1 Kings 7:21
And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin…
No features in Solomon's temple have given rise to so much controversy as these two famous pillars; the beauty of which Jewish writers are never tired of recounting. They were marvels of the glyptic skill for which the Phoenician workmen were distinguished. Homer speaks of such metallic work. In Il. 23. 741-744, he thus describes the prize assigned by Achilles for the foot race at the funeral of Patroclus -
"A bowl of solid silver, deftly wrought,
That held six measures, and in beauty far
Surpassed whatever else the world could boast;
Since men of Sidon, skilled in glyptic art,
Had made it, and Phoenician mariners
Had brought it with them over the dark sea." (See also his description of Menelaus' gift to Telemachus, Od. 4:614-618.) Hiram, the Phoenician artificer, lent by the king of Type to Solomon, was specially skilled in such work (2 Chronicles 2:14). "In the plain of Jordan, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan," he cast these two great bronze pillars, each 17.5 cubits high, with capitals five cubits high, adorned with pomegranates, and "nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work." They were placed on the right and left of the porch of the temple, and probably were not obelisks, but were necessary as "pillars" to support the roof, which was thirty feet in width. That these were symbolic is evident from their names, which may be rendered, "Stability" and" Strength." The reference is not so much to the material building, but to the kingdom of God in Israel, which was embodied in the temple. They pointed then, and now, to the beauty and strength of the dwelling of God.
I. THE FASHIONING OF THE PILLARS. Made of bronze cast in the earth. None but the initiated would expect such an issue from such a process. Picture the anxiety of those in charge when the morea was constructed, when the metal was molten, etc. Apply to the anxiety and care of those rearing the spiritual temple.
1. They were the product of human skill. This skill was devoutly recognized as the of God. Compare ver. 14 with the description of Bezaleel's artistic "gifts." If wisdom of that kind is from God, how much more is the highest wisdom needed for the upbuilding of the true temple (1 Corinthians 3:12-17). Turn to the promises of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and of wisdom to all who seek. Refer to times of difficulty and anxiety in which only this heavenly help could avail the teachers and rulers of the Church. Observe such expressions as that in which Paul speaks of himself as "a wise master builder." Indicate special gifts still required by those who succeed to this work. "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God," etc.
2. They were the result of marvellous diligence. Years and generations of effort had made these artificers what they were, and now daily they applied themselves to their toil, nor was it without reward. Nothing great can be attained in this world without work. God has not made things pleasant by ordaining that the way to them should be easy, but He has made them precious by ordaining that the way should be hard. The hardships endured by miners, pearl divers, agricultural labourers, etc. The strenuous toil of the student, the man of business, the explorer, the scientist, etc. No wonder that in the highest sphere diligence is essential. It is required for the upbuilding of our Christian character; e.g., "Give diligence to to make your calling... sure," etc. "Work out your own salvation," etc., "Not as though I had already attained," etc. Similar diligence is required by the Church for the evangelization of the world. Contrast the diligence shown in other pursuits with the indolence in this.
3. They were the product of combined effort. The wealth of Solomon was added to the skill of Hiram. Observe the diversity of workmen essential for the designing, moulding, fashioning, uprearing of these pillars. Each did his own work, did it heartily, completely. All was not equally honourable, easy, remunerative; yet none neglected his share of the toil. Speak of the millions now constructing God's spiritual temple; how the various races of men, how the differing sects of Christians, how the peculiar tastes and gifts of individuals, are rearing "the house not made with hands," "the habitation of God, through the Spirit."
II. THE SYMBOLISM OF THE PILLARS.
1. Stability (Jachin). In this the temple was a contrast to the tabernacle. Yet even the temple and all that was material of the old worship passed away to make room for the spiritual realities which abide eternally. In Hebrews 12:27 we read of "the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Show how, amidst the fall of empires, the Church has lived, in spite of all that evil powers could do (Matthew 16:18). Speak of the safety, for time and eternity, of those who are in Christ (John 10:28), etc.
2. Strength. The Church needs more than endurance, it wants vigour. Resistance must be supplemented by aggression. Far more than the Jewish Church the Christian Church is to be characterized by this. The apostles were not merely to hold their own, but to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Only the active Church, only the active Christian, has a robust and wholesome life. Let "Boaz" stand beside "Jachin."
3. Beauty. The lilies and pomegranates adorning the pillars not only showed that there should be beauty in the worship of God, and that the noblest art should be consecrated to Him, but symbolized the truth declared in Psalm 96:6, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." Strength needs beauty to adorn it. Beauty needs strength to support it. Illustration: the ivy clustering round the oak. Let the courageous man be gentle; the stalwart man tender; the sweet girl morally strong, etc. If we would have it so, we shall find those graces in the holy place of God, the sacred place of prayer, whether public or secret, for strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Emblems of stability and strength, yet exquisite in their beauty, let Jachin and Boaz, in the porch of the temple, remind us of what God would see in the Christian Church, and in every Christian character. - A.R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.