The new temple (part 10)

The new temple described by Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 of his book was clearly meant to be established on earth, but there were some aspects of the temple that appeared to be linked to eternal life. For instance, the prince who was identified as a leader of the congregation was recognized as the LORD’s servant, David and Ezekiel said, “And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever (Ezekiel 37:25).

It has been suggested that the reference to “my servant David” (Ezekiel 34:23 and note) was not an indication that king David himself would be the prince, but that it would be a ruler like David, probably someone from his line of descendants. It seems unlikely that after the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ there would be a reinstatement of David’s birth line. It can only be assumed that the prince Ezekiel was referring to would actually be the resurrected king David or merely a human form of Jesus. What is certain about the prince is that he will have “sons” (Ezekiel 46:16) that receive an inheritance from him.

John’s gospel opens with a detailed description of how Jesus, the son of God, became human. John said, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). John also prescribed a method whereby all humans could become sons of God. He said of Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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 1:10-13).

The process the apostle John referred to in John 1:13 was later referred to by Jesus as being born again (John 3:7). Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). It seems reasonable to assume that the prince associated with the new temple will be a human form of Jesus because after all, Jesus was a man that walked on the earth and his flesh was not destroyed when he was crucified. There is no other explanation in the Bible as to what happened to the human part of Jesus or why he became a man in the first place, other than, so that he could reign as a man over the kingdom of God on earth during the millennium.

The new temple (part 7)

The gates of the new temple described by Ezekiel in Chapters 40 – 48 of his book were designed to limit access to the area where God dwelt. Ezekiel recorded, “And the glory of the LORD came into the house by way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east” (Ezekiel 43:4). After the glory of the LORD entered the temple, Ezekiel recorded, “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut” (Ezekiel 44:1-2).

After announcing that the east gate would be shut, the LORD told Ezekiel that a prince would enter the temple and eat bread with him, and added, ” he shall enter by way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same” (Ezekiel 44:3). The prince that would enter and eat bread with the LORD was most likely king David or one of his descendants. The prince was first mentioned in Ezekiel 21:25-27 where it says, “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”

God’s plan to replace the evil kings of Israel with one that would obey him, specifically, king David was identified in Ezekiel 34:23-24 where it says, “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” According to this passage, The new temple Ezekiel was shown was one that would not only exist in the future, but one that would include both living and resurrected members of God’s kingdom. It says in Ezekiel 37: 25, “they shall dwell in the land…even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.

The title “prince” was a reference to a human that would rule over God’s kingdom. Although it seems obvious that the mention of David’s name was meant to be taken literally, it is possible the use of the title prince was actually a reference to the Messiah, a man who was expected to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus was expected to do that before he was crucified. Shortly before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus told a parable about a certain nobleman that went into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself (Luke 19:12). It says in Luke 19:11 that Jesus told the parable because his disciples “thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”

A clue to the true identity of the prince may be found in Ezekiel 44:5. Ezekiel was told to “mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.” The Hebrew phrase “mark well” means to put it in your heart (7760/3820). In other words, Ezekiel was to pay close attention to or remember which of the gates the prince went into and came out of. The Hebrew word translated entering in, mabo means sunset or the west (3996) and going forth or matso means the rising of the sun or the east (4161). Since there was no gate on the west side of the temple and the east gate was permanently shut, if Ezekiel saw someone entering in from the west and going out through the east gate, that person would have to be able to walk through walls as Jesus did after his resurrection (John 20:26).

For my son, the Messiah

David’s last psalm was dedicated to his son Solomon and was probably given to him after his death. David reveals his expectation that his son would be Israel’s savior. In his prayer, David said, “He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.

One of the points that Paul the Apostle made about Jesus was that he was “of the seed of David” (2 Timothy 2:8). Paul connected Jesus with David because it was known at that time that Israel’s Messiah would be a descendant of David. The thing that distinguished Jesus from Solomon was that Jesus was raised from the dead, a qualification for eternal life. God’s promise to David was that his son or seed would rule over God’s kingdom for ever (2 Samuel 7:13). Therefore, Solomon could not be the Messiah.

I can understand why David thought Solomon was the promised eternal king of Israel, but I wonder if David realized the pressure he was putting on his son Solomon. Solomon most likely asked God for wisdom and knowledge because there was no way he could be the Messiah without it, but if Solomon thought he could take God’s place in ruling over the people of Israel, he was mistaken. God never intended for a merely mortal man to be Israel’s eternal king. Only God himself could handle that kind of responsibility.

Paul said, “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). What was so profound about Paul’s gospel was not that a man was raised from the dead, but an eternal God became a man. This was the point I believe Paul was trying to make. God’s promise to David was not that his son would live forever, but that the God who lives forever would become David’s son.

Many times in the Bible, the gospel is referred to as a mystery. The Greek word translated mystery, musterion does not mean mystery as we think of it, “but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense a ‘mystery’ implies knowledge withheld” (3466). I believe psalm 72 should have been titled for Jesus, not Solomon.

Before and after

Before something is established, it may exist in the form of a thought, an idea, or even a promise. The covenant that God established with David and his descendants existed in the form of a promise until Solomon sat upon the throne of his father (1 Kings 2:12). After Solomon began his reign, God’s promise was conditional based on Israel’s kings obeying the laws set forth by Moses. Both Solomon and his descendants fell short of their covenant obligations, therefore God was not able to bless Israel as he had intended to (see note on 1 Kings 2:4).

Before he died, David hoped that God would fulfill his promise through his son Solomon. The promise recorded in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 had to do with the building of God’s house and the establishment of his kingdom. David thought that God’s house or his temple being built would establish God’s kingdom on earth. David did everything he could to ensure that the temple would be built after he died, but it was up to Solomon to perform the task, so David died not knowing the outcome of God’s promise.

Before David’s death, he instructed his son Solomon to keep the charge of the LORD thy God, “that the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me” (1 Kings 2:3-4). The phrase “continue his word” has to do with prophetic revelation. David believed that what happened to him after he died was dependent on Solomon’s performance of the Mosaic law. What David may or may not have understood was that the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth was not dependent on the temple being built, but dependent on a man being able to keep the Mosaic law, to live a sinless life.

Before Jesus was born, God’s kingdom only existed in Heaven. Jesus told many parables about the kingdom of God to help the Israelites understand that the temple of God was not a building, but something that existed within the heart of man. On one occasion, Jesus told the story of a man with two sons, one obedient and the other disobedient (Matthew 21:28-30) in order to illustrate that keeping the law was a matter of doing God’s will, not following a bunch of rules and regulations.

When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor that would decide his fate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). The Greek word translated hence is enteuthen (ent – yoo´ – then) which literally means on both sides or on either side. After Jesus was born, God’s kingdom existed in Heaven and was established on earth. Before Jesus’ crucifixion, the kingdom of God was established on earth because Christ was physically living here. After Jesus’ resurrection, God’s kingdom continued on earth because Christ began living in our hearts.

An act of worship

“And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground” (1 Kings 1:23). When Nathan bowed himself before the king, he was performing an act of worship. It was probably not typical for Nathan to bow before the king the way he did in this instance. The notation that he bowed with his face to the ground indicates that Nathan was lying prostrate, flat on the ground facing downward.

Nathan was most likely experiencing great distress because David’s son Adonijah had placed himself on the throne and the leaders of Israel were acknowledging him as their king. David had not yet appointed Solomon to be his successor. The transition of authority from David to Solomon was important because a gap in leadership could have led to chaos in the kingdom or instability in the region surrounding Israel.

Nathan’s act of worship emphasized David’s sovereignty as king and his position of authority as God’s representative on earth. At that time, there was no one more powerful than David in all the world. He was the closest to being equal with God that any man has ever come.

After Solomon was placed on the throne of the kingdom, it says in 1 Kings 1:47-48, “the king’s servants came to bless our lord king David, saying, God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than thy throne. And the king bowed himself upon the bed. And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.”

What I believe David thought he was seeing was the beginning of the Messiah’s reign. When Adonijah attempted to take the throne, it says in 1 Kings 1:5 that he “exalted” himself. The word translated exalted, “nacah is used of the undertaking of the responsibilities for the sins of others by substitution or representation” (5375). Recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 is a promise from God to David that he would establish his kingdom for ever. Speaking of David’s successor, God said, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.” Solomon committed iniquity and yet he was never chastened as described in this passage. On the other hand, Jesus never committed iniquity, but he was chastened because he was our substitute. Although he may have been unaware of it, Jesus was the one David was bowing himself to upon his bed.

David’s heritage

The title of Psalm 127, “A song of degrees for Solomon” indicates it was written for Solomon, but does not tell us who the author is. The topic of the psalm is family and it states, “children are an heritage of the LORD and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3). It is possible that David wrote this psalm for his son Solomon shortly before his death.

The primary message conveyed in Psalm 127 is that there is a purpose for having children, which is to strengthen our walk with the LORD and to make us less vulnerable to attacks from our enemy, the devil. If you think of your walk with the LORD, or the development of your relationship with him, as being similar to building a city, then having children is like putting up a wall and fortifying the gates so that you cannot easily be attacked.

The basis of David’s relationship with the LOR was the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. There were many things that David did to make God’s kingdom a reality, but toward the end of his life, David realized there was much left to done. If David did not have a son to carry on the work he had started, then he might have given up and felt that his effort was useless.

David’s son Solomon was actually in a much better position to do some of the things David wanted to, like build the temple of God, therefore, David was assured that progress would continue even after he died. In spite of his sin with Bath-sheba, Solomon was born to David through their marriage. Solomon was a testimony to God’s forgiveness and a sign that David’s relationship with the LORD had been fully restored.

In Psalm 127, children are compared to arrows in the hand of a mighty man and it says that the man that has his quiver full of them will not be ashamed (Psalm 127:4-5). The word translated ashamed “has overtones of being or feeling worthless” (954). When Absalom took over David’s kingdom, David may have wondered what would become of Israel after he was gone. The fighting among his sons was a problem for maintaining peace inside and outside the nation.

It says in 1 Chronicles 29:24-25, “And all the princes, and the mighty men, and all thee sons likewise of king David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king. And the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as has not been on any king before him in Israel.” Solomon was David’s heritage of the LORD and by measure of his stature, he was a great reward to his father.

A perfect heart

David prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers…give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart” (1 Chronicles 29:18-19). David’s prayer for his son Solomon was a request for God to change Solomon’s heart so that he could rule over Israel effectively. The word translated perfect, shâlêm (shaw – lame´) means complete (8003) and is derived from a Hebrew word that “denotes perfection in the sense that a condition or action is complete” (7999).

What David was referring to was obedience and his intent was that Solomon would fulfill the law of God, that he would “keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes” (1 Chronicles 29:19) perfectly. In other words, David hoped that God would enable Solomon to live a perfect life.

God designed the human heart so that man could experience freedom. Our motives, feelings, affections, and desires drive us to act and we are able to learn from the outer world. The only way we can enter into a relationship with God and obey his commands is by choosing to do so. Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus had the freedom to choose to go to the cross or not. His prayer indicates that he did not want to, it was not Jesus’ desire to die for the sins of the world.

Although David thought it was possible for his son Solomon to live a perfect life, it was not Solomon, but Jesus that God gave a perfect heart to. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus declared, “Think not that I come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I come not to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). The Greek word translated fulfil means to finish or complete (4137).

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, he spoke several important last words, one of which was, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus spoke to several people while he was on the cross, but it is unclear to whom this particular message was directed. It could be that it was a universal message to all that were listening. We know that is was not directed to his Father because Jesus had already stated that God had forsaken him.

I think Jesus’ statement regarding completion was directed to all the believers he was dying for. As he hung on the cross, Jesus was aware of what it felt like to be rejected by God. For a brief period of time, Jesus was a sinner as well as a Savior. Jesus understood what David was longing for when he prayed that his son Solomon would have a perfect heart and Jesus answered David’s prayer with the words, “It is finished.”

 

We are not alone

Life can be challenging at times, especially when we try to server the LORD. Everyone has enemies, but I think the worst enemy of all is the one that attacks Christians who are in the ministry. Whether you think of him as Satan, the devil, or the ruler of darkness, the enemy of our souls does everything he can to stop Christians from doing God’s will.

The apostle Peter, speaking of the Christian life said, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). I believe Peter used the image of a roaring lion in order to convey the idea of intimidation. Lions are powerful and dangerous, but they can be tamed. When Daniel was thrown into the lions den, he was able to escape unharmed (Daniel 6:22).

David said, “blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight” (Psalm 144:1). David may have been referring to spiritual warfare because the word he used for war is related to man’s entrance into the presence of the living God (7126). If so, using his hands could mean prayer and his fingers to fight, playing the harp to worship God.

Prayer and worship enable us to enter into the presence of God, but they also cause God to draw near to us. It says in James 4:8, “draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” David referred to the LORD as, “my goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust” (Psalm 144:2).

God’s greatness is far superior to man’s and all of his creation is subject to him. David said, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). The two Hebrew words that put together translate into the word unsearchable have the connotation of being undiscoverable or in another sense invisible. I believe one of the characteristics of God is that he can make himself invisible. We typically think of God as being invisible, but I don’t think he is invisible. I think God is hidden from our view and he is able to hide other things as well. David said to the LORD in Psalm 17:8, “hide me under the shadow of your wings.”

Satan’s effort to seek someone whom he may devour is thwarted when God hides his children under the shadow of his wings. In other words, we can become invisible to our enemy. David prayed, “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God” (Psalm 143:9-10). David was eager to do God’s will because he knew the LORD had him covered.

Exercise for the soul

Physical exercise is a relatively new concept in America. If you remember Jack LaLanne, then you know that in the 1960’s there were not many people that believed they needed regular physical exercise and fitness centers were exclusive clubs for the rich and famous. The information age has turned the majority of people into couch potatoes that rarely break a sweat without an intentional effort. It takes work to keep your body strong, especially if you want to be active in your later years.

Speaking to the LORD in Psalm 138, David said, “In the day when I cried thou answeredest me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3). The word soul or nephesh in Hebrew is also translated as life and person (5315). The word nephesh is derived from the word naphash which means to breathe (5314), so you could say in one sense that naphash refers to having breath in you or being alive.

When David said that the LORD strengthened him with strength in his soul, he meant that the LORD gave him a sense of vitality and exuberance toward life. The Hebrew word translated strength is also translated as power, might, and boldness (5797). In order for David to be strong in his soul, he had to exercise, he had to do what the LORD instructed him to do in his word.

David not only listened to the LORD, he did what the LORD told him to do, even when it seemed impossible. David said, “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:5-6). The word translated wonderful, paliy is derived from the word pala which means to be beyond one’s ability to do (6381). David did not let the thought of impossibility stop him from doing what the LORD asked him to do. David realized that “although something may appear impossible to man, it still is within God’s power” (6381).

The thing that motivated David to exercise his soul was an awareness that God knew and understood him completely. David said, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

Thinking of the LORD as the trainer of his soul, David was willing to yield his life to the expert. David knew that the LORD wanted him to be a mighty warrior on the inside as well as on the outside. “The Hebrew system of thought does not include the opposition of the terms ‘body’ and ‘soul,’ which are really Greek and Latin in origin. The Hebrew compares/contrasts ‘the inner self’ and ‘the outer appearance’ or, as viewed in a different context, ‘what one is to oneself’ as opposed to ‘what one appears to be to one’s observers.’ The goal of Scriptures is to make the inner and outer consistent (5315).

Be quiet

When my kids were little, behavior was a concern for me if I took them out in public. Because they were close in ages, I had my hands full even though there were only three of them. It was difficult for me to accomplish anything and grocery shopping was a major ordeal. Eventually, they learned through experience that good behavior usually resulted in some kind of reward and bad behavior led to punishment.

In Psalm 31, David said, “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother” (Psalm 131.2). The word translated behaved, shâvâh (shaw – vaw´) figuratively means to resemble, and by implication to adjust, for example to be suitable for the situation or to compose oneself. (7737).

David was likening himself to a little child in order to express an attitude of submission, of a child that had been trained by a loving parent. David’s relationship with the LORD had matured to the point where he wanted to be like his heavenly Father, to show love and compassion to others as it had been shown to him.

David went on to say, “My soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever” (Psalm 131:2-3). A transition was taking placed in the kingdom that caused David to focus on worship rather than warfare. The courage and determination David had shown on the battlefield was no longer necessary. It was time for David to behave like a man of God rather than king of Israel.

The Hebrew word translated hope, yâchal (yaw – chal´) has the connotation of being still, to sit quietly and wait for something to happen (3176). Near the end of David’s life, he realized that the Messiah was Israel’s only hope for survival. As much as David wanted to believe that he could permanently establish God’s kingdom on earth, he knew that peace was extremely difficult to maintain. Like rambunctious children, the Israelites were inclined to fight with their neighbors and could not focus on God for an extended period of time.

David admitted that he did not completely understand the bigger picture when he said, “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (Psalm 131:1). His humble attitude was a result of God’s discipline and his willingness to let go of the outcome a sign that David had reached the point where he understood that God was in control of Israel’s destiny. David’s main focus was on obedience and an anticipation of seeing his Savior face to face.