Why the extravagance?
“I’m puzzled! Why do we see such items of wealth poured into the construction of the Old Testament Tabernacle, yet when Christ was born He chose to come through the poorest and lowest, even to be born in a stable?”
It is true that Christ came into this world among the lowly and during His ministry years we know He had no home (Matt. 8:20), relied on others to meet His physical needs (Mark 15:40-41), and apparently only a very few items of clothing, which soldiers divided and gambled for beneath His cross (John 19:23).
But we must also remember that this lowly Jesus is now glorified Lord of all. John describes Him…
“…dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Rev. 1:13-16).
The O.T. Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple and others described in scripture all portray to us the great worth of our Saviour. It is fitting that they and what they represented should be constructed of the richest of elements.
But do not fear that these construction materials came at great cost to the Hebrews. The gold and other items they gave came from the plunder of their Egyptian captors, all according to the instruction of God.
“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.” (Exod. 3:21-22). [This the Hebrews did: see Exod. 12: 35-36].
David and Solomon provided materials for the temple, and Solomon was the richest man of all, estimated by some to have a worth of $2 trillion. (Read about his wealth in 1 Kings 10:14-29).
The real wonder is not that earthly temples were constructions of wealth but that Christ visited us by setting all this aside in order to identify with us and restore us to fellowship with Him.
All things are the Lord’s anyway. His purposes are to teach us the respect and honor due Him. Gold is symbolic, and remember too that in heaven’s economy gold is no more than pavement! (see Rev. 21:21).
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