Pillars on the Porch
First let’s consider whether the porch was even meant to be symbolic or not. We are not told of any carvings on the actual porch structure. There were pillars on the porch with carvings on them that were apparently symbolic. Since the pillars rested on the porch, does that connect the porch substantially enough to the carved pillars to make them part of the picture? There was also gold covering on the porch. We have already looked at the likely symbolic significance of the gold, but does the mention of the gold by itself without the carvings qualify as symbolic. We are not given a full enough description to know whether the temple wall formed part of the structure of the porch or whether the porch was a freestanding structure. We should not assume that the porch is an extension of the symbolic wall. It seems that the porch was intended to have more of an architectural purpose which was to catch people’s attention and display the gold. We will focus primarily on the architectural purpose and how our lives perhaps should parallel this. We will also revisit the likely symbolic significance of the gold.
The porch area was visible from the outside of the temple. This structure is what God wanted those who were not in the temple to see. With a height of 120 cubits, the portion of the building in front of the main doorway of the temple was an incredible 180 feet (54.8 meters) tall, and it was covered with gold. What an engineering feat to erect such a tall structure before the days of cranes using nothing but manual and animal labor. It must have seemed impossibly tall. Certainly, this is what God wanted everyone’s attention to be drawn to. The grand entrance, which was four times taller than the building itself, must have been visible from a great distance. When the sun was shining upon it, the reflection of the sun’s rays off the gold would have been dazzling. Why did God want all eyes fixed upon this magnificent structure in front of the temple? What did He want everyone to see?
When architects want to attract people to come into a building such as a store, they might put a façade on the front of the building, which would make the building appear to be more attractive than it might otherwise look. Now we do not want to use the word façade here as meaning fake, but could it be that the Lord wanted to attract people to the temple building by use of this grand façade? The tall porch structure would have caught the attention of all who passed by the city of Jerusalem. There were no other buildings with this immense height. All who saw it would have been very impressed by the height of the temple building.
Everyone who visited Jerusalem would also be in awe of the rich display of gold covering the porch. As we discussed earlier, the gold appears to be symbolic of the awesome price that was paid for our salvation. As we kneel at the foot of the cross and look up to those impossible heights of love, we are unable to comprehend with our minds what terrible price was paid to provide our covering.
Since we are the temple of God, how does the temple porch look like us? When we trust in Christ, God lifts us up and builds us up to new magnificent heights in His love. God wants the world to see His temple. Since we are the temple of God, God wants the world to see us. He wants the whole world to see how the love of Christ has covered our lives and changed us and lifted us up.
In using the gold covering and the height of the structure, God wanted all men to understand that the temple building was an important structure. Our relationship to God should be the highest priority in our lives. Nothing should stand more prominent in our lives than our desire to love and know our God. Lift high the love of Christ so that all may see what God has done.
It is troubling that artist depictions of Solomon’s temple almost always show it with a porch that is similar in height to the rest of the building; and they seldom show the gold covering. I could not find any explanation of why artists would do this. In II Chron 7:21, God Himself characterizes Solomon’s temple as “…this house, which is high…”. Why would anyone want to reduce the gloriousness of the building by lowering its most impressive external feature? Incorrect depictions of the temple detract from God’s glory.
The porch was as wide as the building, twenty cubits; it was ten cubits in breadth, and it was covered with gold. Not much else is given in the description of the porch. It is as though the immense height of the porch is used to attract the attention. It seems as though the items that were displayed on the porch are what God really wanted those outside of the temple to look at. There were two shorter free-standing pillars displayed on the porch, which are described in detail. This picture seems to be kind of like a Christmas tree. The tree catches our attention, but it is the presents underneath in which we are really interested. The porch catches our attention, but it is the pillars underneath in which we are really interested. With this in mind, we will focus our attention now upon the two pillars.
Much detail is given in describing the decorative tops of the pillars, called chapiters. There was a complex design of chain, shaped into checkers and wreaths, seven wreaths for each pillar. There were rows of pomegranates hanging from a network of chains. There were two hundred pomegranates on each pillar. It is the use of the pomegranates that make the pillars a symbolic structure. These were not real pomegranate fruits, but were rather made of brass leading us to believe that they stand for something. For quite some time I puzzled about what the pillars represented until I thought about what they would have looked like as a whole. The overall appearance was similar to a tree with fruit hanging from it! The pillar itself similar to the trunk, and the mass of chain similar to the mass of leaves at the top of a tree trunk with fruit hanging from it. I wondered, why would the Lord have chosen pomegranates? What is the meaning of these tree-like pillars? Are we like these pillars in some way? Once again, scripture does not clearly tell us the meaning. But once again we find clues.
The pillars were made of brass. These “trees” weren’t made of wood. Brass has strength beyond what is found in wood. This meaning is further reinforced by the name of one of the pillars “in it is strength.” What is strong about us? Certainly we have no strength in ourselves. Let’s examine further.
The next thing we should notice is the fruit. Pomegranates are full of seeds. When you eat a pomegranate, you eat the seeds. It has a delightful flavor.
A fir tree, an olive, or a cedar tree (the types of wood used in the temple) cannot bear pomegranates, it is not their natural fruit. In fact, the fruit of the cedar and fir tree, which is a pine cone, is basically worthless. It is not natural for us to produce fruit that is pleasing to God. No, the fruit that is on display in front of the temple is not our fruit at all, but the fruit of the Spirit of God as He works through our lives. We do not have the strength or the ability to produce this fruit. All we can do is bear it. It is the vine’s fruit.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4, 5
Within the temple, we see this verse illustrated. As we abide in Jesus as our Foundation, and within the walls of His Spirit around us, He abides in us as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant and His real presence inside of the building. And so we see “Abide in me, and I in you” fulfilled within the temple.
Without the vine, the branch will not bear fruit. Without the vine, the branch will die. We are as the branch; we need to abide in the vine in order to bear fruit. We need to rely on Jesus, as the Source of our strength; otherwise we have no ability to bear any fruit that would be pleasing to God.
As we discussed in a previous chapter, the seed appears to represent the Word of God. The pomegranates on the pillars were full of seeds. The fruit of the Spirit comes as we, through the strength that God provides, live out the truth of the Word of God in our lives. Once again, we have no ability to do this, but must rely on God’s strength working through us. In Galatians 5:22-23, there is a listing of the fruit of the Spirit:
- Love, a decision to put someone else’s needs before your own; selflessness, like Christ who gave Himself for us
- Joy, which comes from our relationship with Christ, not from, and often in spite of our circumstances. To know and fellowship with Christ brings joy. To know that Christ loves us brings joy.
- Peace, comes with learning to depend on the Prince of Peace.
- Longsuffering, bearing something because you know that God is working it out for your good because He loves you
- Gentleness, kindness, usefulness
- Goodness, being good
- Faith, believing God’s Word that you have received, and acting in obedience to it
- Meekness, power under control
- Temperance, God in control produces self-control
These are the fruit produced by God’s Spirit that God lifts high and wants the world to see. Each one in its own way is a different manifestation of love. The chapiters were of lily work. Do you remember that we said the flowers on the walls seem to represent selfless love. It seems that the lilies on the chapiters represent the same thing. The people of the world long for it. They desire to consume the sweet fruit of God’s love being borne in the lives of those who are walking in the Spirit. As they consume it, they will be taking in the seed of the Word of God.
Those who are not in the temple need the love of God. There is no more loving thing to do for others than to show them the way of salvation. When others are shown the way of salvation, a choice is laid out before them. Will they choose sin and the ways of death, or will they choose Christ and life everlasting?
There are two pillars that look like trees in front of the temple, standing before God. Think with me of the first place in the Bible where we saw two trees. There was a choice laid out before Adam and Eve. Their decision was whether to choose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which represented the way of sin and death; or whether to choose the Tree of Life and the way of blessing and life everlasting? Sadly, they chose sin and death. The sin nature, and the eternal death that accompanied it, were passed down from generation to generation to all mankind. If it were not for Jesus, we would all be forever in this hopeless state. Christ came into the world as a second Adam and made the right choice. He chose not to sin. By His death He has secured our right to choose for ourselves whether we agree with Adam’s choice or whether we will trust in Christ, whom the Scriptures call the second Adam.
Think with me for a moment about the crucifixion. What was at that scene? Jesus, who was God, and who also was the second Adam was hung in the middle, with a cross on each side of Him. What is a cross? It is a pillar of wood made from a tree. There were two pillars made from trees that were standing before God. See how this is a theme in the Bible? When a person must make a decision about his destiny, God sets up two trees. God then lets the person decide which one to choose. One thief on the cross represents the decision to trust in Jesus. The other thief on the cross represents the decision not to trust in Jesus. The one would be rejoicing in God’s kingdom; the other by his decision not to trust in Christ, doomed to suffer for eternity. God places this decision before all of us. He puts it high on poles so everyone can see the choice clearly.
We will be judged based upon which tree we choose. The Christian who shows forth the fruit of the Spirit is making men aware of the choice that is available to them.
The name of the second pillar points to the way of life. “He shall establish,” this name declares that there is nothing we can do to be established, it is God who does the establishing. We must trust in Him to establish life for us.
If we would desire to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we need to walk in the Spirit. We find the following verse just after the list of the fruit of the Spirit.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
How does one walk in the Spirit?
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” Colossians 2:6
How did we receive Christ Jesus? We received Jesus by repenting from sin and trusting in Him! Not only do we receive our salvation this way, but God wants us to walk through our entire life turning from sin and trusting Him for everything. As we learn to live holy lives and to trust Him more and more, He will supply what is needed for our lives to bear fruit. Now, see how beautifully the next verse in this passage ties the picture all together.
“Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7
- We see the word “rooted.” This word brings to mind that Christ is our Root and Foundation. When we are rooted in Him, Christ gives us stability. We can draw our strength from Him and bear fruit.
- The words “built up in him” call to mind the temple building.
- The word “stablished” reminds us of the pillar that was named “He shall establish.”
Now let’s think once again of our theme verse:
“For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:9
We are God’s husbandry. He works with our lives to cause us to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Will we yield to the hand of the Husbandman, turn from sin and trust our lives to Jesus? Only then will we live fruitful lives and be able to let God work through us to hold up the choice before the lost. There was much fruit on the pillars. There were two hundred pomegranates on each tree. God wants our lives to be very fruitful.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit;” John 15:8a
Recall with me how we said in the first chapter that the function of the temple is to glorify God. If we would live a functional life, performing as we are intended in God’s sight, we will strive to glorify God by letting Him work through us to bring forth as much good fruit in our lives as possible.
Are you holding up the choice before the lost?
Will you let Him supply you with what you need to live a fruitful life for His glory?
- Turn from sin
- Trust Him