3:16 – The Rest of the Story – God Reveals His Plan 8: 2 Chronicles

A Bible Study exploring all the 3:16s in the Bible as they illuminate

  • the Human Condition
  • God’s Revelation of His Plan (Current location of study)
  • God’s Fulfillment of His Plan
  • Our Response

“He made chains like a necklace and put them on the tops of the pillars, and he made a hundred pomegranates and put them on the chains.” – 2 Chronicles 3:16

This week’s verse led me down a path in which I quickly realized from the outset that I won’t be able to do sufficient justice to this verse in the typical length of writing that I normally do. What at first appeared to be a short, obtuse verse has led me into a marvelous journey of discovery about God’s revelation of His plan for us. So let’s jump right in.

The verse…

“He made chains like a necklace and put them on the tops of the pillars, and he made a hundred pomegranates and put them on the chains.” – 2 Chronicles 3:16

… lies in the context of one of the two passages (2 Chronicles 3-4 and 1 Kings 6) describing the construction of the temple by King David’s son, King Solomon. The chains, pomegranates, and pillars being referred to are two large bronze pillars that Solomon had cast and placed on either side of the entry into the temple, as shown in the illustration below.

Illustration of Solomon’s Temple from The Gospel Project 2016

The very next verse says “He set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the south, the other on the north; that on the south he called Jachin, and that on the north Boaz.” It may seem strange to us to hear that the pillars were given names, but in Hebrew culture names were assigned to people and things to convey specific meaning. Jachin means “He establishes” and Boaz means “In Him is strength.” This was Solomon’s way of reminding the nation that God is the One who has established the nation and provides their protection. If you’d like, you can watch this YouTube video detailing the elements of the temple.

Before proceeding further, I want to give an acknowledgement to David Schrock, whose articles regarding the tabernacle and temple proved very useful to me in preparing this blog post. I’ve referenced some specific blog posts of his at the end that I recommend you explore if you wish to learn more than what I’ve chosen to write here!

When Solomon built the temple, it was following the initial desire and plans of his father David. In 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 12-13 it says

Now when the king [David] lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? …. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

This word from God to David served as a double prophecy. It referenced the fact the his son Solomon would build the temple, but it also referenced the future Messiah Jesus who would build the church (believers and followers of Christ) as an everlasting temple.

The temple that David envisioned and that Solomon built was designed to follow the general plan of the tabernacle, which itself was designed according to a plan given to Moses by God (Exodus 25:8-9And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it). The tabernacle plan, in turn, was designed by God to provide a visible object lesson to us about God’s holiness, his dwelling in heaven, and the separation that must exist between us and Him because of our sin until his plan of redemption and restitution could be completed (Hebrews 8-10 – See my blog posts here, here, and here about those chapters from my previous Hebrews study). Below are the most important points I want to emphasize regarding the tabernacle and temple.

  1. God desires to dwell with us. From the garden of Eden to the tabernacle/temple, to the incarnate Jesus, to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and culminating with God’s plan to establish his Holy residence on Earth in the New Jerusalem in the New Creation described in Revelation, God’s story revealed to us in the Bible reflects his wish to be God With Us (Emmanuel). The temple reflected in this week’s 3:16 verse was a visible, semi-permanent reminder to God’s people of God’s desire to dwell among them.
  2. The tabernacle/temple serves as a picture of what our rebellion (sin) cost. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden (where God dwelled with them). Genesis 3:22-24 says “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” God didn’t want us to be eternally “stuck” in our sinful state, and he could no longer dwell directly with us because our sin and his holiness are incompatible, so he banished us from His dwelling place.
    • The entrance to the tabernacle/temple faced east, symbolizing the way back to “Eden” was from the east.
    • The tabernacle/temple got progressively “holier” as you moved through it from east to west, symbolizing the closer you get to God, the holier you become.
    • The tabernacle/temple were divided into three sections, each representing particular permissions of access. The entire structure was separated from the surroundings (all of creation) by a wall, representing God’s distinctness from all His creation. The entrance in the east indicated that there is a single path through which we can approach God (Jesus). The outermost courtyard was limited to those who are called to be God’s people (the Levites specifically in the case of the tabernacle, and the Israelites generally in the case of the temple). Only the priests (descendants of Aaron) could enter the outer chamber (the Holy place) of the tabernacle/temple, and only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies).
  3. The tabernacle/temple represent God’s power and victory over His enemies. The tabernacle was constructed at the conclusion of God’s victory over Egypt in rescuing the Israelites from their enslavement. The temple was built when the conquest of the promised land was complete and God had given the people rest from all their surrounding enemies (2 Samuel 7:1). The church was established when Jesus conquered death on the cross by being resurrected from the grave. The new Jerusalem will be the everlasting co-residence of God and His people after the final Judgment and the new creation (Revelation 21:22 – “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.“)

As we celebrate Christmas this week, I pray that you will recognize God’s love for you and his tremendous desire to live with you. When Jesus died on the cross, the Bible tells us that the veil separating the innermost chamber of the temple from the outer chamber was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:44; Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38), signifying that Jesus’ death provided the necessary requirement for us to re-gain direct access to God through Him. John 1:11-13 says “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Recommended blog posts by David Schrock:

Next week’s 3:16 study will come from 1 Chronicles. Merry Christmas!

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