Upgrade Follies

The tabernacle was a wonder to see. Without knowing or ever seeing the inside story or the furnishings, Israelites brought their offerings and watched as the cloud and fire appeared (Exo. 40:34-38) year after year. The laver, the altar of burnt offering and its furnishing were all that the worshippers saw. The other atonement-functional pieces of the tent were out of sight and were of two types, gold-plated or pure gold. It seems that the use of gold was intended to represent divine identity and essence, the clear distinction between God and man, and the mystery of incarnation. Solomon or anyone else can try to turn wood into gold, or gold-plated into gold, but upgrades, not being under human authority or power, are a sign of human ingenuity and folly.

Gold meets God

The table-top, the censer, the lamp(stand), and the mercy seat, are inner operating parts of priestly atonement and are pure gold.

But what about all those other golden items: dishes, spoons, books and rings? They are a reminder that divinity is woven into all our ventures and their functions contrast with the exclusive golden functions, those in which God exclusively takes care of our situations. They do not directly provide atonement and are connected with food, drink and washings (cleaning up).

So why does Solomon try to give the impression that the whole project is golden? Well because it wasn’t, and it being a palace for the monarch of monarchs, ought to have the best of everything. That being said, we realize that God was not going to live there. He was fully aware of this paradox, yet he covered the place with gold.

The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and its height was 120 cubits. He overlaid it on the inside with pure gold. 2 Chronicles 3:4

So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors—and he carved cherubim on the walls. 2 Chronicles 3:7

Moses ordered golden cherubim (Exodus 25:18)

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.

Solomon conversely made wooden cherubim.

In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim of wood and overlaid them with gold. 2 Chronicles 3:10

He also seems to have made the table of wood instead of wood

They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken him. 2 Chronicles 13:11

Moses had ordered a wooden table.

You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. Exodus 25:23-24

All of these examples of innovative design are a problem we can explain. The place where God was going to put his name obviously was going to be monumental even if human hands were involved. The tent would surely have to be replaced as surely as the wanderings were over. Thirdly, if Yahweh was not going to live there the atonement promised was not so personal as one might be led to think after all.

True temple or residence upgrades have nothing to do with gold, silver, bronze, cedar, or precious stones. They have nothing to do with levitical priests or the law governing the priesthood. The temple upgrade that sits at the centre of God’s plan is the human body in which the Holy Spirit lives.