Symbols that Last
Heavenly Father, You are the God I worship, You are the Lord of my life. I bless Your name.
Read 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:1
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Try washing your hands (or think about doing it) before you continue with this reading. What does the action mean to you? Keep that in mind as you “think further.”
Having outlined the structure of the temple, the chronicler now briefly describes the furnishings. There are remarkable parallels between the items here and the images of Christ in John’s Gospel. The last Jerusalem temple had been destroyed when the aging evangelist finally wrote. For many Jewish Christians that must have been a shock. John seems to be assuring them that these things are no longer needed, though they played their part preparing the way for Jesus.
The huge bronze altar in the center of the courtyard emphasizes that sinful human beings cannot enter the presence of God without atonement. Animals die and many utensils are needed for the sacrifices (1,11,16). John’s first comment on Jesus says he is the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin (John 1:29). Beyond the altar is the water bowl where the priests wash before entering the building, between two large ornate pillars marking the threshold (4-6,12,13). In John, disciples are baptized and Jesus is the source of living water and the one who washes his disciples’ feet (John 3:22; 7:37-39; 13:4,5).
Inside, loaves of fresh bread are laid out on tables, acknowledging that God is the provider of our food. Oil lamps burn on golden lamp stands, for God gives light and enlightens us (7,8,19,20). There are long meditations in John’s Gospel on Jesus, the bread of life and the light of the world (John 6:35; 8:12). Close to the curtain across the Most Holy Place, a golden altar burns incense, representing the prayers of the people rising to God like a sweet fragrance. On the night before the cross Jesus intercedes for his followers and all those who will succeed them (John 17:9,20).
Some find physical objects helpful in worship; others prefer pictures in their minds. Either way, it is good to follow John’s example—let the symbol lead us to Jesus.
Jesus, You are indeed the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God. I praise You because of who You are and what You have done.
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