself to you and fill the Most Holy Place of your mind with His Presence.

Solomon- And the Seven Annual Sabbaths

"And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD." I Kings 6:1

"In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif: And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it." I Kings 6:37-38

After all of the preparations had been made and the Temple silently built (I Kings 6:7) the Temple was finally completed. When Solomon made preparations for the dedication of the Temple Solomon, wisely, chose the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the 7th month. II Chronicles 5:2-3; I Kings 8:2. This was the time of the 3rd groupings of the 7 annual Sabbaths.
In Exodus 23:14-19 God had instructed Israel that they were to meet with God three times at Jerusalem. In these three meetings all of the males were to leave their homes, trusting in the protection of God, and come to Jerusalem to participate in these three annual pilgrimages. The three annual meetings were called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering. These three festivals covered all of the harvest issues of the land, and were also symbolic of the ministry of God throughout history.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread covered the first three of the 7 annual Sabbaths – Passover – the death of the Sacrificial Lamb, the Feast of Unleavened Bread -–to have an investigative judgment to testify that there was no leaven of malice or error in the camp, and then the Wave Sheaf when the first sample of the harvest was waved before the Lord and then the harvest could begin. This Wave Sheaf offering was completed by Christ when He went to heaven to meet with His Father to be sure that His sacrifice had been accepted and that all of the criteria established by the Godhead had been satisfied. John 20:17

The Feast of Harvest is also called Pentecost and it was to take place 50 days after Wave Sheaf. This was to be another phase of the harvest ceremonies and was a day of gratitude for the harvest just received. In addition it was the time used by God to testify to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a harvest of 3000 souls testified to the true meaning of the harvest of God. Acts 2:41

The Third, and final, festival was that of the Feast of Ingathering. During this Feast were incorporated the final three of the Annual Sabbaths – Feast of Trumpets which was to announce the Day of Atonement, The Day of Atonement when all of the sins of Israel were ceremonially removed from Israel, and the Temple, and placed on the head of the Scapegoat and the Scapegoat was released into the wilderness. In celebration of this wonderful event the Feast of Tabernacles was given that all Israel would testify of the wonderful grace and provision of God for them. This final celebration took place between the 1st day and the 22nd day of the 7th month. See Leviticus 23:26-27,39-44. These annual Sabbaths were additional times of celebration besides the weekly Sabbaths. Leviticus 23:37-38

Solomon chose the Feast of Ingathering as the most suitable time to celebrate the completion of the Temple and would give the people an extra event for this time of rejoicing. Hopefully, they would also gather the idea that there was more to the Temple of God than that of a place to testify that He was good for granting them a fruitful literal harvest. God also wanted them to remember that the true harvest of God is the hearts and minds of people and that God wanted His house to be a house of prayer for all people. Isaiah 56:1-7

Solomon - And the Holy of Holies

The final apartment of the Temple is the Most Holy Place. This is where the Ark of the Covenant is placed and where God has stated: "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two Cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel." Exodus 25:22

The Ark of the Covenant is the only piece of furniture in the Most Holy Place, although the Altar of Incense is closely connected to the Most Holy Place as stated in Hebrews 9:3-4. But since we have already discussed the Altar of Incense I want to stay focused on the Ark of the Covenant and the Most Holy Place.

The Ark of the Covenant is a relatively small rectangular box 2.5 cubits in length, 1.5 cubits wide, and 1.5 cubits high. To convert this into feet equals 3.75 feet long; 2.25 feet wide and 2.5 feet high. This box was to be of Shittim wood, so that it would not wear out, covered with gold. Around the top of the box was to be a border of gold work called a "crown" Exodus 25:11 Then on top of this box was to be a block of solid gold that covered the box, and which had two Cherubim on the tope of the block. The Cherubim and the block of gold were to be one unit and was to be called the Mercy Seat. Exodus 25:17 The two Cherubim were to face one another with their faces turned down toward the box to show their interest and reverence for the law of God and the mercy seat covering it. Once the box was formed then the two tables of stone were to be placed in the Ark and this gave the Ark its name – the Ark of the Covenant since the Ten Commandments were the basis of the Covenant between God and Israel. This Ark was the connecting link between heaven and earth. In between the two Cherubim God’s presence, His Shekinah, be displayed when He chose to reveal Himself thus and would then communicate His will to Moses.

During the time of Moses, the Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron, and a bowl of Manna. This was to convey that God was interested in His law, He had confirmed the priesthood of Aaron in Numbers 17, and that He was the Creator that supplied the needs of Israel by providing them with Manna. In addition the Ark of the Covenant was a miniature of heaven where Angels desired to look into the plan of salvation as displayed by law and mercy, and provision. Above the Mercy Seat God’s presence was revealed so that it was clear that God was above all and in control of all.

In the temple that Solomon built for God, the Most Holy Place was 20 cubits long, by 20 cubits wide, by 20 cubits high. These dimensions are translated into feet using 18 inches for a cubit thus the Most Holy Place would be 30 ft long, 30 ft wide, and 30 feet high. This indicates that there was a 10-cubit difference in height between the Most Holy Place and the Holy Place, which was 45 feet high. There is a tradition that states that the Most Holy Place, in the Temple that Solomon built, was built upon a rock, which elevated it approximately 15 feet.

There are a few other interesting qualities in this Most Holy Place. In the Temple built by Solomon the Most Holy Place is referred to as the Oracle. I Kings 6:16, 19-20. In Strong’s Concordance the word Oracle is identified as "debir" of being an oracle. The root word for debir is dabar – to arrange, or to speak, or a place of speaking. A couple of more texts may help a bit. In II Samuel 16:23 Ahithophel’s counsel is referred to as though someone had inquired of at the oracle of God. He was a wise counselor, when he served God. In Acts 7:38 where Moses received the Living Law of God – the "lively oracles" of God. So the Ark of the Covenant had the "lively oracles" in it. See also Romans 3:2. In I Peter 4:11 any person of God, speaking under the guidance of God, would be also considered an oracle of God. So the Oracle would be a place where God speaks to man about his duty to God.

Another facet of the Most Holy Place is that the place was built as a cube. It is equal in height, breath, and length. It is this writer’s perception that this equality of measurement is a testimony of the Godhead. That all three members of the Godhead were represented in the equal measurements of the room.

In the Temple that Solomon built there are a few other points that we need to touch upon. In this Temple there are two other Cherubim presented and they are built so that their wings extend to the walls on either side of the place for the Ark of the Covenant and when they moved the Ark into the Oracle the original Ark settles in between these two other Cherubim. There are potential reasons for this but the primary one, is that of Cherubim, or angels, watching over the activities of God for Angels long to look into these things. I Peter 1:12. This is also reinforced by the Cherubim carved into the walls round about. Thus the Angels are depicted as being all around the throne room of God, in heaven. We see a picture of this in Daniel 7:10

As in each other facet of the Temple it is good to be reminded that the furniture, as well as the building itself, is a symbol of things that happen in the Greater Temple that God has pitched in heaven. Hebrews 9:10; 8:1-2. If we get too caught up in the furniture, and the detail, we can often lose sight of Jesus who is the Temple of God. Revelation 21:22

We know that Solomon received special instructions through the Holy Spirit moving upon his father David to write out all of these special instructions. I Chronicles 28:11-12,18-19. We know that God has a good purpose in everything that He does. So we know that the Temple built by Solomon was to be a blessing to Israel and to all of the world which would hear of this wonderful temple. This temple lasted until Israel had rebelled against God and He sent Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the Temple that Solomon built and he took all of the furniture into Babylon except the Ark of the Covenant which had been hidden by the faithful priests.

When Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity then they built a smaller version of the Temple, and there was no official Ark of the Covenant to place in the Most Holy Place. Yet God prophesied that the glory of this second Temple would be greater than that of the Temple built by Solomon. Haggai 2:9.

So a great question is did the Ark of the Covenant enter the Second Temple and the answer is yes, in Jesus Christ. He was the Revealer of the Law of God for He was to come to reveal the Law of God. "The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable." Isaiah 42:21. Jesus revealed the "weightier matters of the law" judgment, mercy, and faith. Matthew 23:23. It was He that displayed mercy to the adulteress and pronounced judgment upon her while forgiving her. John 8:1-11. He was the embodiment of the law and He was the greatest manifestation of the Mercy Seat.

In addition Jesus points us forward to the book of Revelation. He reveals His Most Holy Place in Revelation 11:19 "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." In this introduction God testifies as to His Ark of the Covenant and His communications to all of mankind about His gospel message. All of Revelation 12-19 is the final oracles of God to warn mankind and get them ready for His soon coming.

We will talk about the Day of Atonement in the Temple that Solomon built but for now we will close this chapter out with an appeal that we will hear His voice calling to us from His Holy Oracle for us to come to Him before it is too late. Today we can come to Him and receive His gifts, His testimony, and His wonderful mercy. It is all for you if you will but receive it today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Solomon - and the Holy Place of the Temple

In the temple that Moses built, as the instruction of God, there were several parts of this temple. There was the outside of the temple signifying that this was the place where non-believers gathered. Then there was the courtyard where all believers came to meet with God via the priest. This is where the sinner brought his sacrifice to allow the death of another to take the place of the sinner. Then the priest took the blood and went into a place where the average person was not allowed to go. This place was the Holy Places inside the vail. These Holy Places were divided into two different areas – the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. There were different pieces of furniture in the two places and they had two different functions especially divided by time, as well as location. In the Holy Place the priest could go every day to accomplish a variety of activities and services, but the priest could go into the Most Holy Place only one time during the entire religious year. This one time took place during the Day of Atonement, and it was part of the final religious services of the year. It is the purpose of this article to discuss the Holy Place in the temple that Solomon built for God.

In the temple that Moses built for God there were three basic pieces of furniture. There was the Table of Shewbread, the 7 Branched Candlestick, and the Altar of Incense. Exodus 25:23-40; 30:1-10. In addition there were two curtains – one to separate the Holy Place from the Courtyard, and one to separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Exodus 26:31-37

In the Temple that Solomon built the same basic outline was maintained and the same general pieces of furniture. However, in the Temple that Solomon built there were some major changes. First of all the Holy Places, Holy Place and Most Holy Place joined together, were 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. That would be 90-ft long, 30 feet wide, and 45 ft high. However, the Most Holy Place was a cube 20 cubits, by 20 cubits, by 20 cubits. We will discuss this in the section on the Most Holy Place. With the Most Holy Place being 20 cubits long and 20 cubits wide this means that the Holy Place would be 40 cubits long, and 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Again that is 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

When Solomon built the house he used stone as the foundation and walls. He then had the floors covered with fir and the walls with cedar. In the wood he had carved descriptions of Cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. Then he had all of the walls in the Holy Places covered with gold so that no wood and no stones could be seen. He also had the doors into the Holy Place and Most Holy Place covered with gold as well. In addition Solomon had a vail made to separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place and it was made out of fine linen, colored blue, purple, and crimson and had Cherubim woven into the cloth. II Chronicles 3:14

In the Holy Place Solomon had 10 Candlesticks made and 10 Tables of Shewbread made as well. He had 5 Candlesticks set on the North side and 5 Tables of Shewbread set on the North side of the Temple. In addition he had 5 Candlestick and 5 Tables of Shewbread set on the South side of the Temple. II Chronicles 4:7-8. The directions are sure because one looks at the Temple facing West with ones back to the Sun in the East. So 5 would be on the right side or North, and 5 on the left side or South.

Solomon also records that the Candlesticks were of pure gold, as well as the bason, tongue, snuffers, spoons, and censers were of pure gold. But there was apparently only 1 golden altar. This would be set directly before the vail that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. See II Chronicles 4:19-22.

Now that we have the physical outline of the Temple and its physical furniture, let us discuss briefly what these things were for, what it was that God wanted from these tools, and how it applies to the future and to us. The most elaborate counsel on the use of the Temple was in the book of Exodus and Leviticus. Exodus tells us the details of the construction of the Sanctuary/Temple, and Leviticus goes into elaborate detail of how the various services work. So let us do a brief story-line of how the Temple functioned for the sinner.

The sinner comes under some conviction of the need to be reconciled to God because he law has developed a guilty conscience in the mind of the individual. The individual hears that there is hope for a restoration of At-one-ment in the temple that Solomon had built. He goes to the temple, hoping for reconciliation and tells the priest of his burden. The priest suggests that the individual purchase a lamb without blemish. The person is to bring the lamb into the Temple and brings it to the priest. The priest asks the individual to place his hands on the head of the lamb and confess his sin over the lamb thus transferring the sin from the individual to the lamb. The individual then takes a knife and kills the lamb, thus symbolizing that an innocent dies for the guilty. The priest then catches some of the blood and places the blood on the four horns of the altar. After this the priest takes some of the blood into the Holy Place and sprinkles the blood on the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. This signifies that the sin has been separated from the sinner and placed on the Temple itself. The sinner can now walk away reconciled to God by the death of the innocent.

But there is more. After the death of the lamb, the body is opened up and the internal organs are removed and burned on the fire of the altar of burnt offerings. Certain sections of the body are trimmed from fat, showing a removal of sin, and the hide and other parts of the body are given to the priest as offerings for the priest’s use. The parts that have been separated for offerings are taken to altar of burnt sacrifice and are salted, showing the covenant relationship with God, and then are placed on the altar to be consumed as a testimony of service and to be used up for God.

The priest, acting in behalf of the sinner, also goes into the Holy Place and participates in the various rites of the Holy Place. He trims the Candlestick, revealing the light of the World, eats of the Shewbread, that he participates in eating the Word of God, and that he offers incense – indicating the prayers of the saints. All of these are to be done in service to the God one is now reconciled to. All of these activities are now participated in by the individual because of a love for God and a feeling of joy due to the release from sin that had been bothering the person’s conscience.

In addition to these benefits to the individual, the Temple is also a prophecy of what Jesus, the true temple (John 2:18-21). Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. John 1:29. He was the Passover sacrifice who died and shed His blood to protect us from the avenging angel. I Corinthians 5:7; Exodus 12. He is the light of the world thus He is the true Candlestick. John 1:4-9; 8:12. He is the shewbread of the world. John 6:48-51. He is the One who handles all of the prayers of the saints. Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 8:3-4. He is our great High Priest. Hebrews 7:21.

The good news is not done yet. Jesus also uses the Holy Place of the Temple of Solomon to reveal the things He is doing for us in heaven. He is revealed as the Priest of God in Revelation 1:13. He is ministering for us before the great 7 branched Candlestick in heaven. Revelation 1:12-20. He ministers before the Altar of Incense in Revelation 8:3-4. He is revealed as the Great Sacrifice for man in Revelation 5:6. He is the Master of the Word of God in Revelation 5:1-7. He gives it to us, through John, to eat and then to prophesy what God has granted to us. Revelation 10.

All of the above is revealed through the ministry of the Priest in the Holy Place of the Temple of Solomon. All of what is revealed literally is for us to meditate and pray over in regards to the great Temple in Heaven above of which the Temple that Solomon built is but a copy. Hebrews 8:1-2 Let us go into this Temple by faith, and receive the ministry of Jesus in our