Wednesday, December 31, 2008

THE ORACLE


In 1st Kings chapter 6 we read how the temple in Jerusalem was built under the leadership of king Solomon. No, Solomon did not build it himself, but it was built under his leadership, and it was built according to the pattern that king David, his father, had given him. And so, Solomon obeyed and he built the temple, and he particularly paid attention to the details of the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant was to be placed. The title of this sermon is: "The Oracle"

What is an Oracle? (1 Kings 6:1-6)

An Oracle is a "saving from God". Any message from God is an Oracle. In the Old Testament, the place where God spoke His words also came to be called "The Oracle". And thus, the Holy of Holies, in the temple, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, where God spoke from between the two Cherubim on top of the Ark, this most holy place was also called "The Oracle". This most holy place in the temple is the focus of our sermon today. Let us begin to read here in 1 Kings 6:1,

1 Kings 6:1
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

1 Kings 6:2
And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.

1 Kings 6:3

And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.

1 Kings 6:4

And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.

1 Kings 6:5

And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the wails of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:

1 Kings 6:6

The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.

Thus, it was a building that was about 90 feet deep, and 30 feet wide, and it was about 45 feet high. Today we have houses in suburbia that are this large, and some are even larger, but not with the lavish interior of Solomon's temple. In addition, there were chambers built round about this building that were built up three stories high. The lowest story was 714 feet wide, the middle story was 9 feet wide, and the top story was 10/4 feet wide. The reason for these differences in width was because the walls were thicker at the bottom than they were at the top. The walls had to be much stronger at the bottom than at the top. Much craftsmanship was needed during the construction of this temple. For example, there were neither hammers nor axes heard during the construction.

Neither Hammer Nor Axe
(1 Kings 6:7, Eph 2:9). We read in verse 7,

1 Kings 6:7
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.

Every stone was precut to size and shape so that each stone fit perfectly in place. We do not read of any mortar that was being used in this building. The stones were shaped such that they interlocked with each other. The wooden beams interlocked with each other, and the panels of cedar wood also were put in place without hammering. This required a great deal of preparation. Solomon employed 153,600 men for 7 years just to build the temple and finish the work. Just imagine that all the male workers in the city of Long Beach would be fully employed for 7 years to work on just this project. That is how extensive this project was. But at the place where the temple was built, every stone and every wooden beam fell in place. God recorded this to indicate that the temple in Jerusalem was pointing to another temple, a spiritual temple of God. The unique stones of Solomon's temple were more than complete in an earthly sense; they were perfect. God declared them perfect. There was no defect in them & there may nothing defective be added by applying iron tools to fasten them in place.

This must be the temple of the God of peace, and therefore no iron tools may be heard in it. God's work must be done with as much care and as little noise as possible. Noise and violence will only hinder the work of God, but they will never be of any help to the work of God. Iron symbolizes violence. Iron is used in weapons of war. Iron is used in shaping building materials, but they are shaped with a great deal of force and violence. Moreover, God indicated hereby that the spiritual temple of God is built without human hands. God prepares the stones, which represent all the saints whom He chose unto salvation, and they are put in place without any work from mankind. Our salvation may not be a product of our work, or of anything that we DO.

God says in Ephesians 2:9 that our salvation is:
"Not of works, lest any man should boast".

Before God saves us, He does a great deal of preparing us. God's providence, operated by God's Holy Spirit, shapes us and prepares us for the moment that we are "put in place". The entire history of the world serves to prepare the stones that are going to be "put in place", and once we are put in place, which is the moment we have become "Born from Above", God declares us perfect, and God declares us to be the place:

Where God Dwells
(1 Kings 6:11-13, Psalm 80:1,1 Kings 8:27, John 14:23)

1 Kings 6:11
And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying,

1 Kings 6:12

Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep ail my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:

1 Kings 6:13

And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.

Can this be true?


Does God dwell in temples made with hands?

God did not specifically say that He will dwell in this temple, but it is implied. It is "as if God would personally be in their midst, and "as if He was dwelling in the temple that was in their midst. There are many verses in the Old Testament that point to this. For example, we read in Psalm 80:1, "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth". This expression "between the cherubim" occurs 10 times in the Old Testament, but everywhere you see this expression the word "between" is in italics, which means that the translators inserted it as a suggestion, but it was not in the original text. You could change this to "Thou that dwellest as the cherubim", and still be correct. The point I am making is that you do not find a verse in the Bible where God says that He personally was dwelling in the temple at Jerusalem, although from the context, it is implied, and it is so used in New Testament doctrine. Solomon knew this already.

1 Kings 8:27
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee: how much less this house that I have builded?"

God is omnipresent, which means that God is present everywhere.

But will God personally dwell in something that His creatures have made?

Could the building that man made be more glorious than heaven itself?


Of course not! In the beginning, God made heaven and earth.

Could this mean that God made heaven for Himself as a dwelling place?

Did God improve on His situation by creating heaven?

Of course, the answer is NO!

God is not more perfect now than He was in the past, because then He would continuously improve on Himself, and then He would not be God. We do not understand exactly in what way God would dwell in a temple made with hands, and we do not understand exactly in what way God will dwell in the souls of those whom He has saved, but we accept these words as truth even though we cannot fully understand them. And so, we see that we must be careful in understanding the place where God dwells. Almighty God who is infinite and who is greater than this universe, which we already call infinite, and who already is present everywhere in this universe, this great God declared that He would dwell in certain places in a special way. For example, the Lord Jesus said in John 14:23,
"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me. he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make our abode with him".

Will God shrink Himself to pinpoint size and so dwell in our souls?

No! We cannot understand how God would do this, but we must believe that it is true. He dwells in our souls, but we do not know in what way He dwells there. Let us turn again to 1 Kings 6:16.

Cedar and Gold
(1 Kings 6:16-22. Romans 8:32)

Now God speaks about the oracle, the most holy place in the temple, because there is where God was believed to dwell "between the cherubim" above the Ark of the Covenant.

1 Kings 6:16
And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.

1 Kings 6:17

And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.

1 Kings 6:18

And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.

1 Kings 6:19
And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.

1 Kings 6:20
And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar, which was of cedar.

1 Kings 6:21

So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.

1 Kings 6:22

And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.

First, the entire interior of the temple was covered with cedar, and then all the cedar was covered with gold.


What could this mean?

Cedar is strong and durable. Many houses in California have roofs of cedar shingles. Cedar also has a very sweet smell. Moreover, the cedar tree is used in the Bible as representing "mighty conquerors". The kings of Assyria, and the Pharaoh's of Egypt, and the kings of Judah, and the Hebrew commonwealth itself, and the majesty of the Messianic age, are all compared to a towering cedar, in its royal loftiness and supremacy, like a mighty conqueror. But all the cedar in the temple was covered with gold. In fact, all the interior of the temple, and all the candlesticks, and all the vessels, and all the utensils, were covered with "pure gold". Gold stands for being rich. Gold is not representing the elect people of God, because gold was found in Arabia, in Sheba, and in Ophir, but gold was not found in the land of Canaan, symbol of the Kingdom of God. Gold was abundant in Babylon, and the Babylonian Empire is spoken of as a "head of gold" because of its great riches, but the gold in Babylon as well as the gold in the land of Israel was all imported gold. So, gold Is the mark of being rich. Babylon was rich in material things, but God is rich in material! things as well as spiritual things. In the days of Solomon's temple people walked on a golden floor, anticipating what we read in Revelation 21 that in the New Jerusalem people will walk of streets paved with gold. When gold is abundant, it lessens its value. Rightly so, because the attraction of the New Jerusalem is not for its gold, but because Christ is there. He is worth more than ail the gold in the universe. And thus, when we look at the spiritual temple of God, the New Testament church, then the two attributes of the spiritual temple of God shown here are: It is a mighty conqueror and it is rich. But the conquering character of the church is overshadowed by the characteristic of being rich; not with the riches of this world, but with the riches that God bestowed on us. God says in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" If God has given us all things that we need, then we are rich beyond belief. We have been redeemed through the blood of Christ "according to the riches of His grace", and we have been redeemed:

Not With Silver or Gold
(Jeremiah 31:3, 1 Peter 1:18-19, John 10:26-28)

We have not been bought back with earthly silver or with gold, but by the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of the blood of Christ.

In 1 Peter, Chapter 1 we can compare the earthly temple in Jerusalem with the spiritual temple that God speaks about so often in the New Testament. God speaks here through the pen of the Apostle Peter, and God reminds us in this chapter that we are special in His eyes. God said in Jeremiah 31:3, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love", which means that we were always special in His eyes, because He loved us from the infinite past. But there was a time between our physical birth and our spiritual birth that we were, "by nature children of wrath, even as others," (Ephesians 2:3) we were in bondage to sin. It was for these sins that Christ had to redeem us. And then the oracle from God came in the form of a sermon that we heard, or in the form of a Bible study teacher that we heard, or in the form of a fellow church member that we heard, for which we suddenly had ail ears. It made us sit up and listen, because we realized that it was an oracle from God. Briefly summarized, this is what we heard:

1 Peter 1:18
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

1 Peter 1:19

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

1 Peter 1:20

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

In 16th century English: "We were redeemed from our vain conversation".
In 21st century English: "We were delivered from the sinful life that we lived".

And how were we delivered?

God bought us back so that we became one of His sheep. He did not buy us back with silver or gold, since these are corruptible things, which will be burned up at the end of the world, but He bought us back with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How did we happen to live the sinful life that we lived?

It was received by tradition from our fathers, such as Adam, and anyone else of our fathers between Adam and now. We learned from our direct fathers by imitation, but the reason why we liked it was because our father Adam gave us this sinful body, and thus we really like our sins. But Christ bought us back, by substituting for us before the Judgment throne of God. Christ paid the penalty for our sins in our place. He was the Lamb of God, without blemish and without spot. And He was foreordained before the foundation of the world to suffer and die in our place for our sins. It means that our sins were also in God's view before the foundation of the world, and it means that everybody's sins were also in God's view before the foundation of the world. But Christ did not suffer and die for everybody's sins. He specifically chose to pay for the sins of those who were His sheep. The Lord Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews in John 10:26-28, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish". When He gave us eternal life, we became aware that this was an oracle from God. We became aware of it because God came to dwell in our soul. This is:

Where God Dwells
(Revelation 21:9-16, 3)

This is where God dwells here on earth, in the souls of those whom He saved, by first having Christ pay for our sins, and then by applying that payment to our life at the time that fit God's plan.


Is that not glorious?

But it will get even more glorious.

When the Last Day of this earth has come, and God has given everybody a new immortal body, and when God has destroyed this earth, and God has judged and removed all the wicked from our sight, then He will take us up into a place that is called the New Heaven & New Eearth. And there God will show us the complete set of all the saints. It is impossible to describe it in terms of this universe what God is showing us in the next universe, where all the laws of nature are different. Literally, we have no words for it, because everything we will see and everything we will do is literally out of this world. That is why God described it to us in the form of a parable. He said in Revelation 21:9,

Revelation 21:9
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

Revelation 21:10

And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:11

Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

All the saints together are called "the bride, the Lamb's wife". She is called "the bride" and at the same time "the Lamb's wife" because we will be celebrating a wedding feast which will continue into eternity future. When God describes the New Jerusalem He describes it in a parable. The Bride of Christ, or the body of believers, or all the Old Testament and New Testament saints together, does not look like an earthly city and it does not look like a gigantic Jasper stone. These are earthly representations of something that God describes as super glorious. But look now at the dimensions of that city. Drop down to verse 15.

Revelation 21:15

And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

Revelation 21:16

And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

Here is a cube of 12,000 furlongs on each side; it is not important how long 12000 furlongs are. The main thing is that this is a cube where God promised He would dwell. We read in Revelation 21:3,

Revelation 21:3

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Therefore, the New Heaven & New Earth is not another planet earth where we are, and a heaven above it where God dwells. NO! It is a place all right, but God will dwell with us, in the same place, which is called the New Heaven & New Earth. At the same time, God describes it as a cube of 12,000 furlongs where God dwells with man and among man.


Does this not remind us of another cube, the Holy of Holies in the temple, where God promised to dwell?

This was the cube that was called the Oracle, and it was 20 cubits in length, 20 cubits in breadth, and 20 cubits in height. God dwelt there, represented by the Ark of the Covenant, which was placed there. God approved of it, as demonstrated by the fire from the Lord when Solomon offered a burnt offering at the completion of the temple. And so. we have come full circle back to the Oracle, or the Holy of Holies, or the most holy place. There God spoke oracles from between the two cherubim. The New Testament uses the word oracle only in the plural form. What are:

The Oracles of God?
(Acts 7:37-38, 47-50)

In the New Testament, the Oracles of God refer to the Scriptures. Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles 7:37. In Acts, chapter 7 Stephen, one of the 7 deacons of the church at Jerusalem gave his defense. He was accused of blasphemy, he was brought before the council of the Sanhedrin, and there he gave his last sermon before he was stoned to death. God spoke through the mouth of Stephen, and God said in Acts 7:37,

Acts 7:37

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear.

Acts 7:38

This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

The prophet, whom God raised up, like unto Moses, was the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Moses received "the lively oracles" to give to the children of Israel.


What were those lively oracles?

They were Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Now, drop down to verse 47,

Acts 7:47
But Solomon built him an house.

Acts 7:48

Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands: as saith the prophet,

Acts 7:49

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

Acts 7:50

Hath not MY hand made ail these things?

God takes full credit for all the building efforts of Solomon. God says that His hand has made all these things. God made the temple in Jerusalem, and God was responsible for enforcing the rules that no hammer blows and no axes may be used on the building site. God determined that the Holy of Holies must be 20 cubits X 20 cubits X 20 cubits, signifying His dwelling place within the temple. And God did that because He was going to describe another cube where He would dwell among the children of men. God determined that the entire temple would be encased in cedar and gold, and God saw to it that gold would be available when the temple was under construction. God saw to it that His oracles would be completed by the end of the 1st century, and that His people, those for whom Christ suffered and died, would know in their lifetime that they had been redeemed by the blood of Christ. As a result, God says to those who have been redeemed:

Be Ye Separate (1 Peter 1:16, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, John 8:44)

God says in 1 Peter 1:16,
"Be ye holy, for I am holy",
or "Be ye separate, for I am separate".

In what way is God separate?

God is separate from other gods. God does not mingle with other gods. God is set apart by Himself, and He demands from us that we set ourselves apart from those who will draw us away from God. He demands that from us because we have become the dwelling place of God. He says in 2 Corinthians 6:14,

2 Corinthians 6:14

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:15

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

2 Corinthians 6:16

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2 Corinthians 6:17

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

2 Corinthians 6:18

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. If a Christian girl meets a boy who is of a different persuasion, and he insists that his religion is best, then she should not try to win him over for Christ, because in that way she would be violating what God has stated here in verses 14-16. Do not try to find loopholes by making your fiancé your evangelism ground. God says in verse 15,
"What agreement has Christ with Satan?"

An unregenerate individual is still in the hands of Satan and we do not know if this person who is in this unregenerate state is a reprobate or not. The Lord Jesus said to them in John 8:44. "Ye are of your father the devil". If you get married to an unregenerate individual, then your father in law is the devil. This can never be a happy marriage. Moreover, your children will be drawn away to follow the devil. Then they will marry unregenerate spouses and so your entire posterity will be drawn away from the word of God (Read Judges 3:6, 1 Kings 11:3-8). The term "unequally yoked" also applies to business relationships. We should not imagine that we would receive a fair treatment from those business partners who are in the clutches of Satan.

You know that Satan hates you, and thus he will try his level best to harm you in any way he can. Your business relationship may be sailing smoothly for the first few years, but when troubles start everything will be falling apart. The term
"unequally yoked" also applies to your place of worship. If you are a member of a church that has become a different gospel, then you are worshipping in a temple dedicated to the worship of devils.

God says in verse 17,
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate". God's command to us is that we come out from among them. Leaving that church will be pleasing to God. If you stay, trying to convert someone, you will be swallowed up in their cesspool of unrighteousness. God's command to us is that we must remember that, we are the temple of God. Therefore, we must conduct ourselves in such a way that we remain unspotted from the evil that is ail around us. Pray to God that He will give us the wisdom to recognize when we should refuse an unequal yoke. Pray to God that He will give us the courage to cut the ties of our existing unequal yokes. Pray to God that He will give us the grace to bring it to a conclusion that is pleasing in His sight. AMEN.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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