The building and dedication of the temple play an important role in the life of Solomon. The building is described in 2 Chronicles 3-4. In 2 Chronicles 3:1 Solomon starts to build. The description of the building runs until 2 Chronicles 4:10. He is seen as the builder, although others have actually built. The same goes for the Messiah who will build the temple by others.
There are seven temples in Scripture:
1. the temple of Solomon (destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar);
2. the temple of Zerubbabel (after the exile; this temple was changed and expanded by Herod and destroyed in the year 70 by the Roman armies led by Titus);
3. the temple in which the antichrist will show up;
4. the temple of Ezekiel, built in Jerusalem in the kingdom of peace.
These are all material temples.
There are also three spiritual temples, temples in which the Spirit of God dwells:
1. the physical body of the Lord Jesus (Jn 2:2121But He was speaking of the temple of His body.);
2. the church of God, the spiritual body of Christ and the spiritual house of God (1Cor 3:1616Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?; 1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.);
3. the body of the individual believer (1Cor 6:1919Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?).
For us, the deeper meaning of the temple of Solomon is its spiritual meaning. In the temple, just like in the tabernacle, we have in the picture a revelation of God’s glory in Christ. Of Him we read “and dwelt among us”, which is literally “and tabernacled among us” (Jn 1:1414And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.). Everything in the temple refers to Him.
There is a significant difference between the description of the temple in the first book of Kings and that in the second book of Chronicles. In the first book of Kings the description is longer and gives much more details. In the second book of Chronicles, written after the exile, the description may be more concise because the description of the first book of Kings already exists. In the second book of Chronicles we have a description of the altar and the veil. This is not in the first book of Kings, while that book describes the dwellings of the priests and we do not find these in the second book of Chronicles.
We can say that the main differences in description are seen in the following aspects:
1. The temple is the dwelling place of God. That’s more what comes out in the first book of Kings. There we also find priestly dwellings connected to the temple. That underlines the main idea of dwelling. This has a spiritual application. Just as God bodily dwelt in Christ when He was on earth and also dwells in Him now He is heaven (Col 1:1919For it was the [Father’s] good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,; 2:99For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,), so He dwells in the church as a temple.
2. The temple is a place of worship, where man can approach God on the basis of sacrifice. That is more the side of the description in the second book of Chronicles. There we find the altar to sacrifice and the veil that speaks of approaching.
There are some other differences between the tabernacle and the temple.
1. The tabernacle is a movable tent, while the temple is a permanent building.
2. Therefore, as a next difference, everything in the temple can be bigger and more numerous.
3. The temple has priestly dwellings, you can dwell there. In the tabernacle there are only ‘pitches’.
4. The temple has its singers.
5. There are also the huge cherubim.
Everything in the temple is much larger and more than in and around the tabernacle. This is in accordance with the extent to which God is known and served in the land.
The only thing that stands in its original size and as the only sample both in the tabernacle and in the temple is the ark with the mercy seat and the cherubim.
The tabernacle is found in the letter to the Hebrews, which we can call a ‘wilderness letter’. This letter speaks about the life of the believer on earth. Israel has travelled through a literal wilderness, believers travel through a world that is compared to a wilderness. The Hebrews live in the country. They have never seen the tabernacle and are only familiar with the temple. Yet the letter to them does not refer to the temple, but to the tabernacle, for the previously mentioned reason that they are seen as living in the wilderness of this world. The letter to the Ephesians places us spiritually in the promised land and in that letter we hear about the temple (Eph 2:21-2221in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.). There the believers of the church are in the heavenly places in possession of all the blessings of the land (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,).
An Israelite comes to the temple on three special occasions: on the occasion of the Passover, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booth (Deu 16:1-151“Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night.2You shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to establish His name.3You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.4For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning.5You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the LORD your God is giving you;6but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt.7You shall cook and eat [it] in the place which the LORD your God chooses. In the morning you are to return to your tents.8Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God; you shall do no work [on it].9“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.10Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you;11and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.12You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.13“You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;14and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.15Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.). We find these three feasts also in Leviticus 23 among the seven feasts mentioned there (Lev 23:1-361The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these:3‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.4‘These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them.5In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.6Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.8But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.’”9Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,10“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.11He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.12Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD.13Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths [of an ephah] of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD [for] a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine.14Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.15‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.16You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.17You shall bring in from your dwelling places two [loaves] of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths [of an ephah]; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.18Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.19You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.20The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest.21On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.22‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’”23Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,24“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing [of trumpets], a holy convocation.25You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.’”26The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,27“On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.28You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.29If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.30As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.31You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.32It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”33Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,34“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.35On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind.36For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.). Several of the seven feasts of the LORD are harvest feasts, which also include Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booth. In a way, this also applies to the Passover with which the Feast of the First fruits is connected. On the occasion of the various harvests in Israel, the Israelite then goes to the temple with the fruit of the harvest, the blessing of the land, and brings it before God. This fruit is not in the wilderness. To have fruit, the people must live in the promised land.
God has a temple in the promised land, that the fruit of the land may be brought there. For us this has a spiritual meaning. Everything that has to do with Christ as the blessing of the land, we may bring to God. That is, we can tell God what we have all seen from the Lord Jesus and what heavenly blessings we have received from Him.