SOLOMON (Part 6)

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Researched and studied by HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

Preparations for Building the Temple.

1 Kings 5

the building of the temple of Jerusalem was a great achievement, as it was a great glory, of Solomon’s reign. Viewed in any other light than as a typical work it might be unwise to regard as the greatest glory of a monarch’s reign the erection of an edifice, even for the worship of God, at so great an expenditure of a nation’s wealth.

There are many other ways in which a sovereign and people can manifest their piety besides the rearing of magnificent temples. The greatest triumphs of architectural skill, encouraged by the greatest expenditure of wealth, are not always identified with the purest worship. Yet the temple of Solomon, when the case is fully considered, did not involve so vast an expenditure of the national wealth as may at first sight appear. The temple at Jerusalem was the one only place in the whole of Palestine where the worship of Jehovah was celebrated. The expense, therefore, might not be so great, when compared with that of the numerous churches which Christian nations provide for the performance of public worship. But uniqueness, as well as magnificence, was no doubt required to render the Jewish temple an adequate representative of its great Antitype. As Solomon himself was the highest regal representative of the Lord, who was to be born into the world as the King of the Jews, the temple which he reared was the highest representative of the bodily temple, in which the Sovereign of the universe was pleased to manifest Himself to men on earth. That Body—that Humanity—in which the Divine Majesty clothed Himself, and came down with shaded glory to the abodes of men, was ONE. The human nature which our Lord assumed was akin to universal humanity; but from the first, and still more at the last, the Lord’s humanity, in relation to our common humanity, stood alone. The community and yet separateness of the Lord’s humanity, both by nativity and resurrection—by its first and second birth—is variously expressed in the language of inspiration, both verbally and representatively. “You spakest in vision to Your holy one, and said, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” He was of the seed of David, yet refused to be called the son of David. By birth He was the Son of God as well as the seed of David; by resurrection He ceased to be the seed of David, having by glorification put off all that He inherited from him through the Virgin Mary; and was wholly the Son of God, because His humanity was Divine. He was the true Nazarite to God from His mother’s womb. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, being made in all things like His brethren, yet in His life, He was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners. As the Son of Mary He was one of us, as the Son of God He was infinitely superior to all finite beings. But although the humanity, inwardly Divine by conception, became wholly Divine by glorification, this does not destroy, but rather increases, His affinity to us. It does not make Him less but more human, and therefore brings Him nearer and closer to everything that is truly human in us, and enables Him to make us more and more like Himself, by which we have a nearer relationship to Him and more intimate conjunction with Him.

Solomon’s temple, representing, in its highest sense, the Lord’s Humanity, the Temple of His essential and eternal Divinity, the holy temple in which we are enabled to approach and worship Him as our Creator and Redeemer, it must be to the Christian a subject of the highest interest.

Yet the interest and instructiveness of the sacred edifice do not end here. While, in its highest sense, the temple is the symbol of the Lord’s own glorious body, it is also the symbol of His mystical Body, consisting of Heaven and the Church, and, still more particularly considered, the symbol of the regenerate man, as one in whose purified soul the Lord has His dwelling-place. Between these there is an analogy as well as a connection; for both the grand or greatest man, consisting of Heaven and the Church, and the least man, consisting of the regenerate mind, are the creations and the images of the Divine Man, as He exists and is known to us in the person of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Regarding this subject more especially as it relates to us as beings whom the Divine Architect ever desires to build up into temples of His Holy Spirit, we may with great advantage turn our attention to some of the leading parts of the inspired record, in which the building and dedication of the temple are described.

We need not enter very minutely into this subject. In its general arrangement, and in many of its particulars, the temple bears a close resemblance to the tabernacle of Moses; and this has been so minutely explained in the work of Swedenborg on Genesis and Exodus, that it would occupy space unnecessarily to enter into the details of a subject which anyone can find minutely and luminously explained elsewhere. There are, however, differences as well as similarities between these two structures, both of which were no doubt built according to the pattern of things in the heavens; and these distinctions, as being intended for our instruction, it must be useful to consider.

In the previous chapter of this Book of Kings, we find the work of preparation commenced on a scale of extraordinary magnitude. Hiram king of Tyre unites with Solomon in procuring and preparing the materials for the building of the Lord’s house. More than a hundred and fifty thousand Israelites are employed, in conjunction with the Sidonians, of whom the number is not given, in preparing timber and stones to build the temple. The timber was of cedar and fir, and the stones were great stones, costly stones, hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.

The general difference between the tabernacle and the temple consisted of one being constructed of wood and the other of stone. This marks the general difference of their representative character, the tabernacle representing the Church as to the principle goodness, and the temple the Church as to the principle of truth, or the celestial and spiritual worship of the Lord. But the distinction is marked by other differences. That chiefly employed in the construction of the tabernacle was shittim-wood, but in the temple were employed the olive, the cedar, and the fir. The shittah and the olive tree have nearly the same signification, both denoting, in the highest sense, the Lord’s love to man, and, in the secondary sense, man’s love to the Lord. But there is this difference between them, that shittim-wood signifies the Lord’s merit in effecting the work of man’s redemption, and which forms the ground of man’s salvation. The tabernacle, which was set up while the Church was yet in the wilderness, passing through tribulation, points to the humanity of the Lord as present with us in the earlier period of the spiritual, and even of the natural life, but the temple represents the humanity of the Lord as it is with us in the more advanced stage of our spiritual journey, when rest is obtained, when the Lord reigns and His kingdom is established both in the heart and in the mind, in the outward as well as in the inward man.

It may, however, seem inconsistent that the temple, which is a symbol of what is spiritual, should come after the tabernacle, which represents what is celestial, and that the temple should have been built by Solomon. The tabernacle was reared during the government of the priesthood. and belongs, therefore, representatively, to the government of the Lord as the High Priest of His Church. The temple was built during the government of the kings and therefore belongs, representatively, to the government of the Lord as the Kingly Ruler of His Church. The Lord’s priestly government is His government by love, and His kingly government is His government by wisdom. But in the progress of regeneration, in its most comprehensive view, the government of love precedes the government of wisdom. Regeneration commences at birth, and the infant soul is first under the influence of love, and it is at a more advanced period and state of life that he comes under the direction of wisdom. The regenerating soul is, therefore, a tabernacle before he is a temple, or, the tabernacle of love is reared in his heart before the temple of wisdom is built in his understanding. The love that is first implanted in the human heart is also a tabernacle that is taken down. For the first love is not enlightened love, and therefore not real or perfect love-When the mind comes to be instructed in religious knowledge, early love passes into wisdom, as the tabernacle passed into the temple. For the temple was a more elaborate tabernacle; all the essentials of the tabernacle being reproduced in the temple. When early love has been bathed, where it has been for a time lost, in the ocean of light which is wisdom, it reappears purified and exalted. And now it is “a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken “(Isaiah 33:20). And now the tabernacle appears again alone, and yet not alone; for in the holy city New Jerusalem, which represents the Church in its best state and the Christian life in its highest perfection, the Revelator says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men…. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:3, 22). The temple, then, considered with reference to the advancing work of regeneration, no doubt represents the Church in its more complete development, and here the temple itself is identified with, or lost in, the glory of the Divine Humanity of the Lord. In the olive, the cedar, and the fir, we see the symbols of the three great and universal principles which constitute the Church in man, good celestial, spiritual, and the natural, or the good of love to the Lord, the good of charity to the neighbour, and the good of obedience to the Divine commandments. The stones of which the walls and especially the foundation of the house were formed, denote truth in its general acceptance, especially Divine truth as it is in the letter of the Holy Word, consisting of those universal truths which teach the essentials of all religion, the knowledge of God, of a life after death, of happiness as the result of goodness, and of misery as the consequence of evil. These are the great stones, the costly stones, the hewed stones, that form the foundation of the Church and heaven in every regenerate mind. Of these, the knowledge and practical acknowledgement of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only God and Saviour is the chief corner-stone, that sure foundation, on which if we build the Church, the gate of hell shall not prevail against it. But with all these foundation truths there must be combined that without which there is no solid or enduring foundation for the house of God within us; there must be obedience to the truth, otherwise our house is built upon the sand. In the preparation of these materials, and in the more minute and elaborate decorations of the temple and its furniture, workmen of a different character were employed from those who had done the corresponding work of the tabernacle. In Exodus we read of no particular agents employed in procuring or preparing the wood for the tabernacle; but in preparing the gold and the silver and the brass, and cutting the precious stones to set them, and carving the timber, special and cunning workmen were employed. In this kind of work Moses engaged Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah, and Aholiab of the tribe of Dan. For similar work, Solomon employed Hiram, a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, whose father was a man of Tyre. As Judah was the highest and Dan the lowest, in representative character at least, of the tribes of Israel, the two workmen belonging to them represented celestial wisdom, from its highest to its lowest, or from first to last, which engages in the work of constructing and adorning the mind, when it is formed into a tabernacle of the Lord. But when the mind is more fully perfected, by being regenerated more fully, and formed into a temple of the Lord, agents having a more spiritual representation are employed. In the Scriptures, Tyre signifies the knowledge of things spiritual, and when, as is frequently the case, Sidon is mentioned in connection with it, Tyre signifies interior, and Sidon exterior, knowledge. On account of this representative character of Tyre, Hiram, the king of that eminent commercial city, whose merchants were princes, assisted Solomon in procuring and preparing materials for building the house. The faculty of knowing goodness and truth is one which enables the regenerating Christian to procure and prepare the materials with which the mind is to be made a living temple, built up of living stones, and furnished with the means of serving the Lord.

The difference of the representative character of the Tyrians and the Sidonians is indicated in the different parts of the work which they are mentioned as performing. “There is not among us,” said Solomon to Hiram, “any that can skill to hew timber like the Sidonians.” The Sidonians are therefore mentioned as those who assisted Israel in bringing the wood from the forest of Lebanon, which represented the more external and general work of procuring the goods of spiritual and natural truth from the Word itself. But when the more interior and particular work of preparing the furnishings and decorations of the temple are spoken of, a man, the son of an Israelitish mother and a Syrian father, is mentioned. And as a man of Tyre signifies the knowledge of internal truth, and an Israelitish woman the spiritual affection of truth, he who is born of such a marriage must represent a principle or faculty which unites in itself the spiritual affection and the rational perception of the good and truth, that prepare us for the kingdom of heaven. The mother, too, was of the tribe of Naphtali; and this tribe represented the conjunction of goodness and truth, which is the heavenly marriage. Still more, Hiram, who adorned the temple, united in himself the Jew and the Gentile: and it may not be inconsistent with the representative character of the temple to suppose that Hiram’s work foreshadowed the work of the Lord, by which His humanity became the means of uniting in one all the families of the earth, and truly making them not only of one blood but of one spirit, the spirit of loving God above all things and each other as themselves. When the Lord shall be acknowledged in the Church universal as the Divine Man, the Pattern of all true humanity, and the author of all that is truly human in man, then will the Lord be King over all the earth, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.

Author: Godfrey Gregg

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