Archive for April, 2014
Analogical Day View – Summary

This is my last post on the analogical day view. There is a lot that is still unsaid, but I should wrap up sometime, and the time has come. This post just kind of summarizes what I’ve said so far. In dealing with an ancient text like Genesis, it is important to show some humility. It is important first because many good men have variously understood this passage which should give us pause before we be too dogmatic.

Second, humility is needed in light of the antiquity of the text. It has been enlightening for me as I have read dozens of books, hundreds of articles, several commentaries and a lot of ANE literature. Scripture is clear, but sometimes our culture can obscure it meaning. We need to make sure we don’t read our own questions into the passage.

It is vital that we follow the right method. We need to interpret it in its historical setting. As such it is helpful to see that temples were seen as microcosms for both the ANE in general and Israel in particular. It is also interesting to note that creation itself is also described with temple language. This is as true in Genesis 1-2 as it is in any other place.

The question now arises about the days in particular. How do they fit into all of this? With God pictured as a temple-builder, it seems that the “days” of creation fit into this scheme. They are not the primary analogy, rather they are a supporting analogy. Perhaps one could acknowledge all of the above temple connections and still insist that the days are normal 24 hr days. At this point we’d have two options. The context could support either a 24 hr day view, or it could see the days as part of the analogy. At this point it is helpful in resolving this issue to note that the number seven specifically, but seven days in particular, are also connected with temple building/dedication. Now the days are not just a supporting analogy, but part of the main analogy that have significance in their own right.

Even though there is now a good case for understanding the days analogically, I suppose one could still insist they are 24hrs long and yet maintain all of this imagery. However, holding to a 24 hr day view would require other things of the text that would not be required of the analogical day view. For instance, it would require the water of day 3 to drain at almost 3 times the speed that could be expected in order to finish in 12 hrs. It would also require that God supernaturally dry the land to such a degree that it runs against his planting purposes on day 6. It requires Adam to have superhuman abilities in order to fit all of the day 6 activities into 12 hrs. It further requires us to understand “grow” (tsamach) in a non-normative way by needing to take it as a supernatural growth. Lastly, it requires that all accepted scientific dating methods to be in error. Few, if any of these things can be found in the text, they are simply things that must be true in order to make the 24 hr day view work. I think that the analogical day view or the 24 hr day view are the only viable interpretations (although the framework view has a lot to commend it) but for the reasons above, I consider the analogical view to be the strongest.

7 Days of Temple Building/Dedication

I am continuing my presentation of the Analogical Day View. We have seen the many temple texts reflect creation. We have seen that many creation texts reflect the temple. We have even seen many connections in Genesis 1-2 specifically to the later tabernacle/temple. Someone could recognize all of these elements but wonder why the days should be wrapped into that imagry rather than taken in their normative sense. My answer, in part, is that with God being pictured as a temple builder who constructs his own house to take up his rest on the seventh day, it is reasonable to see the days of creation as part of that imagery. But we need not rest on only that. Indeed, when we examine the text of scripture and other ANE literature, there is a 7 day scheme that connects with temples.

The temple/creation connection, as we noted previously, was common in the ANE. Even the heptadic structure was not unique to Genesis. For example, in the Gudea Cylinder we read of the building of the temple, and after the large stones had been procured and formed:

Then it needed a day’s work to set up each one but by the seventh day he had set them all up around the house. (Gudea Cylinder B xvii 18-19)

While the ANE environment is interesting, and confirmatory, it is scripture that we are interested in. God constructed creation in seven days and we see that on the seventh day, Moses went up onto the mountain and God gave him the instructions to construct the tabernacle. There were seven creation commands in Genesis 1 each beginning with the words, “and God said…” There are also seven speeches for the building of the tabernacle each beginning with “The Lord spoke to Moses…” The Genesis text ends with the Sabbath, and the seventh speech of Exodus contains instructions for the Sabbath.

After receiving the instructions, it remains of course to actually build the tabernacle. If we compare the completion of creation with the completion of the tabernacle (the “Sabbaths” if you will) there are some striking similarities:

And God saw everything that he had made
Genesis 1:31

And Moses saw all the work…
Exodus 39:43

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them…
Genesis 2:1

Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished…
Exodus 39:32

2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done…
Genesis 2:2

…So Moses finished the work.
Exodus 40:33

3 So God blessed the seventh day…
Genesis 2:3

…Then Moses blessed them.
Exodus 39:43

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Genesis 2:3

“Then you shall … consecrate it … so that it may become holy.
Exodus 40:9

The priests serving in the tabernacle had to undergo a 7 day purification or consecration.

Leviticus 8:33 And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you.

If we fast forward to Solomon’s temple we see that the temple took 7 years to build:

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

The ark, representing the presence of God was brought in on the feast of Succoth which is a 7 day feast in the 7th month.

1 Kings 8:1-2 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

Just as there were seven divine commands in creation, and seven speeches for the building of the tabernacle, there were 7 petitions to the Lord that Solomon made in his prayer (1 Kings 8:31-53).

  1. If a man…(31)
  2. When your people…(33)
  3. If the heaven…(35)
  4. If there is famine…(37)
  5. If a foreigner…(41)
  6. If your people…(44)
  7. If they sin…(46)

In 2 Chronicles we learn that Solomon actually had two 7 day celebrations:

2 Chronicles 7:8-9 At that time Solomon held the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days.

Seven is pervasive in this account of Ezekiel’s temple, but again we notice the seven days:

Ezekiel 45:21-25 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten. . . .25 In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month and for the seven days of the feast, he shall make the same provision for sin offerings, burnt offerings, and grain offerings, and for the oil.

While perhaps none of this is necessary to recognize that Genesis pictures God as a temple builder, and the days are part of that image, yet all the connections with seven days and the construction/dedication of temples does add strength.

Genesis 1-2 as a Temple Text

I am continuing my presentation of the Analogical Day View in this post by looking specifically at Genesis 1-2. We have seen that in the ANE in general & Israel specifically, the temples were seen as a kind of microcosm. If that is the case, then perhaps we would expect that the Jews also interpreted it that way and that creation passages may reflect the temple. So perhaps it is not surprising that Genesis 1-2 itself has a lot of temple connections. One of the lines of evidence that Eden should be viewed as the first temple is in the verbal similarities between the creation accounts and the later temple and tabernacle accounts.

Walk (Halak)

Both Eden and the later tabernacle were considered a special dwelling place of God. We know that God is omnipresent, that is to say, God is everywhere, but at the same time we can recognize that he was present in a unique way in the temple or in the tabernacle.

  • Leviticus 26:12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
  • Deuteronomy 23:14 Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.
  • 2 Samuel 7:6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.

Each of these passages has reference to the tabernacle, and specifically how God in the tabernacle would walk with his people. The same Hebrew word for “walk” used in these tabernacle texts is also used in Genesis to refer to God walking in the garden.

Expanse (Raqiya)

On day 2 God created the expanse to separate the waters above from the waters above. The word expanse (in the Hebrew it is raqia) is used to describe an extended metal surface. Liberals have used that to try to disprove the Bible saying, “See! This is obviously just made up by ancient people who thought that the sky was a solid dome.” But once you understand Genesis 1 as a creation text, then the solid dome makes sense as part of the imagery that communicates creation as God’s temple.

God, through Moses is structuring the telling of creation in such a way that creation itself is to be seen as the temple of God. So Moses uses the term raqiya` as a metaphorical way to refer to the sky. He could have simply said “sky” or “heaven” but he wanted to paint a picture of creation as God’s temple. Hence using the term Raqiya` gives that picture of a temple dome. It is interesting that the term raqiya` is also used in Psalm 150 where the heavens are likened to God’s sanctuary.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! (Psalm 150:1, ESV)

In this case the first line “Praise God in his sanctuary” is paralleled with the second line “praise him in his mighty heavens!” So sanctuary is a synonym with raqiya or expanse.

Lights (Ma’owr)

On day 4 God created the sun, moon, and stars. But oddly enough, he avoids calling them sun and moon. Rather, the terms greater light and lesser light are used. In fact he uses a rather obscure term that is only used perhaps a dozen or so times in the Bible and almost all of them are found in the Pentateuch. A number of commentators mention that “What is intriguing is that the ten occurrences in the Pentateuch outside of Genesis all refer  to the light of the lampstand that lights up the tabernacle.” So it seems that God is making another reference to the temple or tabernacle which will figure so prominently later in the Pentateuch.

Work and Keep It (`abad shamar)

In chapter 2 God made Adam, then he put him in the garden and commanded him to “work it and keep it.” The only other place we see these two words occur together is when God instructs the priests to work and keep the temple.

  • Numbers 3:7-8 They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. 8 They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle.
  • Numbers 8:25-26 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
  • Numbers 18:5-6 And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel. 6 And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel.They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting.

In each of these instances, the priests were told to keep and to guard, which are the same Hebrew words in the instructions God gave to Adam regarding his service in the garden. As Beale points out:

When Adam fails to guard the temple by sinning and letting in an unclean serpent to defile the temple, Adam loses his priestly role, and the two cherubim take over the responsibility of “guarding” the garden temple. . . . Their role became memorialized in Israel’s later temple when God commanded Moses to make two statues of angelic figures and station them on either side of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple. (Beal, “Eden, The Temple, an the Church’s Mission in the New Creation” JETS 48/1 (March 2005) 5–31)

Geography

The entrance of the temple was on the east side. That was always to be the case. Even with the tabernacle which moved around all the time, it was to be set up so that its entrance was always on the east side. Given the other temple connections, the otherwise odd detail of the entrance of the garden being in the east now has added significance.

The rivers in Genesis 2 have been the subject of much debate. Not only because two of the four rivers are unknown to us, but also because it is unknown to have a river divie into four parts. It is common to have rivers join together, but unheard of to have them divide. It is interesting that, just as a river flowed out of Eden, so also does a river flow out of both the post-exilic idealized temple in Ezekiel, and the eschatological temple of Revelation.

The Temple / Creation Link

In my last post I argued that temples, both for the culture in general and Israel in particular, were viewed as a kind of microcosm – a miniature representation of creation.To further strengthen that observation, I’d like to explore two more angles: First, I’d like to briefly consider how the Jews themselves interpreted many of the elements of the temple. Second, since the temple reflects creation, I’d like to reverse the question and ask if creation reflects the temple at all.

Jewish Interpretations of Temple Details

Many Jewish ancient sources also confirm this interpretation. Josephus in his Antiquties (3.181; 3.123) and Midrash Rabbah Numbers 13:19 confirm the tripartite structure as reflecting the earth and heavens. For example, Josephus, in describing the tabernacle in general says that

As for the inside, Moses parted its length into three partitions… to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof … is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God. (Josephus, Ant, Book 3, Chapter 6.4.)

He continues on to describe the lampstand saying, “ It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the number of the planets.” In fact, many sources confirmed the lights of the lampstand as representing the lights of the heavens (Josephus, Ant. 3:145; War 5:217; Philo, Rer. Div. Her 221-225; Vit. Mos. 2.102-105; Quaest. Exod. 2.73-81; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 5.6).

Josephus speaks at length in book 5 of his Wars of the Jews about the temple. In there he speaks of the curtains:

It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and . . . was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens. (Josephus, War, Book 5, Chapter 5.4.)

He adds that the veil “typified the universe” and on it “was portrayed a panorama of the heavens” (Josephus, War, 210-214, as quoted in Beal, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, p 46). Philo agrees with this interpretation saying, “Moreover, he chose the materials of this embroidery, selecting with great care what was most excellent out of an infinite quantity, choosing materials equal in number to the elements of which the world was made” (Philo, Life of Moses, Book 2.88).

In a rather sweeping statement, Josephus claims that, “everyone of these objects [of the tabernacle] is intended to recall and represent the nature of the universe.” (Ant 3.180).

A talmudic sage of the second century A.D. said that

The house of the Holy of Holies is made to correspond to the highest heaven. The outer holy house was made to correspond to the earth. And the courtyard was made to correspond to the sea ( Rabbi Pinhas ben Ya’ir, as cited in Patai 1967: 108).

Creation as Temple

Israel’s God was the God of all creation, not just some tribal deity. He was not a god of the rivers, or a sun god, or the god of the underworld, or a fertility god. He was the one Almighty God of it all. Nothing was outside of his authority. To that end, having seen that the temple/tabernacle passages reflect creation, we may also expect that creation passages would point to the temple, or use temple terminology. That is exactly what we find.

  • 1 Samuel 2:8 For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
  • 2 Samuel 22:8 “Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
  • Job 9:6 who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
  • Job 26:11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke.
  • Job 38:4-6, 8-11 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
  • Psalm 18:15 Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
  • Psalm 75:3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
  • Psalm 104:3, 5 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; 5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.
  • Proverbs 8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
  • Proverbs 8:29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
  • Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
  • Amos 9:6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name.
  • Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;

God is the builder who measures and stretches and sets foundations. He lays the cornerstone and stretches a line across to measure its straightness. In contrast to all the tribal deities who ruled over a certain region, YHWY ruled over it all. In contrast to other deities who sprung from nature, the Lord God made it all. Therefore He can do what no other deity can – make the universe as his own dwelling.

Lightning in a Bottle’s 2014 Lineup & Official Trailer Released

LIB 2014 rush tic flyer

If you’ve read our coverage of last year’s Lightning in a Bottle’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness then you know how much of a magical wonderland of possibility LiB is. Now at a new location and an amazing lineup, this incredible transformational festival is back to continue celebrating life, happiness, and transformation.

The music lineup for the 9th annual Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts Festival has been announced, featuring Moby, Little Dragon, Phantogram, Gramatik, Beats Antique, Amon Tobin, Baauer, Gold Panda, Simian Mobile Disco, Claude VonStroke and more! 

This internationally renowned transformative experience also includes the sounds of The Polish Ambassador, Damian Lazarus, Cashmere Cat, Chet Faker and Lee Burridge. Lucent Dossier Experience will also take the familiar stage to mystify their devout fans with their visually enriched live-performance. 

Lightning in a Bottle returns with new dates, from May 22-26 2014, and a new location at San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA  (Google Maps). This new location at Lake San Antonio sits perfectly between Los Angeles and San Francisco in beautiful Monterey County.
LIB 2014 Lineup Poster

For the past nine years, The Do LaB has shattered all conceptions of the modern gathering, producing the most innovative and inspiring events on the international circuit. Lightning in a Bottle is a fusion of electronic music and introspective qualities of installation art, live performance, spiritual workshops, and an overarching embodiment of cultural and environmental consciousness. Through this focus on unique creativity, Lightning in a Bottle is its own class of gathering. 

Much of Lightning in a Bottle’s intimate singularity is expressed through The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, an amazing sanctuary for all participants to enrich the soul and inspire the spirit. The 2014 schedule inside the Lucent Temple, built out of recycled and found objects, will include over 300 different experiences in yoga, workshops, speakers and exotic world music.

LiB Temple Music Lineup
Once again the Temple of Consciousness will have its own musical experience with the world, devotional, and calming live music offering a soundtrack to the journeys within. Over 20 artists will be performing World Temple Music between classes and speakers, encompassing indigenous sounds from cultures around the world.

 

Much of Lightning in a Bottle’s intimate singularity is expressed through The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, an amazing sanctuary for all participants to enrich the soul and inspire the spirit. The 2014 schedule inside the Lucent Temple, built out of recycled and found objects, will include over 300 different experiences in yoga, workshops, speakers and exotic world music.

 

 

LiB Yoga Lineup
Lightning in a Bottle 2014 features yogis Radha & Govind Das, Joan Hyman, Tony Giulano, Kishan Shah, Gigi Snyder, and many more

 

The yoga lineup for the 9th annual Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts Festival will feature Radha & Govind Das, Joan Hyman, Tony Giulano, Kishan Shah, Gigi Snyder and The Human Experience, and more.

Yoga continues to be an integral part of the Lightning in a Bottle experience. As the festival has grown, so has the roster of yoga teachers and practitioners. This year looks to provide our most varied and celebrated series of classes yet.

Yoga classes will happening from morning until evening throughout the weekend to enrich your body and calm your soul. All experience levels and Yoga styles will be on offer from high energy Vinyasa to relaxing classes integrating meditation. The west coast’s top Yoga teachers are joining LIB this year, and many will be accompanied by live musicians. Whether you are looking to get your Yoga practice started, try out a new style, or just continue your practice with incredible people in an incredible space, it is strongly suggested you make Yoga a part of your LIB experience.

Schedule coming soon!


 

LiB Grand Artique
For the 5th year in a row, the Grand Artique Stage will be back at Lightning in a Bottle, and this year they are aiming to go bigger than ever. Bringing back to life their town Frontierville, a fully immersive Trading Post/General Store and a heavy-hitting line-up to rip up their own Live Music Stage.

Headliners include Diegos Umbrella, El Radio Fantastique and Herbert Bail Orchestra, whose foot-stomping anthems rocked LiB’s main stage last year, and many more awesome acts.The Grand Artique is one interactive area of LIB you don’t want to miss out on! Don’t forget to dig through your closet and bring something to trade! See you at the Grand Artique!




Tickets are on sale now and moving fast, so grab yours and stay tuned for more info!

 

 

 

Temples as Microcosms

Review

I have been posting a number of thoughts that I find relevant to the debate on the right understanding of Genesis 1. So by way of review, in my first post I affirmed 1) my love and admiration for my young earth creationism (henceforth YEC) brothers, 2) my commitment to the grammatico-historical method of interpretation, 3) my commitment to inerrancy. I also listed many brothers I respect who hold views different from the YEC. Finally I posted a quick definition of the view that I prefer, namely the Analogical Day View.

My second post was on analogies in general. I then did a series of posts that highlighted some parts of the text that could be read in a straight forward manner and yield times greater than 24 hrs. These included the time to drain the water on the third day,  the strange artifact of the land being too dry by the sixth day, the activities that had to fit on the 6th day, and the growth before the 7th day, which normally takes longer than 24 hrs. Also, while it doesn’t lend any interpretive weight, time tensions with good science do serve a a warning flag.

To transition from these negative observations to my more positive ones, I did a post that explored the importance of the intent of a passage. A passage may mention one thing without that thing being the point of the passage. Since exegesis is to discover the meaning of a passage, then pressing these other “things” to answer other questions may get us into interpretive difficulties. We must simply understand the point of the passage. If that doesn’t answer all our questions, then we need to be content with that. To follow the counsel of John Calvin, “When God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” So for my part, if the purpose of Genesis is not to set a date for creation, then I don’t want to force it to answer that question.

More positively now, I understand Genesis 1-2 to picture God as the great King who is building his temple. There is obviously a lot more than just this, but that is the part relevant to my understanding of the days. Genesis is heavy with connections to the tabernacle/temple. But to understand the significance of this, we should first spend some time understanding temples in general. From a cultural perspective it is useful to understand how temples were seen in the ancient Near East (henceforth ANE). What significance did the ancients understand their temples to carry? How does that fit with Israel?

ANE Temples as Microcosms

Temples in the ANE were seen as microcosms – miniature representations of the cosmos as a whole.

The heart of the ancient Near Eastern temple’s role in society was the special cosmological status it possessed. . . .No matter what cosmology a culture recognized, the temple was the meeting place of the different realms on the map. . . . We begin in Egypt, where every major temple claimed the status of having been erected contemporaneously with creation of earth. Each temple proclaimed to commemorate the ben-stone or the primordial mound. They portrayed their status as a link between realms. The temple at Heliopolis was called “Heaven of Egypt,” and Karnack was called “Heaven on Earth.” (Lori McCullough, “Dimensions of the Temple: The Temple Account in 1 Kings 5-9 Compared with Ancient Near East Temple Paradigms” p 15.)

Often they believed that their temple was on the plot of ground that was the first hill to protrude from earth’s watery beginning. Having such a privileged primordial status, it almost functioned as the gateway to the heavens. It is where the realms joined. As such, they were often decorated to signify the universe in small form.

There was usually three parts to the temples of the ANE. They were constructed in concentric circles of holiness. The outer court represented earth. So there was often a hillock present in the form of an elevated alter. There were images of beasts. There were representations of oceans. Moving into an inner court the scenery would change to represent more of the sky. Sun, moon, stars, clouds. There was a close connection with the visible heavens (the sky) and the invisible heavens beyond. The third and innermost room represented the invisible heavens. This was the abode of the gods. I won’t spend any more exploring ANE temples. This is only to say that this connection was part of the cultural environment of which Israel was a part.

Israel’s Temple as Microcosm

Israel, however was separate from the rest of the nations. God told her not to practice the customs of the other nations. So even though this was part of the culture, was it reasonable to expect Israel to follow? Usually, God would spell out how Israel was to be different. But being different did not mean they held nothing in common with their neighbors. After all, other peoples had temples, and so did Israel. Other people had sacrifices, and so did Israel. Other people had priests, so did Israel. The primary thing that made Israel different was that they worshiped the one true God. So much of Israel’s cultic system was to be understood as the pure worship of the true God. All others, no matter how similar, were perversions of Israel and her God.

So the question remains whether Israel also had a temple that served as a reflection of the cosmic temple. The only way to answer that is to look to scripture. If the relationship holds, then, in passages that detail the temple or tabernacle, we may expect to find hints of heaven and earth in the decoration or structure. We may expect to find other passages that allude to this relationship. And this is exactly what we do see.

Psalm 78:69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.

The tripartite structure is also seen in Israel’s temple. The outer court is earth, the dwelling of man. Here there were bulls, the altar (which had to be made of earth) called “the bosom of the earth,” and even a massive basin that was called the “sea.” (1 Kings 7:23-26). Much of the decoration was like nature:

1 Kings 7:18-36 Likewise he made pomegranates in two rows around the one latticework to cover the capital that was on the top of the pillar, and he did the same with the other capital. 19 Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were of lily-work, four cubits. 20 The capitals were on the two pillars and also above the rounded projection which was beside the latticework. There were two hundred pomegranates in two rows all around, and so with the other capital. . . . 22 And on the tops of the pillars was lily-work. Thus the work of the pillars was finished.

23 Then he made the sea of cast metal. It was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. 24 Under its brim were gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows, cast with it when it was cast. . . . 29 On the frames, both above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths of beveled work. . . . The supports were cast with wreaths at the side of each. . . . 36 And on the surfaces of its stays and on its panels, he carved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths all around.

1 Kings 6:18 The cedar within the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen.

The second section had the lamp stand  which had seven lights. That may have been indicative of the complete heavens, or it may have represented the 7 unique lights, the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets.

The very inner court, the holy of holies represented the invisible heavens – the dwelling place of God. There was the throne of God at the center. Guarding the throne were cherubim (1 Kings 6:23-28; cf. Rev 4:7-9). Angels were also woven into the fabric of the curtain. The ark was seen as God’s footstool. There is much more to explore, and we will touch on further aspects in coming posts, but this is sufficient to show the temple/creation connection.