2 Chronicles 3 – The Building of the Temple
A. Where and when the temple construction began.
1. (1) The location of the temple.
Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
a. Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah: This place had been previously identified as the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Here it is specifically located as Mount Moriah. This was the same hill where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and the same set of hills where Jesus would later die on the cross (Genesis 22:14).
i. “Where Isaac, as a type of Christ, bore the wood, obeyed his father, and should have been sacrificed. Calvary, where our Saviour suffered, was either a part of this mount, or very near unto it.” (Trapp)
b. Began to build the house of the LORD: This was when the actual construction began. All David’s prior plans and preparations anticipated the actual beginning of the work. One can plan and prepare endlessly and never begin to build, but Solomon began to build the house of the LORD.
2. (2) When the construction began.
And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.
a. On the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign: This was probably in the year 967 B.C. Connecting this with 1 Kings 6:1, this marking point shows just how long Israel lived in the Promised Land without a temple. The tabernacle served the nation well for more than 400 years. The prompting to build the temple was more at the direction and will of God than out of absolute necessity.
b. In the fourth year of his reign: This doesn’t mean that Solomon delayed his obedience for four years. He probably started to organize the work right away. There is some evidence that it took three years to prepare timber from Lebanon for use in building. If Solomon began the construction of the temple in the fourth year of his reign, he probably started organizing the construction in the very first year of his reign.
B. A Description of the temple.
1. (3-7) The building in general.
This is the foundation which Solomon laid for building the house of God: The length was sixty cubits (by cubits according to the former measure) and the width twenty cubits. And the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary was twenty cubits long across the width of the house, and the height was one hundred and twenty. He overlaid the inside with pure gold. The larger room he paneled with cypress which he overlaid with fine gold, and he carved palm trees and chainwork on it. And he decorated the house with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was gold from Parvaim. He also overlaid the house; the beams and doorposts, its walls and doors; with gold; and he carved cherubim on the walls.
a. For building the house of God: This chapter will describe the building of the temple and its associated areas. There are four main structures described.
· The temple proper (the foundation which Solomon laid), divided into two rooms (the holy place and the Most Holy Place).
· The vestibule or entrance hall on the east side of the temple proper (the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary). It was thirty feet (10 meters) wide and fifteen feet (5 meters) deep, and the same height as the temple proper. “Its height measurement should read twenty cubits high (NIV, REB, NEB), as against a literal translation of MT, ‘and its height 120’.” (Selman)
· The three-storied side chambers (described in 1 Kings 6:5) which surrounded the temple proper on the north, south, and west sides.
· A large courtyard surrounding the whole structure (the inner court mentioned in 1 Kings 6:36).
b. He decorated the house with precious stones for beauty: This is one description among many that give us an idea of how beautiful the temple was and how Solomon spared no expense in making it beautiful.
i. “The reference to ‘precious stones’ may suggest mosaics, inlaid in the floor.” (Payne)
c. He carved cherubim on the walls: This was after the pattern of the tabernacle, which had woven designs of cherubim on the inner covering. Therefore when one entered the temple they saw cherubim all around – as one would see in heaven (Psalm 80:1, Isaiah 37:16, and Ezekiel 10:3). These angelic beings worship God perpetually in heaven.
i. One might say that we don’t worship angels but we do worship with them.
2. (8-14) The Most Holy Place.
And he made the Most Holy Place. Its length was according to the width of the house, twenty cubits, and its width twenty cubits. He overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold. The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold; and he overlaid the upper area with gold. In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold. The wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits in overall length: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub; one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing also was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubim spanned twenty cubits overall. They stood on their feet, and they faced inward. And he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it.
a. And he made the Most Holy Place: Special attention was given to the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. It was a 30-foot (10 meter) cube, completely overlaid with gold. It also had two large sculptures of cherubim (15-foot or 5 meters in height), which were overlaid with gold.
b. He overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold: There was gold everywhere in the temple, but especially in the Most Holy Place. The walls were covered with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22), the floor was covered with gold (1 Kings 6:30) and gold was hammered into the carvings on the doors (1 Kings 6:32).
i. There was gold everywhere on the inside of the temple. “Such was Christ’s inside (Colossians 2:9); in his outside was no such desirable beauty (Isaiah 53:2); so the Church’s glory is inward (Psalm 45:13), in the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4).” (Trapp)
c. Two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold: These two large sculptures inside the Most Holy Place faced the entrance to this inner room, so as soon as the High Priest entered he saw these giant guardians of the presence of God facing him.
i. “If it were image work – cherubims were made like boys – yet this is no plea for Popish images; since they are flatly forbidden; and God made the law for us, not for himself.” (Trapp)
d. And he made the veil: This was the important barrier separating the holy place from the Most Holy Place. Only one man, once a year, could go behind the veil and enter the Most Holy Place.
i. “To most Israelites, therefore, the temple was an unseen world. God had drawn near to them, but the way to him was hedged around with many restrictions.” (Selman)
ii. Spiritually speaking, in dying for our sins Jesus with His own blood…entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
iii. In the temple, this veil was torn from top to bottom at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:51), showing that through His death, there is no longer a barrier to the Most Holy place.
iv. Now the Most Holy Place is open to us: brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20). The torn veil of Matthew 27:51 also symbolizes the broken body of Jesus, through which we have access to the Most Holy Place.
3. (15-17) The pillars of the temple.
Also he made in front of the temple two pillars thirty-five cubits high, and the capital that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. He made wreaths of chainwork, as in the inner sanctuary, and put them on top of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates, and put them on the wreaths of chainwork. Then he set up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left; he called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz.
a. In front of the temple two pillars thirty-five cubits high: 1 Kings 7:15 tells us that these pillars were actually made of bronze. They were two very impressive adornments to the front of the temple.
b. He called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz: These two pillars were so impressive that they were actually given names. Jachin means He shall establish and Boaz means in strength.
i. Every time someone came to the house of the LORD in the days of Solomon they said, “Look! There is ‘He Shall Establish.’ And there is ‘In Him Is Strength.’” It set them in the right frame of mind to worship the LORD. When the crowds gathered at the morning and evening sacrifice to worship the LORD, the Levites led the people standing in front of the temple with these two great, bronze pillars behind them. It was always before them: He Shall Establish and In Him Is Strength.
ii. One could say that the house of God itself was Jachin and Boaz. That temple was established by God, and built by the strength of God. Every time they looked at that temple, they knew that God liked to establish and strengthen things.
iii. The house of God was a place where people experienced what the pillars were all about. At that house, people were established in their relationship with God. At that house, people were given strength from the LORD. From this building, it should go out to the whole community: “Come here and get established. Come here and receive the strength of God.”