3, 2, 1, Holy!

One thing that popped out at me from considering G. K. Beale’s “Temple, Temple Everywhere” Hermeneutic, is the expansive progress of the Holy of Holies through redemptive history.

3. In the Tabernacle and the Temple (and indeed, as Beale shows, in the three-part Edenic Temple), there were three distinct places: Most Holy, Holy, and Courtyard. God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies, and only the High Priest was allowed to enter. The reg’lr Holy Place was open to Priests. And the courtyard was open to all Jews, male and female.

2. Then came Christ. At his crucifixion, the curtain between Most Holy and Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. And obviously, that was not a conquering of Most Holy by Not So Holy (any more than the crucifixion was a defeat), but a breaking out of God’s presence by one level, bringing the number of distinct “places” down to two.

1. In the consummation, Rev 21 shows us a city that is perfectly cubic (unity of dimension), just like the Holy of Holies. And as Beale explains, the city is not in the New Heavens & New Earth, but it is the New Heavens & New Earth. Unified all, are the three parts of the Temple, Christ, his Church, Earth, and Heaven. One place; God’s holy presence filling all of New Creation, just as God’s original intention was for Adam to expand Eden to fill the Old Creation.

If you factor in those outside of the covenant, an extra place in each situation raises the sequence to 4, 3, 2. In the Old Testament, Gentiles were excluded from the temple; in New Creation, unbelievers are consigned to outer darkness.

And in between, things get interesting. Our situation in the New Covenant is in three parts, well symbolized by the three parts of the Temple. The church is better off than Israel in (at least!) three ways: first of all, we all have access to the Holy Place, as we are a nation of priests; second, the Most Holy Place is occupied by our better, eternal, high priest; and third, because the curtain between the Holy Places has been torn, we have free access to God — we can boldly go before the throne (recall that the Tabernacle/Temple Holy of Holies was the extension of God’s heavenly throne room on earth). Finally, as Beale reminds us, the Temple Courtyard represented the visible Earth and Sea; i.e. the whole world, where we priests commingle with those who are not priests, i.e. the population of unbelievers.


10 Responses

  1. Now how is our body a temple?

  2. In that we can’t drink, smoke, or chew, or go out with girls who do.

    Seriously though, I don’t know, and I don’t know that Beale addressed this. I would guess in that a usable definition of temple is “place where God’s spirit resides”, so every New Covenant believer, being filled with the Holy Spirit in some way greater than was possible in the Old Covenant, is a temple.

  3. Well, put that in terms of the movement of the holy of holies. Have we been granted access to it, or has it entered us?

  4. More could be said in defense of your position.

  5. What a coincidence! I just so happen to know a guy who specializes in saying more!

  6. However, arguments could probably be made for both sides. On the one hand, monergism says that the holy of holies has entered us; if we were just given access, our sinful selves, hating judgment, would run the other way.

    However, from the perspective of a regenerate O.T. Jew, who did believe in the promise of a seed of the woman, an heir of David, he might well have a desire to seek God, but he would have been prevented from entering the holy place by not being a priest, or prevented from entering the Most holy place by not being the High Priest (or it not being that one day of the year). In which case, access has been granted.

    Overall, though, I think it is more useful to picture God exploding outwards; the original Edenic commission was not for all the world to come to Eden, but for Adam to fill the Earth with Eden.

  7. Is the goal of all things to accomplish the Edenic commission? Is that all Christ accomplished?

    Is Christ a prophet, or a priest?

  8. Yes, as well as a King. You seem to be identifying “accomplish the Edenic commission” with the office of Prophet, and you want to emphasize the Priestly nature of ‘accomplish redemption’. Note however that Beale labels (pre-fall) Adam as the first Priest. So a role of furthering the Edenic commission does not negate Priesthood (of either of the Adams).

    In some sense, I think you could say that the goal of all things was to accomplish the Edenic commission; we agree that if Adam had completed his probation (same as fulfilling the Edenic commission), then God would have consummated creation. (Isn’t the consummation the telos of all things?) And as Beale describes it, the Edenic commission is to extend the sacred space from Eden to the whole Earth, filling it with God’s image (bearers). Sounds to me like “let the whole earth be full of His glory”, i.e. the chief end of man=the goal of all things.

    Christ’s work partly furthered the Edenic commission (literally expanding the sacred space through the torn curtain, and spiritually to the whole covenant people), but the Redemptive nature of his work also made possible the return to the original goal; because once man had sinned, the Edenic commission became impossible; the best we could do is to fill the earth with tarnished images that don’t properly reflect God’s glory (all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God).

    (All this is not to imply that Christ’s redemption was Plan B due to a whoops! of the Fall.)

  9. My point was that the eschaton is not a great big Eden, but something more. Filling the earth with Eden serves a greater purpose.

    So Christ is more than prophet who tells, but he is priest who accomplishes. And right, more than that, also a king who protects, governs, applies, etc.


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