The Temple of the Living God

We’re sharing this week about the amazing history (His Story) of the worship of the Almighty God! We’ve seen that God developed worship to be both personal and corporate. We’ve seen that God created angels and humans for the purpose of worship and fellowship. Worship began in Heaven with angels and continued on earth with humans. That worship began in families and eventually grew into the corporate worship of the nation of Israel.

We saw the stunning details of the Tabernacle Israel built in the desert for God to dwell with His people. The Lord gave special wisdom to the artisans of Israel to build the Tabernacle. They followed God’s direction for building it to the exact pattern He gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. When Moses and the people of Israel completed building and erecting the Tabernacle, the great Cloud of God covered the Tabernacle of Meeting, “and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34) The Cloud of God was above the Tabernacle by day and fire was over it by night. in the sight of all the people of Israel.

The use of the Tabernacle for sacrifice and worship continued for hundreds of years, traveling from one place to another, until the day finally came when it was replaced by the permanent Temple of God in Jerusalem.

“So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God. Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD up from the City of David, which is Zion. Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which wasin the seventh month. So all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. Then they brought up the ark, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.” 2 Chronicles 5:1-9

God waited to reveal His plans for a permanent home on earth until King David took Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the capital city of Israel. God blessed David and gave him many great military victories against the enemies of Israel. Then, the Lord gave David the desire to build a permanent House for God.

“Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.’ Then Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” 2 Samuel 7:1-3

However, God had other plans. He told the prophet Nathan to tell David that he would not build a permanent Place for God. That would be for David’s son to do. That man was Solomon.

“Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, because he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always loved David. Then Solomon sent to Hiram, saying: You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the LORD put his foes under the soles of his feet. But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence. And behold, I propose to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to my father David, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he shall build the house for My name.” 1 Kings 5:1-5

Those words of King Solomon to King Hiram were the beginning of one of the greatest building projects ever completed on earth – Solomon’s Temple – and we know exactly when it began.

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

King Solomon placed tens of thousands of Israelites and more than 100,000 aliens living in Israel into the service of building God’s Holy Temple. It took seven years to complete. You’ll find the great details of this amazing building project in 1 Kings 5 – 6 and 2 Chronicles 2 – 5. Even though King David was not allowed to build the Temple, he did organize the structure of the people who would serve God in the Temple (1 Chronicles 23 – 24).

  • They included new responsibilities for the Levites along with a new division into three groups: Gershonites, Kohathites and Merarites. Their duty was to help the sons of Aaron in the service of the Temple, in the courts and in the chambers, in the purifying of all holy things and the work of the service of the House of God. You can read the specifics in 1 Chronicles 23.
  • The Priests (sons of Aaron) were divided into groups and each had the duty of serving in the Temple for one day. They were chosen by lot and numbered 24. You can read more about their duties in 1 Chronicles 24.
  • 4,000 Israelites were involved in Temple worship as singers. 288 were musicians ministering to God with a variety of instruments, including harps, stringed instruments, cymbals and horns. They were divided into 24 groups. You can read more about them in 1 Chronicles 25.
  • 4,000 Israelites served as gatekeepers to guard the four gates to the Temple. More on that in 1 Chronicles 26. We also read about officials and judges over Israel outside of Jerusalem, the structure of Israel’s army, the 12 monthly captains, the chief officers of the 12 tribes and the special officials and counselors to the king in 1 Chronicles 26 and 27.

We learn much about God’s intentions in building the Temple in the Book of 2 Chronicles. The first 4 chapters are details of exactly how God wanted His Temple to look and the amazing work that went into building it to the Lord’s specifications. Chapter 5 shows King Solomon meeting with the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes for the purpose of bringing up the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle of Meeting, and all the holy furnishings to the Temple.

What a scene it was! As you read this stunning account, imagine what it would have been like to be there that day. See it, hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it – experience the Glory of God as He moved from the Tabernacle into His Temple.

“So all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. Then they brought up the ark, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles extended so that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt. And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—  indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,’ that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:4-14

What happened next gives us great insight into the Purpose God had for His Temple in Jerusalem.

“Then Solomon spoke: ‘The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.’  Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. And he said: ‘Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’ So the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke, and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised; and I have built the temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. And there I have put the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD which He made with the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 6:1-11

The Temple of God has an amazing history – sometimes glorious – sometimes tragic. King Solomon, who loved God so much, gave in to the passions of his flesh and allowed the worship of other gods in Israel. The nation fell into great sin against God and the Lord allowed the Temple to be destroyed by invading armies – the people of Israel taken into captivity. God returned some of His people to the land of Israel and they rebuilt the Temple. That was the Temple we read about in the Gospels – the Temple of Jesus’ time on earth. However, Israel sinned greatly against God by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and the armies of Rome destroyed the Temple and led most of Israel’s population into captivity. The Temple has not been rebuilt to this day – but it will be.

So, what were the Tabernacle and Temple all about? They were about the worship of the Holy God of Heaven. God “dwelled” with His people day and night, in their sight. He was their Covenant God. The Tabernacle and Temple were a constant reminder of God’s saving Israel from slavery in Egypt and providing for them in the Promised Land. They were also prophetic of the coming of God’s Son to be the Sacrifice for the sins of Israel and the world and to be Glorified above every name that is named in Heaven or on earth. The Tabernacle, and each of the two Temples, looked “forward” to the coming of Christ to save His people from their sins.

What about the Church today? How does God want us to worship Him now? Join us for our next study – The Church of the Living God.

Blessings!

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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