Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: "The Temple of the Body"
There is a very close connection between the Old Testament and the New, and often the New Testament helps us to understand the Old. This is because in the New Testament the Lord spoke to His disciples and to all people directly with His own mouth, and not, as He did in the Old Testament, through an angel whom He filled with His Spirit.
Now, what do we learn about the temple in the New Testament, that helps us to understand the story of the building and dedicating of the temple of Solomon?
When the Lord Jesus Christ was in the world, He often went to Jerusalem to the temple. It was not the same temple that Solomon had built, although it was on the same spot. Solomon built the temple that we read about in our lesson a thousand years before the Lord came upon the earth. During that long time the Jews became idolators, they neglected the temple, they were conquered by their enemies, the temple was pillaged and burnt, they were carried to Babylon for seventy years, and they came back again and built another temple about five hundred years after the time of Solomon. The temple in which the Lord was seen so often when He was on earth was the third temple. It had been begun by Herod eighteen years before the Lord's birth, and took forty-six years to build.
One day, when He was in the temple, He said to the Jews, in answer to a question, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews thought that He spoke of the temple itself, and expressed their astonishment at what He said, but the Gospel explains that "He spake of the temple of His body."
A temple is the house of God - the house in which He is, and so in the body of Jesus Christ is the Infinite Divinity Itself. The temple therefore represented the Lord's body, or His human nature - the human part of Him, by which God came in touch with people.
The Jews did destroy the temple of His body: they placed a crown of thorns on the head of Jesus, nailed Him to the cross by His hands and His feet, and pierced His side. But three days after that, He raised this temple of His body from the grave. But, though it was the same body, it had become wonderfully changed, so that it was Divine, and could enter into houses where the doors were shut. (John 20:26)
When we read in the Word about the temple - it matters not whether it was the one built by Solomon, or the one built by Herod - let us always remember that it was built to represent the Lord's body - His human nature - which, at first, was merely human, like yours or mine, but which, when He "raised it up," was the Divine Human.
And does every particular in the description of the temple of Solomon represent something holy in the Lord's human nature? Yes; and it would take more than a library of books to explain it all, every bit.
Let us look at a few details.
The temple had four distinct parts. First in importance was the holy of holies, or the most holy room, where the ark was placed, and where were the two cherubim carved out of olive wood. This room was a square, 20 cubits each way.
Next was a larger room, the holy place, where there was an altar of incense, ten lampstands, and ten tables of showbread.
In front of this holy place, and opening on to it by cypress doors, was a porch, called the inner court, where were two columns, called "Jachin" and "Boaz" - something like the obelisks of Egypt only round, and with a capital at the top.
Beyond this again, and surrounding the entire building, was the outer court, where were the altar of brass, a large basin called the "brazen sea," and ten lavers of brass.
This entire temple represented the Lord's body.
Are there four great divisions in the human body that would answer to these four parts of the temple?
Yes. There is 1, the head; 2, the trunk; 3, the upper extremities (the arms and the hands); 4, the lower extremities (the legs and the feet).
The head is like the holy of holies, where the Lord is most immediately present. The trunk is like the holy place. The upper extremities are like the inner court. The lower extremities are like the outer court. When the enemies of the Jews invaded the land, the entire temple was destroyed. So when the Jews crucified the Savior, the crown of thorns hurt His head; the lance went into His body; the nails pierced His hands and His feet: the whole body was attacked and destroyed.
But the body is not the whole of the Lord's human nature. When He clothed Himself with the body, He first clothed Himself with a human mind, and the body clothed this. Then do the four divisions of the body clothe four divisions of the mind? Certainly.
You have heard of "the Grand Man of Heaven," have you not? All the billions upon billions of angels of the heavens taken together appear before the Lord as One wonderful Human.
The angels who are in the head are those in the most genuine, pure, devoted and tender love to the Lord. For this reason they are called heavenly, or "celestial," and they constitute what is called "the celestial kingdom" of heaven.
The angels in the trunk of the Grand Man are those with whom love to the neighbor is very strong, and so also the love of truth; these are called "spiritual," and they constitute "the spiritual kingdom" of heaven.
Now, you know that hands and feet simply obey what the head wants them to do. So the angels who are in the hands and feet are those who love to obey and to do what they learn from the Lord, and so they exercise great power. Those of them who are in the upper extremities are also celestial, but not so interior as are those in the head. Those of them who are in the lower extremities are also spiritual, but external.
We see, then, that in the temple the holy of holies represented the interior of the celestial kingdom; the holy place represented the interior of the spiritual kingdom; the inner court represented the exterior of the celestial kingdom; and the outer court represented the exterior of the spiritual kingdom. If you wish to know more about all this, see what is said in the work on Heaven and Hell, about the two kingdoms and the three heavens. (H.20-40)
But all these different kinds and degrees of angelic love and life exist in heaven only because they come from the Lord. For every part of heaven receives life from the Lord, as every part of the body receives life from the soul. And so there are degrees and kinds of Divine love and Divine wisdom in the Divinely Human nature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; but what these degrees and kinds are is too holy and deep a subject for us to understand now. It is enough for the present to know that they are.
When the temple was completed, then the ark was brought in, and the temple was filled with the cloud and glory of the Lord, "so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord."
This represents how the Lord's human was not Divine at first, but it became Divine, as the glory of Divine truth and good, from within or above, from "the Father that dwelt within Him" as His very Soul, came down and made the human nature Divine, and then everything that was merely human - even what was good but finite - could no longer remain, just as the priests could no longer stay in the temple.
You will notice in verses 29, 30, 35, 44, 48 that Solomon speaks of prayers that people would make "toward this place" or "house." And we can now understand why the Jews when praying looked and bowed toward the temple; and why the Psalms speak of "worshiping toward the Lord's holy temple." (Ps. 5:7; 38:2; 28:2) The reason is that it represented the Lord's Divine Human. Therefore, when, at the beginning of our Sunday worship, in church, the Pastor says, "The Lord is in His holy temple," we understand that it means that Jehovah is in His Divine Human.