The building of the Temple
Seven years was the time it took Solomon to complete the Temple and the House of God. It must have been seven long years, and it was a massive undertaking: you have these monumental stones which had to be quarried in another place and hauled to the site without the use of any of our modern-day mechanical means. Then they went to the mountains of Lebanon, to gigantic cedar trees, and they sawed them down by hand, floated them down the coastline where they had to be dragged back up on shore, cut and chiseled, and put in the different places where they were used in the Temple.
In addition, think of all the gold inside of the Temple: everything was overlaid with gold. And then there were all those articles of brass as well. Solomon got the best man for the job (Hiram of Tyre: 1Kgs 7:13). For the Israelites whether it was the Tabernacle or the Temple, this was this place that symbolized that God dwelt among them, because this was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This was made obvious by the cloud that filled the Temple when it was
Just imagine yourself there amongst the courts. Walk amongst the priests giving sacrifices upon the altar. Would you have the same feeling of the psalmist who said, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psa 84:2-3).
We have nothing like a temple in our service do we? Or perhaps we do. Paul writes “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph 2:21-22). We can compare that to the actual Temple, and then we realize the deep impact of his words. We think of Peter’s words: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1Pet 2:5).
God does not dwell in a house made of stones, made with hands, but in you and me. And when we think about the Ecclesia it is supposed to be as glorious as that Temple of Solomon because we have somebody greater than Solomon dwelling in our hearts. Are we sanctified for the Master’s use? When we approach God together, do we do it with the same reverence and fear that you would have coming into God’s Temple in Jerusalem? Before the meeting starts our hymnist customarily plays Hymn 168 which I think is very appropriate. “The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab 2:20).
The pillars of bronze
Quite appropriately, then, we come before Him in silence before we offer up song and prayer and exhortation. And we will focus on one aspect of the Temple: on the first item Hiram made for Solomon. It was not, as perhaps we might expect, the laver, or even the altar. We read:
“And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to King Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about” (1Kgs 7:13-15).
So before he made the lavers, and before he made the altar, he cast two pillars of brass. These pillars represent the upholding of the house of God in truth and righteousness. A modern translation reads: “He fashioned two bronze pillars, each one 27 feet high, with a circumference of 18 feet” (1Kgs 7:15, ISV). Then later on in the chapter it says they were polished bronze, so I imagine if you walked up to them you could see your reflection in these pillars. Not only that, but the text continues:
“He also crafted two capitals of cast bronze and set them on top of the pillars. The height of one capital was seven and a half feet, and the height of the other capital was seven and a half feet… That’s how he designed the pillars at the portico of the sanctuary. When he set up the right pillar, he named it Jachin. When he set up the left pillar, he named it Boaz. The work on the pillars was finished with a lily design on top of the pillars.” (1Kgs 7:16-22, ISV).
So if we could just get a sense of the enormity of these pillars we can see how much they dominated the whole courtyard of Solomon’s Temple. And they were so important that they were given names. Jachin means, “he shall establish” and Boaz means, “in it is strength”: some people see this as forming one sentence, “He shall establish it in strength.” They stood as two sentinels of the Temple, testaments to God’s promises on which this house stood.
The covenants of promise
“I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel” (1Kgs 9:3-5).
At the beginning of verse 5 that word “I will establish” is related to the same Hebrew word that the name Jachin is built on. “I will establish the throne of thy kingdom forever”: so I see these pillars as representing the promises of God upon which this palace stood. The pillars stood for erectness and uprightness: if the people walked God’s ways, they would be established in God’s house as long as they kept His judgments. If they did not, if they were lacking in these things, then this Temple, including the pillars, would be cast out of His sight. To emphasize this point a little bit more on how these pillars were important in connection with the kings, let us consider two other accounts involving these pillars.
“And he [Jehoiada] brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king. And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the Lord. And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason” (2Kgs 11:12-14).
So Athaliah comes into the Temple of the Lord and she sees Joash by a pillar “as the manner was.” Athaliah knew what it meant.
“And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem… And the king stood by a 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 their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (2Kgs 23:1, 3).
So put yourself there in the courts of the Lord. It is jam packed with people, everybody is there and the king has a reserved spot. Again, which pillar do you think this was? I happen to think it was Jachin, “he shall establish,” and the very fact that he’s standing by one in particular was significant. (And it does say “standing by it” not between them.) A pillar means that which stands. And the people stood to the covenant as the king stood by the pillar.
“And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon. And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away” (2Kgs 25:13-14).
As if they emphasize the depth of what happened to Israel there is one piece of furniture that is described the most, and that’s the pillars. It goes to describe them again, how beautiful they were and elaborate, and just bemoaning the fact that they were hewn into pieces, cut into pieces and carried off to Babylon. These pillars really represented the nation. To the Babylonians they were just loot, but to the Israelites it was so dreadful to see these pillars taken down and carried off.
The symbology of pillars
So it’s not surprising that pillars get used as symbols in Scripture.
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed. (1Sam 2:7-10).
The picture we get here is of the pillars of the earth. The earth is seen as a house (or maybe just the inhabitants), being borne up by pillars. These pillars represent the true judgments of God, for they are associated with the throne of glory among princes. So before there was a human king for the Israelites, Hannah recognized that the Messiah would come, and that God would give His strength unto His King.
In the New Testament
“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision” (Gal 2:9).
Under the New Testament, the believers become the new Israel, and therefore they become the foundation and pillars of God’s earth. They are the Temple of God in which the spirit dwells, and they’re pillars in the Temple. In Galatians, the security and the firmness of the foundation depends upon its leaders and upon its members to be steadfast in the faith and to judge with righteous judgments: the apostles James, Cephas, and John are said to be pillars in the Ecclesia. They were pillars because it was upon their teaching and upon their leadership by the Holy Spirit that the Ecclesia would be established, and would grow, and would become strengthened in the Lord. It’s no wonder that they are called pillars in the Ecclesia.
Do we have pillars in the Ecclesia now? We have to have such pillars in the Ecclesia. In order for the House to stand there has to be pillars in our Ecclesias. Do you recognize the pillars in your Ecclesia? It’s a mistake not to recognize them, because when God takes away those pillars and the House starts to fall, we might have to be trying to continue what they were doing in the Household of God: trying to keep the House up and bearing their burdens. We have to recognize the pillars in our Ecclesia. As we grow in the Truth, do we see ourselves as pillars in the Ecclesia, able to take on these burdens? Or if we went away would it really matter to the House of God?
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1Tim 3:15).
In writing to Timothy, now the Ecclesia is the pillar and ground of the truth. So it is the Ecclesia which bears up on its back the pillars of the Truth. It is up to you and I, as brothers and sisters, to uphold the Truth that is in the Scriptures. God is expecting us to be pillars that will defend His Truth. When the Ecclesia doesn’t have any pillars what does the world have to hope for? They can only turn to corruptness.
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Rev 3:12).
In the final passage that mentions pillars, it is our Lord speaking to the Philadelphia Ecclesia, which the Lord had nothing against. The allusion to Jachin and Boaz seems strong here: they are the only two Temple pillars that are given names. And here it says in this Revelation passage that there will be a name written upon those in the Temple of God who are made pillars. It makes me wonder if the original pillars had names inscribed on them: one Jachin and the other Boaz. These were carried away, but we find the ones in Revelation shall go no more out. They will never be carried away, they will be established in the Temple of my God forever.
This is our promise, that if we are pillars now, that we will be made pillars in the Kingdom to come. We will be made into Kings and Priests. Monumental responsibility stands before us as we look at the lessons and story behind the pillars. Let us take these to heart, let us stand fast to the covenants and the promises that God has given us, and follow His statutes and uphold His judgments. Let us make a new conviction that we will be pillars of God now, so that when our faith overcomes the world, we may be made pillars in the Temple of our God.
Tim Young (Hamilton Book Road, ON)