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The Two Pillars of God's Presence

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    May 29, 2007
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    The Two Pillars of God's Presence​

    And he raised up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz. 2 Chron. 3:17

    Studying the account of these two pillars (1st Kings 7; 2 Chron. 3) we notice a startling fact:

    These pillars don't hold up anything!

    Hmmm. Why is that? Merely decorative? Hardly. All the details of this temple were given to Solomon's father David, and faithfully handed down. No, they had a purpose, but what?

    The first clue is in the names themselves, Jachin and Boaz. And this is where mistakes are already made, even in many of our Bible margins. Most are in agreement for the first name, that it means :"He shall establish" or something similar. It is at "Boaz" where we find surprising disagreement. ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia), representative of many, has this to say

    "[Jachin and Boaz] were the names of the two bronze pillars that stood before the temple of Solomon. They were not used in supporting the building; their appearance, therefore, must have been solely due to moral and symbolic reasons. What these are it is not easy to say."

    Part of the reason for ISBE's puzzlement is their rendering of Boaz to mean "in it is strength". It! Whose temple is this anyway? And whose are the details? God's, ultimately. Does it make sense that a structure that God ordained to be built would actually teach idolatry? This exactly the sort of thing that God judges, not blesses. It would be easier to imagine Solomon setting up some idol in the twilight of his defecting life, erecting a "thing of brass" to please one of his many idolatrous wives, and saying "In this is strength". But not at this early point when Solomon is so manifestly blessed and blessing. It is amazing, also, that many notes in our study Bibles (and in the margin of my NASB) also translate Boaz the same way. What were they thinking?! To be sure, Boaz can be translated that way, in the same way that in many languages (Koine Greek, German) pronouns aren't always fixed to particular gender. But this can also be rendered - and should be rendered - "In Him is strength". How is this even doubtful? Not doing this obscures an important truth that is quite clear elsewhere, that only in God do we have true strength - not in some giant dashboard Jesus. For the record, many commentators, especially the older ones, speak clearly to this point. Matthew Henry, commenting on the parallel 2 Kings 7, writes of these pillars:

    "Their significancy is intimated in the names given them (v. 21): Jachin-he will establish; and Boaz-in him is strength. Some think they were intended for memorials of the pillar of cloud and fire which led Israel through the wilderness: I rather think them designed for memorandums to the priests and others that came to worship at God's door, [1.] To depend upon God only, and not upon any sufficiency of their own, for strength and establishment in all their religious exercises. When we come to wait upon God, and find our hearts wandering and unfixed, then by faith let us fetch in help from heaven: Jachin-God will fix this roving mind. It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. We find ourselves weak and unable for holy duties, but this is our encouragement: Boaz-in him is our strength, who works in us both to will and to do. I will go in the strength of the Lord God....

    "The gospel church is what God will establish, what he will strengthen, and what the gates of hell can never prevail against."

    These pillars which Solomon raised up were much more stable than those which merely hold up temples, like the one Samson was able to bring down with puny human might, Judges 16:25. Joachin and Boaz hold up nothing. That was the point of these columns seeming uselessness. But they point (to faith-given hearts) to the God who holds up everything. They point to the invisible temple, of which Solomon's was only the visible type, and to the invisible God. It should not be surprising that the God of metaphors, parables and types should also fill the House in which He put His name with these same helps to our faith. The invisible God condescends to use visual aids. These two "useless" pillars are just that. They are aids to our faith, as well as witnesses of God's presence and sovereignty, that He establishes and is the source of our strength.


    The ones fashioned in the earthly temple were made by Hiram of Tyre and directed and financed by Solomon. But the heavenly pillars - all true pillars - are God's:

    "For the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he has set the world upon them." 1 Sam. 2:8

    Both before these passages (in Kings and Chronicles)and after do we have occurrences of two pillars. Before this time, of course, there were the two pillars of God, the cloud by day and the fiery one by night, guiding Israel and assuring them of His presence. It is interesting that, out of the nine Hebrew words for "pillar", the word used for both the pillars in the wilderness and those of Solomon's Temple is the same, AMMUD. However this is the most common word for "pillar". AMMUD is used in the Bible for all references to those pillars that accompanied Israelite. It is also used for all other references to the Tabernacle and the temple.

    The other two pillars are in Revelation. Remember the Angel of Revelation 10:1-2?

    "And I saw still another Mighty Angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on His head, His face was like the sun, and His feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in His hand. And He set His right foot on the sea, and His left foot on the land,"

    You might have noticed that I used capitalization here (though my NKJV doesn't) because I believe this is a reference to not just any angel, but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The same Christ who was with Israel in the wilderness ("The shout of a Prince is among them"), the Angel of the Covenant, shows Himself here to have authority over all land and seas (all the nations). Later on this same Angel gives John the "little book", the Word of God, I believe (though this is disputed by some. Interestingly, John Gill sees here a reference to the Reformation!). Like David and Ezekiel (Psalm 19:10; Ezek. 3:1ff) John eats the bittersweet book and is empowered to preach. Like the Old Testament prophets he is given his commission, vs. 11:

    "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings".

    Returning to the pillar theme, there are a couple more occurrences of the word in the New Testament that are interesting: Those who overcome, Christ promises, will "be made pillars in the temple of My God", Rev. 3:12. I remember reading this as a young Christian, not being particularly thrilled at the prospect of this! Oh boy, I get to be part of a building... forever. Of course that was when I took things a lot more literally than I do now. A similar metaphorical use is that of Paul. In 1st Timothy 3:15 he describes the church of the Living God as "the pillar and ground of the truth". He also refers to Peter and John as ones who "seemed to be pillars".

    So how does this all tie together? Because the Bible is unified we can often trace out wonderful themes throughout God's book, though spelled out and typified in different ways. The God of Old and New Testament is the same. He is the Boaz and Jachin, Establisher and Strengthener, of all who believe. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

    "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus", Phil. 1:6.

    Reading this passage in Chronicle we should never doubt God's power and mercy to those who have faith in His promises.