A Gallery of the Beautiful Work of Jesus the Master Carpenter on display in Solomon’s temple.
By Edward D. Brill
“For we are laborers together with God, ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:9
It is the author’s sincere desire that the message of this book reach as many people as possible. Therefore the electronic version of this book is free for all to spread abroad. The author encourages you to pass this book on to others as long as it is kept complete without change, that all the world may know the beauty of the work of Jesus the Master Carpenter. The author reserves all other rights to the book in all forms of media.
In memory of:
Lynn Chilcote and Doug Doolittle
Who faithfully helped build and shape lives for the glory of God.
When we were little kids, we loved looking at the pictures in our story books. Most of us still like looking at the pictures. The pictures help us to visualize and understand the story; they make it interesting. The Bible is full of pictures portrayed in written words. These word pictures often help us to visualize and understand the story; and they help make it interesting.
There are degrees of certainty as to what God intended various word pictures in the Bible to mean:
- The Scripture directly tells us the meaning of some pictures.
- For others, there is no plain statement of their meaning, yet it is pretty obvious what the intent of the writer was.
- We are pretty sure some others are intended to be pictures, but it is not obvious what they mean.
- For still others, we may suspect, but not be certain if they are even meant to be pictures at all.1
Although the word pictures that the Bible contains were written in the way that God wanted them to be presented, the cleverest of men can’t always figure out God’s thoughts. We do not have His intellect or His broad eternal perspective. Some of His thoughts may take a while for us to understand, and some may be beyond our grasp unless the Holy Spirit chooses to illumine us. I think God wanted to make His Word interesting. If it were too simple and plain, we would not be as intrigued by it. Sometimes it is just fascinating to explore the possibilities.
God is capable of weaving multiple themes throughout the text. All the words of the Bible are important. Our God is a deeply intellectual thinker, and we should not dismiss the rich profound thoughts of His Word. In areas of the Bible where there is clearly a picture being drawn, we must understand the picture in order to know what God is saying.
There is value in searching for the priceless hidden treasures in God’s Word. In this book, I sometimes delve into the realm of uncertainty on a quest for the hidden gems. I have endeavored to keep the reader aware of the degree of certainty for the pictures which are discussed. There is no place in the Bible that I can find a clear explanation of the meaning of the carvings in the temple. I am relying on what the scriptures seem to suggest as the meaning. God does not always completely explain His Word, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t think about what it might mean.
At some point as the evidence builds, the reader must begin to ask himself how much evidence is needed to establish the certainty of what the pictures mean. Perhaps some may never be completely convinced of the meanings this author proposes. However, I believe that a large enough body of evidence is presented that all should certainly know that there is a wonderful design behind the pictures, and that they speak of Christ. I do not claim to fully understand every nuance of the work of art, but nonetheless, I admire the overall masterpiece on display in the temple. The things presented about the Artist in this book are well established elsewhere in Scripture, but it is so exciting when we see Him in the beautiful setting of these pictures. I look forward to the day when we will be able to meet the Artist in person and ask Him to explain His work in detail.
I Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” This is one of the very certain picture verses because it tells us directly that we are the temple of God. The word “temple” is clearly a word picture because people are not literally buildings. The words tell us very plainly that the picture of being the temple of God means that the Spirit of God literally dwells in us. It seems like such a very simple verse, and yet questions arise about how exactly it should be understood.
One of the questions one might ask is; who is the temple of God? Is each individual believer a temple? Or is the temple a collective group of individuals that form a local church? The answer to both questions is yes. We see individuals as the temple of God in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:19 where individuals are being exhorted to not commit sexual immorality “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?” Yet there are other passages where it is clear that the church is the temple of God as in 1Timothy 3:15 “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” How can the temple be both individuals and groups of people at the same time? It is in the hearts of individuals where the Spirit of God dwells. The Spirit is present in each individual, and yet, God’s presence becomes more intense when groups of individuals as His church gather together to worship. Each individual perhaps can be thought of as a board or a stone component of the building. Each person has an assigned place in the overall building. By themselves, each person does not seem that monumentally significant. But when the whole assembles together, the building is unified as a complete building in which God is greatly glorified. The Scripture passages in the New Testament regarding the temple were addressed to churches, but the exhortation being given is usually directed toward the individual church member. This book will continue down that avenue. If the individual members of the church are what they should be, the overall church will glorify God in the way that it should.
Another difficult question that arises is, how far should we carry the comparison between the believer and the physical temple building? Is it legitimate to go any further in comparing Christians to the temple than to say that the Spirit of God dwells in the believer? Well, certainly, we know more about the Spirit of God than to just say He dwells in us. We know that He is one of the trinity; He has attributes, such as being eternal, omniscient, omnipotent; we know about His work, etc. So if we can know other details about what kind of Spirit dwells in us, why could we not learn other details about what kind of temple we are? The New Testament does not give much detail about the temple. Does that mean we should only think of the temple in those broad terms?
Some might contend that we should not look into the Old Testament to understand the picture of the believer as the temple, however, consider 2 Corinthians 6:16 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The latter portion of this verse is drawn from various places in the Old Testament. (see Exodus 25:8, Leviticus 26: 12 and Ezekiel 37:26-27) Paul is using the Old Testament to show the manner in which we are like the temple of God. We are God’s people and He is our God. He dwells and walks in His people as one would live and walk in a building. Paul seems to indicate that from a New Testament perspective, the building to which the Old Testament passages are referring can be applied to us as God’s people today. It is my belief that we can and should indeed look to the Old Testament to understand the picture of the building that God dwells in and walks in. That building is the temple. As with many other things in the Old Testament, the truth is shadowy; but when overlaid with what God has revealed in the New Testament, the truth is revealed more fully.
Since we are the temple of God, the Spirit of God dwells in us. It is in Solomon’s temple that we see the presence of God, so intensely glorious at its dedication that the priests could not stand to minister. The picture of God’s Spirit literally dwelling in the believer is portrayed best by Solomon’s temple where we know that God’s Spirit literally dwelled. Solomon’s temple obviously glorified God at the time of its dedication. The description of Solomon’s temple appears to show us what the temple ideally should be and what someday we are destined to be. God placed the descriptions of this temple in two places in the Bible. The descriptions are there for a reason, and I believe Solomon’s temple has a fascinating relevance for today beyond its historical description. For those of us, who by reading God’s Word try to understand what a temple is, Solomon’s temple is the most complete portrait of a temple building that we have. I think Solomon’s temple is God’s primary definition of a temple. It is for these reasons that I have focused mainly on Solomon’s temple.
Many of the architectural details of Solomon’s temple clearly appear to be a picture of something that has meaning. It seems quite unlikely to think that God led Solomon to decorate His house with knops, open flowers, palm trees, cherubim, and other carvings just because they looked cool. If God did not want us to consider what the details of Solomon’s temple meant, then why did He include so many apparently symbolic details in the temple’s description? I believe that there are architectural details of Solomon’s temple that God meant to be clues that can lead us to discover and understand our relationship with Him in a fuller way. When the pictures are viewed together, it seems we can get a pretty accurate idea of what God really intended for the architectural pictures to say. Much of what we find looks like Jesus. This is a good sign that our thinking is on the right track because we can be guided by the statement, “…in the volume of the book it is written of me…” Hebrews 10:7 (The word “me” in this verse is referring to Jesus.)
It is possible for one to push the pictures too far and attempt to ascribe meaning to things which were not intended to be pictures. Within the description of the temple, certain objects were described as having carvings or metal castings that were in a shape that represented something. The carvings and cast shapes were obviously not the real thing, but were intended to depict something. The items that had carvings and cast shapes on them are what I believe were intended to be a picture of something. Things like shovels which have no indication of being a picture should not be ascribed some symbolic meaning. Sometimes it is not certain whether the thing we are looking at is intended to be a part of the symbolic object. For instance, I believe the wall was symbolic because it had carvings on it, but is a window in a wall a part of the wall and therefore symbolic as well? It seems that if the objects were physically connected together in some manner, they were intended to be part of the picture. In our example, since the windows were in the walls and attached as part of them, they appear to be included in the picture and are just a more detailed feature of the walls.
It is important to remember that the pictures are not the point of this study. The pictures are only a way of communicating the more important underlying reality. I am hoping that the pictures depicted in this book will help the reader to focus on the reality that is Christ and draw closer to their God as a result.
This bookis not meant to be an in-depth technical doctrinal study, but is rather meant to help you explore the pictures and use them in your daily walk with God. It seems that the truths being taught involve so much wonder and beauty, how can we make them dry and technical. It seems that it is best to present the message of this book in as bold and richly beautiful way as possible in order to encourage trust, love, and worship for God that He might be glorified. I believe God would want the truths in this book to be spread to a large audience. I have frequently prayed that the world might know the beauty of the work Jesus has done in building His house. I hope you enjoy the wonderful pictures from God’s Word that are presented here. I pray God will use the thoughts and principles presented in this book to change your life for the better.
Glory to God!