The Carvings of the Master
“… I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Psalm 17:15b
In the last chapter we established a theory for the meaning of the pleasant carvings. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at the picture that seems to be depicted by each of the beautiful carvings. We will examine how each one can be looked at as a portrayal of the character of Christ and ponder the work of the Master Carpenter in our lives as He shapes us into His image.
For a major part of His life on earth, Jesus worked as a Carpenter. It was not by chance that carpentry was His life’s occupation during the time that He lived on earth. Until He was about thirty years old, we suppose that Jesus, the Carpenter, worked with physical wood, shaping it, carving it, understanding the material. He observed how the material reacted in different situations. He lived with the material daily. He knew the material.
A carpenter is a person who shapes wood. A carpenter is the master of the wood. He can fashion the wood into anything he wants. The wood does not decide what it is to be.
When Jesus began His ministry He remained a Carpenter. He became a Carpenter of spiritual wood, not physical. During His time on earth, Jesus worked with the spiritual wood around Him, shaping it, observing it in different situations, knowing the wood as no other carpenter could know the wood. By becoming a man, He identified with the wood in a special way. We can see the Master Carpenter at work shaping the lives and thoughts of His disciples. His work today is the same, shaping people’s lives as He builds the spiritual house of God.
We who have trusted Jesus as Savior, are the spiritual wood that He is shaping. The wood is that part of us which the Carpenter is still patiently sculpting and making into what He wants us to be. He patiently works with what often times is a very difficult and frustrating material to bring us into a form that pleases Him. It is not we who do the carving. We do not have the power or the wisdom to shape our own lives into something that would glorify God. Would Michelangelo have been a great sculptor if the marble had carved itself? Jesus wants the glory for shaping our lives. He is the One who must do the work if we are to glorify God.
For us to try to carve our own lives is to be proud, thinking that we don’t need God. This was the sin that Satan chose when he said “…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:14b) Satan wanted to make himself to be like God. For us to try to make ourselves like God without God’s hand is the same sin. God must be the One who does the carving. Our part is to trust that God knows what He is doing and to rely on Him each day as He shapes our lives. We must be willing to be carved.
With what does the carpenter begin? Logs: rough, coarse, crooked, still full of their old worldly sap; unrefined; still almost in their natural shape, but different from natural trees in that they are chopped down. So are we when we first come to know the Carpenter. We are different in that we have trusted Christ, but our flesh is still sinful and coarse in many ways. When we are newly-felled trees, the Carpenter sets about to accomplish His work in our lives.
At first we have many excess things the carpenter needs to get rid of, bark, branches, leaves, burls, worldly wood to be hewn off. We must be squared up to God’s standards. Our prideful self must be cut to the size the Master needs; and then as the Carpenter works the work only He can do, something beautiful begins to emerge. At first, we can see only a rough board; then it looks like the Carpenter is carving a shape on the board. Jesus is shaping my life? Yes, some kind of a sculpture in wood is emerging from the surface of the board. Have you ever noticed how God has brought unusual coincidences into your life? Perhaps you shrugged them off as chance. These coincidences were not chance at all, but rather evidence of the Master at work. He is at work every day, but much of the time; it is difficult from our perspective, the perspective of the carving, to see what He is doing. The coincidences you have noticed in your life are merely parallel lines on the carving of your life.
What is the Carpenter doing? What do the carvings have to do with me? How do the carvings in the temple tell me what shape God is making me?
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Corinthians 3:18
God is carving those who trust Him to look like Jesus! What a wonderful work! What a beautiful thing to carve! In a way, Jesus is carving a self-portrait. He wants us to be like Him. How inadequate and unworthy I feel to bear that glorious image. But yet we are not the ones to choose what the Carpenter does with the wood. He is the Carpenter, the Master of the wood. He will be the One to decide what to make. It is by His marvelous grace that He chooses to make us like Himself.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26
In the beginning, God’s intention for mankind was that they be in the image of God. In the book of Genesis, after God tells us that He is our Maker, the next thing God tells us about ourselves is that we were made in His image. This fact must have been important to God. It seems that this was the main concept behind creating mankind in the first place. God’s original concept for the design of mankind was for God to have a creature that would be in His own image. Sin marred that image; and though we still bear some likeness to our Maker, the spiritual appearance of the natural man has become disfigured. Natural man is now far uglier than the holy, spiritual image of God that was originally created. It is through the work of the Master Carpenter in the temple that the wonderful image of God can once again be restored to the “very good” that it once was; and we as God’s creation can be shaped by the Master to fulfill the original intended design of mankind.
As we discussed in the last chapter, a major hypothesis presented in this book is that the key to understanding what the carvings in the temple are all about is as follows:
Since I am the temple of God,
Since God is conforming me to the image of Jesus,
The carvings that are sculpted on the temple walls appear to be the shape that God wants me to be in order for me to be in the image of Jesus.
We will take a look at each of the subjects that were carved on the walls of Solomon’s temple, and see how they look like Jesus; and then we’ll have a look at how God is carving me to be in that image.
As we have discussed, there were four things which were carved in the wood of the temple; knops, open flowers, palm trees, and cherubim; each appears to reveal an aspect of Christ. In the last chapter we looked at evidences that pointed to what the carvings mean. It is important that the traits of the carvings themselves also point to the same meaning. We shall look at them in ascending order from the lowest to highest.
How do knops reveal who Jesus is?
As we mentioned earlier, the word knop appears to refer to a knob like decoration, depicting a seedpod like a gourd bursting open to scatter seed.
Let’s have a closer look at the seed. The seed is often used elsewhere in Scripture to describe the Word of God.
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” I Peter 1:23
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said,
“The sower soweth the word.” Mark 4:14
It seems likely that the knop bursting to scatter seed is meant to depict the action of sowing the Word of God.
The knop, much like the gospel of Mark, reveals to us that Jesus had a servant’s heart.
Jesus said in Mark 10:44,45
“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
How then does a knop relate to being a servant? Sowing seed, the action of the knop, was also the work of a servant. Sowing the Word of God is one of the main ways Jesus served God. It is interesting that in the story of the temple the knop seems to be the least emphasized carving. The knop was only mentioned one time in reference to the carvings on the walls in II Kings, and not at all in II Chronicles. The fact that the knop was only mentioned once corresponds with the fact that servants do not receive much recognition.
As we look at the life and words of Jesus, we see that He was constantly sowing the seed of the Word of God in men’s hearts. We see Him preaching to the multitudes, talking to the woman by the well, teaching in the temple. Jesus dropped seeds of the Word of God here and there, everywhere He went. Every word that Jesus uttered was the Word of God, because He is God. He frequently quoted passages from the Old Testament. The seed of His Word has been scattered around the world by His servants to have a greater effect on history and mankind than any other words ever spoken. As the verse above states (Mark 10:45), Jesus came not only to spread His word, but to minister, to serve others. He came to give His life. The knop is an annual type of plant. Its life is short, merely a few short months at most. It must die in order for the seed to mature and become ready to spread. The Word of Christ spread abroad after his death.
Who we are in Christ as revealed by the knops:
Let’s look again at our theme verse, and the verse prior to it.
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:8,9
This passage shows that part of the work of the servant “laborers” is the work of planting. Planting is scattering seeds, the function of the knop. This passage also shows that seed sowing is the labor of those who are God’s building. Who are we then in Christ as revealed by the knops? We are fellow servants with Christ, laboring with Him to spread the seed of the Word of God.
Let’s consider the seed that we bear. As the seed is the originator of the life of the plant, so the Word of God is the originator of our spiritual life. Without knowing God we are dead spiritually. How can we know God unless we find out about Him through the living seed of the Word of God planted in our heart? Without the seed, the plant does not live. Without the Word of God, we do not live.
It is amazing to me how a tiny little seed can hold all the information needed to grow a large and complex plant. Just to make a drawing with dimensions of the shape of most plants would be an extremely difficult task, let alone to record all the chemical processes, molecular construction details of cells, and how the plant should grow and react to its environment. Yet, the seed not only contains all this information, it holds the ability to process that information and execute it by actually growing a plant which bears seeds of its own. How does each cell know what to do? We serve a God Who is an awesome Craftsman, beyond any ability mankind could ever dream of having. Yes, mankind can form a material to look like a plant, but we can not make it live, only God can. The same God crafted another type of seed, the Word of God. It is every bit as awesome. Yes, man can form words, but they will not be living words. Man can not make words live, only God can. The Word of God not only has the information to show us the way to life, but the ability to actually make us alive. The Word of God has the ability to show us how to grow. The Word of God shows us how to scatter the seed of the Word of God ourselves, that others might find life, grow, and also scatter the seed.
Consider the means by which the seed of the Word of God is sown. Once again, the word “knop” means a seedpod like a gourd bursting open to scatter seeds. It makes me think that the seedpod is so full of seeds that it can no longer contain itself. The seed inside builds up such pressure that it bursts the hard shell open to scatter the seed. In much the same way then, when we are so full of the Word of God that we can no longer contain it, we die to self, the hard shell of our pride is broken, and the words burst forth from our lips to be scattered to those around us. How full of the Word of God do we allow ourselves to be? Do we meditate on it throughout the day and night? Do we let God’s thoughts become our thoughts? It is as we let God’s thoughts permeate our being that we will be able to speak forth the seed of the Word of God to those around us.
“…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34b
Is our heart so abundantly full of the Word of God that our pride has been broken and we are bursting, unable to contain ourselves, spreading forth the precious seed? If you meditate on God’s Word for long, you will soon begin to realize how awesome God’s thoughts really are. How beautifully the Words weave flawlessly together in a marvelous work of word pictures, stories, letters, teachings, laws, songs, and many other forms of literary expression. It is all pristinely flawless as written in the original languages by the original authors, and free from error or contradiction. It does not take long to recognize that man did not write the Bible. It is beyond the capabilities of human writers. (This is demonstrated in one way through the fulfillment of prophecies of future events which man had no way of knowing.) If you read the Word of God for long, you will begin to sense that the Words are not men’s words.
God’s Words are special.
God’s Words are powerful.
God’s Words are alive!
God demonstrated, in a tangible way for all to see, that His Word has infinite power when He spoke the magnificent expanse of the universe into existence. If an end exists, mankind certainly cannot see far enough to find it, nor can we understand the distances involved. At least from our perspective, the universe appears to be infinite. It goes beyond what we can see or understand, and there is no end. The Word of God can make powerful changes in a man. Look at the power demonstrated by the Word of God in creation over a time span of just six days. Imagine what a lifetime of meditating on the Word of God can accomplish in a man. It goes beyond what we can see or understand, and there is no end.
I have always found it fascinating how seeds have a variety of ways of being scattered abroad. It demonstrates the clever inventiveness of our Creator. There are many similarities between the various seed delivery systems in nature and the various ways the seed of the Word of God can be delivered to the lost. Find a way to scatter the seed. What clever way would God use to have you deliver the gospel to those who are lost?
- Sometimes the Word of God is like a dandelion seed carried on the wind of the airwaves by radio to a place far away.
- Sometimes the Word of God is like a cocklebur that sticks to you and irritates until you stop and do something about it.
- Some plants scatter their seeds when an animal or person bumping into them shakes them. Sometimes God may give us a jolt to shake the seed loose. Who have you bumped into lately?
- Some seeds are like helicopters. God would have some of us carry the seed on airplanes and helicopters to far away places.
- Some seeds are carried by birds or squirrels and dropped in another place where they will grow. Maybe someone will pick up the Word you have scattered and give it to someone else.
- Sometimes the seed just drops to the ground. Perhaps someone will find God’s Word in a tract just lying somewhere that you dropped it.
- Some seeds are released when a forest fire or prairie fire goes through. Perhaps God has brought a difficult time into your life in order to get you to release the seed.
- Some seeds may lie dormant for many years before being brought to the surface by something that disturbs the soil. Do not be discouraged if you do not see results immediately. God’s Word can resurface years later and bring forth life in people’s hearts where it has been planted.
- There once was a gourd vine growing out in our chicken yard. I didn’t pay much attention to it; it just grew and then that fall it died and the gourds got all dried out. The next spring, the gourds were still there, and I stepped on one. I crushed the outer shell, and was surprised that a bunch of seeds flew out of the gourd and landed a few feet away. It seemed like the air pressure inside of the gourd must have thrown the seeds out. Sometimes God may bring some extreme pressure into our lives that brings a crushing load on us that will cause us to spew forth the seed of the Word of God.
The purpose of the knop is to release the seed. It is up to God to direct each seed. We must only be sensitive to the prompting of His Spirit and release the seed in His time. The type of ground it lands on and whether it will begin growing in someone’s heart is up to Him. The knop-like character of Christ that God is carving in our lives is a love of God’s Word, so that we might be so full of God’s truth that we obediently serve Him, bursting forth with the Gospel to spread it abroad.
The servant must put the needs of others before himself. Are we, like Christ, and like the annual knop plant willing to die to self and put the interests of God, our Master, first in order to spread that precious seed of the Word?
Are we willing to make ourselves low like the knop lying on the ground? I think not, at least at first. It is the work of God to bring us to that place. Perhaps the knop may climb, but it never has the strength in itself to be lifted up. We must rely on God to lift us up that we might serve him as we spread the precious seed of the Word to others. We have no strength in ourselves to become like Christ. This is the work of Christ in our lives. Christ is shaping us to be pleasing to Him as we learn to become knop-like, Christ-like servants, filled with, and bursting forth with thoughts of His Word.
Who is Christ as revealed by the carvings of open flowers in the temple?
- A flower is short lived, lasting only for a few weeks at most. Jesus’ life on this earth was short. He was here for only thirty three years, a tiny percentage of the thousands of years of the history of mankind, miniscule in the light of eternity.
- A flower is delicate. The life of Jesus was easily broken and crushed by mankind when He was crucified.
- A flower is colorful. Christ brought a new perspective to things. He made hope bloom where there was no hope. He brings joy to our lives.
- A flower is beautiful. What Christ did for us is the most beautiful thing anyone could ever do for another. He gave His life to rescue us from death and hell.
- A flower has a sweet and beautiful odor that can be sensed. You can’t smell dead flowers. We are able to sense the life Christ brings to us. The love of Christ is a sweet smell unto God and to those who love Him.
- A flower is given to someone you love. Jesus Christ gave Himself. There is no greater love.
The flower carving appears to correspond with the facet of Christ that is revealed by the gospel of Luke. We mentioned earlier that the gospel of Luke portrays the Man Jesus Christ, the loving Savior who gave Himself for us.
How do open flowers relate to Jesus being a man?
“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16
It is a man that has a short life like a flower. It is a man whose life is so delicate compared to the everlasting God.
One thing that the flower shows us is that Jesus can relate to us. Since Jesus was also a man, He can relate to how temporary life is. He can relate to our fears of death. He can relate to how delicate we are.
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14
It is a man who gives flowers to a special person whom he loves. Jesus demonstrated His love for us. Just as the colors of a flower make it stand out, you cannot help but notice how He loves us.
Jesus’ love for us is expressed many places in the Bible as the type of love a man would have for his wife.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” Ephesians 5:25
“As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” Isaiah 62:5b
Many people believe the book of the Song of Solomon is devoted to God expressing His romantic love for us. In this book, Jesus, the Bridegroom calls Himself by the names of flowers.
“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Song of Solomon 2:1
It is certain that Jesus loves us with complete devotion, even unto death.
How do the open flowers reveal who we are in Christ?
We are the object of the love of Jesus. We find the bride of Christ in the book of Song of Solomon saying, “I am a wall…” (Song of Solomon 8:10) In the temple, we are the wall that the love of Christ is carved on. We should never feel unloved. As we become like Jesus, we become a thing of beauty to God, the source of a sweet smell, able to glorify Him with our colors. We receive the flower of Jesus’ love, and are able to give Him the flower of our love in return.
Do you live your life knowing that you will be here for only a short time? As we grow older, it becomes more and more apparent that life is short. If you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior, do you realize that since man is like a flower, your life could drop off like a blossom losing its petals, fall to the ground at any time, and be snuffed out? People of all ages die every day. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Turn to Him while there is yet time.
Look at the beautiful colors. When Christ comes into your life, it is like stepping into a new realm, a blossoming of color and beauty. It is going from a flat, 2-D, plain, dim, black and white sin-smudged picture of hopeless despair and suddenly stepping out into a 3-D world bursting with vivid color and joy. Hope blooms where there was no hope. Oh Christian, what are you doing with your life? Wake up; look at the beautiful Savior. You are not here for long. Are you wasting your life with TV, shopping, and trifling nothingness, or are you spending your days loving the Savior? Don’t fall asleep while He is talking to you. There are no second chances at life!
What color is your life to those around you? Do they see the hope of Christ? The flowers on the temple walls were open flowers. They were not buds that were hiding all the beauty inside and keeping it to themselves. They were not holding back. No, they display it for all to see. Do you stand out? Do you see what Jesus did for you? Do you know how much He loves you? Don’t be ashamed to stand out for Him.
Have you expressed your love to the Savior? He has given us a way to do this. Jesus said,
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
This is the way to show Him that you love Him. Be obedient to His commandments. In the chapter before this Jesus said,
“ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
We can show our love to Jesus by keeping His commandment to love those around us as Christ has loved us. That we should love one another was not a new commandment. The part about “as I have loved you” was the new part of the commandment. Jesus loved us even unto the death, even though we were not very lovable. He bids us to love others with the same type of love.
Jesus’ love is faithful regardless of whether we are faithful to Him. Are there things in your life that you trust in more than God? Are there things which are becoming more important to you than He is? Are we listening to what He says to us, or are we ignoring Him? If we commit spiritual adultery by going away from Him and toward other things, it hurts the Savior in the same way an unfaithful wife would hurt a husband. Let your love be toward Jesus and Him alone, and you will be a beautiful flower in His sight.
Can others sense Christ in your life? Does the sweet odor of Christ permeate who you are?
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Are you walking in love? Do you allow Christ to express His love to others through your words and actions? Do you unselfishly sacrifice to give of yourself to others like Christ, our example, did?
Do you love only those who are easy to love? All our righteousnesses were in His eyes as filthy rags. As such, none of us were easy for God to love. But in love He took up the cross for us. Selfless, Christ-like love does not come naturally. This is the work of the Master Carpenter in our lives, shaping our hearts into a form that will love God and others as Christ has loved us.
How do the carvings of palm trees in the temple describe who Christ is?
When we think of palms in the Bible, for many of us the first thing that comes to mind is the triumphal entry. This was the day that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey several days before He was crucified. At that time people were praising Him and throwing palm branches on the ground before him. Jesus received the treatment that a king would be given.
As we mentioned earlier, the theme of the Gospel of Matthew is the portrayal of Christ as King.
The gospel of Matthew and the palm trees carved in the temple, both appear to portray the same aspect of Christ, that of His Kingship.
Jesus is the righteous King. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, King of the Universe. All authority has been given unto Him. You will notice that the palm tree is a much taller plant than the lowly knop which lies upon the ground, or the short plant with an open flower on it. A king is also above a servant or a common man. Just as a king demands obedience and loyalty from his subjects, King Jesus justly demands our obedience and loyalty.
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Hebrews 1:8-9
How do the palm trees reveal who we are in Christ?
On Palm Sunday, palm branches were cut down and cast on the path of the King. In a similar way, we must be willing to sacrificially give of ourselves, willing to cast ourselves down in order to advance the interests of the King.
The Israelites at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem were seeking a political leader to liberate them from the oppression of Rome. Jesus wept out loud for them; He knew that they were under much worse spiritual oppression than the political oppression of Rome. He wept bitter tears because they were oppressed by sin and didn’t even know it. It hurt His heart to know that these people would reject their only hope to be delivered from slavery to Satan’s kingdom. Jesus came to bring spiritual freedom, freedom from eternal death, freedom from the oppression of sin. Most of the people in Jerusalem that day, however, did not even realize that they were enslaved by their sin, or that Jesus could help them. Sadly Christ was not recognized by many as a spiritual Savior. It is our mission today to help people find freedom from spiritual slavery to sin. God calls us to give of ourselves sacrificially in order to make this happen. Almost the entire world still rejects our message of Christ’s spiritual salvation. Oh, let it burden your heart and strengthen your resolve to reach out to them. Do you have a burden for souls as the Savior did? Have you crowned Jesus as King of your life? Is He your spiritual King, or do you still like to be in control of your life so you can enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? Sin eventually brings captivity, misery and death. Have you looked to your King for deliverance, or are you still in bondage to sin?
One day Jesus will indeed enter Jerusalem in glorious victory to rule over the entire world. Those who have trusted in Him will rule and reign with Him. In this way Jesus will make us very much similar to Himself, the reigning palm tree. Before Jesus became King, however, He came to minister. It is our job during this time to minister to others and faithfully serve our King.
There is a second place in the Bible where we see palm trees. The city of Jericho was referred to as the City of Palms. Jericho was the first city that was conquered after Israel entered the promised land. As such it represents a necessary first step if we would enter a life of victory.
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” Hebrews 11:30
The city of Jericho represented a tremendous obstacle to the children of Israel. In much the same way, learning to live by faith is a tremendous obstacle in our lives. God can help us overcome, however, if we will learn to follow the footsteps of the children of Israel when they were victorious.
Jericho was a tremendous obstacle because:
- Jericho was mighty in antiquity. It was the oldest civilization known to man. It was well established. In much the same way, determining our own way and living in our own strength is what has been established in our lives and our culture the longest.
- Jericho was mighty in iniquity. The people there worshipped demon gods and were terribly immoral. In much the same way, when we are saved, the first thing we must overcome is the sins of the old ways.
- Jericho was mighty in defendability. Its walls were considered to be “unconquerable.” Jericho had a spring and enough food to endure a siege of very long duration.
What is the obstacle that stands between you and what God wants you to be?
Do you feel that it is something huge that cannot possibly be conquered?
Faith is the link between our nothingness and the almightiness of our King.
What is faith?
Faith is submitting to and acting upon what God has said even though our mind may not fully understand.
Another way to say that is: Listening to what our King says and obeying Him.
In the temple, God is carving our lives so that we will have faith in our King.
Just after Israel crossed over the Jordan River and entered the promised land, the Lord appeared to Joshua:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” Joshua 5:13,14
1. Give your allegiance to the King. In these verses we see the King calling Himself the “Captain of the host of the Lord” much as our president would be called the commander in chief of the armed forces. When Joshua asked the Lord whose side he was on, he said, “Nay.” In other words, he said “No.” At first this seems like a strange answer, but God was not looking to take sides, He was looking to take over. The question was not if God was on their side, it was whether they were on God’s side. Have you determined to be on God’s side? God wants the control.
2. Reverence the King. “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship” Realize who the King is and how great He is. Joshua’s worship of God strengthened his faith. Joshua realized how small his problems were in comparison to the power of his King. Problems should only be something we briefly notice, our gaze should be fixed on the Lord.
3. Listen to the King. Since faith is submitting to and acting upon what God has said even though our mind may not fully understand, then… Before we can have faith, we must hear what God has to say to us. We see this step being taken by Joshua when we hear him say, “What saith my Lord unto his servant?” Have you listened to God lately? Is your life too noisy to hear Him? Do you read His Word each day and meditate on it throughout the day?
4. Do what the King says to do. Do you remember what God’s plan for victory was? Israel was to march around the city one time each day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and then blow the trumpets. God’s plan for victory seemed strange, but the Israelites did not have to understand it, just obey. God was testing and improving their obedience. The Bible is to be first believed, and then obeyed. If you believe God, have you been obedient to what God has said in His Word?
5. Wait for the King. The Children of Israel marched around the city once a day for six days. There was a period of obedience while waiting. Sometimes we must also wait before we will see results. Sometimes it may seem as if the thing we are waiting for will never happen, but we must never lose faith in God. We must remain obedient to His Word.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36
6. Be confident in your King. On the seventh day, after they had marched around the city seven times as God had commanded, but before the walls fell…
“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.”
The walls had not fallen yet, but Joshua said, “the Lord hath given you the city”.
He knew that since God had said that it would happen, it was as good as done. It was already accomplished in the heart and mind of God. Faith is agreeing with what God has said and responding to His Word. The reason that many fail to walk by faith is that they are not listening to God. If you are acting on the promises of God, you can act in full assurance that they will be fulfilled.
7. Watch in amazement at what the King does. God works wonders when His people believe His Word and act upon it. If you are standing on the promises of God’s Word, you are on sure ground. God wants us to conquer the city of palms in our lives and gain the victory for Him. Search the Word so that you might have firm footing to move forward for Christ.
We need the help of our King to gain spiritual victory. The children of Israel would not have had victory over Jericho had the Lord not knocked the walls down for them. We do not have the strength or ability on our own. The Master Carpenter is shaping our lives so that we will have the character necessary to achieve spiritual victory. We must rely on His strength and make Him King of our lives.
How do the carvings of cherubim in the temple reveal who Christ is?
The final type of carving is cherubim. The final Gospel is the book of John. We discussed earlier that it is in the book of John that Jesus is most often referred to as the Son of God.
The first three carvings were all tied to the earth. The knop (or gourd), the open flower, and the palm tree are all fastened to the earth with roots, immobile. The cherubim is different from the things represented in the other carvings. The cherubim is an extremely animated type of being while the other carvings are all motionless plants who aren’t even conscious of what is going on around them. The cherubim has wings and soars. We see cherubim soaring in the first chapter of Ezekiel, moving so fast that they look like a flash of lightning (Ezekiel 1:14). Not only are they fast, the cherubim can go where we can not. The cherubim is a spirit-type of being, not limited to this world. The cherubim are full of eyes before and behind, they see everything. The cherubim has power. The plants are powerless, doing nothing, going nowhere, and seeing nothing.
Of all the carvings in the temple, the cherubim has the preeminence. The cherubim is emphasized as being important. We know this because in the holy of holies, there were two large statues of cherubim stretching from wall to wall, and touching wing tips in the middle. Notice also that on the top of the lid for the Ark of the Covenant in the most holy (or special) of all places, there were also two cherubim statues. None of the other carvings had free standing representations within the temple building, they were only carved as part of the walls or doors. Our God is free standing, the self-existing One, depending on no one. Clearly, parallels can be drawn from the Cherubim showing how Jesus is God. God is not limited to the earth, He can soar beyond. God is a spiritual Being; God sees all; God is all powerful; God can accomplish anything. As the inanimate plants can do nothing, we can do nothing in our own strength.
Have you ever seen the picture that Norman Rockwell painted in which he painted a picture of himself painting a picture of himself looking in a mirror? Did you know that Norman Rockwell was not the originator of that idea? In a way, Jesus had already done that. The cherubim were one of the four carvings that we have been discussing that were a picture of Christ. The shape of the cherubim also appears to contain its own four-fold picture of Christ. So we see a four faceted representation of Christ in the cherubim within a four faceted representation of Christ carved on the temple walls. I will explain.
The cherubim as described in the Bible has four faces (Ezekiel 1:10). Each of these four faces appears to represent one of the same aspects of Christ as is emphasized in one of the Gospels. The four faces are a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle. The lion face, the king of the beasts, appears to represent the kingliness of Christ as shown in the book of Matthew. The calf, the serving oxen, appears to represent Christ the servant as shown in the book of Mark. Christ the man is shown in the book of Luke. The soaring eagle with its keen eyesight appears to represent Christ as God. Once again, the lion, the calf and the man are limited to the earth while the eagle soars above. And so, not only are the four aspects of Christ shown in the four types of carvings in the temple, when you look closely at the carving of the cherubim, we see the picture repeated within the picture. Why would God portray the cherubim in this way? I think that as God, Christ perfectly portrays all four aspects of His character. No one but God could perfectly have the character of Christ.
How does the carving of the cherubim reveal who I am in Christ?
Remember that the carvings in the temple are showing us what God is making us to be in order to be like Christ. As we look at the first chapter of John, we see an amazing statement:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12,13
Those who believe on Jesus are the sons of God. We are become like Jesus in that we are children of God. God has adopted us and taken us in as His own children. God loves His children. Though we may suffer for the present time and even though we are imperfect, one day, God will receive us into glory and we will realize the inheritance that He has given us as His children.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8: 15 (The word Abba means daddy)
I recommend that you read all of Romans chapter 8 to gain a fuller understanding of what God has done for us. It is truly wonderful.
In the book of Ezekiel we see something intriguing about the cherubim. They appear to have been used to transport God. (Ezekiel 1:15-28) In much the same way, when we are saved, and God dwells in our heart, we have Him with us wherever we go.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” Isaiah 40:31 a
Today we are bound to the earth, but someday, God promises that those who trust Him shall soar like the cherubim.
How is Jesus carving us to be a cherubim in God’s sight?
The book of Revelation, shows us the cherubim leading others in worshiping God. Cherubim present a wonderful example of what our worship should be.
First, notice that when we see the cherubim, they are associated with the presence of God. We see the cherubim in the presence of God when they are in the temple, in the Garden of Eden, in the book of Ezekiel, and when we see them in the book of Revelation. Whether we realize it or not, if we are saved, we are very much like the cherubim in this respect. We are always in the presence of the Lord.
“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5b
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” I Corinthians 3:16
In view of the fact that the Spirit of God dwells in us and is always with us, how should we then live? What an awesome responsibility! Do we live our lives with an awareness of God’s presence? Does it affect how we live? What can the cherubim teach us about how we should live?
“…and they were full of eyes within…” Revelation 4:8b
The cherubim were full of eyes within. What does this mean? It sounds bizarre. How does this relate to my character? The cherubim are aware of the presence of God. They are aware of how holy (special, clean and sinless) He is. They see the awesome bright and crystal clear holiness of the Lord and look within to search themselves and guard against any unholiness being in their heart. They know their heart well, and keep their heart clean before their God. Have we seen the holiness of God? Have we seen how special He is? How spotless? Have we dared to look within to let God deal with what is unholy in our own lives? Read the Word of God. Let its light search your heart and look within. If you have wronged Him, confess your fault to Him, and turn from that sin to enjoy the presence of the beautiful Savior.
“…and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come..” Revelation 4:8b
God is continually on their mind and in their speech.
As we look at what they were saying, we can see some things that should be continually at the forefront of our thoughts and speech.
- God is holy.
- We see the word “Holy” spoken once for each member of the trinity. God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- God has many names which reveal something about who He is.
- God is Lord, or master.
- God is the Almighty. He is sovereign over all.
- God is an eternal being. Existing in eternity past, the present, and eternity future.
When was the last time you took some time to meditate on who God is? We see that the cherubim speak of God continually.
“And when those beasts [the cherubim] give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever…” Revelation 4:9,10a
The cherubim are acting as leaders in worship. When others see them worshipping, they fall down and worship in like manner. Notice here, what the elements of their worship were. First of all, they “give” worship to God. Worship is not something to be forced. Worship is of our own free will given to God. Worship God because you admire who He is. God is worthy of our worship. The three primary elements of the worship of the cherubim are as follows:
- They gave God glory. This means that they recognized that who God is and what He has done is uniquely wonderful.
- They gave God honor. This means that they told God that who He is and what He has done is precious and valuable.
- They expressed gratitude to God in giving thanks.
Take some time and think about all the things God has done for you. All the spiritual blessings He has provided, all the things you need to live comfortably, all the people He has brought into your life, the place that He has put you, the events that He has orchestrated in your life, the hardships he has put you through to make you into a better person, and on and on and on it goes… Now, give God glory and recognize that it is He who has provided all of this. Tell Him that you value what He has done, and that you are thankful and full of gratitude for who He is and what He has done. This is the pattern of worship that the cherubim demonstrate for us, and this is the pattern of worship that needs to be present in our own lives for us to be cherubim-like in God’s sight. This is the work of the master, shaping our hearts to worship Him in a way that is glorifying and pleasing to God. Without Christ, we could never glorify God with our worship.
Remember how we said that the cherubim had four faces representing the four aspects of Christ? In order to make us to be a cherubim-like person in His sight, God works in our heart to bring forth those four aspects that they might be exercised in the way we live. Does He see a person who is a servant like the calf or the knop, full of His word, and spreading the seed? Does He see a person who man-like or flower-like loves the Savior and who loves others? Does He see a person who lion-like or palm tree-like listens to God and exercises obedient faith in their life? Does He see someone who eagle-like or cherubim-like worships with a pure heart? Thank God for carving you to be like the beautiful carvings in the temple; and be willing to let Him do what He needs to do in your life to make you something beautiful in His sight.