By My Spirit – Part 2

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Meredith G. Kline, “By My Spirit”
[part 2] Kerux 9:2 (Sep. 1994): 3-22.

II. The Spirit and the Messiah

God’s presence in the midst of his people is a key theme throughout Zechariah’s visions. He is present in the person of the Messiah. This Immanuel presence takes the form of the messianic rider of the red horse, stationed in the midst of the myrtles (vision one); and of the Angel-measurer, who proclaims the evangel, “Behold I come and will dwell in the midst of you” (2:10, 11 [14,15]), and who testifies that his messianic appointment will be validated by his finishing his building mission (vision three). Again in vision four the messianic Angel is present with the covenant community, represented by Joshua the high priest, who is also identified as a type of the messianic Servant. And once more here in vision five, now under the typological figure of Zerubbabel, Messiah is seen participating with his people in the work of restoration. Also, the voice of the Messiah is heard here in the word of the Lord, declaring (as in vision three) that the triumphant completion of his rebuilding commission will confirm his identity as one whom the Lord has sent into the midst of the menorah-community.

Constantly bound up with Messiah’s presence is a presence of the Spirit. The mounted rider is attended by agents of the Glory-Spirit, emissaries of the court of heaven symbolized by the horsemen in vision one and by the expert destroyers in vision two. The divine measurer in vision three states (according to the preferable rendering) that he had been sent “with the Glory-Spirit” (2:8 [12]).15 In vision four the combination of the sign of the Messiah-Servant and the seal of the Spirit suggests the intimate association of the two.16 It is this theme of the interrelationship of the Son and the Spirit as it is developed in the vision of the menorah and its mission that we shall now explore.

Here in summary outline is what we shall find. The Son is anointed with the Spirit and he is the anointer with the Spirit. As the Spirit-anointed one, Messiah is himself the model (i.e., perfect) menorah. He is therefore also a model (in the sense of paradigm) for the menorah mission of shedding light in the dark world, the mission-imperative entailed in the menorah identity. Now curiously the menorah mission involves making the menorah. Hence, the Messiah as ultimate executor of the menorah mission is the maker of the menorah, the builder of the church. Expressed in the typological idiom of the fifth vision, Zerubbabel is the builder of the temple (Zech. 4:7-10). Further, in the course of making the menorah, Messiah commands the menorah to fulfill its mission as a light to the Gentiles, the mission which he models,17 and thus to participate in making itself. That is, Christ promulgates the Great Commission. And in order to empower the menorah-church for that mission, which is accomplished not by human might but by God’s Spirit, Messiah, the anointed with the Spirit, becomes the anointer with the Spirit. In the symbolism of vision five, he becomes the channel of the oil from the olive trees to the menorah (Zech. 4:11-14). To be the menorah-maker means Messiah is mediator of the Spirit. Christ pours out the Spirit upon the church. He complements the charge of the Great Commission with the charism of Pentecost. So he creates the menorah-church a likeness of the Spirit.

A. Messiah-Anointed with the Spirit: Model for the Menorah. As shown by his designating the Messiah “my Servant the Branch” (Zech. 3:8), Zechariah draws upon Isaiah for his messianic portraiture. And in Isaiah’s prophecy, anointing with the Spirit is a hallmark both of the coming branch from David’s line (Isa. 11:2) and of the Servant of the Lord (Isa. 42:1; 61:1; cf. Luke 4:18). Now, Spirit-anointing imparts Spirit-likeness18 and, agreeably, in Isaiah 11 the anointing presence of the Spirit of Yahweh on the messianic shoot out of the stock of Jesse endues him with the wisdom and power characteristic of the Spirit (vv. 1, 2). Translated into Apocalypse idiom-the messianic lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David (Rev. 5 :5) is the Lamb with seven horns (power) and seven eyes (wisdom), which are the seven Spirits of God ( Rev.5:6, an allusion to Zech. 4:10).

Also, according to Isaiah, the Anointed of the Lord bears the likeness of the Spirit’s radiant splendor, the Glory-light aspect of the Spirit which is replicated in the menorah. To his chosen Servant, on whom he puts his Spirit (Isa. 42:1), the Lord says: “I give you . . . for a light to the Gentiles,” to illuminate those in darkness (Isa. 42:6, 7; 49:6; cf. Luke 2:32; Acts 26:22, 23). The advent of this divine prince to occupy David’s throne forever is the shining of a great light on the people who walked in darkness (Isa. 9:1, 2 [8:23-9:1]; cf. 60:1-3).

Christ, the true anointed Servant, the true Israel, is the true menorah-light, the perfect likeness of the Glory-Spirit. And as the true menorah, Christ carries out the menorah mission of witnessing to the living God, who has “given him for a witness to the peoples” (Isa.55:4).

Perfect image of the archetypal Glory-Spirit by virtue of his anointing, Christ serves along with the Glory-Spirit as a model which is replicated in the menorah community. Fashioned anew in the likeness of the Anointed one, the members of that community too are God’s servants (Isa. 41:8, 9; 44:1, 2), God’s witnesses (Isa. 43:10, 12; 44:8), and as such a light to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 13:47; 26:22, 23).

Like Zechariah, Daniel exhibits this same Isaianic complex of themes. After the pattern of Isaiah’s suffering Servant, the mashiah nagid, “Anointed-Prince,” of Daniel 9:24-27 is cut off to make an atonement for the many, so ratifying the covenant of grace and becoming a covenant of the people. In Daniel 7:13, 14 the Messiah appears as the heavenly son of man, whose parousia with the clouds of heaven is a revelation of him as the perfect image of the Glory-Spirit. All the glory-components that constitute the imago Dei are present here: the glory of dominion over a universal and everlasting kingdom, the glory of holiness prerequisite to his reception and exaltation before the ancient of days at the white throne, and the glory of luminous majesty as one invested with the clouds of Glory.

Also, as in Isaiah and Zechariah there are indications in Daniel that the Messiah is a model that is reproduced in God’s people. For the interpretation given of the vision of the son of man identifies the saints of the Most High as participating with him in the glory of his kingdom’s dominion (7:18, 22, 27). And in Daniel 12:3 the faithful are likened to the archetypal Anointed one in his specifically menorah character as light and witness. They have been witness-lights who turned many to righteousness, and at their resurrection-glorification they will be radiant lights, replicas of the son of man adorned with the Glory-clouds, shining as the brightness of the firmament, as the stars for ever and ever.

The menorah vision of Zechariah 4 receives explicit canonical exposition in the lampstand symbolism of John’s Apocalypse. Our examination of this begins with a brief notice of John’s broader use of the metaphor of light for Christ and his mission. In John’s Gospel, Christ’s identification as light (John 1:4b, 5, 9) is related to his identity as the Logos-declaration of God, the one who shows us the Father (John 1:1, 14a, 18; 3:34; 8:19, 28; 12:49, 50; 14:6-ll, esp. v. 9; 17:8; cf. 1 John 1:2), who is light (1 John 1:5). It is particularly through his advent that the Logos is light. He is light in relation to men (John 1:4).19 He shines as a light among us (John 1:14), in this world and its darkness (John 1:5, 9, 10a). He identifies himself as the light of the world, designed to give opening of eyes to the blind and the light of life to those in darkness (John 8:12; 9:5).

In the terms of Zechariah’s fifth vision, Christ as Logos-light performs the menorah mission. He, the Word of God, speaks the words of God whose word is truth (John 17:17; cf. 14:6). These words are the words of eternal life (John 6:68; cf. 63) which he gives to his disciples (John 3:34; 14:10; 17:8)to evoke faith in God, who delivers from the judgment and transports believers from death to life (John 5:24; cf. 4:14, 41; 6:63, 68; 8:51). The light of the Logos is a witness-light shining to bring those without the knowledge of God to the light of the knowledge of God radiating from him, the image of God (John 1:10b, 14b; 12:35, 36, 46; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4-6), the glory of Israel and a light to the Gentiles. The Logos-Lamb is the lamp (Rev.21:23).

Further, the Logos-light is an archetypal model for the menorah, a light that is replicated in believers. He is the true, the heavenly light (John 1:9; cf. 1 John 2:8); they become “sons of light” (John 12:36; cf. Matt. 5:14-16). Illustrative of this reproduction of the Logos as the menorah or witness-lamp is John the Forerunner-herald, the witness to the true light (John 1:6-8, 15, 19ff.), the lamp that lit the way to the Lamb (John 5:35).

There are two passages in the book of Revelation where Zechariah’s lampstand imagery is taken up by John, and in both the idea is clearly conveyed that the model of the glorified Christ is being replicated in the menorah-church. In the opening vision, the heavenly son of man, his countenance like the sun, his eyes like flames of fire, appears in the midst of the radiant lampstand churches. Lights in the world, they are fashioned in the likeness of their glorious Lord, the archetype light of the world (Rev. 1:12-20; cf. 21:11).

In Revelation 11 (esp. v. 4), the most explicit reference to Zechariah’s fifth vision, the menorah symbolism is applied to the two prophet figures representing the church. An extensive parallel between the nature and historical course of the missions of Christ and the prophet-menorah community directs attention to the way the church is being formed in the Lord’s menorah image. “As their [the two prophets’] career unfolds in verses 3-12, the reader cannot miss the similarity of its pattern to that of Jesus’ ministry. A time of proclamation and signs, issuing in Satanic opposition and the violent death of the witnesses in the great city, ‘where also our Lord was crucified’ (so verse 8 adds, making the parallelism explicit), is followed by the resurrection of the martyrs and their ascension in a cloud.”20

As the canonical connections of Zechariah 4 reveal, the Spirit-anointed one of whom the prophet speaks is the model for the menorah-community and its world mission. Christ is the kerux who issues his evangel-command to all afar off and so sets the pattern for the church in fulfilling the Great Commission.21 The identification of Messiah’s people by the symbol of the menorah indicates that the kerux-likeness of the Light of the world is being reproduced in them. In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation they “are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15, 16). So is fulfilled the eternal purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will: “For whom he foreknow he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).

B. Messiah-Agent of the Spirit: Masterbuilder of the Menorah. The menorah epitomizes the temple and accordingly in Zechariah 4 the menorah’s mission is expounded in terms of a building of the temple. To build the temple—to make the menorah—is the historical task of the menorah. Since Messiah provides the model for the menorah-church and its mission, he is the maker of the menorah, the masterbuilder of God’s temple-church. A typological picture of this is given in Zechariah’s fifth vision under the figure of Zerubbabel engaged in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple (Zech. 4:7-10).

Zechariah 4:6-10 is a double oracle of Yahweh, with introductory formulae in verses 6a and 8. Each oracle contains three sections, the two sets paralleling each other to produce an A.B.C//A’.B’.C’ pattern. The B-sections pose challenging questions to the antagonists and gainsayers (vv. 7a and 10a), and the C-sections refer to the temple building activity of Zerubbabel, each reference involving the symbolism of a stone (vv. 7b and l0b). The A-sections present the primary affirmation, an assurance that the house of God will be built. Verse 6b attributes success in this enterprise directly to God’s Spirit. Verse 9 focuses on the royal messianic agent of the Spirit. It declares that “the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house and his hands shall finish it” (v. 9a). It also states that completion of this mission will attest that he (the messianic Angel who speaks here in the first person is “Zerubbabel”) is indeed the Anointed agent of the Spirit, the Christ of God: “You will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me unto you” (v. 9b).

1. Temple-building: Crown and Covenant: (a) Crown Construction: Building a temple is a royal task. We shall presently trace the biblical history of this royal enterprise back to the first Adam, but it will suffice here to cite the temple Zerubbabel was rebuilding. Planned by king David, executed by king Solomon (cf. Ezra 5:11), the Jerusalem temple was clearly crown construction. The incorporation of the commission to build the temple in a covenant that was predominantly a confirmation of the perpetuity of David’s royal dynasty emphasizes the peculiarly royal nature of temple building (2 Sam. 7:13a; I Chr. 17:12; cf. Psalm 132). Such a commission indeed validated the appointed builder’s right to the crown (cf. 1 Chr. 28:5-7).

In the extrabiblical accounts of temple building in the ancient world the same situation obtains: it is the king who plays the main role. He was not merely titular director of the project but took an active part, especially in key symbolic rites. How important such projects were for the king’s reputation is indicated by the inclusion of this function among the royal titles, as well as by the celebration of temple building in royal documents. The peculiarly royal responsibility for various other major construction projects, particularly cities, is also evidenced by references to such achievements in summaries of royal reigns.22

In keeping with the royal status of temple builders, Zerubbabel, the one selected as the type of Christ the masterbuilder in Zechariah 4:6-10, was a scion of David’s dynasty. He and the high priest Joshua are a complementary typological pair in visions four and five. Together they prefigure Messiah’s dual office and function as priest-king. Since there is a royal dimension to the high priest’s office, which is reflected in the crowning of Joshua and the association of the Branch title with him in vision four and again in the episode of Zechariah 6:9-15 (which, moreover, speaks of the Branch as building the temple), the choice of the Davidic Zerubbabel instead of Joshua as the messianic type in vision five is significant. It points up the fact that however the high priest might be associated with the monarch in the project (cf. Hag. 1:12, 14; 2:2, 4), temple building is properly and distinctly the function of the king (cf. Hag. 2:21, 23).

(b) Divine Commission and Covenant: Divine commissioning is a conspicuous feature of accounts of royal temple construction in the Bible and elsewhere in the ancient world. In the extrabiblical accounts the decision of the gods was expressed in a command to build revealed to the chosen royal builder through dreams or omens, or possibly through a prophet. At times a king might take the initiative but he must secure divine approval through mantic means before proceeding. Divine commission provided necessary legitimation and carried assurance of success. According to the biblical narratives, the erection of holy dwellings for God is likewise a matter of divine mandate, and if, as in the case of David, the human king conceives the purpose to build, the Lord’s approval must first be sought (2 Sam. 7:1ff.; 1 Kgs. 5:5; 8:17ff.; cf. Ps. 132:2ff.).

Throughout the biblical history of temple building the divine commission is more specifically a covenantal commission; the building mandate is incorporated in the terms of a particular covenant. The following sketch of this history to Zechariah’s day will seek to indicate primarily how the project is in each case a covenantal commission and a royal enterprise. Subsequently we will supplement this by observing how the several accounts consistently include the features of conquest as prelude to construction and of temple building as an imitation of creation.

The relevant biblical accounts are found to belong to a standardized Near Eastern literary pattern used in narrating temple building events from at least the second millennium on. It will be useful to present in summary at this point the several main topics in this thematic structure. This may be done by identifying them within the record of the construction of Solomon’s temple.23

Standard elements included: the decision and commission to build (1 Kgs. 5:15-19); the acquisition of building materials (1 Kgs. 5:15-26) and drafting of craftsmen (1 Kgs. 5:13ff.; 7:13); description of the temple and its furnishings (1 Kings 6 and 7) with statement of completion as specified (1 Kgs. 6:9, 14, 38); dedication end deity’s entry of his residence (1 Kgs. 8:1-11, 62-66); dedicatory prayer (1 Kgs. 8:12-61); blessings and curses (1 Kgs. 9:1-9). There are further significant details in the biblical accounts, like the divine provision of an exemplar, that also belong to the common pattern.

(i) Adam and the Covenant of Creation: God is the original temple builder, the builder of the heavenly Glory-temple. His epiphanic Glory constitutes the ultimate temple; God is his own temple. The Glory-filled cosmos is a royal house of the divine King, with heaven his throne and earth his footstool. On earth, the Creator made a microcosmic copy of the Glory-temple in the form of the garden of Eden, with its mountain of God, the throne site of a visible, localized projection of the heavenly Glory-Spirit.

The creation “week” saw the beginning of another kind of divine dwelling as God brought forth creatures made in the likeness of the Glory-Spirit temple. By the provisions of the Covenant of Creation man was commissioned to enter into the process of constructing this people-temple. As the Creator fathered Adam as a son in his image (cf. Luke 3:38), Adam was to father sons in his likeness (cf. Gen. 5:1-3). Through the ongoing procreative multiplying of humanity the human temple would be produced, each new person another “living stone” in the growing holy edifice.

Envisaged as the consummation of the covenant order was a human temple transfigured into a radiant replica of the archetypal Glory-temple. Glorification, that final step in the construction of the temple, would be an act of the Creator. But meanwhile the cultural mandate of the covenant called on man to participate in this temple building by multiplying his kind, so producing the global community of mankind, God’s people-temple. Embodied as it was in a royal mandate to subdue and occupy the earthly domain, this assignment to build the people-temple was also a royal commission. The covenantal service of temple building was a function of kingship. At the same time, since the temple is a house of prayer and worship, it is evident that performing the cultural task of the king served the purposes of the priest’s cultic functioning. The telos of the kingdom is that God may be all in all.

Because the history of man in Eden terminated abruptly in the Fall, the narrative of the Covenant of Creation contains only the commissioning of the human king to his part in building the people-temple, not the other elements that round out the accounts of redemptive temple construction. However, the Genesis prologue does record the Creator’s work of constructing the cosmic temple, a project that was brought to completion. Though this temple building was unique in being the work of God alone and the account of it does not, therefore, exhibit precisely all the usual features of the standard temple building accounts, the essential components are nevertheless present, mutatis mutandis.

Though there is no commissioning of a human king, there is the divine decision to build, registered in the succession of divine fiats.24 Though there is no conscription of laborers or acquisition of materials, there is the creative word of God which by itself effects all, producing all the materials, doing all the work. And the other major components of the standard pattern are quite plainly present. Within the six-day schema the process of construction is delineated and the form and furnishings of the temple are described. The record of the seventh day contains the statement of the completion of the project and the approval of the work as in accord with the divine plan and exemplar; the celebration of the enthronement of the deity within the temple and its dedication to him; and, in the instituting of the Sabbath ordinance, a declaration of sanctions. The creation prologue of Genesis is then actually the archetypal temple building account.25 To portray the building of later temples after this pattern was to identify these redemptive projects as acts of (re)creation (a theme we shall return to below).

(ii) Noah and the Ark Covenant: The story of Noah’s building of the ark fits into the present survey, for the ark was a temple structure. It was designed to be a copy of the cosmic temple made by the Creator. Its three stories correspond to the cosmos conceptualized as divided into the three levels of the heavens, earth, and the sphere under the earth. Its window corresponded to the window of heaven and its door to the door of the deep (cf. Gen. 7:11).26 The ark’s temple identity is corroborated by the reflection of its architecture in the Mosaic tabernacle and the Solomonic temple. Their structure too reproduced the three story pattern of the cosmos both in their horizontal floor plan and in their vertical sectioning.27 Note also the three-storied side chambers of the temple. In addition, the temple had the features of the door and upper window, and it shared the ark’s vertical dimension of thirty cubits.

Further, the narrative of the building of the ark exhibits in a comprehensive way that complex literary form conventionally employed in biblical and extrabiblical accounts of temple building. It begins with the divine decision that the chosen human agent should build the ark. This purpose is disclosed as a covenantal commission with a divine commitment to prosper the undertaking (Gen. 6:13ff.). Other standard elements are the description of the ark and its occupants, the design being given by divine revelation (Gen. 6:14ff.); the acquisition of materials (Gen. 6:14) and the assembling of the furnishings, here in the form of the representatives of the plant, animal, and human spheres that occupied this holy cosmic kingdom structure (Gen. 6:18ff. and 7:1ff.); the statement that the ark was built according to specifications and completed (Gen. 6:22); date formulae (Gen. 7:6, 11, 13); and the dedication of the ark-kingdom (Gen. 8:20), followed by a declaration of future sanctions.28

Constructing the ark-temple was a covenantal project. The commission to build the ark is given within the divine revelation in which the actual term berith, “covenant,” first appears in the Bible (Gen. 6:18). In fact, the verses containing the commission and the covenant declaration (vv. 14 and 18 respectively) occupy parallel positions in the literary structure of the flood account.29 Implicit but unmistakable in the commission thus equated with the covenant is a commitment on the part of the Lord, the divinely sanctioned commitment that qualifies this arrangement to be called “covenant”. In commanding Noah to make the ark (v. 14) the Lord was covenanting to prosper the enterprise. This becomes more explicit in verse 18 where there is an immediate association of the two; God’s promise to fulfill this covenant is at once followed by further details of the commission, instructing Noah to enter the ark to be kept alive when God brings his judgment on the rest of the world (v. 17).30 The commission to build the ark-temple was then clearly a covenantal commissioning.

The ark was crown construction, for Noah had royal status within the kingdom-typology of this covenantal event.31 Within the holy bounds of the theocratic ark-world Noah’s role was a redemptive resumption of Adam’s royal position and prospects under the Covenant of Creation. He was king of that temple-kingdom, with all the creatures placed under his rule, with the creation and all its tempestuous forces made subservient to his honor and blessing. Royal dominion as experienced by Noah in the ark-theocracy exceeded what Adam enjoyed as an original endowment of the creation covenant; it was a symbolic equivalent of the lordship Adam was to secure as a reward for success in his probationary mission. Noah’s kingship was thus prophetic of the kingship of Jesus, the second Adam, who accomplishes the act of probation-righteousness and thereby attains the position of glory and honor where all things have been effectively put in subjection under his feet (Heb. 2:6-9). It was the ark-covenant that invested Noah with this royal dignity and it was as type of the messianic King, the masterbuilder of the church-temple, that Noah was commissioned to build the ark-temple.

(iii) Moses and the Old Covenant: The interrelation of the tabernacle and the covenant mediated through Moses at Sinai is patent. Construction of this divine dwelling was the immediate, major assignment stipulated for the vassal community of Israel in this covenant. A house of God is already mentioned (Exod. 23:19) within the account of the ratification of the covenant (Exodus 19-24), which is at once followed by the detailed prescriptions for the tabernacle (Exodus 25-31) and by the narrative of its actual construction (Exodus 35-40). This amounted to a record of the confirmation and inauguration of the covenant order, for the tabernacle was the supreme expression of God’s covenant relationship to Israel. Even the interruptive episode of the golden calf (Exodus 32-34) attests in its negative way to the correlation of the tabernacle and covenant by showing how the loss of covenant status (through Israel’s covenant-breaking) meant the loss of God’s Presence and the forfeiture of his tabernacle-residence in their midst.32

Like the narrative about Noah’s ark-temple, Exodus 25-40 exhibits the pattern of the common Near Eastern temple building accounts, including the following elements: the divine decision to build revealed as a covenantal commission to Moses (Exod. 25:1, 8) and mediated by him to the people (Exod. 34:29-35:19); the prescriptive description of the tabernacle and its furnishings (Exod. 25:10ff.), along with its priesthood and their accoutrements (Exod. 28:1ff.)—a human replication of the tabernacle, affording an intimation of the living people-temple to be built by the messianic masterbuilder; the heavenly exemplar (Exod. 25:9, 40); the acquisition of materials (Exod. 25:3-7; 35:4-29; 36:3-7) and the securing of expert craftsmen (Exod. 35:30-36:9); the actual building process (Exod. 36:8-40:33) with notice that all was completed according to specifications (Exod. 39:32, 42, 43; 40:16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32, 33); the blessing on the people (Exod. 39:43; cf. Lev. 9:22, 23); the dedication by symbolic anointing (Exod. 40:9-16; cf. 30:22-23; cf. Lev. 8:10; Numbers 7) and by the entry of God’s Glory into his holy house (Exod. 40:34; cf. 29:44; Lev. 9:23, 24).33

Though the covenant stipulation to build the tabernacle was given to the covenant community as a whole and the entire nation, especially its gifted artisans, was engaged in the work, it was more particularly a divine commission to Moses as mediator of the covenant program. Completion of it all is attributed to him (Exod. 40:33). Building the house of God was, therefore, in the case of the tabernacle once again crown construction. For Moses was the shepherd-king of God’s flock, the one set as royal ruler over the entire theocratic community (cf. Num. 12:7; Heb. 3:2).

(iv) Solomon and the Davidic Covenant: We have already seen that the biblical narrative of the building of the Solomonic temple is an outstanding example of the conventional Near Eastern literary form used for such affairs. This episode is also a classic instance of temple building as a task for kings, the project having been proposed by king David and carried out by king Solomon. And here again there is a close correlation of temple building and covenant. The Lord’s approval of David’s proposal, revealed through the prophet Nathan, was incorporated in and was a central feature of a divine covenant of grant (2 Sam. 7:4ff.; 23:5; Ps.89:3[4]).

The covenantal context of Solomon’s temple building is underscored by repeated rehearsal of the terms of the Davidic Covenant in the narrative of the process of construction: in David’s preparatory charge to Solomon (2 Chr. 22:6ff.) and his related address to Israel’s leaders (1 Chr. 28:2ff.); in Solomon’s communication to king Hiram of Tyre when launching the actual project (1 Kgs. 5:3-5 [17-19]; 2 Chr. 2:4ff.); in a revelation of God to Solomon recorded in the midst of a description of the temple structure and its furnishings (1 Kgs. 6:11-13); in Solomon’s pronouncing of blessing at the completion of the project (1 Kgs. 8:15ff.; 2 Chr. 6:4ff.) and his prayer of dedication (1 Kgs. 8:23ff.; 2 Chr. 6:14ff.; cf. Psalm 132); and in a further revelation of God to Solomon when the temple was finished (1 Kgs. 9:4ff.; 2 Chr. 7:12ff.).

When defining the function of temple building in the Davidic Covenant we must distinguish between the two levels of the kingdom covenanted to Abraham. In relation to the typological level administered through the old (Mosaic) covenant,34 the Davidic Covenant was a covenant of grant, rewarding David for faithfully waging the war of the Lord. This works principle, operating at the typological level of the kingdom, was further evidenced in the fact that the continuance of the typological kingdom under the Davidic dynasty was made dependent on the continuing allegiance of the Davidic kings to their heavenly Suzerain, as expressed in their compliance with the probationary stipulations of his covenant. Within this covenant of grant, the temple building commission was a covenant stipulation to be obeyed, and the obedient performance of this service would function as the meritorious ground for dynastic confirmation and continuance (cf. 1 Chr. 28:5-7).35 At the same time, this commission was a high honor and privilege, a sign of God’s favor, for the temple represented the dwelling of Immanuel with his people, the ultimate blessing of the covenant.

In relation to the messianic level of the kingdom inaugurated and defined by the new covenant, the Davidic Covenant was one of sovereign grace. It guaranteed the everlasting dynasty and kingdom as a gift of redemptive love. As in the case of the typological kingdom, bestowal of this antitypical kingdom-temple grant involved the accomplishing of a probationary act of righteousness—not, however, by David and his successors in the old Jerusalem. This grant was rather a reward given to the messianic son of David for his meritorious service in fulfillment of the intratrinitarian covenant made in heaven before the world began. At this antitypical level too, temple building functions as validation of royal claim. The bringing of the church-temple to consummation, the work of the ascended Christ through the Spirit, demonstrates the validity of his claim to the crown of heaven and earth. It attests to the Father’s establishment of the Son as King of kings on the throne of David at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

In Zechariah 4 this validating messianic achievement is proclaimed in the announcement that the Christ-figure, Zerubbabel, begins and finishes the temple (v. 9a) and the conjoined declaration by the messianic Angel of the Lord (cf. v. 8): “You will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me unto you” (v. 9b).

(v) Postexilic Temple and the Davidic Covenant: In the resumption of the Mosaic-Davidic covenantal order after the exile (cf. Hag. 2:5), the Davidic Covenant still provided the primary authorization for the erecting of God’s house in Jerusalem (cf. Ezra 5:11). Divine confirmation of the temple (re)building commission came through the prophetic ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, prompting the community to proceed with the task forthwith (Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:14).

This commissioning of temple construction was, as usual, a royal mandate, even though no Israelite king occupied the throne in Jerusalem. For at this juncture in the history of the theocratic nation, when Israel was being restored to their typological heritage after the exilic lapse in the Mosaic Covenant relationship, it pleased God to draw king Cyrus, the Persian ruler of the Israelites, into the typological drama of redemption in the role of restorer. By special divine appointment, king Cyrus was constituted a prefiguration of Messiah, who would one day restore the true Israel of God from their exile east of Eden and who would build the true temple of God. “Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” so that he issued a decree for the restoration of God’s house in Jerusalem, asserting therein that he had been charged to do so by the God of heaven (2 Chr. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13; 6:14). This happened in fulfillment of God’s remarkable word through Isaiah, beforehand identifying king Cyrus as his anointed shepherd-king, whom he would commission to build his city and temple (Isa. 44:28; 45:1ff., esp. v. 13).

The narrative of the building of the postexilic temple in Ezra 1-6 contains most of the standard features of such accounts. In addition to the divine commissioning of king Cyrus, these include: the acquisition of materials and enlisting of workmen (Ezra 1:5ff.; 3:7ff.); description of the structure (Ezra 6:3, 4) and the progress of the building to completion, in accordance with God’s command(Ezra 3:2,11; 5:2; 6:14), with dates (Ezra 3:8; 6:15; cf. Hag. 1:1, 15; 2:10); and dedication festivities (Ezra 6:16-18).

This history of the restoration of the temple was, of course, the immediate context in view in Zechariah’s fifth vision, providing the typological imagery for the prophecy of Messiah, the royal masterbuilder of the menorah-temple. As previously indicated, the choice of Zerubbabel as the type of Christ related to the principle that temple building is a task for kings, Zerubbabel being a prince of David’s dynasty.

Christ, the true theocratic king, would lay the foundation of the true temple, typified by Noah’s ark, Moses’ tabernacle, and the Solomon/Zerubbabel temple, and he would complete it. His temple would be a Spirit-people-temple, such as was envisaged in the royal mandate given to Adam under the Covenant of Creation. Christ received his royal commission in the eternal intratrinitarian covenant with the Father and as agent of the Spirit he carries out the holy building task in his administration of the new covenant, by the Great Commission enlisting his followers as his fellow-workers in the menorah mission.

(vi) Excursus: God’s covenanting with man is a controlling element in biblical religion, but elsewhere covenant is not so evident a feature of the relation of deity to men. However, the divine commissioning of kings to build temples, as narrated in the standard accounts, involved the essential ingredients of a suzerain-vassal covenant. By charging the king with the task of erecting the temple, the deity exercised his sovereignty over him and facilitated the ongoing administration of the tributary relationship inasmuch as it was in the temple that the vassal king’s tribute offerings were brought before the divine suzerain. Also, inherent in the commission to build the temple, and specified in the king’s dedication prayer, was the deity’s commitment to grant various boons: the entrance of the deity into the temple; the exaltation of the king and extension of his scepter to distant days; and the fertility of his land.36 Such divinely sanctioned commitment is definitive of covenant. And since, according to the dedication prayer, the promised blessings were to be bestowed on the king for his good services (i.e., for his obedient performance of the commission), divine commission to build a temple was tantamount, more particularly, to a proposal-of-grant covenant.

This covenantal arrangement was established by divine declaration;37 no treaty text functioned as an instrument of ratification. But the affair was documented by the inscription containing the temple building account, and the possibility suggests itself that the conventional treaty form has influenced the shaping of these accounts. For the basic sections of suzerainty treaties find their counterparts in the building inscriptions: the preamble and historical prologue sections presenting the suzerain’s claims on the vassal’s service; the stipulations section stating the suzerain’s commandments; and the sanctions section enunciating the constraints on the vassal’s loyal obedience. In the building accounts, the suzerain’s claims are presented in the very identity of the divine author of the decision to build and in his authoritative communication of the assignment. The contents of the commission are, of course, the covenant stipulations, and the benefits promised to the royal builder are the sanctions. Of special interest is another variety of the sanctions found in many building accounts, one that is reminiscent of the treaty form (though also present in other kinds of texts). It consists of a closing section pronouncing curses and blessings on future rulers, according to their treatment of the temple and its building inscription. At times this was modified into a more general appeal to future kings to show piety towards the gods, with promise of divine blessings.38 This obviously reflects the concluding section of curses and blessings in the classic treaty form,39 but in addition the sanction relating to the treatment of the building inscription is akin to the curse against tampering with the treaty text found in the distinctive document clause of the treaties.

Notes

*This is a continuation of an article begun in Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 3-15.

15. Cf. Kerux 7:3 (December 1992), p. 42.

16. Cf. Kerux 8:2 (September 1993), pp. 22-29.

17. The Isaianic Servant figure introduced in Zechariah 3 is thus interpreted in Zechariah 4 as both an individual and corporate servant.

18. Cf. Kerux 9:1 (May 1994), pp. 6, 7.

19. This is not to deny that the Logos-designation may refer in the first instance to the ontological pre-incarnational relation of the Son to the Father. But John 1:4, like 1:10, should be understood in terms of the incarnation, not of the general divine providential government of creation. Identification of the light of the Logos with life in John 1:4 and 8:12 is compatible with its revelatory, witness function, for this life is knowledge: “This is life eternal that they should know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). Cf. E. L. Miller, “The Johannine Origins of the Johannine Logos,” JBL 112:3 (Fall 1993), p. 446, n. 7.

20. Images of the Spirit, pp. 90, 91. See the context of this quotation for a detailed account, which leads to the conclusion: “In sum then, the scenario of the whole Revelation 10 and 11 complex is taken over from the Old Testament model of the Angel-prophet directing the prophets, fashioning them in their covenantal office in his own prophet-likeness. Under this figure of the Angel, the Apocalypse portrays Christ structuring the apostle-church in his prophetic image” (p. 93).

21. For the development of this theme, see the discussion of Zechariah’s third vision in Kerux 7:3 (December 1992), pp. 39-61.

22. For biblical examples, cf., e.g., 1 Kgs. 9:15-19; 15:23; 22:39; 2 Kgs. 20:20. The messianic temple building of Zechariah’s fifth vision amounts to a resumption of the theme of messianic city building in vision three, the counterpart to the fifth vision in the chiastic pattern of the seven visions.

23. Our treatment of this subject is much indebted to V. Hurowitz, I Have Built You an Exalted House: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic Writings (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992). Hereafter cited as Hurowitz.

24. For a related decretive word of God to the heavenly council, cf. Gen. 1:26.

25. The mythologized mutations of the true creation tradition also preserve the temple building perspective of the event. So, for example, the gods construct the Esagila sanctuary in honor of Marduk at the conclusion of the “creation” in the Enuma Elish (VI, 45ff.). The conventional pattern for building accounts attested in the extrabiblical literature and in the Bible alike stands in continuity with the literary traditions of creation accounts.

26. For details see my Kingdom Prologue, pp. 139, 140.

27. See the discussion in my Images of the Spirit, pp. 39-42.

28. The account of the making of the vessel in the Gilgamesh epic, as narrated there by Utnapishtim (the Noah figure) exhibits this same pattern. The form-critical evidence of the integrity of the temple-building pattern in Genesis itself and the comparative evidence of the acknowledged unity of the Gilgamesh text contradict the customary source-critical partitioning of the biblical text.

29. For details see my Kingdom Prologue, p. 142.

30. This administration of the salvation and kingdom blessings of the Covenant of Grace reported in Genesis 6:13ff. is to be sharply distinguished from the common grace covenant with all the earth recorded in Genesis 8:21-9:17.

31. Whether or not Noah was king of his earthly city (as the flood hero is in the Mesopotamian tradition) is not relevant to the theme of temple building as a task for a king, for the common grace world is not the holy sphere to which God’s temple and his royal messianic temple builder belong.

32. Parallels have been noted in Mesopotamian texts where the account of the building of the temple is interrupted by a rebellion against the divinely designated builder. See Hurowitz, p. 111.

33. With reference to Pentateuchal origins, it is significant that the structural pattern of the Exodus account of the tabernacle is particularly close to building accounts of the mid-second millennium B.C. (cf. Hurowitz, pp. 64, 110).

34. The connection of the Davidic Covenant, with its temple building commission, to the Mosaic Law-Covenant is reflected in the attention given by the building narrative to the presence of the two tables of the Torah-covenant in the ark in the temple (cf. l Kgs. 6:19; 8:3, 9; 2 Chr. 5:2ff., esp. v. 10). This interrelationship is also attested in the echoes of the concepts and expressions of the Mosaic Covenant (as formulated in its Deuteronomic renewal) which are found, especially, in Solomon’s dedication prayer and God’s response. Cf. Hurowitz, p. 301.

35. The correlation of temple building and the establishment of dynasty is indicated by the incorporation of the account of the construction of Solomon’s palace in the story of the building of the temple (1 Kings 7). Construction of the palace waited on the completion of the temple, which confirmed Solomon’s right to the theocratic throne.

36. Cf. Hurowitz, pp. 298, 303, 322.

37. Cf. P. Kalluveettil, Declaration and Covenant (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1982), pp. 93ff.

38. Cf. Hurowitz, pp. 304, 306.

39. In the account of Solomon’s temple building, God’s closing reply to the king is a statement of blessing and curse on the Davidic dynasty and the nation Israel, conditioned on their fidelity or failure in meeting the demands of the Torah-covenant (1 Kgs. 9:4-9), and the wording of the sanctions is taken from the Deuteronomic treaty (cf. Deut. 28:1, 37, 45, 63; 9:23-26).

Westminster Theological Seminary in California
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