(cross-posted from www.HeavenlyAscents.com)
The following are my notes on Matthew B. Brown’s presentation at the recently held Expound Symposium that I participated in on May 14th. Matthew’s paper was intriguing — a very insightful treatment of temple-related topics that readers of this blog would surely find extremely interesting. My notes do not do it justice by any means, especially because my computer battery is so bad that I had to take notes by hand (gasp)!! So, keeping in mind that what few notes I am providing don’t nearly represent the breadth and depth of Matthew Brown’s wonderful paper, nor his own words verbatim, here goes (after the notes, I provide links to my and to Jeffrey Bradshaw’s papers, for those who haven’t seen them, as they both touch on some of the same temple themes as Matthew’s paper):
Matthew B. Brown
“Cube, Gate and Measuring Tools: A Biblical Pattern”
There is a close relationship between the ancient Israelite temple and the book of the Apocalypse in the New Testament.
The holy of holies of the temple was based on a divine pattern that was revealed to Moses. What we know of the holy of holies can be compared to what we are told about the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation in Rev. 21. The New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven is described as a gold cube, just as is the holy of holies of the temple.
The entrance to the New Jerusalem consisted of three gates on each side, each gate guarded by an angel. This reminds us of the veil of the temple, which was decorated with embroidered cherubim who guarded the way to the holy of holies.
The Ark of the Covenant that sat in the holy of holies represented God’s throne and was supposed to have been placed over the “foundation stone” (the “navel of creation”), which, in turn, sat over the “abyss” (the primeval chaos or flood).
This “throne” of God was associated with the divine attributes of righteousness, truth, and uprightness. These three attributes can be seen as requirements for entrance to the temple, as we see in Ps. 15:2 — compare this to Rev. 21 (my notes here don’t contain the details, but perhaps we are to compare all of Ps. 15 with Rev. 21:7-8, and that both should be considered to be requirements for entry into the respective holy place).
Psalm 24 also represents an entrance liturgy that discusses entry requirements for the temple. According to rabbinic traditions (I have no specific reference), the psalm is said to be associated with the king gaining access to the holy of holies of the temple. The psalm speaks of passing through the gates to ascend to the temple.
We are told in Luke 13:22-30 that the gate for entrance into salvation is “strait” or narrow. There is also talk of “striving” (struggling, contending) to enter through the door, and also of knocking at the door (here M. Brown gives an explanation of a Catholic “entrance liturgy” that involves knocking on a door with a mallet).
Note that Psalm 118:19 makes reference to a temple gate known as the Gate of Righteousness. “Righteousness”, anciently, was symbolized by the plumb line (Isa. 28:17; a measuring tool) and leveling instruments. The targum to Psalm 89:8 indicates that faithfulness/truth surrounds God like a circle or compass. Also, the Hebrew verb yashar (I don’t have any references he used, but see, e.g., Ps. 5:8) means: to make straight, right, or level. It involves creating a straight line, not deviating to the right or left. (There is much more to this discussion that is missing from my notes — generally, the attributes or requirements for entering the temple, including righteousness, uprightness, etc., are often symbolized by measuring tools, such as those used by God to create the world, or those used to build the temple.)
In Ezekiel 40:3, when Ezekiel is shown in vision the future/ideal temple, he sees an angel “with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.” We see here again the relationship between the temple gates and the measuring tools — the line/rope and rod are tools used for building the temple. We see this same theme in Rev. 11:1 and Rev. 21:15, where a rod is used to measure the sacred precincts.
Ezekiel 46:1-2 — we get a description of the king kneeling before the temple gate. He had to “measure up” to be worthy to worship at the temple (from this point on I think I became so enthralled in the presentation that I forgot to take detailed notes, basically only taking down relevant scriptural passages — I will attempt to reconstruct what I can based on this paucity of real notes).
Going back to our temple entrance liturgy in Psalm 24, verses 1-2 make reference to God’s actions at the Creation and the conquering of Chaos. God builds the earth upon the conquered Sea. Other scriptural passages describe God as a master builder using builders’ tools. Proverbs 8:27, 29 tells about how God set his compass upon the chaos waters and ascribed limitations that they could not pass. Job 38:5 talks of God laying the foundations of the earth, measuring and “stretching out the line” upon it — God used builders’ tools.
In Psalm 89, verse 9 describes God’s power over the chaos waters, how He rules over the raging of the sea. This is an important symbol of God’s power. In Ps. 89:25, we can understand that God has delegated this divine power to the Israelite king, who shall likewise rule over the sea.
Psalms 2, 110 — God anoints king, sets him on his holy hill and gives him power over his enemies.
1 Kings 5:17 (see also Ezra 6:3) — King lays the foundation stones for the temple, following similar pattern to God in Creation
Psalm 72:1-2 — This psalm is declared, in the superscription, to be “A Song for Solomon”, and attributes to him the powers and duties of God. “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.” The succeeding verses continue to demonstrate just how much divine power God has delegated to the king:
Psalm 72:4-11 4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. 5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. 6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. 7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. 8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. 9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. 10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. 11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
The righteousness expected of the king in order to be worthy of this trust is described in Pss. 19:13; 89:24; 101.
In 1 Kings 3:6, we are told that King David possessed the three divine throne attributes (mentioned above): truth, righteousness, and uprightness. The fact that the Davidic king was seen to sit on the very throne of Jehovah (1 Chron. 29:23) emphasizes the need for the king to possess these essential qualities.
The stories in Scripture related to the Creation, the Temple, and the End Times (Eschaton) contain a pattern of similar images and symbols. We see the cube, the sets of three gates (veil), the cherubim (angels), the Ark of the Covenant (throne of God), the entrance requirements, and the measuring tools — these very significant symbols can be seen in biblical passages regarding the Creation, the Temple, and the New Jerusalem of the End Times. There are significant parallels between what happens in Heaven and what happens on Earth, and God can be seen to delegate his divine power to mankind.
For more on similar temple-related themes, please see the following papers, also presented at the Expound Symposium (the overlapping of themes was not planned):
My apologies to Matthew Brown for anything in my notes that may not fully or properly represent the wording or intentions of his presentation.