Temple 201-The Glory of the Temple-Part 3

We are going to begin Part 3 by going back and talking about the windows over the Great Gate. In the Mishnah, tractate Middot 3.8 it says, “And cedar posts were fixed between the wall of the Sanctuary and the wall of the porch that it might not bulge. And golden chains were fixed to the roof-beam of the Porch by which the young priests could climb up and see the crowns (in the windows there were crowns shaped ornaments set over the four windows, made of gold), as it is written, ‘And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah for a memorial in the Temple of the Lord’ (Zech 6.14). A golden vine stood over the entrance to the Sanctuary, trained over posts; and whatsoever gave a leaf, or a berry (usually a gem), or a cluster (of gold) as a free-will offering, he brought it and the priests hung it thereon (When the Temple treasury was in need the treasurer took from the vine as needed). R. Eliezer b. R. Zadok said: It once happened that three hundred priests were appointed thereto (to clear it of its leaves, berries and clusters).”

Now, Zech 6.11-13 says, “Take the silver and gold and make crowns and set it on the head of Joshua (also called Yeshua in Ezra 3.2) the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of Hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is the Branch (Messiah-Jer 23.5-6, 33.15-16), for he will branch out from where he is; and he will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he who will bear the honor and sit and rule on the throne. Thus, he will be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.'” The word “crown” is singular in most English Bibles but it is “crowns” in Hebrew. “Branch” is “tzemach” in Hebrew and it is a term for the Messiah. The Temple he will build will be Ezekiel’s and he will sity on the throne as king and he will be a priest and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices (priest and king).

The counsel of peace is seen as these crowns. A king wore a crown called a Netzer. The High Priest wore a crown, a gold plate, on the front of his mitre called a “Tzitz.” The combination in the Messiah of being both king and priest is the reason these crowns were on his head. The crowns above the windows represent the crowns in this passage and it is double (king and priest) and they are over the windows letting the light of God out to the world through the kingship and priesthood of the Messiah. In John Gill’s commentary on this verse it says that the young priests could use the golden chains to go up and see the crowns. Evidently, these crowns were taken off Joshua and laid up somewhere in the Temple. These crowns were also a memorial to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen for their contribution to the building of the Temple. But there is also a future allusion to the Messiah, typified by Joshua (Yeshua of Ezra 3.2) the High Priest.

When you are standing outside of the Porch, you could see the four posts, the veil, the table, the lamp and the vine clusters but not into the Sanctuary, at least on most days. On festivals, the doors were opened for the people to see into the Heichal, but there is a footnote on p. 91 of the Aryeh Kaplan Anthology that says, “Actually, the curtains (the two parochet) of the Holy of Holies may have been opened during the annual pilgrimages so that the people would be able to see the Ark” (Talmud, Yoma 54a, Tosefot Yeshenim ad loc, s.v. “U’Marin.” They thus actually may have seen the Ark and the Cherubim of Moses).

Now, we are going to go into the Heichal and the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim. The total length of both these rooms together was 60 cubits (103.35 feet) and 20 cubits (34.45 feet) wide, and 40 cubits (68.9 feet) high. The Heichal was 40 cubits (68.9 feet) long and the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim was 20 cubits (34.45 feet) long. The term for the 1 cubit (20.67 inches wide) space between the two veils is the “Amah Traksin.” When the High Priest walked between the two veils on Yom Kippur, his face was always to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim. The eastern veil was open to the south side and the western veil had an opening on the north side. In Shekalim 8.5 of the Mishnah it says, “Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says in the name of R. Simeon son of the Prefect (Sagan): The veil was one handbreadth thick and was woven on a loom having 72 rods, and over each rod were 24 threads. Its length was 40 cubits (68.9 feet) and its breadth 20 cubits (34.45 feet); it was made by 82 young girls, and they used to make 2 in every year; and 300 priests immersed it (to purify it before they hung it).”

The interior of the Sanctuary was entirely overlaid in gold, except for the area behind the folding doors to the Heichal, called the Great Gate. As a side note, it was these doors that opened up without anyone doing it the last 40 years of the Temple. That means it started when Yeshua was killed. In the book “The History of the Jewish People: The Second Temple Era” on p. 153 by Artscroll it says, “During the last 40 years before the destruction of the Temple the lot (for the Yom Kippur sacrifice) did not come up in the right hand (of the High Priest), the ribbon did not turn white (as a sign of forgiveness), the western candle (on the Menorah) did not burn all day, and the doors of the Sanctuary opened by themselves (indicating that the enemy would enter easily). Then Rabban Yochanon Ben Zakkai rebuked them and said: ‘Temple, O Temple, why are you so frightened? I know that you will finally be destroyed, because Zechariah Ben Ido prophesied about you (Zech 11.1): Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars'” (Yoma 39b).

Inside the Heichal there were 3 items: the Menorah, the Mitzbeach Shell Ahav (Altar of Incense) and the Shulchan Lechem Ha Pannim (table of “Showbread”). The seven branches of the Menorah recalled the “seven planets” (stars). In Alfred Edersheim’s book “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” he says that John was certainly a priest (p. 810, footnote 24). His terminology is an evidence that he had an intimate knowledge of the Temple, as he makes mention of in the book of Revelation. In Rev 1.20 he uses the term “mystery” meaning “sowd” in Hebrew thought. Sowd means “hidden, mystical or secret” level. The “seven stars” and the “seven menorot (candlesticks) are seven angels and seven congregations. He is referring back to Rev 1.12-16 and we should understand these meanings were well established.

The 12 loaves on the Shulchan (table) recalled the 12 signs or “star pictures” in the heavens. There is an “astrology” that has perverted the original meanings of these 12 signs that is forbidden, but God gave the sun, moon and stars for signs and for seasons (Gen 1.14). In the book “The Witness of the Stars” by E. W. Bullinger it says that “the world was without a written revelation from God. The question is, did God leave himself without a witness?” If he did, where is that witness? The answer is in the heavens! He says that “Josephus hands down to us what he gives as the traditions of his own nation, corroborated by his reference to eight Gentile authorities, whose works are lost. He says that they all assert that God gave the antediluvians (before the flood of Noah) such a long life that they might perfect those things which they invented in astronomy.” Bullinger goes on to say that “the signs have always and everywhere been preserved in this order” and “they have all been known amongst all nations, and in all ages, thus proving their common origin from one source.” He then goes on and says, “The figures themselves are perfectly arbitrary. There is nothing in the groups of stars to even suggest the figures. This is the first thing which is noticed by everyone who looks at the constellations. Take for example the sign of Virgo, and look at the stars. There is nothing whatever to suggest a human form; still less is there anything to show whether that form is a man or a woman. And so with all the others. The picture therefore, is the original, and must have been drawn around or connected with certain stars, simply in order that it might be identified and associated with them; and that it might thus be remembered and handed down to posterity.” Bullinger says, “that these signs were afterwards identified with the 12 sons of Jacob. Joseph sees the sun, moon and 11 stars bowing down to him, he being the 12th star. He goes on to say, “But this brings us to the signs themselves and their interpretation. These pictures were designed to preserve, expound and perpetuate the one first great promise and prophecy of Gen 3.15, that all hope for man, all hope for creation, was bound up in a coming redeemer; one who would be born of a woman; who should first suffer, and afterwards gloriously triumph; one who should first be wounded by that great enemy who was the cause of all sin and sorrow and death, but who should finally crush the head of that old serpent, the Devil. These ancient star-pictures reveal the Coming One. They set forth the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Altogether there are 48 of them, made up of twelve signs, each sign containing 3 constellations. These may be divided into three books, each containing 4 chapters (or signs); and each chapter containing 3 sections. Each book (like the 4 Gospels) sets forth its peculiar aspect of the Coming One; beginning with the promise of his coming and ending with the destruction of the enemy. After the revelation came to be written down in the Scriptures, there was not the same need for the preservation of the Heavenly Volume. And after the nations had lost the original meaning of the pictures they invented a meaning out of the vain imagination of the thoughts of their hearts. The Greek mythology is an interpretation of (and only some) the signs and constellations after their true meaning had been forgotten. It is popularly believed that the Bible truth is an evolution from, or development of, the ancient religions of the world. But the fact is that they themselves are a corruption and perversion of primitive truth. Such are the contents of this wondrous book that are written in the heavens. Thus has God been speaking and emphasizing and developing his first prophetic promise of Gen 3.15. Though for more than 2500 years (this was written in the 1800’s) his people had not this revelation written in a book as we now have it in the Bible, they were not left in ignorance and darkness as to God’s purposes and counsels; nor were they without hope as to ultimate deliverance from all evil and from the Evil One. Adam, who first heard that wondrous promise, repeated it, and gave it to his posterity as a most precious heritage. This revelation, coinciding as it does in all its facts and truths with that afterwards recorded ‘in the volume of the book’ must have had the same Divine origin, must have been made known by the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit” Bullinger says.

The book goes on to explain this revelation written in the heavens, and those were the reasons why the Temple recalled “the heavens.” Ancient synagogues had these “star pictures” or signs on mosiac floors, and these recalled the Temple. That is why the Temple is a picture of Heaven. God gave the plan of redemption and deliverance in the heavens long before it was written down. We are also aware that this revelation in heaven was perverted and that the “astrology” of the nations is forbidden. But there is a divine origin of these signs (some of the original signs have been lost and were not the same as those used today, however) and that they point to the redemption, and that is why there are allusions to it in the Temple. The 12 loaves also allude to the 12 sons of Jacob (Gen 37.9 and Rev 12.1)) and the number 12 is the number of teaching and authority. These 12 loaves also alluded to the 12 months of the religious calendar. Again, in no way are we saying that anyone should go to an “astrologer” or engage in the “astrologies” of the nations which are a perversion.

In the conclusion, we will pick up with some information on the Altar of Incense and then move into the Sanctuary and talk about the 38 cells and other aspects of the Temple that will reveal its glory.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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