The Walls Are Alive!
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house…” I Peter 2:5
At first this verse seems to contradict our previous conclusion, that those who are saved are represented by the wood used in the temple. This verse clearly says that we are like lively stones used to build a spiritual house. How then can we be wood? For quite some time this verse was a mystery to me. How can we be both wood and stone? Am I not one person? How then, can I be two different things? Was I wrong somehow about what the wood represented?
There is some debate among theologians as to whether a person has two parts or three. Many theologians believe that mankind is composed of two primary parts, the physical and the spiritual. The spiritual portion being subdivided into soul and spirit. Others believe that man has three primary parts, body, soul, and spirit.
At any rate I don’t think these nuances will significantly affect how we look at the temple. The body is the outward physical part that we all see. The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The spirit is that part of us that is conscious of God. How can we know which part of the temple building represents which corresponding part of our being?
The stone wall of the temple was covered on the inside with cedar boards. On the outside of the building there were chambers going all the way around the building except in the porch area at the entrance. The chambers were built so that their beams rested on notches or ledges on the stone wall of the building. These are the three parts of the building that we will examine in this chapter, the stone wall, the cedar covering on the inside, and the chambers on the outside.
Stone was the primary building material. The building was considered to be built of stone.
“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither…” I Kings 6:7a
Notice that in the temple, the stone representing our spirit was covered on both sides.1 On the inside the stone was covered with cedar, on the outside it was covered with the chambers. The stone was the innermost component of the temple building. In much the same way our spirit is the innermost part of us.
Those theologians who believe that man is two parts would say the chambers represent the body and that the wall represents the spirit which is subdivided into stone and wood. Other theologians who believe man is three parts would say the chambers represent the body while the stone represents the spirit and the wood represents the soul. Perhaps it is just two ways to say essentially the same thing.
Let’s think about an average house today. On the outside the building is covered with siding, on the inside it is covered with drywall. The beams that form the support structure are the innermost part of the wall. When looking at a building, it is not entirely obvious that there are beams inside of the wall. These beams are nonetheless very important, and without them the building would fall. It seems as though in much the same way, we often tend to focus on our coverings and forget about what supports them.
The stone represents that part of us that, when we are saved, has been made Foundation-Stone-like, in other words Christ-like.
The stones in the walls were hewn stone like the Foundation Stone.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
It appears that our spirit is a hewn stone in the picture of the temple because our old sinful spirit is crucified with Christ when we are saved. That old tree is cut down, and God gives us a new Spirit made ready before we are saved. That new Spirit is Christ living in me. Christ is our life and He lives in us. Our life is now His life. The stone represents the new life, the foundation stone-like Spirit of Christ which He gives us.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17
When we are saved, we become a new creature. We used to be completely a tree, completely corruptible. But now, we see that who we are becomes a stone. We become a new creature in the realm of building materials.
“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither…” I Kings 6:7a
The stone was brought to the building site ready to be used in the temple. If you do not know Christ as your Savior, He is ready for you. He was hewn about 2000 years ago. He is ready to be a part of the temple with you as your new Spirit. If you are saved, you do not need to do anything further to be in the temple. Your spirit does not need to go through any long process of carving or being hewn. Our spirits are not slowly hewn until we finally arrive at the point of being usable for the temple. No, the verse says, that if you are in Christ you are a new creature.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” II Corinthians 5:17a
The new Spirit of Christ transforms us when we are saved. Our corrupt spirit is crucified with Christ and is resurrected as a Christ-like stone.
There are several ways that the chambers seem to have some interesting parallels to the body portion of man. The chambers were the outermost part of the building. In the same way the body is the outermost part of man. The beams of the chambers were placed on “rests” in the stone walls, but were not attached. This makes us think that it might be possible for the chambers to pull away from the stone wall, be detached, and topple over. If the chambers were detached from the stone wall they surely would fall down into ruins. In much the same way, our body becomes detached from our spirit when we die. When this happens, the body falls down in ruins. What was the purpose of the chambers? We must assume that they were used for the necessary everyday things involved in the work of the temple. Perhaps some were storage rooms; perhaps some were classrooms or meeting rooms. Maybe some of the chambers were used as a place to pray, or as a place for the priests to prepare for their service. In much the same way, our body is the place where the everyday needs of our being are addressed. The body is a necessary structure that supports the work of our spirit and soul. The chambers were not of primary significance. The main temple building was the most important part of the temple. Similarly, our body is not the main thing that is significant to God, it is the soul and spirit part of our being that God cares about most.
Although the chambers do seem to bear similarity to the body, an argument can be made, however, that the chambers were not intended to be part of the picture. The Scripture clearly states that the chambers were not connected to the wall, but were merely resting on the wall. It seems that perhaps the chambers were to be considered as a separate structure from the main temple building. Does this mean that God does not want the chambers to be included as part of the picture created by the wall? Or does resting on the wall sufficiently connect the structure to the wall and make it part of the picture intended by the wall? The chambers do have some interesting parallels to the body, but the Scripture does not mention any symbolic carvings on the chambers. They do not seem to be connected as part of the wall. This author feels that it is likely that the chambers do represent our physical being, but we don’t know this for certain.
“So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.” I Kings 6:9
The final part of our being, the soul, seems to be represented by the inner covering of cedar boards. The soul is our mind which thinks and reasons; the soul is our will which decides what we will believe and do; the soul is our emotions which feel.
Even though we have a new spirit, we still have the same old flesh, which is symbolized by wood, which is able to rot and become corrupt.
A struggle develops within us. Will we yield to the godly desires of our new spirit, the stone component, or will we yield to the old, fleshly desires of the wood component? Paul described the struggle that he experienced:
“…So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:25b
Paul expressed his frustration with the flesh, how that even though he wanted to do right in his mind, his flesh wanted to do the wrong thing. Our flesh is that part of us which is still corruptible which even though we are saved, struggles to have its own way. When we let Christ bring the fleshly part of ourselves under control by resting on Him as our Foundation, and leaning on the Stone Wall of His Spirit within, our function of glorifying God can be accomplished. To defeat the old fleshly desires is not a battle we can fight by ourselves and win. We must trust God to do what we cannot. He works throughout our lives to shape the wood of our being into something glorifying to Him. I think God wanted us to know that we cannot possibly do it ourselves so that we would rely on Him and the power of His Spirit and yield ourselves to Him, resting on our Foundation and leaning on the Stone Walls.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I Corinthians 6:19-20
Notice how this verse appeals to the entire person to glorify God. God does not only ask us to glorify Him with our body and spirit, but in this verse He is appealing to our soul, that part of us that can decide to yield to God and glorify Him with our body and spirit. Even though we may not be sure if God symbolically depicted the body portion of man in the architecture of the temple building, this verse clearly states that our body is indeed the temple, and is to be glorifying God by its actions.
God wants the whole person to have a part in the temple, glorifying Him. He wants the thoughts, emotions, and decisions of the soul; the worship of the spirit; and the actions and desires of the body to glorify Him. Since God purchased us, God has a right to specify the function we are to perform. The function He has chosen for us to perform is to glorify Him. He did not purchase a part of us. He does not ask us to glorify Him with just a select part that He bought. God bought the whole person.
Perhaps some would attempt to glorify God in doing the right thing with their body while reserving the thoughts and emotions of the soul portion of their being to themselves. For example, when we do the right thing to glorify God with our body by going to church, do we reserve the thoughts of our souls to our own daydreams during the message? When we do the right thing to glorify God with our body by saying we forgive someone who has asked forgiveness, do we reserve in our soul the emotional bitterness of being offended? This type of question could be asked of practically anything that we do since all that we do is to glorify God. Do we support with our soul and spirit everything we do with our body that is right for glorifying God? If what we do is the action that would glorify God, but our soul and spirit are not in it whole-heartedly, God is not glorified. Do we allow some other selfish prideful motivation to control our soul or spirit instead? Maybe our motivation is that we want to appear good to others. Maybe we just want to take the easy way out. Doing something is not being something. To do something that we are not is hypocrisy.
Does the problem occur the other way around, that we desire to glorify God in our spirit, but we don’t do it with our body? Do we sit in church week after week, but never go out and do the things we are encouraged to do? Once again, God wants us to glorify Him with all that we are. Wanting to do the thing that would glorify God, but never making an effort to do so is not really a sincere desire to accomplish that thing in the first place. God included all that we are when He built us into the temple. All parts of us are important in our relationship to God. We dare not focus on one part of our being to the neglect of the others; or else the opposite of glorifying God is the end result. If I have a mold at work with one part in it that is working against the other parts, the mechanism will get jammed and the mold will not perform its function. When we get jammed up spiritually, we will fail to perform our function of producing glory to God.
We have considered the three main parts of our being, now we will examine how those parts relate to Jesus.
Let’s once again consider the verse:
“For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:9
For quite some time, it was a mystery to me why God chose to put husbandry and building in the same verse. The words seemed so unrelated. What did husbandry, in other words farming, have to do with buildings? I noticed several other verses where references are made to plants and buildings within the same verse:
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him…” Colosians 2:6,7a
“…Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” Ephesians 2:20b,21
“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:13
If you read the book of Jeremiah and look for words related to plants and buildings, it will become quite obvious that plants and buildings are one of the major themes in the book.
Having seen this theme repeated several times throughout other places in the Scriptures as well, I was sure that it was quite significant. The relationship between plants and buildings seems to be one of the main things that God wants us to realize about the temple. Let’s think about the first verse again:
“…Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:9b
God’s husbandry is God’s building is me.
If husbandry is taking care of living things, then since I am God’s husbandry:
I am alive.
Since I am the building:
The building is alive!
The building is a living, growing thing that God takes care of and builds up!
I am a living, growing thing, and God takes care of me and builds me up.
Amazing, a living building! What a fitting house for the Author of Life. It’s a building totally unlike any other that we could imagine.
Consider with me what this means. The trees, although chopped down and dead to their root of sin, now live! “Rooted and built up in Him” and though one would think they should be dead, the trees now “flourish in the courts of our God.”
Though in our world we only know stones as inanimate objects, the stones in the house of God are living as well.
“Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house…” I Peter 2:5
We now find the building walking around:
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him…” Colossians 2:6,7a
“Rooted” denotes the stability we can have with Christ as our foundation. We can be built up in Him as our faith and knowledge of Christ increases.
Now that we know that the building is alive, let’s ask the question: What is life? Is it a complex biological system that grows, takes nourishment, and responds to stimuli such as light? Is it something you experience? Is life a complex code written in the molecules of DNA? Is it an awareness over a span of time? All these things are a part of God’s design for physical life, but life itself is not just a complex biological system, or a code, or an experience. Life is not a thing or a concept. Life is not awareness over a span of time. Life is not something you do.
Life is a Person!
[Jesus said] “… I am the way, the truth, and the life…” John 14:6
The Foundation of the building is the life of the building. Without the Foundation, the building dies and falls down. The boards of the building, having been a chopped-down tree that was further carved into boards, surely would normally be dead wood; but when the boards rest on the Foundation, as when we trust in God to save us, a wonderful transformation takes place. The boards, once dead, are grafted onto the Root of Jesse (Jesus). Are you resting on the Foundation Stone? What else does the wood in the temple do? The wood has no other responsibilities but to be supported by the Foundation. Jesus, who is our Foundation and our Root, supplies the life-giving sap, the energy of life.
As Moses drew water from the rock in the wilderness, so we draw life-giving water from the Rock, Jesus Christ. When the children of Israel were wandering in the desert about ready to die for lack of water, God told Moses to strike the rock. When Moses struck the rock, life-giving water flowed out for all to freely drink. This is a picture of Jesus, the Rock, being struck on the cross and His life-giving blood flowing out. The second time that God commanded Moses to get water from the rock, God told Moses to speak to the rock. Moses disobeyed God’s command and struck the rock instead of speaking to it. God had intended, however, that Moses would speak to the rock and water would flow out. The intended picture is that we can speak to the Rock, Jesus Christ, and He will give the water of life freely. Have you spoken to the Rock about receiving the living water?
[Jesus said] “…the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14
Rooted in the eternal Rock of Life, and drinking of the water of life, we live eternally. Do you understand how we can drink the living water? We drink by being placed in the right relationship with the Foundation Stone. In other words we must rest on our Foundation, Jesus Christ. He offers the water freely to all that would drink.
Follow along as we explore the most vital area of the temple, the determining factor in whether you will be a part of the temple forever. This will determine whether you will be a living, thriving, vibrant, fruitful tree, or a part of the dark forest rooted in sin, judged by God, and whose bough shall be lopped with terror.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7,8
What a wonderful picture of a secure tree! The tree doesn’t have to worry about anything because it is drawing life-giving water from the river. The verse says that the tree is like a person, who trusts in and hopes in the Lord.
By trusting in the Lord and making Him our hope, we will become like the tree by the river of water. To trust is to rest on Jesus, the Rock of our Foundation, with all that we are. As the stones and boards in the temple were brought into place and rested on the foundation, so we must be brought into place and rest on our spiritual Foundation. To hope is to know that we are secure in the refuge of the Rock.
What or whom are you trusting to give you life? If you are trusting that the good things you have done will outweigh the bad, you have not drunk of the living water. If you are trusting in the waters of baptism, you have not drunk of the living water. If you are trusting your church, your parents’ faith, your money, your intellect, your strength, your luck, your influence, your immunization, or anything else other than Jesus Christ and Him alone; you have not tasted of the living water.
It takes trust in Jesus Christ to drink of the living water. Why is that? Because, to be planted by the living waters in the house of God, you must be cut off from your roots of sin which cling to this world. You must trust that the Husbandman will graft you on to the Root of Jesse, and that Jesus will give you a new life. Trust in Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
Before I became a part of the temple, I struggled with whether I could trust God or not. Let me tell you my story:
When I was six years old, I told my parents, who were saved, that I had gotten saved. I think at that time I had told God that I wanted to go to heaven, and that I wanted Jesus to come into my heart. I do not think that I really understood the importance of trusting God or repenting from sin.
As I grew older, I let everyone believe that I was saved when I was six, but in, my heart, I knew that it was not true. The fruits of my life proved what I was. When I was in my teens, I developed a terrible seething bitterness. I did my best not to let it show.
When I moved away from home, I felt a new freedom to sin. I watched any video I wanted, listened to rock music as rebellious as I wanted, and let my mind dwell on lustful thoughts as much as I wanted. I enjoyed the sin at the moment, but in my heart, I felt bad about it and became depressed.
I began considering a question that seemingly had no answer. “Where did sin come from?” I do not recall ever hearing this question discussed in church, and as I thought on it, the question began to bother me. There were other questions along this line such as: “Since God is omniscient, and since He created angels and mankind, knowing in advance that they would sin, was He in effect knowingly creating sin by creating beings that He knew would sin? Would it be a sin for Him to do so?” “Since there was nothing and no one in eternity past except God, then where did sin come from?” But yet God says in the Bible that He is holy. That is His chief attribute. For two years I wrestled with this type of paradoxical questions. Around and around I went. With logic I could prove nothing one way or the other. Was God holy as He said He was or not? If He wasn’t, then why should I be bound by what He says? I wanted a way to blame God for my sin so that I could go on sinning; but if I found a way to do that, then what hope could I have?
I came to the conclusion that everything the Bible says hinges on whether you can trust what God says or not. Either it is all true as God says, or none of it is trustworthy.
I became more depressed, not knowing if I could trust God or not. This whole time I was still going to church and putting on a front, but in my heart I knew I was rottenness. I found it easy to daydream through messages. Then, at church we began having a Sunday school class for the single adults. In order to maintain the front, I was forced to memorize and read the Bible. The Holy Spirit began convicting my heart more and more. Then finally one evening, I was driving my car when I heard a black man preaching at his wife’s funeral. I don’t know who he was, or why I listened to him. I usually listened to rock music. He told of many examples of characters from the Bible who were in desperate situations and God brought them through the situation. He told of Abraham offering Isaac; of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; of Daniel in the lion’s den; and of Stephen. After telling about each of these, he cried out “TRUST HIM!” He cried over and over again. “TRUST HIM! TRUST HIM! TRUST HIM! TRUST HIM! TRUST HIM! TRUST HIM!!!” It seemed that God was trying to pound it into my brain. I had found the answer to my question. When the questions are beyond our understanding, we know that we can TRUST HIM because time and again His character has proven Him to be trustworthy. He has demonstrated perfect integrity. He does what He says He will do. God’s Word can be trusted, and so we know that He really is a holy God that we can trust with our very lives. Since everything else God has told us is true, there is no reason to doubt that what He has told us about His holiness is true.
The next Sunday, pastor preached on salvation. I went home to my apartment and asked God to forgive me for my sin. I told Him that I wanted to turn away from my sin. I told Him that I knew that Jesus died for my sins and that I trusted Him to be my Savior. Immediately things in my life started changing. Nothing will change your life like Jesus will. I felt alive inside. I threw out all of my rock music and the rest of the worldly garbage I had. I began to forgive people I was bitter against. I had to realize that I am accountable to God for how I live my own life, and others are accountable for their own lives. I could not use anyone else’s shortcomings as an excuse for my own sin. I applied the Scripture, “…forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32b) I began talking to people at work about the Lord. Soon, the Lord brought my future wife into my life.
Who better to trust with your life than He who is life? Who better to build you up into His house than He who laid the foundations of the world? He has shown that He can be trusted time and time again. A large portion of the Bible seems to be God trying to carefully get across to us that He is trustworthy. God does not want us to find any reason in His Word to think that He would not be who He says He is. God is holy; He will never lie.
If you choose not to trust the Lord with your life, then what is the alternative? How will you find eternal life? Is this short life all there is? Will you trust a man? Will you trust a man’s sayings? Even more incredibly, would you trust a dead man’s sayings? (Remember, Jesus rose from the grave and is alive!) Would you trust in yourself?
In the same passage that talks about the tree planted by the rivers of water representing a man who trusts in the Lord, we read the following which tells about a man who trusts in man:
“Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” Jeremiah 17:5-6
If you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior, will you choose to be planted by the river of the water of life, or will you choose death in the desert of salt? Without Jesus, you cannot be a part of the temple. The temple is made of living materials, and without Jesus, you are not alive.
If you do not know Jesus, but in your heart you are willing to turn from your sin and to trust Him, then tell Him. Tell Him that you turn from sin, that you don’t want to be a sinner any more, and that you understand that Jesus had to die because of it. List your sins to God and ask His forgiveness. Tell Him that you trust Jesus to save you.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
The author believes that it is valid to look at the materials used in the walls as being symbolic since the walls had carvings on them. Although many places in scripture, men are likened to trees; and many places in scripture Christ is likened to a stone, we are not, however, specifically told by scripture the meaning of the wood and stone used in the walls of the temple.