The Purposes of the Temple
1 Kings 6:1
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…

The three chapters thus introduced describe the erection and dedication of Solomon's temple. Magnificent as the building was, architecturally and artistically, it deserves more consideration as that which was the divinely appointed centre of true worship. Its significance to Christians can hardly be overrated. This the Epistle to the Hebrews clearly shows. While it stood it was for all nations a witness for Jehovah; and now that in sub. stance it has passed away, the spiritual truths it embodied are a heritage for us. Essentially it was one with the tabernacle, the erection and ritual of which were directly revealed by God on Sinai. Neither in principle nor even in minute detail were the directions of Jehovah about its construction to be disobeyed. From the ark of the covenant down to the hooks for the curtains the command ran, "See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed thee in the mount." There are far reaching issues ever flowing from the smallest details of Divine law. Great meanings are wrapped by God in trifling things. (Give examples of this.) Solomon was right in superseding the tabernacle by the temple. The tent was suitable for the wandering life of an unformed nation, but the stately and stable temple for an organized people whose pilgrimage had ended. God's utterances both to David and Solomon, and the presence of the Shechinah on the day of consecration, prove that the erection of the temple was according to the will of God. The temple had meanings which no other building subsequently erected could have. It was "a shadow of good things to come." It symbollzed much that was revealed in the person of Christ (Hebrews 9:11, etc.), and much that is now existing, not on earth, but in heaven (Hebrews 9:24, etc.) But, though its symbolism is a thing of the past, some of its purposes and uses are things of the present, known in the places set apart by Christian men for the worship of God. To some of those we now refer.

I. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE OF SACRIFICE (2 Chronicles 7:12). The sin offering typified the atonement made by the Lamb of God, who once was offered for the sins of the world. This is the fact made known by the ministry of the Word and represented by the broken bread and outpoured wine of the Eucharistic feast. No time and no place can be more suitable than the sanctuary for the acknowledgment of sin, and the expression of faith. There each Christian sings -

"My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine."

II. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE FOR PRAYER AND PRAISE. Solomon used it thus (ch. 8) Incense typified it. In Isaiah 56:7 we read, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, for all people." The Lord Jesus referred to this when the temple was used for other purposes (Matthew 21:18). Describe the praise of the temple. Many there understood the words, "Praise ye the Lord; for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely." Show the advantages of united praise, the promises given to combination in prayer, e.g., sympathies enlarged, weak faith invigorated by contact with stronger faith, etc.

III. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE FOR THE CONSECRATION OF PERSONS AND THINGS. There priests were set apart; there sometimes prophets were called (Isaiah 6.); there dedicated things were laid before the Lord (2 Chronicles 5:1). Show how in modern days this is still true of the assembly of God's people. Men are there roused to a sense of responsibility, and there consecrate themselves to the service of God. Resolutions and vows are made there which carry with them the impress of Divine approval. The cares of life, its purposes, its companionships are there made to appear in their Godward aspect. Through the worship of the sanctuary heavenly light falls on daily toil, and men learn to call nothing that God has cleansed common or unclean.

IV. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE FOR REMEMBERING THE LAW OF THE LORD. The temple was incomplete until the ark of the covenant was brought in; and "there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel" (1 Kings 8:9). Show the importance of organized Christian worship as a perpetual witness for the law of God. In the busy week there are temptations to forget it; to put expediency in the place of righteousness, etc. The whole tone of English society is raised by the faithful exhibition of God's requirements each sabbath day.

V. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE FOR THE UNION OF THE PEOPLE. The Psalms of the Ascents (Songs of Degrees) show this. The people overlooked their social distinctions and the tribes ignored their tribal jealousies when they ascended the sacred hill to unite as a nation in the worship of the one true God. Jeroboam was shrewd enough to see that it would be impossible for two separate kingdoms to exist while all the people met in the one temple. Hence the calves at Bethel and Dan, and hence in our Lord's day the temple on Gerizim. Show how in the Christian Church the rich and the poor meet together, and how essential Christian principle is to fuse together the various classes of society. There are many disintegrating forces at work - the capitalists and the working classes, for example, are seriously divided. Common meeting ground cannot be found in the home, but in the Church. The recognition of the one Fatherhood precedes the realization of the one brotherhood. Christians are, unhappily, divided amongst themselves. Sectarianism has increased the division of society. Relief is to be found not in form, but in spirit; not in union, but in unity. As we worship together and work together, the oneness of which we dream may become a reality.

VI. THE TEMPLE WAS A PLACE FOR THE REVELATION OF GOD (see vers. 10, 11; 1 Chronicles 5:13; 1 Chronicles 7:2). His presence is not confined to any temple made with hands; but wherever His people meet, there He reveals Himself as he does not do unto the world. "Where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them." It was when the disciples were assembled with one accord for prayer that the Holy Spirit came. So may our assemblies be blessed; and sinners will find pardon, the careworn will find rest, the doubters will find faith, the weakly will find strength, and the despondent will find hope in the house of the Lord our God. - A.R.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: It happened 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 Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Yahweh.

The Law of Beauty
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