Monday, April 20, 2009

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.

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