From Tent to Temple - Chapter 3

From Tent to Temple
- George H. Warnock


However, that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan with a message for the king, which he immediately took to David. God reminded David that He had always walked with His people and moved in their midst in a simple tent-like structure, going "from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another." He made it clear to David that He really did not need a house of cedars to dwell in, and concluded by telling him that His purpose was really to build David a house; and that He would settle David's son in His house and in His Kingdom forever. (See 1 Chron. 17:13-14.) The immediate promise was to Solomon, who would build the temple that David wanted to build; but the promise looks far beyond Solomon and embraces the Day of Christ, David's greater Son, who would inherit "the sure mercies of David" and would build a Temple "not made with hands."

David was quite overwhelmed with this revelation. He came and "sat before the LORD," and in his reply to the LORD there was really nothing he could say but extol God's great and glorious Name. He simply concluded his prayer by saying, "LORD, do as thou hast said."

The Transitional Tent Of David

In the previous chapter we talked about the Tabernacle, or the Tent of David. When the ark was on its way back to Jerusalem no doubt it was just taken for granted by the priests in Israel that it would be restored to the old tabernacle that Moses built, which was then on the hill of Gibeon. The Tent of David must have come as quite a shock to them. How could they continue to worship in the old tabernacle without the ark of the Covenant? Without the Glory? Without His Presence? But they were going to have to understand from David's action that this was no mere "renewal" of a former institution. This was restoration to a higher order. This was something new. They were moving out of one order and into another; and the Tent of David was to be the connecting link between the old and the new, between the Tent in the Wilderness and the Temple of Solomon. It was to be preparatory to the Temple.

Transitional Difficulties

Transitional times are always difficult times for God's people. It is so in the natural realm, and it is so in the spiritual. Jesus reminded us, "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better" (Lk. 5:39). Only those with the adventurous, pioneer spirit will step forward into the unknown. As usual, men of the world are often "wiser in their generation" than the children of light. They will continue to reach forth into the realms of space, and are constantly developing new methods and new inventions to meet the challenge of the unreachable. But men in the Church sit back and feel they have everything there is to be had in the realm of the Spirit. Satan himself, with all his principalities and powers in the world of darkness, is daily bringing forth new, diabolical weapons of destruction, and using them to destroy the spirits and souls and bodies of men. But God's people can envision nothing better than a restoration of something we had in the Church many years ago, or many centuries ago. They think it is right and scriptural for the wheat of God's harvest fields to remain forever in a state just a little short of maturity... because, after all, no one can be perfect. Satan does not hesitate to exercise complete lordship in the lives of his subjects; but it is thought to be incredible that our Lord should exercise anything like total Lordship in the lives of those whom He has purchased with His own blood!

But I think the real reason we do not want to venture forth in response to the new vision is because we do not want to become involved with the unsettling and disturbing changes that the new vision demands. The changing of the order requires a new beginning, and a relinquishing of the old titles and deeds. And this demands a price that seems to be just too high for most people to pay. Yet real Christianity knows of no life, and no spiritual progress, except as we are prepared to lay down the life we have, and to relinquish the things we have come to prize as our very own. It is the truth of the Cross as it is enacted and reenacted in our lives, from the moment of our spiritual birth until the moment of glorification.

Where do we go from here? It might seem a lot safer if we could see the pathway clearly laid out before us... but God's Way is the Rule of the Cloud, which we have already talked about. We must move forward when the Cloud of God's Glory moves forward. We may not see the pathway ahead of us clearly, but we hear Him calling, and we must have confidence that "the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

Where are we today in God's unfolding plan and purpose for the Church? To pinpoint our present spiritual location might be difficult; but preeminently this is a day of preparation. God is seeking to lead us in a new way. If we are assured of this, then we can rest in the midst of all the disturbing and perplexing things that we see transpiring in us and about us. Preparation was the key word in the message of John the Baptist for his day; and we believe once again it is the key word for this hour. Let us observe some of the preparatory things that had to be done for the temple that Solomon was to build.

Preparations For The Temple

"And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it" (1 Chron. 22:5).

There are living trees in the earth estimated to be as old as four thousand years or more. There they stand in stately glory, defying the changes of the seasons and of the weather today as they have done throughout the centuries. But a mushroom will grow up overnight, and perish in the heat of the sun the next day. What we are saying is that the greater the magnificence and the glory that attends God's workmanship, the greater will be the care that He will exercise in its creation, and the more prolonged will be the time of its preparation. God will not permit His people to pressure Him into a premature and imperfect execution of His plans and purposes; because what He is doing is for His own Glory, and not for ours. In the outworking of the maturing process in our lives we must not yield to the persistent temptation to hasten forward the work of God by our own device and planning. At the same time, let us be spiritually alert to see God's timing in our lives, lest we fail to grasp the opportunity that God affords in the fullness of His times. There is no substitute for the simple procedure of "walking with God." We might be very active and energetic in ministry and still not learn God's ways. But if we walk with God, we will not miss out in any area of ministry that God has planned for our lives. Simeon did not just casually walk into the temple that day when the baby Jesus was presented there for dedication. Simeon was led there, because he had been walking with God. He must go to the temple that day... and he must go now. The promise of perhaps many, many years duration was to be fulfilled today! Tomorrow he may die... but today he must see the Messiah! He could not miss it! God would not let him miss it!

The Preparation Of The Site

"Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel" (1 Chron. 22:1).

It was the threshing floor of Oman the Jebusite, where David had offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to eliminate the plague that had come upon Israel through David's folly. We do not know how Satan had gained this foothold in David. At any rate the ransom money had not been collected from the people when David took the census, and God had already warned that a plague might fall if this was not done. (See Ex. 30:12-16.) But God in mercy revealed to David his sin, and also the solution. David obeyed and set up an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite which he purchased from Ornan for 600 shekels of gold. Now it was this plot of ground that was to become the site of the exceedingly magnificent Temple of Solomon. David said, "This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering." It was a proclamation of faith--God had declared this to be His plan, and therefore it was so. It had yet to become manifest. The preparation of the site was extremely important. It was the place of the burnt offering. It is believed to have been the very spot upon which Abraham had offered up Isaac as a burnt offering many centuries earlier. But now in David's time it had become a threshing floor. The Temple of Solomon was to be erected on a harvest floor. It would also be dedicated on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the nation had gathered in their wines and oils, and had reaped their harvest. The early Church was really the seed Church. True it was inaugurated at Pentecost, which was the Feast of Harvest, but it was really a "firstfruits" harvest. The final harvest would be in the seventh month on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was the Feast of Ingathering. The "glorious Church"--not having spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing--is the harvest Church. The great winnowing fan of the Harvester is in the hands of the Husbandman, Who has patiently waited for "the precious fruit of the earth." The fire has been kindled to destroy the chaff of the threshing floor. Then He will gather the grain into His garner--grain that has come to full maturity and perfection, just like the good seed that was planted in the earth almost 2,000 years ago, when our Lord Jesus was faithful as the "corn of wheat" to "fall into the ground and die."

Preparation Of The Man

"And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God; but the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name" (1 Chron. 22:7-10).

Great conflicts have raged through the centuries as God sent forth His truth in the earth and the haters of truth resisted it. This is inevitable, as light has no communion with darkness. However, it is most regrettable that God's messengers of truth should so often have yielded to the temptation to propagate their message by carnal warfare. We realize that God did ordain Israel to fight His battles on many occasions in the Old Testament, for they were God's own weapons to execute His judgments upon corrupt and idolatrous nations. But it must not be so with you and me in this day of the New Covenant, when the people of God have been given a mandate, and spiritual weapons, to wage warfare in the realm of the Spirit... and in that realm only. He who builds in the Temple of God must be a man of peace.

Man has always sought to perpetuate the old order for his own glory, but sooner or later it will come to nought; and we do not have to attempt to tear it down. Now Solomon's brother Adonijah exalted himself, saying, "I will be king." He was David's son too, and he is described as being "a very goodly man." He had Joab on his side, who was the general of David's army. He also had Abiathar with him, who was David's high priest. Surely with such great men behind him Adonijah would succeed in his efforts to perpetuate the Davidic era. "Behold, Adonijah reigneth" they shouted. His name means, "JAH is my Lord." He, too, would honor the true God of Israel. We are told that they slew oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and all the king's sons were invited to the feast. (All except Solomon, of course--the builders of religion always reject the chief corner stone). And what did Solomon do about it? Nothing!

David was notified of the conspiracy and before he died he proclaimed Solomon to be king of Israel with the blessing of Zadok the priest, and of Nathan the prophet. No need for Solomon to stand up for his rights. When he became king he would judge righteously, and with power, authority and wisdom. But he would not seek to establish himself in that position. He, as his name means, would simply rest in the plan and purpose of God. And he, the man of peace, would build a temple which was to become God's place of rest... but of course it was only a type and shadow of the true Temple yet to come, a Temple not made with hands.

Preparation Of The Materials

"Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto" (1 Chron. 22:14).

In this time of transition God's people everywhere are in a state of trouble and unrest; and oftentimes in the midst of their trouble, they do not understand that God is shaking the old systems in preparation for His new order. Like David in his trouble, we would like to get away from it all...

"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove!
For then would I fly away, and be at rest.
Lo, then would I wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah"
(Psa. 55:6-7).

But David soon discovered that running away from it all accomplished nothing either, it simply brought him into still greater dangers:

"How say ye to my soul,
Flee as a bird to your mountain?
For lo, the wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string,
That they may privily shoot
At the upright in heart"
(Psa. 11:1-2).

God help us to see that in our trouble we can prepare spiritual gold and silver and timber for a dwelling place for the Most High! God help us to see that a change of environment cannot change the situation, And that no matter where we go, or what we do, the archer is there with his bow to shoot us down and to molest. We must know and understand that we have "the shield of faith" whereby we can "quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."

Preparation Of Priest And Levite

"For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: and also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof" (1 Chron. 23:25-26).

God has a rest for His people. Solomon was to be a man of rest. The priesthood was to be a priesthood of rest. Some fear that this could make for ease and carelessness. The truth is, when we enter into God's rest we will become more active in the Spirit, even as we are ceasing "from our own works." No longer will we be moving from one desert oasis to another, always looking for something beyond our grasp. For God has promised...

"Thou shalt bring them in,
And plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance,
In the place, O LORD,
Which thou hast made for thee to dwell in,
In the Sanctuary, O Lord,
Which thy hands have established"
(Ex. 15:17).

In this realm there is constant abiding in Him. The springs which once blessed our soul for a season and then wasted away in the desert sands, flow eternally from the heart of God because on the mountain of His inheritance we have come to the source of the springs. In God's Zion we can say, "All my springs are found in thee." No longer is the Tabernacle a "burden" to carry, and the vessels are no longer "burdens" of ministration in God's house. Rather we become those vessels in whom He dwells, and through whom He flows forth in blessing to others.

Preparation Of The Officers

The officers of Solomon's kingdom had served faithfully in the kingdom of Saul, but it only brought them to disillusionment and distress. Their real training was in company with David as they wandered about the hillsides of Judaea, unrecognized by the realm of Saul, the offscouring of the earth. Jesus said, "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matt. 19:29). You will not learn the principles of discipleship in seminars and institutions of learning. You will only learn true discipleship as you take His yoke upon you, and walk with Him in His rejection. Let us consider some of the qualifying degrees of the officers of the kingdom. (See 1 Chron. 27.)

Jashobeam. How did he qualify for a place in Solomon's kingdom? He suffered rejection with David, and became one of David's mighty men. Single-handedly he slew 300 men with a spear. We know little more than this about the man. But he became the officer over the first course, for the first month, in Solomon's kingdom; and he had 24,000 men under his command.

Dodai. How did he qualify? He suffered with David in his rejection, and on one occasion, he "saved a parcel of ground full of barley" as the Philistines tried to take it. How tremendous! He saved a barley field! The things which seem insignificant in our eyes are often of great importance in the sight of God. And so Dodai the Ahohite, David's mighty man that saved a barley field, became the officer over the second course, in the kingdom of Solomon; and he had 24,000 men under his command.

Benaiah. What did he do? He followed David in his rejection, and on one occasion, he slew a lion in the midst of a pit. On another occasion he slew an imposing looking Egyptian, and his only weapon was a stick in his hand. Oh, how God yearns over His people that they might discover His ways! When are we going to get away from the notion that every time the Enemy challenges the people of God, we have got to come forth and meet the challenge with equal kinds of weapons and with equal strategy? In obedience to God, and with nothing but the dry stick that we are, the devices of the Enemy become his own destruction.

What is that in your hand, Moses? Just a staff... just a stick. But as he walked in obedience before the LORD, he would take that stick, and in his hand it would become the very rod of God to deliver a nation from her bondage, to smite Egypt with all manner of judgments, and to open up the Red Sea that the people of God might march over.

What is that in your hand, Shamgar? Just an ox-goad... just a stick! I work with oxen, and I use the ox-goad as I go about my daily, menial tasks. But as he walked in obedience, and moved in faith, the ox-goad became the rod of God in his hand, by which he slew the enemies of God and delivered His people.

What is that in your hand, Benaiah? Just a stick! But prompted by the Spirit of God the stick in his hand became the rod of God, by which he would strike the Egyptian, rob him of his spear, and then slay the Egyptian with the Egyptian's own spear.

All these men had was a stick. And by nature that is all we have--it is all we are. But in the boldness of faith and confidence in God we shall learn, as we continue to walk in fellowship with our David, that once again God is going to use the foolish things to confound the wisdom of the wise and to bring to nought the things that are. It is the secret of the Cross that we must learn. It was "through death" that Christ destroyed "him that had the power of death," and brought the kingdom of Satan to nought.

David's mighty men are not striving for a place of leadership, or trying to produce for themselves a great ministry. They are simply weary of the old ways of Saul, and they follow David out of love for him. They are not opportunists. They are not out to save their own lives. They are not looking for an office or a position in the Church. They are willing to risk their lives in order to bring a cup of cool, refreshing water from the fountain of Bethlehem to their thirsty king... and then stand by and watch their king waste it, by pouring it on the ground. "Why this waste?" the disciples said, as they watched Mary of Bethany break the alabaster box, and pour its contents on the Lord Jesus. But God wants us to know that nothing is wasted that is done out of love for Him... foolish as it may seem in the eyes of men.

Preparation Of The Plan Of The Temple

"Then David gave to Solomon his son
The pattern of the porch,
And of the houses thereof,
And of the treasuries thereof,
And of the upper chambers thereof,
And of the inner parlours thereof,
And of the place of the mercy seat,
And the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit,
Of the courts of the house of the LORD,
And of all the chambers round about,
Of the treasuries of the house of God,
And of the treasuries of the dedicated things"
(1 Chron. 28:11-12).

As Moses was taken up into the mountain and given the pattern of the Tabernacle, so David was given the pattern of the new Temple by the Spirit--no doubt as he sat before the LORD in the Tabernacle of David. But though the pattern of the new Temple was given to him, he was not permitted to build it, nor did he attempt to do so. We need to learn this lesson well. All over the earth Christian leaders are eagerly trying to rebuild the Church in a vain attempt to bring it back to New Testament pattern and order, and it is all in vain. God has something better in mind than the Tabernacle of David, something better in mind than the early Church. God's plan is a Church that has come to perfect fruit--"a glorious Church"--not having spot or wrinkle or blemish, or any such thing. Admittedly there are eternal principles in the early Temple which must be incorporated into the latter Temple. But its structure will be different--far different. Let us be content to do just what we know God wants us to do in this hour. Let us just walk in the Spirit, and allow the Master Builder to build His own Church.

We have gone into considerable detail concerning the preparation that David made for the new era, and rightly so. Preparation we believe is the key word for this hour. Those who have the vision of what God is doing, and are pursuing it... they know and understand, at least in part, the solemn implications of the word preparation. Many others, who feel they are already prepared, are zealously trying to build something that eventually God will have to tear down.

Now let us consider the order of the Solomon era, with particular reference to: (1) The Order Of The Temple; and (2) The Order Of The Kingdom.

1. The Order Of The Temple

The Gathering Of The Leaders

I am always suspicious of these leadership and shepherding conferences that abound in the land today... concerned that in many cases it may be another Adonijah coup... and wondering if perhaps God may have hidden away his chosen ones whom He is grooming for this hour, and they are not even known or recognized as yet. But of course we know God's plan will not fail, and that He is doing a secret work in the earth which will not be manifest until God's appointed hour. David numbered the Levites from the age of 30 years and upward (1 Chron. 23:3), in preparation for service in the new temple. And we believe that God is numbering a people in this hour for His new order. There were both Levites and princes of the sanctuary. The Levites were the helpers of the priests, a sort of deacon ministry in the Old Testament order. "Their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD" (1 Chron. 23:28). The deacon ministry is great in God's eyes, because if one accepts it gracefully and uses it well, God gives them a degree. Paul says they may "purchase to themselves a good degree" (1 Tim. 3:13). But they cannot purchase this degree with money, or by political wire-pulling. It is a degree for faithfulness. The word "degree" means "a step upward." Philip the deacon took the lower, menial task, and God enlarged his ministry into one of evangelism and miracles. Likewise Stephen, one of the seven deacons in the Church at Jerusalem, became a teacher of great wisdom, and the first martyr mentioned by name, in the early Church. But even as God's deacons come to enlargement in ministry, they are still deacons at heart. It ought to be a characteristic of all God's people, including all ministers; for Jesus Himself "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister".... and the word used is the same as "deacon."

The "chief men" of the priesthood were called "governors [or princes] of the sanctuary" (1 Chron. 24:5). There were 24 such princes, 16 from the line of Eleazar, and eight from the line of Ithamar. They were not elected by the people. God has never authorized a democratic order for His people in any age, and certainly not for His Church. These princes or governors were designated for their course of duty by "lot." But this does not mean it was a case of "chance." The secret ballot is intended to assure that the will of man be done--in the church, and in the world. The lot, as directed by the Lord, is to assure that God's will be done. Because,

"The lot is cast into the lap; But the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD" (Prov. 16:33).

We are not suggesting that we go back to the use of the lot that was used in Old Testament times. God has something better than that for us... and that is that the Holy Spirit be given His Lordship in the midst of His people, and when He is Lord He will be faithful to clearly reveal God's will for the government of the House of God. "Government" is as clearly a gift and ministration of the Spirit, as are miracles, healings, tongues, prophecies, and so forth (1 Cor. 12:28). And God will yet displace this democratic system that we have in the Church, as well as in the world.

Notice in this new order that there were 24 priestly princes of the sanctuary. These correspond with the 24 elders in the book of Revelation, where we have the Revelation of Jesus Christ in His Church. (See Rev. 4:4.) John saw them clothed in white raiment (in priestly garments); but they had on their heads crowns of gold (denoting a royal office). And so we have 12 times two; and we are going to come across these numbers often in Solomon's Temple, as well as in the book of Revelation. The number 12 is related to government and rulership; and the number two is related to the corporate relationship in the Body of Christ. And so we hear the 24 elders singing a new song:

"[Thou] hast made us unto our God Kings and priests: And we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10). And though some versions read, "Thou hast made them kings and priests," they were nevertheless singing on behalf of redeemed men in their representative office as kings and priests.

Chapter 3 (Continued) - The Musicians of the Temple
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