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Josiah, the last glorious king before Judah’s lengthy captivity in the hands of the Babylonians, sought the LORD when he was sixteen (v.3) and immediately purged the city and the temple in which was the Name of the LORD (2 Chronicles 6). The cleansing involved the chopping down of altars of Baals (v.4), burning the bones of the priests on their altars as a retribution of the wrath they incurred upon themselves (v.5) and bearing the Asherim and images into powder, cutting down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel (v.7). At 24 years old (v.8), upon cleaning the land, the Law of the LORD was found (v.8-18), commencing a reformation of Israel once again – just as Christ cleansed our hearts so that the law could be written on them (Jeremiah 31:33) and allow the spiritual Israelites to be reminded that the removal of idolatry comes hand in hand with worshipping the true God and find their identity as His collective children. Josiah’s reaction (v.21) is exactly that of a person who understands the implications of not truly following Christ and merely “playing church”, as a worshipper of the LORD who does not have His law. Yet, note the narrator’s decision to state clearly that Josiah had been walking with the LORD since 16; and for 8 years, Josiah had not the law of the LORD to guide Him, yet His mandates were already written on Josiah’s heart by the indwelling Holy Spirit – a reminder that the era before Moses, too, walked with Jesus without the written law.
Note, then, prophetess Huldah’s prophecy on Israel and Judah – that Josiah shall sleep with his fathers (v.28) before witnessing the inevitable tragedy and destruction to fall on Israel. In the wake of this, Josiah immediately worships the LORD by making a covenant with Him, clearly understanding the purpose of the Law is relational and not simply that of a master bidding a slave to merely work.
Josiah’s relationship with the LORD upon Huldah’s prophecy is most importantly marked by his keeping of the Passover through the properly elected divisions and positions of the Levites (v.1-6). Such worship and sacrifice in the face of Israel’s impending disaster (v.7-9)! Note clearly that no Passover of this grandeur and detail to the iota has been kept since the days of Samuel the prophet, indicating that Josiah’s keeping of the Passover is the ending bookend to the book of Samuel which opens the eras of the kings of Israel. The repeating refrain in these verses are “according to the king’s command” and “as it is written in the Book of Moses” / “according to the rule“, which prove that the Law is closely adhered to, by the faithful Christian king’s command at a tender age of 26 years.
Yet, Josiah’s death is sudden and is indeed brought about the the Egyptian king Neco, who himself understands to be carrying out the LORD’s will (v.21-22). It is a strange turn of events, for Neco to state that it would be against His will if Josiah opposes Neco; yet, Huldah had already prophesied that Josiah’s death was the LORD’s grace towards him, in preventing him from seeing Israel’s eventual downfall. Surely, it is not contrary to God’s will that Josiah oppose Neco and is brought to the grave in return? Is it not because of Josiah’s faithfulness to even the smallest iota of the Law that Israel has this temporary peace, and thus the king’s removal is tantamount to the LORD’s eventual disciplining of His elected nation? Observe Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:
“From principles of religion: “God is with me; nay, He commanded me to make haste, and therefore, if thou retard my motions, thou meddlest with God.” It cannot be that the king of Egypt only pretended this (as Sennacherib did in a like case, 2 Kings xviii. 25), hoping thereby to make Josiah desist, because he knew he had a veneration for the word of God; for it is said here ( 22) that the words of Necho were from the mouth of God. We must therefore suppose that either by a dream, or by a strong impulse upon his spirit which he had reason to think was from God, or by Jeremiah or some other prophet, he had ordered him to make war upon the king of Assyria. (3.) From principles of policy: “That he destroy thee not; it is at thy peril if thou engage against one that has not only a better army and a better cause, but God on his side.”
…It was not in wrath to Josiah, whose heart was upright with the Lord his God, but in wrath to a hypocritical nation, who were unworthy of so good a king, that he was so far infatuated as not to hearken to these fair reasonings and desist from his enterprise. He would not turn his face from him, but went in person and fought the Egyptian army in the valley of Megiddo, 22. If perhaps he could not believe that the king of Egypt had a command from God to do what he did, yet, upon his pleading such a command, he ought to have consulted the oracles of God before he went out against him. His not doing that was his great fault, and of fatal consequence. In this matter he walked not in the ways of David his father; for, had it been his case, he would have enquired of the Lord, Shall I go up? Wilt thou deliver them into my hands? How can we think to prosper in our ways if we do not acknowledge God in them?”
Indeed, Josiah died in the Valley of Megiddo (symbolically called the place of crowns). In further distinction to Matthew Henry’s views, Dev Menon’s commentary on the book of Revelations (chapter 16:15-16) reveals that Josiah’s death at Megiddo is prophetic of a greater death:
” The victory is assured – the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”
Josiah’s death is therefore compared in Zechariah 12 to the death of Christ; and it is in the death of Christ that the disciples were scattered, albeit for 3 days and 3 nights. It is this short, dark period that the remainder of the Old Testament points towards – the fall and scattering of Israel until Christ’s resurrection, when similarly the Church is restored and shines gloriously. Here, Josiah’s death prompts the inevitable downfall of Israel, as he is pierced in God’s plan by a Gentile, just as the first Passover was held in Egypt – the same Passover which only king Josiah has kept since the day of Samuel’s leadership.
In this short chapter we see an usurping of the throne of Josiah’s appointed son (v.2-3), followed by the folly of Eliakim (raised up by God) / Jehoiakim (brother of Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, renamed as Jehoiakim – whom Jehovah sets up, as a mockery that the king of Egypt is Jehovah), and his son Jehoiachin (v.8-9, whom Jehovah has appointed), and Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah (justice of the LORD) – the narrator intentionally grouping the three kings together as having hard hearts against the LORD (v.13), leading to Israel’s unfaithfulness (v.14) and failure to keep and protect the house of the LORD (v.7, 14). Yet, despite His unwavering steadfast love (v.15-16), they kept mocking the messengers of God.
It is in Israel’s own rejection of God that the house of the LORD is destroyed, just as the body of Christ had to be destroyed before being re-built (John 2). So this temporary destruction of the house is but a prophecy of Israel’s own rejection of Christ, leading to the destruction of the true temple of God – Jesus’ body – just so we could be baptized in Christ’s death and raised in His resurrection (Romans 6:3), just as the Israelites are now scattered and baptised in Christ’s death, and whether they resurrect with His glory or not depends on whether they cling onto Christ or their empty religion for the generations to come.
This resurrection of Israel, akin to Christ’s resurrection, is described at the end of 2 Chronicles which is a sweeter note than that of 2 Kings. Where in 2 Kings 25 we see a description of grace falling on Jehoiachin, both books of Chronicles’ intention is on a larger scale beyond that of microscopic mercy; rather, Chronicles detail the macroscope of the importance of the priesthood, and the victories of the kings when the priesthood and the Levites are restored to their proper duty – with the temple and Jerusalem being once again the focus of Israel’s identity (c.f. 2 Chronicles 26), given their dual importance as the place of Christ’s work on the cross and a multimedia presentation of the gospel respectively. Jeremiah’s positive prophecy concerning Israel is therefore not surprising, and had been fulfilled (v.21-22), for Israel’s captivity is but a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on the cross leading to the scattering of the disciples. That time of darkness was merely temporary. Similarly, Babylon’s captivity would end under Persia eventual leadership, and Cyrus’ decision to release the Israelites and rebuild the destroyed house in Judah. Here, for the first time, the Gentiles are not merely contributing to the house of God (i.e. Sheba / other kings paying tributes to Israel in the past) – but Cyrus is proactively commissioning Israelites to rebuild the temple, a foreshadowing of the global evangelism involving both Jews and Gentiles in building up the dwelling place of God on earth. That is the hope we are left with at the end of 2 Chronicles, that not only Israel, but also the Gentiles, are workers of the resurrected global House of the LORD – but not until after being exiled and banished in the wake of the crucifixion of Josiah, a type of Christ.
II Kings 23:
1 Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.
2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.
The reformation of king Josiah therefore continues – for the first time in many decades is it recorded that a king would make a covenant before the LORD and with all the people joining in the covenant. This is truly a shadow of the propitiatory penal substitution of Christ, our King who made a covenant with the Father and that we should join in this same covenant (John 17). For who can love God with all his heart and all his soul except the Son who is at the Father’s bosom, at the Father’s side, before creation (John 1:18)?
4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.
5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.
6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.
7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.
9 However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.
11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
14 And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.
15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.
Verses 4 to 15 are beautiful – they are reminiscent of the work of the judges (c.f. Gideon, Judges 6) at a greater scale, the destruction of all idols leaving but the one appointed bronze altar as a reminder that there is but one sacrifice (Ephesians 4:5). Verses 4-6 and 10 are reminders that Kidron (turbid) valley is the same place where Jesus was betrayed (John 18); and it is in this same place that David mourned (2 Samuel 15:23) as his own kin Absalom betrayed him. So also here, the Kidron is a place of impurity, bearing witness to the sins of Israel and its idolatries and prostitution. Indeed, it is not a place of clarity – but it is muddy, turbid, unclear, filled with corruption.
Rightly should Josiah go on to defile Topheth (v.10), named as such as it became a place of burning, a drum, in the Valley of the Son of Lamentation (Hinnom), lamenting the death of the sons and daughters offered to Molech. Thus also the idols of even king Solomon and Jeroboam were destroyed – the abomination of the Sidonians, Moab, and Ammonites (c.f. Deuteronomy 18:9; 20:18).
16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.
17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.”
18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.
19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel.
20 And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
The cleansing is thorough – and Josiah thus fulfils the prophecy made in 1 Kings 13:2-3, the prophecy made against the line of Jeroboam which many sinful kings have walked in, implying an end to the evil king’s corruption spreading throughout Israel. Josiah knows that this man is indeed a man of God, contrary to the recipients of his cleansing in the previous verses – indeed, “Let him be; let no man move his bones”. His bones shall not be defiled (1 Kings 13:32). Thus, the bones are preserved, not because cremation is a practice not for Christians; rather, the burning of the human bones on the same altars built by these sinful men is a pronouncement of the LORD’s judgment against them. These men did not accept the sacrifice of the one lamb, the one LORD, Christ – and instead, they stand outside of htem whereby they too shall receive the wrath of the Father that Christ did on the cross. Shall we, too, be burned on our own altars for presumptuously relying on more than the cross? Or shall we look only to the sacrificial scapegoat, the slaughtered Lamb, and remember that He is sufficient in his propitiatory work? Josiah’s reformation and specific acts are a timely reminder to look only to Christ, our Passover Lamb, and remember that is sufficient in a time of zealous but empty religiosity:
21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”
22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.
23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.
24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.
There is indeed no king like Josiah, following after the words of Deuteronomy 18. As is the fitting description in 2 Chronicles 34:33 – “33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.” The Passover was of such significance to Josiah that “no passover like it has been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” (c.f. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, especially v. 18). It is a depressing state of events, where no king has kept such as Passover as was kept by Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:19).
ALL his days they did not turn away – what a glorious period, perhaps even greater than the period of Solomon who had ushered in idolatry even during his time. Yet, the LORD’s wrath is not turned – for Josiah is but a king, and Christ is the true king who shall usher in the end times of reformation and sanctification until His second return. Josiah’s name is not enough – Christ’s name is the one that the LORD wishes to imprint into Jerusalem, after it is refined through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity:
26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.
27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
29 In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.
30 And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.
Although not fully recorded in 2 Kings 23, the death of Josiah is perhaps more fully explained in 2 Chronicles 35:
“20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah went out to meet him. 21 But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22 Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25 Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his good deeds according to what is written in the Law of the LORD, 27 and his acts, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”
We see that Josiah entered into a quarrel that was not against Israel, but against the king of Assyria (also recorded in v.29 of this chapter). What we see increasingly, however, is the LORD working through these neighbouring nations to bring a (temporary) end to Israel (c.f. 2 Kings 24:3). It is indeed the LORD’s plan to pit Neco and Assyria against one another, and Josiah’s intervention is arguably part of the LORD’s plan too, in fulfillment of His own prophecy (c.f. 2 Kings 22:20). His death is neither untimely nor abrupt – it is intentional, for it shows Josiah’s powerlessness as the type of Christ against the LORD’s allowance that chaos and darkness reign before the incarnation of the Light of lights (Genesis 1:2-3). The senselessness of the death of Josiah is but a firm reminder that even in a holy man like Josiah, in direct contrast to Manasseh, that salvation was never through the kings but through Christ alone, the Passover Lamb Whom Josiah looked forward to.
See Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:
“Notwithstanding this he was cut off by a violent death in the midst of his days, and his kingdom was ruined within a few years after. Consequent upon such a reformation as this, one would have expected nothing but the prosperity and glory both of king and kingdom; but, quite contrary, we find both under a cloud… Yet even this destruction was intended to be their effectual reformation; so that we must say, not only that the criminals had filled their measure and were ripe for ruin, but also that the disease had come to a crisis, and was ready for a cure; and this shall be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin. As an evidence of this, even the reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness–in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil which was coming upon his kingdom, but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations. The king of Egypt waged war, it seems, with the king of Assyria: so the king of Babylon is now called. Josiah’s kingdom lay between them. He therefore thought himself concerned to oppose the king of Egypt, and check the growing, threatening, greatness of his power; for though, at this time, he protested that he had no design against Josiah, yet, if he should prevail to unite the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates, the land of Judah would soon be overflowed between them. Therefore Josiah went against him, and was killed in the first engagement, 29, 30. Here, (1.) We cannot justify Josiah’s conduct. He had no clear call to engage in this war, nor do we find that he asked counsel of God by urim or prophets concerning it. What had he to do to appear and act as a friend and ally to the king of Assyria? Should he help the ungodly and love those that hate the Lord? If the kings of Egypt and Assyria quarrelled, he had reason to think God would bring good out of it to him and his people, by making them instrumental to weaken one another. Some understand the promise made to him that he should come to his grave in peace in a sense in which it was not performed because, by his miscarriage in this matter, he forfeited the benefit of it. God has promised to keep us in all our ways; but, if we go out of our way, we throw ourselves out of his protection. I understand the promise so as that I believe it was fulfilled, for he died in peace with God and his own conscience, and saw not, nor had any immediate prospect of, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; yet I understand the providence to be a rebuke to him for his rashness… We must adore God’s righteousness in taking away such a jewel from an unthankful people that knew not how to value it. They greatly lamented his death (2 Chron. xxxv. 25), urged to it by Jeremiah, who told them the meaning of it, and what a threatening omen it was; but they had not made a due improvement of the mercies they enjoyed by his life, of which God taught them the worth by the want.”
However, this is not a senselessness without hope. The victory of Christ is assured. In the words of Dev Menon in his commentary on Revelation: “… the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.” In the midst of the battle between Assyria and Egypt, Megiddo is the place of the cross where the restoration of New Jerusalem begins and the refinement of creation leads to the destruction of those standing outside of Christ. However, for now, not yet.
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.
Thus, Jehoahaz (whom the LORD sustains), the son of Josiah is anointed by the people, although walking in the ways rejected by His father. He is immediately placed under bonds in Riblah in the land of Hamath and made the land a tributary to Egypt. Instead, Pharoah Neco takes away the anointed son, and opts for Eliakim (raised up by God) changing his name to Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah sets up / resurrects). There is, however, a question over why Pharoah Neco would change Eliakim’s name (which already is in reverence to the LORD) except to indicate that the Pharoah indeed believes he is the LORD who set up Eliakim – not the LORD who anointed Jehoahaz and the kings before him. The Pharoah, in understanding the hope of the Israelites, has thus removed any anointed son of God, any potential Messiah, and instead opted for his own king whom he set up and through whom would do Pharoah Neco’s bidding. Yet, there will come a day where the true Jehoiakim, whom the Father resurrects, the Anointed Son that will be itself a kingdom of heaven and earth for all other nations to be spiritual tributaries to it (Isaiah 2:2-5).
36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
II Kings 24:
1 In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.
2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,
4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.
5 Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.
7 And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.
Israel’s return to slavery in Egypt is a reversal of the events of Exodus – and once again, the nation is enslaved even further into the hands of the Babylonians. This is because the anointed kings have not walked in the ways of David the type of Christ – shedding innocent blood when they should be relying on the blood of the Lamb. Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, Jehoiachin, the son of brass (Nehushta c.f. 2 Kings 18:4) continues to reign in evil as the darkest time of Israel ushers near.
8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it,
12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign
13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold.
Thus, the work of Josiah is undone (2 Kings 22-23), the treasures of the house of the LORD removed and cut in pieces (c.f. Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Kings 20:17). Note in particular the LORD’s usage of Nebuchadnezzar in relation to Israel as observed by Adam Clarke:
“It has been remarked that Nebuchadnezzar spoiled the temple three times.-1. He took away the greater part of those treasures when he took
Jerusalem under Jehoiakim: and the vessels that he took then he placed in the temple of his god, Da 1:2. And these were the vessels which Belshazzar profaned, Da 5:2; and which Cyrus restored to Ezra, when he went up to Jerusalem, Ezr 1:2. It was at this time that he took Daniel and his companions. 2. He took the remaining part of those vessels, and broke them or cut them in pieces, when he came the second tine against Jerusalem under Jeconiah; as is mentioned here, 2Ki 24:13. 3. He pillaged the temple, took away all the brass, the brazen pillars, brazen vessels, and vessels of gold and silver, which he found there when he besieged Jerusalem under Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:13-17.”
14 He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.
15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
16 And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war.
17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
19 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
20 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
In similar manner to the replacement of Jehoahaz, so also Jehoiachin is replaced by another – Mattaniah (gift of Jehovah), whose name is changed to Zedekiah (justice of Jehovah) – ironically so, as this justice is believed by the king of Babylon to be brought by the king who sees himself as Jehovah. What arrogance of Pharoah Neco and the king of Babylon, seeing themselves as the LORD who sets up and the LORD who imparts justice! They will be recipients of such justice when they look upon the victory of the cross at Megiddo, at the place where Josiah was pierced, and regret that they made a mockery of the visible LORD who is resurrected by the LORD of the third heaven.
II Kings 25:
1 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it.
2 So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.
4 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah.
5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him.
6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him.
7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.
Yet, this justice of Jehovah is destroyed – a fulfillment of the wrath of God against Israel, the temporary serving of justice upon the appointed nation. In a time of no food, in the worst time of Israel, the king of Judah was judged – for what reason? Because the kings of Israel did not follow Christ. What irony that the men of Israel went in the direction of the Arabah (burnt up) and Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of fertility (Riblah). The LORD thus passed the just judgment upon Zedekiah as the representative of Israel, through Babylon – the utmost shame of being sentenced by a godless and arrogant nation. Not only the destruction of the king, but also the destruction of the house of the LORD (1 Kings 6) – the house in which the true king shall reign forever. Yet, let us remember – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27) Indeed – the house of the LORD is not this pitiful temple (which is but a shadow, a temporary rendition of the heavenly home) but the new dwelling place that the LORD is preparing for us (John 14:2-3).
8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.
10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.
12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
13 And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon.
14 And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service,
15 the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver.
16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework.
18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold,
19 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city, and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city.
20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.
21 And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
Note the brief description of the items in the house of the LORD – the gold, the silver, the bronze – the pillars of the House (Jachin and Boaz, He shall establish and alacrity respectively), and the chief priest Seraiah (prince of the LORD) and Zephaniah (hidden by Jehovah) – all struck down and put to death at the land of fertility (Riblah). The irony. Thus, Judah was taken into exile – the hope of the LORD, the offspring of Adam (Genesis 3:15), the gospel at an end.
Yet, that is not true – for the LORD’s kingdom shall be established; no matter how dark the chaos, the light shall reign – the light shall defeat darkness without contention. Although neither Zedekiah nor the house stand in the face of such oppression, let us remember the hope that the LORD has given to David:
2 Samuel 7:11-16 – “And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.
12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,
15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.
16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
He is not Solomon – He is the Christ, who shall build a house for His Father, preparing rooms for His co-heirs, establishing the throne of the Father’s kingdom forever. Christ is His Son, disciplined by the rod of men on the cross when he bore our sins – the piercing being the stripes of the sons of men, but His Father’s love never departing the Messiah. Thus, and only on that day, shall the kingdom of Christ reign forever – his throne established forever. The grand plan of the Messiah shall come to fruition.
22 And over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor.
23 Now when all the captains and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite.
24 And Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.”
25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck down Gedaliah and put him to death along with the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.
26 Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
In the seventh month, the month of Tishri (the same month as the Day of Atonement; c.f. Leviticus 23:27), the month of beginnings, Ishmael of the royal family came with ten men and struck down the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, at Mizpah (the watch-tower). This is a time of waiting, a time when the people – both small and great – scattered to Egypt for they were afraid of the Babylonians / Chaldeans.
Now, we turn to the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah (decades since 2 Kings 24). The time skip is between v.26 to v.27, for the narrator wants us to be reminded of the hope of 2 Samuel 7 – that, in the twelfth month, before Nisan – the month of the Passover, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Evil-merodach, the fool of death) freed Jehoiachin. Instead of Zedekiah, the narrator chose to look at the grace bestowed upon Jehoiachin, whom Jehovah has appointed, as this king of Judah is freed from the pit and was given a seat above the seats of the kings in Babylon. Jehoiachin is thus no longer a prisoner, but walks with his head higher than the kings.
27 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.
28 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.
29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table,
30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.
Yet, what led us to this place? What led us to Evil-merodach’s change of heart from Nebuchadnezzar? This is a story left for the next books, revealing much more of God’s plan of redemption through Christ, the restoration of His house (2 Chronicles 36:22-23), and the ushering of His Son’s incarnation.
1And behold,(A) a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar(B) to make offerings. 2(C) And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David,(D) Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.'” 3And he gave(E) a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.'”
Who this ‘man of God’ is, we are not told. Just as mysterious as Melchizedek was, so this man of God bears no name unlike Shemaiah from the previous chapter. What is key, however, is the precise description of his background, and the precision of his prophecy – a godly man from Judah, brought by God’s word to the house of God (Bethel), to proclaim against the false altar that a son of David, Josiah, shall destroy this false system of worship. The predominate man of God is Jesus Christ Himself – as if this shadow of a godly messenger points us towards Christ, the man of Judah, the son of David, who himself shall also destroy this false system of worship. Not by destruction of a mere altar in this mock-house of God, but a destruction of the house of God itself – the tearing down not of a mere altar (v.3) but the tearing down of the House of God (John 2:19). Yet, the high priest that is sacrificed on this House of God, this Temple of the LORD built by Solomon’s hand and rebuilt time and time again, is Jesus Himself.
4And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. 6And the king said to the man of God,(F) “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. 7And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and(G) I will give you a reward.” 8And the man of God said to the king,(H) “If you give me half your house,(I) I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, 9for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.'” 10So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.
This dried hand is but the true diagnosis of Jeroboam – dried up and lifeless (Ezekiel 37:11) – and only such healing could be achieved by the LORD Jesus (Jeremiah 8:22; Matthew 9:12). Note, however, that Jeroboam does not pray to receive the LORD’s mercy, or the love of Christ – instead, he merely prays in v.6 that he may simply have his hand restored. This is the classic sign of religion, that Christ is the means, and not the end. In the words of Matthew Henry:
“Jeroboam’s inability to pull in his hand made him a spectacle to all about him, that they might see and fear. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful.
But observe, He did not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, only that his hand might be restored; thus Pharaoh would have Moses to pray that God would take away this death only (Ex. 10:17), not this sin. ”
And so this man of God rightly refuses fellowship with this king, who remains hard-hearted, stiff-necked, as according to the LORD’s command (v.9). From v.1-10 thus far, the only faithful trustworthy figure has been the LORD Himself, using his agent (the man of God) to mercifully warn Jeroboam that He stays true to His word, demonstrated by the tearing down of the altar and ashes pouring out. This is but the first fulfilment – the true horror is that the LORD knows Jeroboam would rebuild the altar despite this first sign, for it is on the rebuilt altar that Josiah will “sacrifice on you [the altar] the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.” Thus, this horror is Jeroboam’s self-judgment – denying the first sign, denying the LORD’s faithfulness to His word and promises that Jeroboam’s false system of worship, false system of priesthood – Jeroboam himself, will all fall.
However, this faithfulness of the LORD means that the warning given to the man of God will also be fulfilled against the man of God should he be disobedient, though confirming the consistent truth that He is faithful; but we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).
11Now(J) an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons[a] came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. 12And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. 14And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16And he said,(K) “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17for it was said to me(L) by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.'” 18And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'” But he lied to him. 19So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.
What plays out here is a close parallel to the history of garden of Eden. This old prophet lies in v.18, for the LORD does not contradict His own word to the man of God – yet this man of God chose to heed the false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:3-5), and broke the two-fold command: not to return to Bethel, and not to have food fellowship during his mission. Just as Eve received the command not to eat the forbidden fruit, so also she was deceived and did not stay faithful to the word of God and instead heeded the word of a creature. Thus, the liar (v.18) triumphed over the man of God. Witness the result of the liar’s words:
20And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, 22but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'” 23And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24And as he went away(M) a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where(N) the old prophet lived.
How strange that the false prophet, like Balaam, is prophesying the truth (v.20-22) against this holy man! The donkey which this false prophet rode is instead ridden by Christ into the wilderness (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:14-15) – it is a picture of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:22), the sin of the old prophet transferred onto the man of God; the declaration that the man of God has sinned, but the old prophet and Jeroboam remain unscathed. And that is the alarming aspect of these chapters and feud between Israel and Judah; neither king stood in Christ, though Shemaiah and this man of God had clearly spoken words of truth. Yet, only the LORD has been faithful throughout, and v.23-25 is a clear example of the LORD fulfilling his warning, v.24 and 25 (and v.28 – with particular emphasis on “the lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey”) in particular showing that once the animals have killed the man of God, they have refrained from mauling him further. This is a picture of the foolishness of man’s lust, in the donkey, against the picture of the devil prowling like a lion (1 Peter 5:8). As Dev Menon states in his “Donkeys” blog entry:
“Genesis 16:12 – He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Ishmael)
Jeremiah 2:24 – a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her. (Israel)
Hosea 8:9 – For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey wandering alone; Ephraim has hired lovers.
Genesis 49:14-15 – “Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. 15 He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor. (blessings from Jacob)
Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Jesus tames the wild donkey lusting after everything, living alone…
She was chained up by the law, restraining the lust – but still rebellious
Untied by the Master, she willingly bears this Burden
She carries Him to the cross….”
Thus, the donkey brings the man of God, full of sin because of the false prophet’s deception, ‘devoured’ by the prowling lion, the picture of him sprawled across the road in between the two inanimate animals. This is our Saviour, the Son of Man, who bore our sins for us. Though this man of God has disobeyed, the parallel here is that the Son of Man obeyed till his death, bearing our sins upon him until he cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” (Mark 15:34).
26And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the LORD spoke to him.” 27And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it. 28And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. 29And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city[b] to mourn and to bury him. 30And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying,(O) “Alas, my brother!” 31And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried;(P) lay my bones beside his bones. 32(Q) For the saying that he called out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against(R) all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of(S) Samaria shall surely come to pass.”
It is strange here therefore for the prophet to want to be buried with the man of God – save for only one apparent reason, that this prophet should partake in the man of God’s glory – v.32 – “For the saying that he called out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass”. What privilege it is, therefore, that this prophet is buried with the man of God just as we are called to bury our old sinful lives of falsehood (Colossians 2:12) and rise in His truth, demonstrated through this man of God who is but a shadow of Christ, a prophet of the Old Testament pointing to God’s faithfulness to His overarching promise that judgment will be declared against the altars and false worship of this world by the very return of His true son Josiah, in the name of Christ Jesus. Thus Adam Clarke states, “This argues a strong conviction in the mind of the old prophet, that the deceased was a good and holy man of God; and he is willing to have place with him in the general resurrection.” And so the old prophet joins in the man of God’s prophesying, by himself prophesying the judgment in the cities of Samaria (though Samaria is not yet established until 1 Kings 16:24!), a display of the restoration of Israel spreading out to the surrounding Gentile nations (Isaiah 54:2-3).
33After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34(T) And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam,(U) so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
And how unsurprising that despite hearing the LORD’s faithfulness enacted against the man of God Himself, just as the Father’s wrath had been poured out onto the Son – the cosmic sacrifice of His only begotten Son (Genesis 22), that the man of God should have his Last Supper with the false prophet, drinking the cup of wrath upon Himself (Isaiah 51:17; Matthew 26:39) and being the living scapegoat, dying by the judgment at the house of God (Bethel) – prophesying the day that the altar shall be smashed once and for all, just as the true House of God is torn down by the Son who died not where he came, but will return to a renewed Jerusalem one glorious day. That glorious day, for Josiah, is in 2 Kings 23:15-20, approximately 350 (half of the fullness of 700 years) years after 1 Kings 13:
15Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected(BD) by Jeroboam the son of Nebat,(BE) who made Israel to sin,(BF) that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned,[d] reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. 16And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it,(BG) according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. 17Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him,(BH) “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted[e] these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” 18And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones(BI) of the prophet who came out of Samaria. 19And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were(BJ) in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. 20And(BK) he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars,(BL) and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
1(A) Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes,(B) the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem,(C) to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of(D) the city of David, which is Zion. 2And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at(E) the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3And all the elders of Israel came, and(F) the priests took up the ark. 4And they brought up the ark of the LORD,(G) the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark,(H) sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 6(I) Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD(J) to its place in(K) the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8(L) And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before(M) the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 9There was nothing in the ark except(N) the two tablets of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, where(O) the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10And when the priests came out of the Holy Place,(P) a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.
After 2 chapters of describing the monumental significance of the Temple, the build-up inevitably leads to one very stark question – what is the LORD’s purpose for the Temple, and more importantly, where is the LORD in relation to the Temple?
This one question, uniting the LORD’s purpose and the LORD Himself to the Temple, is found firstly in Solomon’s worship of the LORD and the LORD’s response to Solomon’s worship. We begin chapter 8 with Solomon assembling all the elders, heads and leaders to bring up the ark of covenant out of the city of David. Of all the furniture in the Temple, the ark is the only item which is brought from the tabernacle to the Temple, whereas all the other items of the tabernacle are effectively replaced by the Temple. It is important for us to see here that the ark is taken from the city of David, Zion, and brought to Jerusalem. Although geographically different places, throughout the Word we learn that Zion and Jerusalem are identified as one and the same (soon thereafter Zion is the metonym for Israel and the Promised Land c.f. Psalm 147:12; Isaiah 2:3, 4:3-4, 24:23, Zechariah 8:3, 9:9 – though Jerusalem is the very name of the new city which we will inherit in new creation, c.f. Revelation 3:12; 21, whereas Zion is referred to as the Mount where the Lamb dwells (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1)). It is significant for us to therefore recognize that the Temple is not built on Mount Zion, but rather is built on the very threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite where the LORD appeared to David and where the LORD will appear as prophesied by Abraham in Genesis 22 concerning Moriah in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1).
Furthermore, this inauguration of the Temple takes place in the month of Tishri (before the Babylonian captivity, called Ethanim here (v.2)), both names bearing the significance of “strength” and “beginning”, the Feast of Booths, Day of Atonement, creation and fall of Adam and Eve, the dove’s final mission to obtain the olive branch (Genesis 8), the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22); the provision of the second set of tablets (on 10th Tishri) and finally the erecting of the tabernacle itself on the first day of this month (Exodus 40:2) tells us that the inauguration of the Temple bears the full weight of the events of this month. The Temple is not only a “renewal” of the tabernacle (though no longer mobile, but steadily built into the ground of Moriah), but it is also the House of the LORD where both Feast and Atonement occurs, where the fall of Adam and Eve is undone, where new creation and firstfruit of the olive branch is truly witnessed (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), where the prophecy of Abraham is fulfilled, where the first set of Mosaic law shall be shattered and fulfilled in the second set’s focus on the eternal Promised Land:
“The 2 stone tablets on which the Ten Words rest, represent the dual witness to Christ Himself, the Rock, the basis of all the Law, who will be shattered for our sins that we may be spared, like the temple, His body will be renewed, made again. During that time Moses intercedes for the people and the glory of the Lord is revealed, all testifying to the works of oblation and intercession of Christ on the cross. Thus the 2nd giving of the Decalogue is differently quoted from the first: Deuteronomy 5:13-16 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The Sabbath is refocused on the new land, the new creation instead of on the first creation, and now things will go ‘well’ in that land.” – Dev Menon in “Law and Gospel” essay
Thus, taking us in an upward spiral through to the Temple’s establishment.
However, unlike Exodus 35:20-29 where the Israelites’ have collectively contributed to the materials of the tabernacle, there is nothing of that sort here. Instead, it is the two Hirams and the hired workers who contribute the material; even David’s gold and treasures had to be stored (in 2 Chronicles 5:1) as Solomon did not exhaust them in the building of the Temple. Contrarily, the tabernacle was finished with a very immediate entry of the glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38), though here we witness in v.5 a grand sacrifice, the very first thing which comes to the mind of these many men in their worship of God. In their free-will offering, they offer up lambs and sheep without blemish, such innocent creatures, providing the propitiatory image to us of the Temple. Innocent blood is spilled as the first human act prior to the instatement of the ark in the Temple from Mount Zion, just as Christ’s blood was spilled prior to the Father and the Lamb’s entry into New Jerusalem from the Holy Hill of Zion.
Thus, v.6-8 sees the mediatory nature of the cherubim between us and the ark – as if acting as a barrier or a protection between us and the item which represents the holy Father (c.f. 2 Samuel 6:8, Uzzah’s death), His sent ones often acting on behalf of the Father to speak with us. And in the extension of the poles into the Holy Place but not visible from the outside, so we also peer into the secrets of new creation as Christians standing in the Holy Catholic Church, represented by the Holy Place; yet only the Son who now stands in the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 8-9) is in the immediate and physical presence of the Father, compared to our present firstfruit yet dimness of the Father’s glory (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
Finally, only once the ark has entered the Holy of Holies that the glory of the LORD, like a cloud, filled up the entire house (akin to Exodus 40, the establishment of the tabernacle). Yet – it should be interesting to note the contrast between the author of Hebrews (chapter 9:4) and the author of 1 Kings. It is specifically stated in v.9 that there is only the Mosaic tablets; yet what of the jar of manna and Aaron’s staff which the writer of Hebrews focuses on? Some views on this matter:
But he says that the pot in which Moses had deposited the manna, and Aaron’s rod which had budded, were in the ark with the two tables; but this seems inconsistent with sacred history, which in 1 King s 8:9, relates that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables. But it is easy to reconcile these two passages: God had commanded the pot and Aaron’s rod to be laid up before the testimony; it is hence probable that they were deposited in the ark, together with the tables. But when the Temple was built, these things were arranged in a different order, and certain history relates it as a thing new that the ark had nothing else but the two tables. – John Calvin
Though it may be due to the actual perspective and angle on viewing the items in and around the ark as John Calvin suggests (and depending on the time difference between what the writer of Hebrews understood to be in the ark and what was initially the case in 1 Kings 8), Matthew Henry visits the more spiritual reasoning behind these items:
This typified Christ, his perfect obedience to the law and his fulfilling of all righteousness for us. Now here we are told both what was in this ark and what was over it. [1.] What was in it. First, The golden pot that had manna, which, when preserved by the Israelites in their own houses, contrary to the command of God, presently putrefied; but now, being by God’s appointment deposited here in this house, was kept from putrefaction, always pure and sweet; and this to teach us that it is only in Christ that our persons, our graces, our performances are kept pure. It was also a type of the bread of life we have in Christ, the true ambrosia that gives immortality. This was also a memorial of God’s miraculously feeding his people in the wilderness, that they might never forget such signal favour, nor distrust God for the time to come. Secondly, Aaron’s rod that budded, and thereby showed that God had chosen him of the tribe of Levi to minister before him of all the tribes of Israel, and so an end was put to the murmuring of the people, and to their attempt to invade the priest’s office, Num. xvii. This was that rod of God with which Moses and Aaron wrought such wonders; and this was a type of Christ, who is styled the man, the branch (Zech. vi. 12), by whom God has wrought wonders for the spiritual deliverance, defence, and supply of his people, and for the destruction of their enemies. It was a type of divine justice, by which Christ the Rock was smitten, and from whom the cool refreshing waters of life flow into our souls. Thirdly, The tables of the covenant, in which the moral law was written, signifying the regard God has to the preservation of his holy law, and the care we all ought to have that we keep the law of God–that this we can only do in and through Christ, by strength from him nor can our obedience by accepted but through him. [2.] What was over the ark ( 5): Over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat. First, The mercy-seat, which was the covering of the ark; it was called the propitiatory, and it was of pure gold, as long and as broad as the ark in which the tables of the law were laid. It was an eminent type of Christ, and of his perfect righteousness, ever adequate to the dimensions of the law of God, and covering all our transgressions, interposing between the Shechinah, or symbol of God’s presence, and our sinful failures, and covering them. Secondly, The cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat, representing the holy angels of God, who take pleasure in looking into the great work of our redemption by Christ, and are ready to perform every good office, under the Redeemer, for those who are the heirs of salvation. The angels attended Christ at his birth, in his temptation, under his agonies, at his resurrection, and in his ascension, and will attend his second coming. God manifest in the flesh was seen, observed, visited, by the angels. – Matthew Henry
Yet, what I find fascinating is that all three items, the branch of Aaron (Numbers 17), the manna (Exodus 16), and the two tablets (Exodus 32-34) renewed are all sources of Israel’s shame, rather than Israel’s pride. Their rebellion against God in all three circumstances remind us of the Father’s judgment; and rightly the three items represent three key events in Israel’s history, prior to their entry into the Promised Land and securing Moriah for Christ’s fulfillment, which prophesy the stripping down of Israel to her knees in anticipation of the Messiah who is the firstfruit, the bread of life, and the fulfillment of the New Covenant. It is unimportant at what stage the Hebrews writer saw the three items in the Temple, whether it is in the construction of the Temple in 1 Kings 8, or whether some period further on – the key unshakeable understanding here is the sin of Israel cast within and under the very mercy seat of the ark of covenant, highlighting the Father’s mercy towards Israel, but not without the blood of sacrifice first.
Hence v.10-11 remind us that the cloud of the LORD is used as a veil and a protective covering (Psalm 105:38), just like the pillar of fire by night. Yet, both rain of clouds and fire of the pillar are emblems of the first Noahic judgment and the coming global judgment of the world. It is in this joint imagery of Temple establishment and impressive but bloody sacrificial offering of the innocent; mercy seat and Israel’s shame; and finally the cloud of the LORD (c.f. 2 Samuel 22:12; Psalm 18:11; compared against the pillar of fire) that we see a grander picture of the seemingly paradoxical ways of the LORD in uniting these dichotomies together under the name of Christ.
12(Q) Then Solomon said, “The LORD[a] has said that he would dwell(R) in thick darkness. 13(S) I have indeed built you an exalted house,(T) a place for you to dwell in forever.” 14Then the king turned around and(U) blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15And he said,(V) “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled(W) what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, 16(X) ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house,(Y) that my name might be there.(Z) But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17(AA) Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18But the LORD said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19(AB) Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20Now the LORD has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel,(AC) as the LORD promised, and I have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21And there I have provided a place for the ark,(AD) in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
It is also interesting to witness Solomon’s thinking here – does he really believe that the LORD who dwells in such dread-inducing, awesome but fearful thick darkness (Isaiah 8:22; 60:2; Zephaniah 1:15) will truly dwell in this man-made house? Of course not (see v.27). It is entirely the mercy of the LORD’s and the outward pouring love between the Father and the Son (John 17) that the Father comes to dwell with us after the Son’s first humiliation. Yet in the day that the Father dwells with us, He shall no longer be the very same darkness which plagued the land in Christ’s death (Acts 2:20); rather, He shall be the everlasting light (Revelation 22:5). Even the very Hebrew phrasing of v.20 here, “Now the LORD has fulfilled his promise that he made” is better fitted if we were faithful to the verb quwm (יקם) which suggests that the LORD is arising / accomplishing this very promise that he made, but it is not necessarily already complete or fulfilled as the ESV indicates.
22Then Solomon(AE) stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and(AF) spread out his hands toward heaven, 23and said, “O LORD, God of Israel,(AG) there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath,(AH) keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him.(AI) You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. 25Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying,(AJ) ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26(AK) Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father.
What we then see is a picture of humility, the bookends of this doctrinal prayer and plea beginning in v.22 and ending in v.54, the transition from Solomon standing before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, with hands widespread toward heaven, to kneeling with hands outstretched toward heaven. Here is the mark of the man who begs for the LORD’s acceptance of the Temple – a man who seeks the LORD’s mercy and His Presence to grace the Temple, for the Temple is nothing without His Presence. Like Moses whose arms and hands were spread during battle (Exodus 17:9-13), so also Solomon’s plea is one of weakness in the shape of Christ on the cross, arms widespread and entirely vulnerable to the Father’s will (and man’s abuse):
“For it was not without design that the prophet Moses, when Hur and Aaron upheld his hands, remained in this form until evening. For indeed the Lord remained upon the tree almost until evening, and they buried Him at eventide; then on the third day He rose again. This was declared by David thus: ‘With my voice I cried to the Lord, and He heard me out of His holy hill. I laid me down, and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained me.’ (Psalm 3:4-5) And Isaiah likewise mentions concerning Him the manner in which He would die, thus: ‘I have spread out My hands unto a people disobedient, and gainsaying, that walk in a way which is not good.’(Isa. lxv. 2; comp. also Rom. x. 21.) And that He would rise again, Isaiah himself said: ‘His burial has been taken away from the midst, and I will give the rich for His death.’ (Isa. liii. 9.) And again, in other words, David in the twenty-first (That is, Ps. xxii. 16–18.) Psalm thus refers to the suffering and to the cross in a parable of mystery: ‘They pierced my hands and my feet; they counted all my bones. They considered and gazed on me; they parted my garments among themselves, and cast lots upon my vesture.’ For when they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands248 and feet; and those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots for what he chose to have, and receiving according to the decision of the lot. And this very Psalm you maintain does not refer to Christ; for you are in all respects blind, and do not understand that no one in your nation who has been called King or Christ has ever had his hands or feet pierced while alive, or has died in this mysterious fashion—to wit, by the cross—save this Jesus alone.” – Justin Martyr in “Dialogue with Trypho”, Chapter XCVII.—Other predictions of the cross of Christ.
Solomon rightly states that there is only one LORD in heaven and on earth who keeps covenants – all other “gods” are lifeless, and dead, non-responsive and unable to fulfill promises, testament to Elijah’s battle with the false prophets (1 Kings 18:36-39). Such is the LORD who fulfills promises, the LORD of David (v.25-26), the second king of Israel who never saw the Temple built, just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked forward to the day of the Messiah’s work on the cross, seeing it by the Spirit but long after they have fallen asleep (John 8:56). What is Solomon’s mentality when the LORD promised David these things? On what basis did David “pay close attention to his way” when walking before the LORD as an example to the later kings? Surely this murderer of Uriah, adulterer with Bathsheba, passive contributor to the abuse of Tamar, among several other chronicled sins of his life marks him as perhaps even worse than Saul whose greatest sin seems to have been the unfounded persecution of David?
Yet, it is not David’s own righteousness which Solomon understands. It is the LORD’s righteousness which David inherits; for David did not cease his pursuit of the LORD in spite of his life marred with sin. David need only walk with the LORD, walking in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham (Romans 4:12), walking according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16, 25), walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), walking in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:2), walking in Christ (Colossians 2:6), in the light (1 John 1:7). David had walked in Christ, experienced the mercy of Christ the Angel at the field of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:16), the second LORD of David’s worship (Psalm 110), the Son who should not be denied (Psalm 2) – this is the way in which David walked. So, too, will we be fellow heirs of the Father’s kingdom if we walk in Christ.
27“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold,(AL) heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, 29(AM) that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said,(AN) ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
And what we find in v.27-30 is also very profound. Despite the Pharisees take on the Temple, Solomon, the builder of the Temple himself acknowledged that the man-made Temple cannot possibly contain God! “But will God indeed dwell on earth?”, Solomon proclaimed (v.27)! Yet, note his please in v.28-30 – this is a plea of mercy, a place of worship, a place where His name, Christ, will be there (Acts 19:17). So also this dwelling is prophesied in Ezekiel 37:27, finally fulfilled in new creation (Revelation 21:3) where the LORD’s true dwelling place is with man and not simply to remain in third heaven. So also, the LORD is man’s dwelling place (Psalm 91:9), the beauty of this mutual indwelling phrased by Paul in Ephesians 2:19-21, where the whole structure of the church is joined together, growing into a holy temple of the LORD; and in Him, we are built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Thus, in these times of end days we are growing into that eschatological Temple, the new creation dwelling where both God and man shall dwell forever. And His Name shall be there – Christ shall be there, through Whom we experience the Spirit and the Father in fullness.
Upon noting Solomon and the saints’ Christological take of the true meaning of “God’s dwelling”, the portion of the plea and prayer in v.31-53 outlines Solomon’s thinking based on his theology of God’s merciful dwelling in relation to this symbolic house:
|“swears oath before your altar in this house… hear in heaven… and act and judge and condemn and vindicate and reward”||31-32|
|“turn to your name, pray and plead with you in this house… hear in heaven… and forgive and bring them to the land that you gave”||33-34|
|“pray toward this place… hear in heaven… and forgive, and teach, and grant rain upon your land which you have given to your people as an inheritance”||35-36|
|“plea…stretching out his hands toward this house… hear in heaven your dwelling place… and forgive, and act, and render, in the land that you gave||37-40|
|“pray towards this house… hear in heaven your dwelling place… and do so all may know your name”||41-43|
|“pray toward the city that you have chosen/house built for your name…” then “hear in heaven…and maintain their cause”||44-45|
|“pray toward their land which you gave to their fathers, the city which you have chosen, the house that I have built…”||46-48|
|Then “hear in heaven your dwelling place… maintain their cause… forgive… grant them compassion… (they are your people, your heritage, from the midst of the iron furnace)… open your eyes, give your ears… you separated them when you brought out fathers out of Egypt”||49-53|
A quick summary provides us with such important details which build upon each other – the first few statements which reveal that the Israelites are now to swear bear the altar of the house, turning to His name and praying in the house, praying toward the house, praying toward the city where the house is built, praying toward the land – all in the name of the Saviour of Israel during the great exodus. As Solomon zooms out from the altar (v.31-32) to the land (v.48), we begin to see that this house is symbolic of the salvation of Israel, of the elected church in the Elect Christ, so powerfully demonstrated by the Angel’s guidance out of Egypt through the pillar of cloud and fire. For such salvation extends from personal and intimate, to the congregate (c.f. Joshua 7 – sin of Achan), and it is through this house as a medium that the LORD hears, even in the midst of the iron furnace of the refiner’s fire (Revelation 3:18).
One wonders – why must it be done through this Temple? For Christ is the true Temple (John 2:19), in Whom we dwell and through Whom the mutual indwelling of the Trinity and us could be finally effectuated. Yet, in the day of Christ, the Temple has lost its significance. Rather than a house of invitation, it became a house of rejection; rather than a house of the priesthood of nation of nations, it became a house of isolation. Solomon prayed over the house, that the LORD may mercifully use it as a typological medium between Him and man; yet Solomon, like the Christian saints before him, knew that the true medium, or better yet, Mediator, is the Anointed and Appointed Son and Lamb who will help build the new kingdom (2 Samuel 7) and take our sins away (Genesis 22) like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).
54(BN) Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had(BO) knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. 55And he stood and(BP) blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56“Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised.(BQ) Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. 57The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers.(BR) May he not leave us or forsake us, 58that he may(BS) incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. 59Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, 60that(BT) all the peoples of the earth may know that(BU) the LORD is God; there is no other. 61(BV) Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
And what confidence Solomon has, in the LORD whose promises have never failed (v.56) spoken by Moses his servant; the LORD who inclines our hearts to him (v.58), He who renews us to life beyond our own volition for we are but living corpses (Ezekiel 37). This is the House of the LORD, the House through which (and as a type of the “through Whom”) all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God, [that] there is no other (v.60)!
62(BW) Then(BX) the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD. 63Solomon offered as peace offerings to the LORD 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. 64The same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, for there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat pieces of the peace offerings, because(BY) the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat pieces of the peace offerings.
This chapter thus ends beautifully with v.62-66 – by the peace offering (or better described as the fellowship offering as per the NIV translation of Leviticus 3):
“Of course, we learn much about Jesus through the peace offering, and something about the worshipper as well. The worshipper should give the best portions to the LORD in response to his initiating love for us; yet this “best portion” business stems from Christ offering the best of himself to the LORD. It is the Christ who, as a male young and without blemish, in the prime of his life (~30 years old), who offered himself willingly and voluntarily to appease the wrath of Himself and of His Father against sin and sinner. This offering is one that is given wholeheartedly, expressed through the message of giving the “best portion” of the sacrifice to the LORD…
Eating the offering and the Holy Communion
On the point about eating the offering, the person sacrificing the animal is shown to be allowed to invite brethren to enjoy the meat at the tabernacle in the presence of the Seen God in the Holy of Holies. This is the reason why I think ‘fellowship’ offering is far better than relying on the ESV translation of ‘peace’ offering – because there is now an image of the smaller fellowships of Israel congregating outside the tabernacle, having their self-sacrificial meal with the LORD.
This message is quite profound. Unlike the last two burnt and grain offerings; and the following two concerning sin and guilt offering, the voluntariness and the grounded nature of this offering points to the importance of this offering is a natural outshoot of our Christian lifestyle. Do we want to enjoy our fellowship with God, or do we want to go to ‘heaven’ where God does not preside (i.e. the Islamic heaven)? Do we want to eat with God, or do we want to make God our omnipotent genie?
The fellowship offering therefore points towards the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9 – we will take part in consuming from the same table which the LORD eats; we will take part in consuming from the same food which the LORD partakes.
There is only one time that the fellowship offering is made compulsory, which is the Feast of Pentecost mentioned earlier in Exodus and later in Leviticus 23. I have already spoken that the Feast is one which prophesies the coming of the Holy Spirit, and is a clear expression of the forward looking hope of New Creation – and there is no doubt that this fellowship offering speaks the same message of the Marriage Feast with the LORD which even Exodus 24, the manna, and the bread of presence merely point towards.
As application: the fellowship offering as we know it should be a time of spiritual intimacy and further bonding within the family (Deuteronomy 12:7):
and Jude 12:
12These are hidden reefs[a](A) at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear,(B) shepherds feeding themselves;(C) waterless clouds,(D) swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead,(E) uprooted…
May we try and understand the utter importance of the Holy Communion and that though it is a physical manifestation of the spiritual truth, our LORD isn’t only Spirit, but he is also MAN – and he will come down to eat with us in New Jerusalem in physical form, just as we partake the meal with him in our physical bodies.” – from my commentary on Leviticus 3.
This is but the description of the fulsome peace/fellowship offering; not to mention the consecration of the area in the court, beyond that of the altar, for more burnt and grain offering! So beautiful is the typology of the Temple and Solomon’s understanding of the Temple’s symbolic use that he does not stick to hard religion and understands that all ground can be holy, for the purpose of heart-felt sacrifice which no man-made altar could contain; such is the overflowing mutual love which Christ had hoped from His church (John 17:26), and now we see one of the rarer occasions where this is fulfilled in the Old Testament. And to emphasise this as as an offering of fellowship rather than merely that of peace, note v.65 onwards:
65So Solomon held(BZ) the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from(CA) Lebo-hamath to(CB) the Brook of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days.[c] 66On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to David his servant and to Israel his people.
Can one imagine how glorious this image is, that of the holy golden Temple and House of the LORD taking the central typological stage where the church of Christ stands in relation to this House – a great assembly (להָקָ qel), the Hebrew word for the Greek equivalent of church in the NT (a great ekklesia, “εκκλησια μεγαλη” c.f. LXX translation of 1 Kings 8:65), a full seven on seven days of worship (c.f. LXX which has two weeks, as opposed to one week, of celebration) of the feast of tabernacles, and rejoicing looking to the eighth day of true renewal after the seventh day of Sabbath:
“The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first2061 of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.” – Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho”, Chapter XLI.—The oblation of fine flour was a figure of the Eucharist.
In the words of Matthew Henry whereby “Solomon was herein a type of Christ, the great intercessor for all over whom he rules”, both him and Adam Clarke agree in the LXX interpretation of these final verses, that there is a feast lasting fourteen days (v.65) of the feast of tabernacles after the feast of dedication. What beauty it is to see this joyful feast in relation to the Temple’s replacement of the tabernacle, both after the model of God’s design, both typifying Christ’s work from the Holy Place entering the Holy of Holies, as we await His glorious return from before the veil and the doors separating between us and the Father, finally and truly ripping this veil apart where we will see the Father face-to-face, and have true fellowship with the Trinity.
1[a] Now(A) Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father,(B) for Hiram always loved David. 2And Solomon sent word to Hiram, 3(C) “You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God(D) because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. 4(E) But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune. 5And so I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God,(F) as the LORD said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ 6Now therefore command that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. And my servants will join your servants, and I will pay you for your servants such wages as you set, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.”
“The great work which Solomon was raised up to do was the building of the temple; his wealth and wisdom were given him to qualify him for that. In this, especially, he was to be a type of Christ, for “he shall build the temple of the Lord,”” Zech. vi. 12 (Matthew Henry). Indeed, this is how the chapter begins. Observe here that the subject of this chapter, after the wondrous insight into Solomon’s newly received Wisdom especially laid out by the end of chapter 4, is the very masterpiece and privilege which only this king could have. David who had retrieved the neglected ark (2 Samuel 6) had shared with Hiram in the past the concern of building a house for the name of the LORD (v.3 – “You know that David…”). Though the narrative in 2 Samuel does not record this in length (2 Samuel 7), this is recorded in 2 Chronicles 28 – and we see that the primary reason is because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him (v.3) as Solomon explains in this chapter.
This implies that only one king in Israel has been suited to fulfil this role. Even to David’s dying day, he still had trouble securing peace and safety for Israel, whether externally or internally. Yet, in all the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4), rest is given on every side (v.4). It is therefore imperative that rest precedes the building of the house of the LORD; but the tabernacle was built in the wilderness. The contrast is important in understanding the purpose behind the two – for the tabernacle is but a representative of the moving presence of the LORD (Exodus 33), the very heart of the tribes surrounding it when it travels (Numbers 14:14; Nehemiah 9); yet, the First Temple is deliberately more concrete with a strong foundation for it represents the New Creation temple (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 21) after the wilderness of the end days, after the wilderness of Israel and the church, when we have finally, safely, and peacefully rested in true Canaan.
V.5 is therefore a prophecy which relates exclusively to Solomon, the shadow of Christ. No one else can build this house but Christ; no hand riddled (and still riddling) with war can touch the temple which represents the eternal Sabbath rest of the Trinity and the church.
What is particularly interesting is Zechariah’s Christological view of the building such a temple (Zechariah 6:12-15) in contrast with the historical narrative here regarding the building of the first temple – here, Solomon immediately appeals to Hiram, knowing that he as an influential non-Israelite king is capable of commanding the aid of skillful Sidonians using the beautiful cedars of Lebanon. The key importance of the cooperation of Hiram and Solomon, initiated by the latter, is that the Christ is the one who initiates the unity of the Israelites and the Gentiles in these very words “And my servants will join your servants” (v.6), such a powerful command in building this house of worship, mediation, sacrifice, propitiation, atonement.
“The cedars of Lebanon are spoken of as, in a special manner, the planting of the Lord (Ps. cix. 16), being designed for Israel’s use and particularly for temple service. But Solomon owned that though the trees were his the Israelites had not skill to hew timber like the Sidonians, who were Hiram’s subjects. Canaan was a land of wheat and barley (Deut. viii. 8), which employed Israel in the affairs of husbandry, so that they were not at all versed in manufactures: in them the Sidonians excelled. Israel, in the things of God, are a wise and understanding people; and yet, in curious arts, inferior to their neighbours. True piety is a much more valuable gift of heaven than the highest degree of ingenuity. Better be an Israelite skilful in the law than a Sidonian skilful to hew timber. But, the case being thus, Solomon courts Hiram to send him workmen, and promises (v. 6) both to assist them (my servants shall be with thy servants, to work under them), and to pay them (unto thee will I give hire for thy servants); for the labourer, even in church-work, though it be indeed its own wages, is worthy of his hire, The evangelical prophet, foretelling the glory of the church in the days of the Messiah, seems to allude to this story, Isa. 60, where he prophesies, (1.) That the sons of strangers (such were the Tyrians and Sidonians) shall build up the wall of the gospel temple, v. 10. Ministers were raised up among the Gentiles for the edifying of the body of Christ. (2.) That the glory of Lebanon shall be brought to it to beautify it, v. 13. All external endowments and advantages shall be made serviceable to the interests of Christ’s kingdom.” – Matthew Henry
Hiram is no idol-worshipper, though his descendants and kingdom may have descended into that (c.f. Ezekiel 28) – he is thoroughly Christian:
7As soon as Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly and said, “Blessed be the LORD this day, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.” 8And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, “I have heard the message that you have sent to me. I am ready to do all you desire in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. 9My servants shall bring it down to the sea from Lebanon, and I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you direct. And I will have them broken up there, and you shall receive it. And you shall meet my wishes(G) by providing food for my household.” 10So Hiram supplied Solomon with all the timber of cedar and cypress that he desired, 11while Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 cors[b] of wheat as food for his household, and 20,000[c] cors of beaten oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. 12And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom,(H) as he promised him. And there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.
Once again, we see the repeated phrase: “the LORD gave Solomon wisdom” (v.12 – 1 Kings 4:29), as if to emphasise that this treaty is not one made out of idolatry or sin. Rather, this treaty is of such alliance in building the central driving force of the identity of Israel as a priesthood-nation (Exodus 19:6), but built by the hands of non-Israelites. Note the exchange in v.6 – the building of the house of the LORD for the payment of wages for the servants, as set by Hiram (v.6). Yet, all that Hiram has asked for is a simple request to provide food for his household. Such a seemingly humble request is however blessed in return with such abundance which overwhelms mere food provision – 20,000 cors of wheat and beaten oil year by year is but reflective of God’s provision (Matthew 7:10) to our requests.
13King Solomon drafted(I) forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men. 14And he sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in shifts. They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home.(J) Adoniram was in charge of the draft. 15Solomon also(K) had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, 16besides Solomon’s 3,300(L) chief officers who were over the work,(M) who had charge of the people who carried on the work. 17At the king’s command(N) they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with dressed stones. 18So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and(O) the men of Gebal did the cutting and prepared the timber and the stone to build the house.
Note how the “forced” labour is treated – such labour, though “forced”, has two months of rest at home (c.f. Leviticus 23:22; 25:4; Deuteronomy 24:19) akin to the rest provided to all in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) – that Solomon should not wish for his men to spend more time outside of Israel than time spent with family or at home; it is apparent that though Solomon’s reign through Adoniram was tough on the Israelites (1 Kings 12:4), Rehoboam’s leadership and harshness led to Adoniram’s death (1 Kings 12:18). Such is the contrast of the labour, though forced, but by the leadership of The Man – for are we not slaves of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:21-22)? By this action, Solomon has redefined the meaning of “forced” – for under the rule of such a king, even our slavery to righteousness and to Christ redeems our very concept of “slavery” for the idea of forced labour and slavery has been marred by the leader him/herself, rather than the tool of such subservience. V.15-17 adds 153,300 people to the 30,000, totaling to a massive 183,300 people working on the momentous First Temple of Israel (c.f. the mobilization of the people to contribute to the tabernacle in Exodus 35-40). Never had there been such manpower and such exquisite skill spent on building the beautiful central hub of worship, and such a far cry from the sacrifices made on high places in 1 Kings 3, when all Christians whether Israelite or not are united to assist the King in building the house of the Lord of heaven and earth. Such a driven hierarchy, starting from Solomon’s command (v.17) to the chief officers (v.16); from Adoniram to the forced labour; from Hiram, to the Sidonians – we are witnessing in this chapter the most historic moment of God’s glory through man in the Old Testament.
What stone can underlie this historic temple but “costly stone” (v.17) just as the tabernacle was laid with gold (Exodus 35-40)? Yet no stone can compare to Christ, the cornerstone and foundation (Psalm 118:22; Zechariah 10:4).
“The laying of the foundation of the temple; for that is the building his heart is chiefly upon, and therefore he begins with that, v. 17, 18. It should seem, Solomon was himself present, and president, at the founding of the temple, and that the first stone (as has been usual in famous buildings) was laid with some solemnity. Solomon commanded and they brought costly stones for the foundation; he would do every thing like himself, generously, and therefore would have some of the costliest stones laid, or buried rather, in the foundation, though, being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a foundation, is an elect and precious stone (Isa. xxviii. 16), and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with sapphires, Isa. liv. 11, compare Rev. xxi. 19. That sincerity which is our gospel perfection obliges us to lay our foundation firm and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight of men.” – Matthew Henry
It is for this reason that the old temple, though glorious it may be, will not stand – for Christ the precious stone, which prevents the temple from collapsing in total destruction, is not the foundation of this temple:
“…Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” – Isaiah 28:16-17
To end with Dev Menon’s words:
“The old house finally runs out of odd stones, and collapses, being cast into the eternal rubbish heap…the new house is incredible, and is sealed with fire – the black stones turn into diamond, wonderfully reflecting the light of the White stone, the Cornerstone, constantly flowing (modern architecture is barely catching up to this), brilliant, and full of life.
The Father enters His House, handed back to Him by the cornerstone, and what a house it is… for all eternity.”
In a short number of chapters (since 1 Samuel 22:2), David has accumulated thirty thousand chosen men of Israel from the curiously named lords of Judah, Baale-judah, to finally retrieve the ark of covenant on which the LORD of hosts, the Father and First Person of the Trinity sits enthroned (v.2). Here we must remember that the ark has been neglected during the reign of Saul, since 1 Samuel 7.
Yet, in the midst of merry worship (v.5-8) is a horrifying scene of Uzzah’s death. In spite of the new cart (v.3) which carried the ark, the stumbling of the oxen meant that the foundation of the cart was unstable. Yet, Uzzah’s sin did not merely manifest upon the touching of the ark as traditionally interpreted as God’s holy wrath burning against the sinful unprotected flesh, not robed by the garments of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Rather, as Matthew Henry meticulously noted,
“Uzzah thereupon laid hold of it, to save it from falling, we have reason to think with a very good intention, to preserve the reputation of the ark and to prevent a bad omen. Yet this was his crime. Uzzah was a Levite, but priests only might touch the ark. The law was express concerning the Kohathites, that, though they were to carry the ark by the staves [my emphasis added], yet they must not touch any holy thing, lest they die, Num_4:15. Uzzah’s long familiarity with the ark, and the constant attendance he had given to it, might occasion his presumption, but would not excuse it.”
The key thing here is that the staves where not used; the staves/poles (Exodus 25:14) which were appointed by God to be the method which by which the Levites were to carry the ark. What presumption it is therefore to carry God on a new cart, as if there could be a man-made foundation which could only stumble? Instead, the key focus here is that the household of Uzzah is the cause of this new cart, which relied on the movement of a mere animal. Is this not the key reversal at the dreadful fall of man in Genesis 3, that the God and man relationship is inverted where we have worshipped the brute, the animal-serpent over God? This is why God is so angry, that we should presume to be able to touch the Father in heaven and that this was brought about because we have placed an oxen as the foundation before the ark itself. And this is the same lesson learnt by the men who bore the ark of the LORD (v.13) instead of carrying it on a cart which relies on the stability of an animal rather than the stability of priestly men as types of Christ carrying the ark as an analogy to preaching in the Name of His Father. No oxen dares to bear that role, and no man who by man’s strength (as Uzzah is so aptly named) could arrange for the Father to arrive by the way of an animal when the First Person has ordained the arrival to come by way of the true Levite, the true King David, the true Priest-King.
And so this provocation of anger (v.8) in David’s heart is not that of David being furious against God; the Hebrew charah (חרה) suggests the possibility that it is a vexation against oneself, and a general fear that God cannot be with us. What a ridiculous notion, that the King of Israel should fear the ark, and yet a little servant such as Obed-Edom, the servant of Edom (Esau) should receive the ark so pleasurably and be blessed by God (v.11-12)!
Yet, these things shall be no meaning until we take these verses into the wider context of chapter 6, and further into the wider context of God’s grand plan of salvation. Where in chapter 5 we witness Baal-perazim, where the LORD burst through the Philistines, here we see Perez-Uzzah, a bursting forth upon Uzzah. This parallel is brought to recognition when we see the fall of Israel in the second book of Kings despite God protecting Israel in her early days. And similarly, just as God had burst forth upon the Philistines, so He bursted forth onto Uzzah who represented the foolish Levite who disobeyed the mandate of tabernacle management and denied Christ His due glory. Is not Uzzah, the strong man, a representative of those in physical Israel who perceive themselves as strong? Perceive themselves are arrogant enough to carry the weight of the ark? Perceive themselves as clever enough to provide a new cart which balanced on the idolatrous oxen (Exodus 32)?
Instead, the presence of the Father goes to Obed-Edom, the “servant of Edom”, the rejected brother of Jacob. This Gittite, he who belongs to Gath, is the definitive mark of the Gentile; and so we see here the New Testament period shadowed in the ark going to Obed-Edom. Salvation is first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles – and so we see the Jews rejecting the ark, even the king rejecting the ark, and instead the Father blesses the Gentiles. This jealousy (Romans 10-11) would then lead to the ark being brought back to Israel whereupon the second iteration of bringing the ark to the city of David is successful, upon the blood of ox and a fattened animal. Although it is not indicative of whether it is the same ox which caused the stumbling (v.6), this is symbolic of the death of the animal and the birth of new life after six steps before the throne of the Father (1 Kings 10:9, the calf head being at the head of the throne) – and so the ark’s re-entry into Israel by way of the Gentiles is the mark of the new covenant, by the death of the enemy in Christ Jesus:
“So in summary, from the Old Testament, we learn that the Law is in essence the Old Covenant, although it is under-girded and talks extensively about the New. Its primary purpose is to show the Person and Works of the Anointed One, the Prophet, Priest and King, and how He is the Righteous One, He is just, He is holy, He is God’s beloved, He will inherent the land. From this Israel and the world become aware that they are not God’s chosen Messiah, they made aware that only Him, Joshua will enter the promised land. They are not made sinful by the law, but they become aware through the law that they are sinful already, because of Adam, because of the flesh. They are told that refuge, and blessings await within the Messiah, who is God, and are pleaded with time and time again to love Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, to put their faith in Him. The world is also told that those who do trust Him, they will dwell in peace with God forever, under the eternal covenant, in the eternal land. Moses in Deuteronomy pleads with stiff-necked people to obey the commandment (singular), which is to love the Lord their God, to trust in Him – that is the whole commandment, just like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did.” – Dev Menon in his “Law and Gospel” essay
And so David danced before the LORD as the King-Priest in his linen ephod (c.f. Exodus 28 – the ephod to be worn by the priest), the joy of the typological Son dancing before the Father as the Kingdom of Israel is truly restored in Triunity.
Yet, in the face of this joy is the immediate contrast of Michal’s despising of David (v.16). What she despised was not merely David’s etiquette; what she despised was His God – what she despised was the whole picture of salvation, of familial blessings brought through the partaking of the Trinitarian love (v.14-20), such awesome distribution that no human secular government communist, capital or other could ever provide. Her words of spite, “How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself” (v.20) is therefore not merely a strong opinion against David’s ‘inappropriateness’, for David immediately appeals to the one explanation. “It was before the LORD” (v.21). Should there be any other explanation? When one is naked before the LORD as in the days before the fall (c.f. Genesis 2), but that this recapitulation is of greater glory than that experienced in the Garden of Eden, should Michal despise such a fundamental truth rooted in the very history of the race of adam? “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death (v.23)”. The Promised One shall not be born through her, not through a woman who wholeheartedly despised the reunion caused by the ark of the covenant; Saul’s line thus continues to diminish one by one.