Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- III. Christ in the Historical Books
10. 2Chronicles --
- The Building of the Temple. [Chapters 2 - 4]
- Solomon sent to Hiram, King of Tyre, for his help in building theTemple, in supplying both materials and workmen skilled in all manner of cunning work.
To raise the surrounding ground to a level with the threshing-floor on the summit, Solomon constructed a stupendous foundation platform--- raised high above the valley beneath-- of great hewed stones of white marble, polished and costly. When our Lord said that there should not be be left one stone upon another that should not be thrown down [Mat 24:1,2], He was not speaking of the foundations underneath, but of the stones composing the Temple of Herod, built upon it. The foundation was built into the solid rock, a picture of the Rock of Ages, the foundation of God which standeth sure and which nothing can shake [1Sam 2:2; 2Sam 22:2,3; 2Tim 2:19]. That the whole of the Temple-- like the Tabernacle-- in its ministry, its furniture, and its services, is typical of Christ and His great work of man's redemption, must be admitted by all who accept the inspiration of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which so clearly links together the Old and New Covenants, and shows them to be essentially one in their teaching.
We read of the heavenly City: ''I saw no Temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it'' [Rev 21:22]. And because it represents His work in redemption, His redeemed people also are included in the type. It is the consummation of God's work through all the ages: Himself and all His people united in glory. Some of the foundation stones are from twenty to thirty feet in length, and fitted so closely together that even a pen-knife cannot be inserted between them. On some of these the Palestinian Exploration Society found the quarry-marks in vermilion, to show where the stones would be placed, for we read that ''the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while it was in building'' (1Kings 6:7). All true believers, in all ages, are living stones of that heavenly Temple [1Pet 2:5], and God is preparing them in His quarry down here, amid the noise and tumult of earth, each for its place in His Temple above. Rugged and shapeless are the stones to begin with, no wonder that the blows of the hammer fall heavily, that the chisel is sharp, and the polishing severe, before the stones are ready. But ''oh for more moldings of the Hand that works a change so vast!''
Every part of the Temple must be full of spiritual teaching, for David told Solomon that God had given him the pattern of it by the Spirit. It was a building of surpassing magnificence, and shone a mass of burnished gold beneath the splendor of the Eastern sky.
- The Temple Filled with Glory. [Chapter 5]
- When the work of the house of the Lord was finished, Solomon assembled all the elders of Israel to bring up the Ark of the Lord out of Zion, the city of David. Then ''the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.''
What a picture is here of the Holy Spirit coming to fill the heart which has been prepared for His coming, the heart cleansed by the precious blood of Christ and surrendered to him, and thus made fit to become a temple of the Holy Ghost (1Cor 6:19).
- Solomon's Prayer. [Chapter 6]
- Then follows Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple-- a prayer which well repays careful study. It is based on the promises of God, as all prayer should be. He speaks of every man knowing the plague of his own heart, and then goes on to the deeper thought that only God knows the hearts of all the children of men (1Kings 8:38,39). In confessing our sin to God, what a rest it is to know that He knows all the worst about us, better even than we know it ourselves. ''If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.'' He can discriminate when we cannot, whether the condemnation we feel is the conviction of His Spirit, or only the false accusation of the enemy. And as we wait upon Him, if all is well He will give us His peace. ''Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God'' (1John 3:20,21).
In his prayer, Solomon mentions six varied vicissitudes of human life, and asks that if the people repent and pray, looking toward that house which he had built, that God would hear in His dwelling-place and give His answer. This, Solomon proposed to Jehovah, as a covenant, and God replied with fire as the seal of His sanction. To understand this, it must be remembered that, throughout the East to this day, all worshippers pray looking towards their sanctuary, whether it be the Mohammedans towards Mecca, or those who pray to the saints at the various makoams. Solomon desires from God that: that which was falsely believed, of all the idol temples around, might be true in the case of Jehovah's Temple. But more than this-- the Temple in every part of it was a type of the person and work of the Lord Christ and of His relations with His people; everywhere it sets forth Christ-- in the sacrifices, in the Passover, in the High Priest, in everything. Therefore, though Solomon could not have known it, in the spirit of prophecy he is asking that those who look to Jesus, in drawing near to the Father, may be answered. It was only to say in symbol what the Master says in set words, ''Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you'' [John 15:16].
In our study of 1 & 2 Kings, we saw the disaster in which Solomon's reign closed, and the division of the kingdom.
Even as early as in the reign of his son Rehoboam, ''Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord'' (2Chr 12:9). How soon was this beautiful Temple desolated! Later, even some of the kings robbed it to ward off an enemy.
- Bright Spots.
- During the long time of departure from God which followed, we find, here and there, a king who stood forth for God and for His worship.
To Asa [ch. 15], God sent a message by Azariah the prophet, the son of Oded, and when Asa heard his words ''he took courage, and put away all the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin.'' And he removed his mother from being queen because she had made an idol in a grove, and he made a covenant with the Lord, and enriched the house of God with gold and silver.
Jehoshaphat, his son, sent Levites throughout all the cities of Judah to teach the book of the Law of the Lord-- a proof that Israel possessed the Law at this time [ch. 17]. The account of Jehoshaphat's victory over the Ammonites and Moabites [ch. 20] is one of the greatest encouragements to a simple reliance on God in the face of insurmountable difficulties. ''Be not afraid... the battle is not yours, but God's... Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord.'' ''And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments,'' and their enemies were scattered.
- Then followed the evil reigns of Jehoshaphat's son, Jehoram [ch. 21], and his grandson, Ahaziah [ch. 22]. After Ahaziah had been slain by Jehu, his wicked mother, Athaliah, ''destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.'' But Joash, the little son of Ahaziah, was saved, and he was hidden in the Temple six years. Then Jehoiada the priest brought him out and made him king, and Athaliah was slain [ch. 23]. Under the influence of Jehoiada, Joash repaired the Temple, which Athaliah had broken up to bestow the dedicated things upon Baalim. But after the death of Jehoiada, Joash lapsed into idolatry, and, at the instigation of the princes of Judah, he slew Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who was sent to rebuke him [ch. 24].
His grandson, Uzziah, sinned against the Lord in burning incense in the Temple, and in punishment for this he became a leper till the day of his death [ch. 26].
Uzziah's great-grandson, Hezekiah, ''opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.'' And he cleansed the Temple, and commanded the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves, and he offered sacrifices and kept the Passover, ''so there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, there was not like it in Jerusalem'' [ch. 29, 30].
Hezekiah's great-grandson, Josiah, carried out similar reforms [ch. 34]. He purged Jerusalem from its idolatries, and repaired the house of the Lord. It was during this work of repair that Hilkiah, the priest, found in the Temple the book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses, and sent it by Shaphan the scribe to the king, and Shaphan read it before the king. When Josiah heard the words of the Law, he rent his clothes in grief over this neglected Law which they had failed to keep. He sent to inquire of the Lord; and Huldah, the prophetess, told him of the evil that should come on Jerusalem and the inhabitants; but because Josiah had humbled himself, the evil should not come in his day.
The young king stood by a pillar in the Temple and made a covenant with the Lord, and he kept the Passover [ch. 35]. ''And there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel, from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept'' (2Chr 35:18).
- But troublous times followed this good reign. God sent His messengers to the people, but they mocked and despised them, ''until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of the sanctuary, and carried the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon, and burnt the house of the Lord, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces. And them that had escaped the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and to his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia'' [ch. 36].
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