Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
There is no wasted space in the Bible. Paul actually says as much in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Therefore, when we run into strangely unneeded details or ridiculously boring parts in the Word of God, we need to ask God, “Why is this here?” The Lord will surely answer such a prayer. Sometimes you’ll end up learning something really cool just by asking.
Right up there with the laws and genealogies on the list of “Most Dry Parts of the Bible” are the lists of building supplies. I don’t know, maybe people with an interest in construction enjoy these parts, but I’m kinda so-so on them (especially considering that I’m bad enough with converting inches to centimeters, throwing cubits into the mix doesn’t really help anything). Anyway, after wading through varied measurements for the Temple, I found this list:
He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.
So Huram finished the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of God:
The two pillars;
The two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
The two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
The four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network, decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);
The stands with their basins;
The Sea and the twelve bulls under it;
The pots, shovels, meat forks and all related articles.
All the objects that Huram-Abi made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of polished bronze (2 Chronicles 4:11-16).
This is a list of all of the important things in the Temple. It’s all pretty basic, and much of it seems unnecessary for appearing in the Word of God. But the next line was a little strange. It reads, “The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan” (2 Chronicles 4:17). Now I don’t remember if it was the odd specificity of the line or just that I had reached my limit of seemingly unnecessary words in the Bible; but I thought, “Who cares? Why does it matter where the-“
At that moment the Holy Spirit interrupted my thinking and explained that when the Temple items were being cast, it wasn’t anything graceful. It’s just clay and wood out in the plain; but what comes out of those simple items and that simple place would be of great importance once it was brought to the Temple. The same is true for us. You see, we come from a simple start; we’re born just like everyone else. We spend our time in the plains; that is to say that life on earth isn’t too awful, but it’s nothing special compared to what our lives will like in heaven. Then, when we’re ready, we’re called to the Temple. No, I don’t mean that we’ll end up in Jerusalem, but we’ll be in heaven with God. According to the Bible, there’ll be no more physical Temple in heaven, but the Lord will be said Temple. Check it out: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). And our life on earth is how the King wants us to be cast; as it is written, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise” (Psalms 47:7). Therefore, just as Solomon commanded that the articles used for the Temple be forged in the plans, so the Lord commands that we be forged for heaven here on earth during our lives.
As a believer, God has a plan for your life. It may not look like anything now, but the Lord is molding you into something of great use and value in the Kingdom of Heaven. Our God frequently does things like this. During the rebuilding of the Temple, God spoke to his people,
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’” (Haggai 2:1-3).
Look at your life. Does it not seem almost meaningless, unfruitful, and eternally frustrating? Do you feel like things haven’t gone as advertised? But I tell you that your life will be great; for the Lord replies,
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord Almighty. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty. “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty (Haggai 2:6-9).
God has a great plan for you who are in Christ Jesus. And this life in the plains here on earth may not go how you plan, it may not be pleasant, or it may just not be special; but it is going according to the plan. God has a plan for your life and your life follows his plan. Paul, quoting Isaiah, wrote in Romans 9:20, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?”’” The Lord has designed our path and our lives are according to his plan (miserable times and all); and all of this is preparation for our final usage in the Temple that is heaven. Speaking through Isaiah, the Lord says, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). We are cast and forged through difficulty here on earth as a preparation for our usage in eternity.
But this process only works for believers in Christ. When God’s creations refuse to be molded into his image here on earth, the Lord is well within his right to simply scrap them. This is the message that the Lord spoke to Israel through Jeremiah. History records,
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him (Jeremiah 18:1-4).
Again, the Lord is our maker, and he forms us through his hands being upon our lives here on earth. We have free will, but he does his best to shape us in a way worthy for heaven. The passage continues,
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it (Jeremiah 18:5-10).
From this passage we can learn that all people are forged with the intent that they’ll serve the King in heaven (this is why we all experience the hardships of life). However, only some people actually are chosen for the heavenly Temple; the rest are cast into the pit of hell. And how is this determined? We read,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).
So then, the master craftsman has put the decision to you: Pit or Temple? Which one seems better to you?