From Tent to Temple - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 3 (CONTINUTED) - THE FIVE ROYAL MINISTRIES
Little is said of these ministries, but their position speaks for itself. They were especially close to the king and his household, and led his armies to victory over the enemy. (See 1 Chron. 27:32-34.)
2. Companion Of The King's Sons.
3. King's Counselor.
4. King's Companion.
5. King's General.
These were special ministries requiring much wisdom, knowledge and understanding. But let us be assured that it is only a spiritual wisdom and understanding that God requires in the Body of Christ, and this enablement proceeds only from Him. We are not speaking about men who are able to give good counsel or good advice because of their learning; but men who by reason of Urim and Thummim which God has placed in the Body of Christ, shall be able to give that direction and guidance that God's people must have in times of need and perplexity. Solomon tells us about a certain city that was delivered by the wisdom of a "poor wise man," but whose wisdom was soon forgotten by those who dwelt in the city.
"Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength:
Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
The words of wise men are heard in quiet
More than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war"
It is the same way in the Church. Good wisdom and counsel comes forth from the meek and the humble who know God and walk with Him. And instead of receiving it, men turn to those who have studied the art of "counselling." The Church of Christ will never come to fullness and perfection without a ministration of spiritual wisdom and understanding. The gifts of the Spirit, known as a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge, are not sufficient in themselves. We must come to that place where the "spirit of wisdom and understanding" come to abide in God's people in abundant fullness. It is not enough that a person can give a word of wisdom one moment, and the next moment continue to walk in his own ways. There must yet come forth in the Church a people who, like Jesus, are endued with the sevenfold Spirit of God and walk in the light of those "seven eyes of the Lamb"--a people who live, and move, and abide in the fullness of Christ.
The five royal ministries are very close to the heart of the king. These men had been with David in his rejection, and had known David's many wars. But their greatness required of them greater dedication and greater responsibility for the new era of Solomon that was about to be ushered in, and not all of these men qualified. Ahithophel had great wisdom; but when he went against David, God turned his wisdom into foolishness. Abiathar was a priest in the Davidic era, and Joab was the general of David's army. But both of these men took sides with treachery and rebellion. These are solemn warnings to God's people everywhere, and especially to those who have gained a reputation for greatness in the Body of Christ. In the new order we must understand that spiritual achievements of the past will not, and cannot, guarantee an easy, automatic transition from the old into the new. It is much more likely that success will lead to pride of heart, than to a lowly and a contrite spirit. And when the heart is lifted up in pride, though it be in Lucifer son of the morning, very quickly is he brought down to the ground. Rudyard Kipling's strong warning to Great Britain in the height of her glory is something we all need to be reminded of... lest we forget...
"The tumult and the shouting dies,
The captains and the kings depart;
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts be with us yet!
Lest we forget! Lest we forget!"
But why does our King need counselors? Not for His sake, but for the sake of His people. Our King needs those who share His counsels that they might in turn share His wisdom with the people. Can I not go to God for myself? True, and we must always have that open line of communication with the King. But in this hour of the tempering of the Body of Christ, God is revealing areas of great weakness in all of us, causing us to draw closer to Him and to one another. God is bringing forth a corporate Man in the earth. The great ones of the past must be brought low. The low and the despised He will exalt... yet in their exaltation they must still remain lowly and of a contrite heart. And this blending of the Body of Christ is designed of the Lord "that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 12:25). God wants to bring us individually into a clear, open line of communication with Himself and we would encourage the Lord's people to know this heritage is for them. But we have observed many who would go their own stubborn way and refuse the admonition of one who had a clear Word from the Lord, and end up in shipwreck. There are times when God cannot cause us to hear as we ought, and He may give a word through another, to turn our feet back to the paths of righteousness. And there are times when He wants to give us further confirmation concerning the way He is leading us.
May God lead us in pathways of obedience, and create a right spirit within us, that we might know the Voice of the Shepherd, whether He speaks to our heart in the quietude of our personal fellowship with Him or through the words of another member of the Body of Christ.
Only the ignorant would criticize Jonathan as he drove past the fields, riding in the king's chariot. Or Jehiel as he strolled along, in communion with the king's sons. Why were they not doing something profitable, like cultivating the fields or helping reap the harvests? Why were they wasting their time in idleness, while others were working feverishly with the sheep, or the camels, or the asses? But the king's sons need companions for fellowship, and these men were doing what the king had appointed them to do.
He is not wasting his time, who waits for God's hour to come to pass in his life. He is not standing idly by, who stands ready to do God's will. He is not an unprofitable servant, who mingles with the King's sons for fellowship and companionship.
These men may have been open to criticism by the hard workers in the orchards and vineyards, and by those who herded the cattle in the fields of Sharon. But they did not choose their lot. (Again, we are just speaking a parable. They knew what was going on... but God's people in this hour are slow to comprehend.) Many a time they may have longed to do something that would seem profitable in their own eyes, and in the eyes of men. But now they have learned that they can do nothing, except as God does it through them. Because they have come to understand the heart of the King, and His desire for His sons, the King has seen fit to bring them into royal fellowship, that they might impart wisdom and understanding to His other sons. ...But not only do the King's sons need fellowship, so does the King Himself. Jesus called twelve disciples that they might go forth and preach the gospel. But this was secondary; first of all we are told that He chose them "that they should be with him" (Mk. 3:14). We lose sight of this so often. Abraham became God's "friend," and that is how he learned many of God's secrets. Jesus wanted the friendship of those with whom He could share God's secrets. God has never had any problem getting servants to work for Him. But He has very few friends. What is the difference? The servant does not know what the King's plan and purpose is, and often times cares less. He is just too busy working for God. But the friend is different. He is introduced into the counsels of God. He is not there to "advise" the Almighty. He is there to learn His secrets; and we need to know His secrets if we are to walk in peace and confidence before Him. There is therefore no frustration in the hour of apparent futility, and no panic in the hour of universal distress. He knows what God is doing. He knows that God's plan cannot fail, and he can rest in that. Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (Jn. 15:15).
But there is more to friendship with God than an understanding of His purposes. For in intimate fellowship with God we partake of His very image and likeness, and are vitally joined unto Him. His own nature and character is imprinted upon our lives, and God Himself makes His abiding place within. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23). "We will come unto him," Jesus said. He is not speaking about two different persons coming in to abide. We lose much if we start looking within and trying to discern that which is the voice of the Father, and that which is the voice of the Son. And Jesus was not implying anything like that. But because the Father and Son abide within, there begins to come forth in the hearts of His people the heart and mind of the Father: the One Who ever existed, Who knows and purposed the end from the beginning, the eternal One, the Origin of all things, and the One Who has a large family of sons and is greatly concerned about them. And yet at one and the same time there is the recognition that we are begotten of God: that like His Only Begotten we must learn obedience by the things that we are called upon to suffer... that we must like the Son live in utter dependence upon the Father... that in ourselves we "can do nothing." In union with the Father we partake of His power, the outflow of His love, and a father-like concern and compassion for mankind, enabling us to flow forth unto them in mercy, in truth, in healing and delivering grace. But in and through it all we have the heart of the Son... living and moving in total helplessness, in total dependence upon Another, drawing from His heart, and walking in obedience and in the fear of God.
"Dear Lord! Make us to be Your friends! Draw us and we will run after You. We long to come into the fullness of Your presence, there to abide continually under Your shadow. Often we would despair of entering that holy realm because of the obstacles that lie in our pathway. And therefore we would pray, 'Cause us to approach unto You... cause Your face to shine upon us... make us to know Your way.' Looking at ourselves we know we shall never attain to that fullness of glory. But we turn our eyes heavenward, and embrace Your promise... 'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name' (Rev. 3:12)."
David's Charge To The Priests And Officers
In all that we are saying, our hope is that God's people will be nurtured of the Lord, that we might be prepared for what God has in mind in this great hour. They said to Jesus just before His ascension, "Lord wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" The important thing for them was to do what Jesus said: go to Jerusalem and wait upon God. Like the disciples, we want to get involved in His Kingdom... and we think it would help us if we knew when it was going to happen. Even if we knew the precise times and seasons of the Father, this would not prepare our hearts for what He would do. The most important thing for us right now is that God should prepare our hearts and cause us to know and recognize our real need--and that our need is not a case of getting more and more knowledge about future aspects of the Kingdom, but to come to meekness and poverty of spirit, which alone can qualify us for a place in that Kingdom.
And so as the kingdom of Solomon was about to emerge, David charged the people to proceed with the task that lay before them, and to walk in obedience to the LORD. To Solomon he gave this charge,
"And thou, Solomon my son, Know thou the God of thy father, And serve him with a perfect heart And with a willing mind" (1 Chron. 28:9).
Then David handed over to Solomon the complete plan of the Temple as he himself had received it from the LORD. Nothing was left to man's imagination. Everything was set forth in clear and precise detail.
I think our greatest problem today is the fact that we are living in the last stages of the "Davidic Era" of the Church, and God is saying, "Just wait before Me in the Tent and know My Presence..." But many are out there on Mount Moriah (as it were) trying to lay foundations and establish structures something like they had in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, not realizing that God has a glorious Temple in mind. God is certainly laying foundations of Truth in the hearts of His people; but let us not forget the bedrock foundation of the new Temple is in the place of the Burnt Offering, and it is on a Threshing Floor. It is there where men and women are totally dedicated to God, through sacrifice, to do His will; and who, in consequence of this dedication, are being subjected to the flaying of the grain that the wheat might be separated from the chaff, gathered into the garner, and later subjected to the mills of God. If we recognized this, we would be far more zealous to see God's people come to the threshing floor where they give their all to Him, than to promote our schemes and visions and plans for the building of "temples" made of wood, and glass, and stone.
Solomon's Kingdom Established
2 Chronicles 1 and 1 Kings 1-4
Solomon's first act upon coming to the throne was to seek the LORD his God. Together with the officers of Israel he went up to the high place at Gibeon where the brazen altar was situated, before the Tabernacle of Moses. There must be a total commitment unto God at the altar of burnt offering. The way of the burnt offering is the only sure and safe way of knowing God's will--His perfect will. There God appeared to Solomon and said, "Ask what I shall give thee?" God knew what Solomon needed. He knows what we need. But often times He will leave the choice with us... hoping we will make the right choice. When God promises, "Ask what ye will, and it shall be done," I wonder if we realize that God is not only offering to supply every need, but He is also subjecting us to a very severe test! How we need God to search our hearts, for when He searches there is no escape from His all-seeing eye:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting"
Solomon said, "Give me now wisdom and knowledge... for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?"
I wonder sometimes how many have fasted and prayed earnestly for power--and got it--often times to their own destruction? The wisdom and knowledge Solomon prayed for was not to build up his ego, but that he might know how to rule over God's people. Solomon's request pleased the LORD, and God gave him his request, and added much more than he asked for. It was this divinely imparted wisdom that thoroughly established Solomon's kingdom. It was through wisdom and knowledge that God established the heavens and the earth in their courses (Prov. 3:19)... and when He arises to establish the true wisdom and knowledge of God in the Church, we are going to see God's intention realized far beyond our expectations.
We really do not need to know too much about His intention for the future phase of His Kingdom. What is His intention right now? It is... "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ... [Before we go on, let us notice this: the purpose of ministry is to bring the saints as a Body into the work of ministry that the whole Body might be edified. But let us go on.] ...till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12-13). "Perfection" is a scary word in the Church. Because we all know... nobody can be perfect. So there are all kinds of plausible definitions of the word, to cushion the stumbling block. But God tells us what the standard is, for the perfection, the maturity, the character that He has in mind. It is the measure of the stature of the fullness (the completeness) of Christ Himself, For the incredulous, I would just say: read this passage in any version you have; and for the faint-hearted I would remind you: this is not your work, it is the working of your High Priest in the Heavens, Who rules from the throne of glory, and Who has all power in heaven and earth to mediate the New Covenant--even this portion of it--to His people in the earth.
The Construction Of The Temple Begins
As we consider the temple structure, of course, we are only concerned about the Temple "not made with hands," for this is the only Temple that has eternal significance.
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne,
And the earth is my footstool:
Where is the house that ye build unto me?
And where is the place of my rest?
For all those things hath mine hand made,
And all those things have been, saith the LORD:
But to this man will I look,
Even to him that is poor,
And of a contrite spirit,
And trembleth at my word"
Solomon himself fully recognized that it was just a place for God's glorious and awesome Name. And in this day when there is so much excitement about the possibility of Israel rebuilding a temple of wood and stone, an excitement that is equally shared by both natural Israel and the Church, we must remind God's people over and over again that God's Name has been called upon a people in the earth destined to come forth in His image and likeness, And that we, in union with a redeemed and regenerated Israel, "are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). This is the only habitation that is compatible with the heart of God anywhere in the Universe. And when God finds His place there, He is totally at rest, and desires no other temple.
Zion Takes On Enlargement
As we pointed out earlier, when God established Zion as the place of His "rest" in the time of David, Zion became something eternal in the heart of God. It was to be eternally "The City of the Great King." When the Ark moves from Zion to Mount Moriah where the temple of Solomon was built, it was still Zion. When Israel went into captivity, it was Zion that went into captivity. When they came out of captivity, it was because "the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion." God had said, "This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it" (Psa. 132:14). Later through the prophet God said, "O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian" (Isa. 10:24). Of course there were not too many people living up there on the slopes of Zion where David had pitched his tent. But now it means "the people of God." Finally, when Jesus came on the scene, and suffered the anguish of the Cross, God laid in Zion "a chief corner stone, elect, precious" (1 Pet. 2:6), even as Isaiah had prophesied. (See Isa. 28:16.) Even the Old Testament prophets recognized this enlarged concept of Zion, as it related to them. But a greater problem arose in the New Testament when the apostles and teachers began to speak of a still greater concept of Zion, and a greatly enlarged sphere of activity in the new "mount... the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22). Men loathe to relinquish their hopes and dreams into heavenly realms, because this would seem to be too ethereal, too unreal. And this can only be because we cannot believe that the real things are the things we cannot see, and the real life is the life we cannot see. It is this life, this earth, this Jerusalem that is in bondage with her children... these are the things that are unreal. The throne of Zion is real, eternal, actual, immoveable, and Israel's Messiah is ruling and reigning on that throne now, on the eternal throne of David. (See Acts 2:29-35; Psa. 110:1-7; 1 Cor. 15:25.) This is the clear teaching and consensus of God's holy apostles who wrote the New Testament scriptures. Or are we going to accuse the apostles, as they do us, for just spiritualizing Zion to prove a doctrinal issue? As one searches the writings of the apostles, in vain will we discover, after the resurrection of Christ, any other Zion but the heavenly, spiritual Zion, the New Jerusalem, the City of the living God. And not only so, but as the apostles with the spiritual revelation they had looked back into the Old Testament, they recognized that Abraham himself looked for that same City, that the prophets "foretold of these days" (Acts 3:24), and that "these days" are the days in which we live (1 Pet. 1:11-12).
The Surpassing Beauty Of The Temple
We recognize at once from the plans of the Temple that it was built with a very fundamental likeness to the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. But the Temple was to be a permanent structure, greatly enlarged and beautified, exceedingly magnificent to behold, and of glory and fame throughout all nations. In the former tent there was really no beauty to behold from without; just a rough exterior covering like a tent, and the whole area surrounded with a linen fence hanging on posts. But it did have a cloud of glory hovering over it by day, which became a pillar of fire by night. The Temple on the other hand was glorious to behold, without as well as within. We have emphasized much that by nature we are as "nothing"...just "vessels," just "channels," through whom God would work. And this is true. But God wants His own life and His own glory to shine forth. He is creating a people in the image of His Son... that when people behold Christ's many brethren, they will see the Christ. He has promised there would be a day when the nations would see His salvation, and not only read about it, or hear about it. He is crying aloud with creative voice: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1). He "will not rest" till the righteousness of Zion goes forth "as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 62:1).
The beauty of God's Temple is not the beauty of human achievement, it is "the beauty of the LORD." The stones from the quarry, even in their finished condition, were probably not too breathtaking in appearance. The brazen wheel of the laver, taken from the clay where the brass was poured, may not have been too exciting to behold. The cedar timbers, peeled and squared and shaped, really had no great beauty in themselves. To look upon this mass of material around the Temple area, it must have seemed like total confusion. But when Solomon and the master-workmen in their wisdom took the various members of the Temple and fitted them together, the building was so glorious it caused kings and nations to stand in awe and admiration. The time is past when any individual, in virtue of his great gifts and wisdom, is going to flaunt his glory in the eyes of men. But when God is finished hewing the rocks and squaring the wooden timbers, and joins them together in His own wisdom and skill, then adorns the building with the precious glittering stones of His own grace and glory, and applies the golden lining of His nature and character within... the nations of the world are going to stand in awe and fear before Him. For it is God's wisdom that shall be revealed, and His own glory that shall shine forth. Therefore God says,
"And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness,
And all kings thy glory:
And thou shalt be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of thy God"
It must always have been a great thrill to the weary pilgrims as they approached the holy city, and saw the beautiful Temple glittering in the sun. And perhaps they would sing,
"I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go into the house of the LORD.
Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is builded as a city
That is compact together:
Whither the tribes go up,
The tribes of the LORD"
The Temple had everything in principle that existed in the old Tabernacle; but there was much more. Everything was on an enlarged and more magnificent scale: walls of wood and stone rather than curtains... a magnificent brazen altar... a beautiful brazen sea resting on 12 oxen rather than a laver... and ten smaller lavers resting on ten wagons. The cherubim in the holy of holies spread their wings in a flying position, reaching from wall to center, and center to the other wall. (We must speak of these later.) There were ten candlesticks instead of one... ten tables of shewbread instead of one... And then there were chambers about the Temple, three stories high: with the first, second, and third floors connected with winding staircases. Also above the holy of holies there was an area known as "the upper chambers" which were overlaid with gold, and of which we know practically nothing.
The whole interior of the sanctuary was lined with cedar wood and overlaid with plates of gold, and beautifully garnished with precious stones. Even the floors, which were of cypress wood, were overlaid with plates of gold. From the outside, as you approached the Temple, there were two large pillars of brass, almost four feet in diameter, one on each side of the entrance. These were beautifully wrought with ornamental brass, or bronze, resembling lily petals, and adorned with chains of brass and pomegranates.
It would be doubtful if it would be possible to build such a structure today, when one considers the amount of gold and silver and precious stones that would be required. It would have to cost several billion dollars, even if the materials were available. Herod the Great may have tried to duplicate it when he built the temple for the Jews, which took 46 years to complete. And Justinian boasted, "Solomon, I have outdone thee" when he exulted in the building of Hagia Sophia, once the Church of the Holy Wisdom, but now a Moslem Shrine.
How sad that the Church of Jesus Christ has never been able to see beyond the gold and the silver and the costly stones, and the beautiful works of their own hands... and to recognize that the true riches are eternal, spiritual, heavenly. True, God ordained it for Solomon's Temple... but only as a type and shadow of the things that are real--the heavenly things. It is all symbolic of a far greater, spiritual Temple that God is erecting, "the Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." And God help us as we consider some of these types and shadows, that our real quest may be for the "true riches"--"the knowledge of Him"--and not merely to attain to some kind of knowledge that does not edify. May we receive that instruction and revelation that will enable us to see Christ in a greater way, that we might show forth the beauty of the Lord in our lives.
Next: Chapter 3 (Continued) - Ascending Realms in the Temple
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