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Solomon's Temple a Figure of the Church

By John Gill


      1 KINGS 7:21
      And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.

      THESE two pillars were set in the porch of the temple that was built by Solomon; and he is the person that is said to set them there ; that is, they were set there by his order. Reference is had to the place of their standing, in various passages of Scripture, in an allusive way. The human body of our Lord Jesus Christ is called the temple, and that by himself; destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19) The Jews who heard him say these words, understood them in a literal sense; as if he was speaking of the material temple that was built by Zerubbabel, and repaired by Herod. Therefore they said, forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? Whereas, the evangelist observes, he was speaking of the temple of his body, that true tabernacle which God pitched and not man: which was a greater and more perfect tabernacle than was built by Solomon, or by Zerubbabel, or repaired and ornamented by Herod. He, the Word of God, the eternal Logos, when made flesh, tabernacled and dwelt among us. Herein the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily; even all the perfections of the divine nature. The train of the divine perfections filled the temple of the human nature of Christ; according to the glorious vision which Isaiah had thereof. (Isa. 6:1)

      Sometimes, in reference to this temple, particular believers are called the temple of God: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. (1 Cor. 3:16) It was known, or it might be known, from the inhabitation of the Spirit of God and then it is added, if any man defile the temples of God, by insinuating bad principles into them, or drawing them into evil practices, him shall God destroy. He will shew his resentment against such persons: for the temple of God is holy, therefore should not be defiled with bad principles or bad practices. Which temple, says the apostle, ye particular believers are: for that he means not the collective body, the church, but particular believers, is clear, by what he afterwards observes in the same epistle; Know ye not, that your body is the temple of the holy Ghost, which is in you? which must refer to individuals. As also in another epistle of his to the same church, he says, what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? (2 Cor. 6:16) That is, what agreement is there between those who are the true worshippers of God, and such as worship idols?

      But at other times, and in other places, we may observe the whole church of God is called a temple, in allusion to the temple at Jerusalem. Thus, in that famous prophecy of the Messiah, Zechariah 6:12, it is said, Behold the man whose mane is the Branch (which is a descriptive character of the Messiah), and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord; even he shall build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory. That is, he shall build the Church of God, and he shall have the glory of it, as the sole builder; and thus speaks our Lord himself. Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18) And here I shall take occasion to observe, that the temple of Jerusalem may very properly be considered as a figure and emblem of the church of God, on various accounts.

      I. With respect to the several parts of it. It consisted particularly of these three: them was,

      1. The great court in which stood the altar of burnt-offerings, and the laver, and where the people of Israel in common assembled to worship God.

      2. There was the holy place, where stood the golden candlestick, the golden altar of incense, and the table of shew-bread; and into which Done but the priests might enter and officiate. And,

      3. There was the holy of holies, in which was the ark of the mercy-seat, and the cherubim; into which none but the high priest might enter, and that only once a year.

      Now the first of these, the great court, was a figure and emblem of the outward and visible church of God, in which are both good and bad. To this the Holy Ghost refers, Revelation 11:2; where mention is made of the outward court, which was left out in the measuring of the temple; having respect unto such who were only outward court worshippers, who were not to be taken into the measure to which that prophecy has a reference. Thus in all ages, more or less, it has been the case of the outward visible church of Christ upon the earth; that there have been some good, and some bad among them. This was represented by our Lord in that parable of the field, in which good seed was sown; which good, seed was emblematical of true believers in Christ, gracious souls, partakers of the grace of God in truth. Among these, tares were sown by the enemy, which grew up with the wheat; and both. were suffered to continue until the harvest, the time of death, the end of the world, and universal judgment. So in the parable of the virgins, the kingdom of God, or a church state, is represented by ten virgins; five of whom were wise, and five were foolish. In Sion, in the outward visible church of God, there always were, and always will be more or fewer hypocrites; called hypocrites in Zion, (Isa. 33:14) as well as there are the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold.

      The holy place was an emblem and figure of the invisible church of God; or such persons as are truly spiritual, believers in Christ, partakers of the grace of God in truth, who are a royal priesthood, and built up a spiritual house to offer up spiritual sacrifices unto God. Inward court worshippers, who are made light in the Lord signified by the golden candlesticks in that place, and whose light so shines before men, that those who behold their good works, may glorify their Father who is in heaven. The prayers of these are set before the Lord, as incense; and the lifting up of their hands as the evening sacrifice. These sit down at the table with their Lord, and sup with him, and he with them: or, in other words, they have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. These are they that worship God in the Spirit rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

      There was also the holy of holies; which was a figure and emblem of heaven itself, into which our great High Priest hath entered with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us; where he appears in the presence of God for his people, and ever lives to make intercession for them. Where stands the mercy-seat, the throne of grace; and to which there is a way open, even a new and living way through the veil, that is to say, Christ's flesh. In virtue of his blood, true believers have boldness to enter even into the holiest of all. That is, into heaven, and the church triumphant there, where none shall enter that defiles, or maketh an abomination, or a lie.

      II. The temple built by Solomon, may be considered as a figure of the church of God, with respect to the situation of it. It was built upon an eminence, upon mount Moriah. (2 Chron. 3:1) The church of Christ is also built upon an hill, and upon a Rock, the Rock Christ Jesus: Upon this Rock will I build my church. (Matt. 16:18) Zion is well founded by the Lord of Hosts; for a good foundation the Lord hath laid in Zion: even a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: (Isa. 28:16) such a foundation as will always abide, will never give way, and upon which those who are laid are safe end secure to all eternity.

      III. The temple was typical of Christ., in respect of the builder of it, which was Solomon, whose name signifies peace, or peaceable; and he was chosen to he the builder of the temple on that account. His father was rejected because he was a man of war, and a man of blood: but Solomon's reign being peaceable, he had leisure for that service; and being a man of peace, was a proper person for being engaged therein. And herein he was a type of Christ, the Prince of Peace; who is in his nature peaceable, and the author and giver of peace, spiritual and eternal. A greater than Solomon was concerned in building the church of God; and that not only on account of his being the Prince of Peace, but because in every thing he excelled him, even in those things in which Solomon excelled others, particularly in wisdom and riches. A greater than Solo on is the builder of the church of God; even he in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; (Col. 2:3) and whose riches are unsearchable. (Eph. 3:8)

      IV. This temple was a figure of the church of God, as to the materials of it. The materials, we are told, were costly stones: (1 Kings 5:17) such as were of great worth, and were bought at a great price. Hence the antitype, the church of God, is said to have its foundations laid with sapphires, its windows of agates, its gates of carbuncles, and all its borders of pleasant stones: (Isa. 54:12) by which are meant the precious sons of Sion, comparable to gold, and all that is valuable. The stones of which the temple was built were hewn stones, ready prepared to he laid in the building: for there was not so much as a hammer or an axe, the noise of which was heard all the while the temple was building, as it is said in the preceding chapter. This denotes, that such as are laid in the spiritual building, are taken from nature's quarry, separated from the rest of mankind; are hewn by the Spirit of God, and so fitted for the spiritual building. And it suggests, that in this spiritual building, the church, there shall be no discord, no clamours, no jars; but all concord, harmony, peace, and love. The noise of an axe or a hammer ought not to be heard there.

      Moreover, cedar wood was greatly made use of as a material in building that temple. As the temple was built of costly and precious stones, hewn and fitted for the building; so the wall was wainscoted and floored with wood of cedar, fetched from mount Lebanon. A fragrant and durable wood; so a proper emblem of those who are the materials of the spiritual building, the church. Our Lord Jesus Christ, because of the excellency of his person and offices, is said to be excellent as the cedars: (Song 5:15) and his people also, because of the fragrancy and grace bestowed upon them, and because of their duration and perseverance in grace and holiness, are said to grow as the cedar in Lebanon. (Ps. 92:12)

      Once more: That stately, famous building, the temple, where these two pillars were placed, mentioned in our text, was covered or overlaid with gold. Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he wade a partition, by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house. (1 Kings 6:21, 22) What a magnificent, splendid building must this be! a proper emblem and figure, therefore, of the church of God, and of true believers in Christ, who are the materials thereof; who stand in the presence of Christ, at his right hand, in gold of Ophir; whose clothing is of wrought gold, and who are all glorious within, ornamented with the graces of the blessed Spirit. But,

      V. This temple was a figure of the church, with respect unto its pillars; which leads me to take a more particular notice of the passage which I have read unto you. There were other pillars in this building besides these two; but these were the principal ones; the most open to view; the most to be taken notice of, as they stood at the entrance into the court of the temple. And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. The church of Christ itself is sometimes said to be a pillar. So the apostle tells Timothy, that he wrote unto him, that he might know how to behave himself in the house, or church, "of the living God," which is the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15) The pillar and ground of the truth; that both holds forth truth, and holds it fast. Some pillars had inscriptions upon them; and so held forth to view some fact, of which a declaration was made upon them. In this sense the church is the pillar of truth. It holds forth the truths of the gospel, by its ministers, and by its members. Other pillars are for support; and in this sense the church may he said to be the pillar and ground of the truth. The support thereof, which keeps the faith of Jesus; that is, the doctrine of Christ, and denies not his faith; but maintains and supports it to the uttermost.

      Particular believers in Christ, are sometimes signified by pillars. Him that overcometh I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. (Rev. 3:12) Such are, in a sense, pillars in the temple of God; who have, through divine grace, a place and a name there, better than that of sons and daughters; and who are honourable members of the church of God. Such as come into the church in a right way, that come in by the door of the sheep-fold, which is Christ; they are honourable members of the church. He that comes in upon a true and rich experience of the grace of God; upon a profession of faith in Christ, and submission to his ordinances; who abides by the truths and ordinances of the gospel; forsakes not the assembly of the saints, but closely attends to the word, worship, and ordinances of God; and whose conversation is as becomes the gospel of Christ; such as they may he said to he pillars in the temple of God, or honourable members of his church. Such as are upright in heart; have the root of the matter in them; and a right spirit created in them; Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile: who are upright in conversation; walk as becomes the gospel of Christ, according to the rule of the divine word: these are, according to the measure of gifts bestowed upon them, in one way and another, pillars and supports of the cause of God; who have a natural concern for the good of the interest of a Redeemer; and who exert themselves to the utmost for the maintenance of the same, either by their purses, as God hath given them ability, or by their conversation, or by their prayers. In one way or the other they may be said to be pillars; who maintain .and support the truths of the gospel, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, according to the abilities which God hath given them. Besides, they support those that are feeble and tottering, by their conversation and prayers with them; and therefore, may in this sense, be said to he pillars. Like pillars also, they are steady and steadfast; not like children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; but established in their principles, as well as constant in their practice. They stand fast in the faith, quit themselves like men, are strong; continue in evangelical doctrine, and in communion with the saints, in breaking of bread, and in prayers. It becomes those who have named the name of Christ, to be steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord their God. Such are pillars that shall never go out, as is said in the forementioned chapter. (Rev. 3:12)

      There are some that get into a church of Christ, and go out again; of whom the apostle says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not of us. (1 John 2:19) And even those brazen pillars, called Jachin and Boaz, went out of the material temple. That is, they were carried out from thence; for they were carried into Babylon, as we read in the last chapter of the book of Jeremiah. But such who are really pillars in the spiritual building, are more lasting than those brazen pillars. They shall never go out of the church of God: servants abide not always in the house, but sons abide for ever; those who are really and truly the children of God.

      Ministers of the everlasting gospel are represented as pillars in the spiritual temple. Thus Wisdom is said to build her house, and hew out her seven pillars; (Prov. 9:1) which may be understood of the ministers of the word. So the Lord tells the prophet Jeremiah, that he would make him an iron pillar, and a brazen wall, against the people he had to do with. (Jer. 1:18) And some of the apostles are by Paul represented as pillars; as when speaking of Cephas, James, and John, he says, Who seemed to be pillars, Galatians 2:9. And indeed the apostles, or first ministers of the word, may with great propriety be called pillars; and as Jachin and Boaz were placed in the front of the court of the temple, at the entrance into it, so they are set first in the church of God. (1 Cor. 12:28) And these may be said to be pillars, for their strength; as they were strong in the grace of Christ Jesus, and good soldiers that endured hardness patiently for his name's sake.

      Ministers, like pillars, are, or should be, steady and steadfast, as Peter and John were: who when called before the great counsel of the nation, and threatened what should be done to them, if they persisted to preach in the name of Christ, boldly answered, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto yon, more than unto God, judge ye; (Acts 4:19) and then went on in their ministry, and counted it all honour to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Such was the great apostle of the Gentiles; who, though he knew that bonds and afflictions awaited him wherever he came, yet none of these things moved him. He stood firm, as a pillar: unmoved under all he met with from men, being set for the defence of the gospel. All such may be said to be pillars in the house of God.

      They, like pillars, are for the support of others. For though ministers of the word have no dominion over the faith of men, to impose articles of their own making; yet they are helpers of their joy. They are often instruments of supporting the weak, and comforting the feeble-minded.

      Now here are two of these pillars set at the front of the temple. In the book of Proverbs, before referred to, we read of seven pillars and reference may be had there to the fulness of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, being bestowed upon gospel ministers for their work. Or rather, it may signify that there always has been, and will be, a sufficient number of them, to the end of the world, for the support of the churches of Christ; according to that word, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20) But here is mention made of two pillars; so the apostles were sent two by two, the seventy disciples two by two. So there were two olive trees; and the two witnesses that stood and prophesied in sackcloth, and will do so till the second coming of Christ.

      But Jachin and Boaz may rather be considered as an emblem of Christ, and of the two natures in him. Christ Jesus our Lord went before the children of Israel in a pillar of a cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night. In a pillar of cloud by day to protect them from the scorching heat of the sun; and in a pillar of fire by night, to direct them in the way. Of like use is he to his spiritual Israel, to screen them from the heat of Satan's temptations, and from the fury of wrathful persecutors; and to guide them in the path which they should go. But to return to the text. These pillars may be considered, as an emblem of the strength of Christ. As he is the mighty God, he bears up, and supports all things in the whole universe. By him all things consist. He upholds all things by the word of his power. The whole world would soon dissolve and fall into ruin, did he not support it. The earth, and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Psalm 75:3. As God-man, and Mediator, he bears up his church and people. He is the grand pillar that supports them. He bears them up under all their trials and exercises in this life: under all their temptations, afflictions, and desertions: under the weight of all their burdens. He is that bearer of burdens, whose strength shall never decay. He hath the government of the church upon his shoulder; and for which he is abundantly qualified. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold. (Song 5:15)

      The two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, stood in the porch of the temple, just as the people entered into it; and either these names were inscribed upon them, or rather were given them by Solomon under divine direction. They were also well known; so that whoever entered the temple, knew that these were the names of those pillars: which name served to encourage them that entered therein. The one signifies, he shall establish; and the other, in him is strength: suggesting, that the Lord would establish his true worshippers: and that they should have strength to perform the duties required of them.

      Our Lord Jesus Christ is the door of his spiritual temple; and whoever goes in and out there shell find pasture. There is encouragement from a consideration of what is in him; for he will establish his people; and in him they shall find spiritual strength. This leads rue a little more particularly to consider these pillars, as they may have respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, the way into the church of God.

      The name of the first signifies, he shall establish; that is, the Lord shall establish. Establish who? The church, signified by the temple; and all true believers, real members of a gospel church. The Lord will establish the church itself. This is often affirmed: As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God. God will establish it for ever. (Ps. 48:8)

      Again. Of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her; and the Highest himself shall establish her. (Ps. 87:5) Now the church is well established upon Christ, the sure foundation: being built upon that Rock against which the gates of hell can never prevail: that sure foundation which God hath laid in Sion. Yet, sometimes, with respect to its outward state, it is very unsettled and unstable. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempests and not comforted. (Isa. 54:11) This is said of the church. Tossed about; either by the attacks of false teachers, or by the fury of persecutors. Tossed to and fro, afflicted and not comforted. It is removed, sometimes, from place to place. One while, it was in the land of Judea; then it was carried into the Gentile world, a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, as our Lord foretold. (Matt. 21:43) And the visible church of Christ has been subject to a variety of removals. The candlestick, as was threatened to the Church at Ephesus, has been removed out of its place. But there is a time coming when the church shall be in a more stable condition; when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established upon the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it. (Isa. 2:2) This will be in the Philadelphian church state, to which the passage I have referred, and applied to particular persons, may have respect; Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out. (Rev. 3:12) Thenceforward, the church will no more be in that unsettled state it has been in. Thine eye shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. (Isa. 23:20) Now it is like a tabernacle that is removed from place to place; but then it shall be no more unpinned, no more taken down. Being fixed, it shall remain: and not a stake plucked up, or a cord broken. The Lord will establish her. This may be signified by Jachin.

      Moreover, the Lord will establish also particular believers: all such as enter into a gospel church state in a right manner, that are true members thereof. The name of this pillar, and the inscription upon it, may serve to encourage them to believe, that he will establish them. In some sense they are in a stable, certain fixed state already. They that trust in the Lord are as mount Sion, which shall never be removed, but standeth fast for ever. Their place of defence is the munition of rocks. They are out of the reach of men and devils; and cannot he hurt by them. They are secure in the everlasting covenant of God's grace. They are safe in the arms of everlasting love, from which they can never be separated. They are engraven upon the palms of the Lord's hands and their walls are continually before him. They are, in this respect, in the most safe condition. And so they are as considered in Christ; for in Christ they are established. He which establisheth us with you in Christ, says the apostle. (2 Cor. 1:2) There is no stability but in Christ. There was none in the first Adam. There is none in ourselves; it is only in Christ. The Lord's People, as chosen in him to holiness and happiness, are stable. And they are united to him; for he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. They are stable, as they are built upon him the sure foundation; against which, all the temptations of Satan, the snares of the world, the corruptions of their own hearts, and the persecutions of the world, avail nothing. As they are regenerated by the Spirit of God, they are also in a stable condition. For the good work of grace being begun in them, it shall be performed until the day of Christ. Every grace of the Spirit of God in them is firm and stable; and cannot be removed. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1) Hope is an anchor, sure and steadfast; (Heb. 6:19) and every grace of the Spirit, has an abiding in them. Now remain and abide these three, faith, hope, and love. But these graces, though stable in themselves, as to the principle, are oftentimes very unstable as to their exercise. With respect to faith, many doubts arise in the minds of the Lord's people, as they did in Peter, to whom our Lord said, O thou of little faith. (Matt. 14:31) Hope is sometimes so low in those that are possessed of it, that they say, as the church did, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord. (Lam. 3:18) Love waxes cold; so that there is need of being established, with respect to the exercise of these graces. As to the doctrines of the gospel which the people of God have received, and that in a very comfortable way too; they may be like children tossed to and fro, and he carried away, for a season, by the error of the wicked: so have need to be established in the truth of the doctrines they have received. And it is the Lord's work to do this. It is he that establisheth us with yon in Christ. It is God that gives them that stable condition they have in Christ: that establishes their graces, and the exercise of them; and establishes them in the truth; and he does it by the gospel. Now to him that is of power to establish you by my gospel, (Rom. 16:25) says the apostle, who desired that he might come to the Romans, to impart unto them some spiritual gift, to the end that they might he established.

      The name of the other pillar is Boaz; which signifies, in him is strength. This agrees with what our Lord says of himself; I am Understanding, I have strength. (Prov. 8:14) In him is everlasting strength. Trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. (Isa. 26:4) Believers find it in him; they go to him for it, and say, Surely, in the Lord have we righteousness and strength. There must needs he strength in Christ, since he is the mighty God, whose hands have laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of his fingers: who upholds all things by the word of his power, and governs the whole universe. For the kingdom is his, and he is the Governor among the nations.

      There is strength in him, as Mediator. All power in heaven and in earth is given to him. The spirit of strength and fortitude, as well as of wisdom and the fear of God, rests upon him. He is the man of Gods right hand, whom he hath made strong for himself. There is strength in him, adequate to the work, that he, as Mediator, engaged to perform. He engaged to redeem his people, and he is mighty to save: (Isa. 63:1) able to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him. He is a match for all his and our enemies. He is stronger than the strong man armed; and able to deliver his people out of the hands of him that is stronger than they. He has overcome the world, and abolished death, the last enemy. In him there is strength also for his people, to bear them up under all the temptations and difficulties that attend them in this life. He hath strength to communicate unto them. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. (Isa. 40:29) There is strength in him to enable them to bear the cross he lays upon them; and that patiently. He gives them strength to perform every duty of religion, to which they are unequal in themselves: for without him they can do nothing; but through his strengthening them, they can do all things. In him there is strength to enable them to resist every sin and temptation. They have no might of their own to resist the many enemies they are engaged with; and are ready to fear they shall perish by the hands of one or another of them: but the grace of Christ is sufficient for them, and they find it so. Their hands are made strong, by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. In short, there is strength in him, to enable them to hold on their way to the end; to persevere in faith and holiness. He is the support of their lives, to strengthen them throughout their whole course, to do or suffer whatever he calls them to: and when flesh and heart fail, he will be the strength of their hearts, and their portion for ever. Thus he is their Boaz, in whom they have strength.

      Upon the whole, we may observe, that happy are those persons who are within the walls where these pillars stand, Jachin and Boaz. He (the Lord) shall establish, and in him is strength. Happy are they that dwell in this house; not only because of the work and service in which they are employed, praising the name of the Lord for all the great things he hath done for them: but because their strength is in him, and they go from strength to strength, from one degree of it to another, until they appear before God in Sion.

      This may serve as an encouragement to all those within these walls, that have entered, at the right door, into a gospel church state. It may serve to encourage them to look to Christ for fresh supplies of grace and strength. Trust in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength, to go on in the performance of every religious duty, and act of religious worship. And this may teach the people of God, to give Christ the glory of all they have, are, and do. It is he that establisheth and strengthens them. It is owing to his grace and strength, that they do, and shall persevere in faith and holiness unto the end. He is their Jachin and their Boaz; or their strength in life and death; and will bring them safe to the everlasting enjoyment of himself, in glory.

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