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Tuesday, October 25 2011

The Temple Cedar

Cedar is an aromatic wood that is found in varieties all around the world. Perhaps primarily due to its fragrance, cedar was known to the ancient Israelites in their places and practices of worship - beginning just after the Exodus (see The First Christian Church).

"14:51 And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times: 14:52 And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet" (Leviticus 14:51-52 KJV)

"19:6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 19:7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even." (Numbers 19:6-7 KJV)

After the civil war (see The Civil War Kings), King David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (see Why Didn't David And Saul Fight For Jerusalem?). David fortified the city (the defenses that the Jebusites used were obviously weak, as stated in the verses below) and built himself a palace of fine cedar from Lebanon.

"5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5:5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.

5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. 5:7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. 5:8 And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.

5:9 So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. 5:10 And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.

5:11 And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house. 5:12 And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake." (2 Samuel 5:4-12 KJV)

"I dwell in an house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwelleth within curtains"

The Ark of the Covenant had been in a tent ("tabernacle" - see the Fact Finder question below) since the time of the Exodus - through the forty years of the Sinai wanderings (see A Journey Without A Destination), into the Promised Land in the time of Joshua (see Milk and Honey), and then the approximate two to three centuries during the time of the "Judges," until the Israelite monarchy was established in the time of Israel's last "judge," Samuel (see Naioth In Ramah and Hannah's Dedication). David however, while residing in his new palace of cedar, felt that the Ark should be housed in a more elaborate setting. David apparently did not yet understand that the temporary tabernacle of skins was symbolic of something living, that only a tent, not a relatively permanent structure, could accurately portray (see Written In The Heart Of Our Tabernacles).

Cedars In Lebanon

"7:1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; 7:2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.

7:3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee.

7:4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,

7:5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 7:6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7:7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?" (2 Samuel 7:1-7 KJV)

The LORD nevertheless permitted the building of a Temple structure, not during David's lifetime, but during the time of David's son and royal successor, Solomon. While having been born and raised in an ornate palace of cedar from Lebanon, Solomon naturally chose the same cedar for the Temple - particularly since the supplier of the palace cedar was still a close ally of Israel, with a still-abundant supply of fine cedar.

"5:1 And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David. 5:2 And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,

5:3 Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. 5:4 But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent. 5:5 And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.

5:6 Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

5:7 And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.

5:8 And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying,

I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir. 5:9 My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household." (1 Kings 5:1-9 KJV)

So it was that the Temple was built, around twenty years after the king's palace. Note that the Temple wasn't merely structurally-built of cedar, but the ornate work inside was also of carved cedar i.e. "all was cedar; there was no stone seen." If the Temple were ever to burn, nothing would be left of it - dry cedar is a resinous wood that burns very hot.

"6:9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar. 6:10 And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.

6:11 And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, 6:12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: 6:13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.

6:14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 6:15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir. 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. 6:17 And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long. 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 6:9-18 KJV)

What happened to all of that beautifully crafted cedar in the king's palace and in the Temple? As warned by the LORD, if they ever became corrupt, politically, as symbolized by the king's palace, and religiously, as symbolized by the Temple, He would destroy them. That is what happened: "they burnt the house of God" and they "burnt all the palaces" (see Jerusalem In Flames).

"36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 36:17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 36:18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.

36:19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof." (2 Chronicles 36:15-19 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Why was the LORD content to have His Ark remain in a tent, or "tabernacle"? (b) What "fell" when the king's palace and the Temple did? When will they be restored?
(a) See God's Tent
(b) See The Restoration Of David's Fallen Tabernacle


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This Day In History, October 25

732: Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, defeated the Saracens at Poitiers.

1147: Seljuk Turks (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) annihilated an army of Church of Rome crusaders under the command of German King Conrad III at the Battle of Dorylaeum.

1415: The Battle of Agincourt, in France. A bloody victory of 12,000 English led by Henry V over 60,000 French in the middle period of the Hundred Years War. The 3-hour battle resulted in the deaths of the French forces leader Charles d'Albret, 12 other members of the highest nobility, 1,500 knights, and 4,500 men-at-arms. The victory was made possible by a new British weapon - longbows, which devastated the enemy sword-armed armored knights at a distance. The English losses were negligible.

1555: Charles V (a Hapsburg) abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor. His son Philip II received Spain, the newly-discovered continent of North America, Italy and the Netherlands, while his brother became Holy Roman Emperor as Ferdinand I.

1671: Giovanni Cassini discovered Iapetus, a moon of the planet that humans call Saturn.

1747: The British fleet under Admiral Sir Edward Hawke defeated the French fleet at the second battle of Cape Finisterre.

1760: King George III of England was crowned. The King's reign was marked by the rebellion of some of the citizens of the New England colonies (many others moved to Britain or Canada to escape the revolution) that Britain founded and built in the wilderness of north-eastern North America over a century earlier.

1813: During the War of 1812 (1812-1814; declared by U.S. President James Madison with the stated purpose to annex Canada), Canadian militia and Mohawk allies repelled U.S. invasion forces in the Battle of Chateauguay.

1854: During the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava, Lord Cardigan led the famous "charge of the Light Brigade" cavalry against the Russians.

1861: The Toronto Stock Exchange was established

1900: Britain's annexation of the Boer Republic came into effect. The territory was renamed Transvaal.

1923: Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. J.R. Macleod of the University of Toronto were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their discovery of the hormone insulin. The discovery made possible more effective control of diabetes.

1936: The government of Germany and Italy declared their formation of the "Rome-Berlin Axis" (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1950: Communist Chinese forces crossed the Yalu River into North Korea.

1951: Winston Churchill was again elected Prime Minister of Britain after 6 years out of office.

1955: Austria was reinstated as a sovereign country when the last World War Two allied occupation forces left.

1971: The United Nations General Assembly voted to remove Taiwan from the U.N. and to admit communist China in its place.

1983: U.S. troops invaded Grenada to stop alleged Cuban and Soviet influence on the tiny Caribbean island. Britain was not informed before the invasion even though Grenada was a member of the British Commonwealth.

2004: Cuban President Fidel Castro banned the U.S. dollar from Cuba. Nearly 40 years earlier, the U.S. had already declared a trade embargo with Cuba after the Cuban revolution overthrew the Mafia (the Cuba scenes in the "Godfather" movies are actually historically correct) and CIA-backed fascist dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar.





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