Beale-the idea of a future temple

A feature of G. K. Beale’s The Temple and the Mission of the Church is the importance it gives to Genesis 1:28 and its commission to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “subdue” the planet and “have dominion” over the animals.  That command is kind of unpopular in this day of family planning and environmental concern.  Each element of the command sounds negative to us.

I appreciate the effort by Eugene Peterson in The Message translation to reframe this command:

God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

I particularly think that “be responsible” for “have dominion” clears up a misunderstanding.

Beale holds that the Temple, as a miniature of the creation, reflected this idea.  He sees it, for instance, in David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:11 after he had gathered the building materials for the temple Solomon would build:

O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all (NET Bible)..

This is just one of several instances where language(sky, earth, dominion, etc.) from Genesis 1 ties in with the building of the Temple.  Man has been given a commission to fill the earth with God’s sovereign glory, and the Temple houses an earthly semblance of that glory.

This concept seems to play little part in the rebuilding of the Temple after the return from Babylon.  Certainly the idea found in Exodus 15:17-18 of the Temple as a place drawing in all people was not Ezra’s priority.

That is why the prophecy of a future temple from Ezekiel and other voices matters so much.  There is a recognition that with the downfall of Jerusalem and the Davidic dynasty old prophecies and hopes have failed.  So hope lies in a future and extraordinary activity of God.

In Ezekiel 36-37 there are repeated references to “multiplication” , “increase” and fruitfulness, which hark back to Genesis 1:28.  Israel will be recreated out of dry bones and the Davidic dynasty will be revived.  God promises to “ place my sanctuary among them forever” (37:26) and that even the Gentiles will know him.

This becomes the basis for Ezekiel’s description of a future, eschatological temple in chapter 40 ff.

I am not sure yet exactly where Beale is going with all this.  It seems that originally God created the world with the Garden of Eden as its temple.  But after the disobedience of Adam and Eve, mankind needed tabernacles and temples to make the presence of God real and concrete to them and to model the structure of the cosmos.  This came to a focus in the Jerusalem temple.  But later prophets shifted the focus to a future, more all-encompassing sanctuary.






About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
This entry was posted in Ancient Israel, Genesis, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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