Creation; Light and Life
1 Chronicles 15:1–16; Genesis 2
Samuel Lesson #139
July 24, 2018
“Father, what a privilege it is, an honor, to be able to come into Your presence as a body of believers seeking to be guided and directed, taught, instructed, corrected from Your Word. Father, we pray that as we continue this study in worship, that You might challenge us with our own thoughts, our mental attitude, our focus as we come together, as we prepare to worship both on a Tuesday or Thursday night as well as on Sunday morning with the seriousness, the significance of coming before the Creator of the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them. And as we submit to Your Word, that we might see our lives transformed by God the Holy Spirit. And Father, we pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen”
Last time, we started to develop some key ideas in what would be called a biblical theology of worship. Now that’s a term that I think a lot of people who aren’t academics and aren’t scholars don’t really understand. That doesn’t mean biblical theology as opposed to a non-biblical theology. Biblical theology is a branch of theology that builds on the different authors of Scripture.
For example, you can have a theology of the Pentateuch. What do we learn about God and the Pentateuch? What do we learn about man? What do we learn about sin? What do we learn about salvation? It’s restricted to the writings of Moses in the Pentateuch. And then you can have a theology of wisdom literature; you can have a theology of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on, all the way into the New Testament. You build Pauline Theology, Petrine Theology, Johannine Theology and then the next step is when you begin to categorize and systematize. So, there’s a whole process there.
What happens in doing something like what we’re doing in developing a biblical theology of worship is you’re starting in Genesis and working your way through the Scripture to see how it develops. How does man’s understanding of worship progress as you go from Genesis through the period of the Pentateuch up to the Exodus, then how does it develop once they go into the land, up to the time of David? This is what we’re studying in 2 Samuel; we’ve come to 2 Samuel where David brings the ark into Jerusalem.
This is so transformative! It is on the order of the War for Independence in American history. It is a significant shift in what has taken place prior to this in the history of Israel. And it sets the stage for the building of the temple under Solomon. Designed, organized, all of the pre-work done by David, but David was not allowed by God to build the temple. The temple is a permanent structure that develops on the model, the pattern of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God. All of this is crucial for understanding the concepts of worship as I pointed out last time because the New Testament builds on all that vocabulary, builds on all that material.
Last time, we looked at Genesis 1; tonight, we’re going to look at Genesis 2 and some of the things that we learn there in relation to building this pattern. We’re going to trace some of the things in Genesis 2 through into the New Testament before we come back next time. We’re going to focus on life and light as a major theme coming out of Genesis 2.
We’re talking about what the Bible teaches about worship.
Last time, I quoted from Timothy Pierce and his work on worship and he says, “In a world where feelings and personal autonomy have become the norm, submission to biblical authority must be the basis and standard by which worship is rescued from the realm of temporal feelings and empty words to that of truth that can transform and renew both the individual and the Church universal. He says that in a Forward to a work that he’s written on worship in the Old Testament.
So, what happens a lot of times in the Church Age is that we come out of churches, and people from whatever background, whether it’s Baptist of Presbyterian or Bible Church, where so much time and attention are focused on the New Testament that there are those who have egregiously ignored the Old Testament with at least one result is that they have a somewhat diluted understanding of these concepts when they’re developed in the New Testament.
Other times, they’ve ignored them and in some egregious cases that I know of, they never even teach anything in the Old Testament because that’s all just for Israel and hasn’t anything to do with the church. That was an extreme view that was held by many dispensationalists, but it’s the Old Testament that builds that concept of worship, understanding worship at the time of David when he writes the Psalms, when he organizes and develops the enormous choirs and the orchestras that were present in Jerusalem at all of the feast days.
All of those things that are going on were much grander and much greater than anything Israel had seen before and developed much more from what Moses understood. When you look at what Moses understood—what’s depicted there because God reveals to him the setup of the tabernacle and the structure of the tabernacle, that is so far beyond anything we see with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That is much greater than anything in the ante diluvian period, but as I’m pointing out, there are things that continue through all of these that are present all the way as you go through. It’s all based on biblical authority.
We live in a world today when the frame of reference that people bring to corporate worship is very subjective and personal; it’s all about their emotions, and the churches play into that. They want to stimulate it; they want to create certain kinds of, for lack of a better term, entertainment that promotes certain mood swings, things like this that are then defined as worshipful attitudes. What we’re doing is just breaking this down looking at what the Scripture says. We have to start with the Bible and that means going through stage by stage what happens.
Pierce also wrote, “One striking realization is that theology and worship are inextricably tied because the foundation of both is the question, ‘Who is our God?’” Think about that.
In the progression, in this series that’s lasting a whole lot longer than I ever anticipated and will last much longer, it started off as a rabbit trail, and now it’s more of a rabbit autobahn without the unlimited speed. We have a slow speed limit on this autobahn, but that’s because there is so much here to work through and to read and to study. When we started and we were looking at Isaiah 6, what is the core of what happens when Isaiah appears before the throne of God? He is impressed by the character of God; he is impressed by the character of God; he is overwhelmed by the character of God. His holiness is such that it pierces his very soul.
So that the essence of worship, it seems, has to do with our understanding and realization of Who our God is. If we have a small view of God, if we have a wrong view of God, then we’re going to have a rather limited view of worship, and we’re going to have perhaps a wrong view of worship. We’ll say some things about that. The emphasis is on understanding who God is, and that comes out by walking our way through these early passages that we find in Genesis.
Our working definition, building this off of the definition I originally got from Allen Ross: Biblical worship is the celebration (thanks to the input of somebody in the congregation), it’s the celebration of having, not just being, which is awfully passive, but having—you’re holding on to something.
That comes out of the study I did in 1 John that we have fellowship with God, that Greek word ECHO meaning “to have and to hold.” It’s a possession, it’s something we enjoy, it’s our rich possession, that fellowship, that rapport, that eternal relationship with God. Three things are brought out in our worship:
- It’s a reverent adoration and spontaneous praise of God’s character and works,
- The expressed commitment of trust and obedience to biblically revealed responsibilities, and
- The remembrance of God’s gracious work of salvation and spiritual growth through divinely prescribed ordinances.
All of this does two things. It looks back to perfection, which we had at the Garden of Eden. That’s where we are. We’re looking back, we’re coming to understand the significance of Eden, of Paradise, the Paradise as John Milton put it, “Paradise Lost.” We anticipate the future, which he also wrote about called “Paradise Regained.” “Paradise Lost” is about the failure of Adam at temptation in the Garden, and “Paradise Regained” focused on Christ, the second Adam, Who passes the test and succeeds against the temptation and lays the groundwork for our future in eternity.
I ask the question “Why is the study of Old Testament worship so important?” because I can just imagine people who pick up in the middle of this series or come in off the street and think “Why are we spending so much time here?” It has to do with understanding the passage of this whole dynamic that occurs under David that just transforms the whole corporate worship of Israel.
Since we’re studying David’s response to the ark and the presence of God with the ark moving to Jerusalem and its role in the development of corporate worship, which is the frame of reference for the worship of the early church, we have to understand this as background.
Where we see this is, for example, in places like Psalm 80:1. If we remember the Ark of the Covenant, it’s a box of acacia wood covered in gold with a solid gold lid all of one piece, out of which is formed the cherubim, the two cherubs on top that look down on what is called the place of atonement. It’s sometimes called the mercy seat but it’s the kapporeth, which is the word for the place of atonement or cleansing. What we see in the Scripture–I had comments on this as a new thought—is that this is where God is enthroned. His earthly throne is there in the holy of holies.
Psalm 80:1, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell —the Hebrew word simply means “to sit” or it’s a broad word, it also means “to sit on a throne.” In a number of translations, it is translated “You who are enthroned between the cherubs”—between the cherubim, shine forth!” Then, in Psalm 99:1, “Yahweh reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells [sits enthroned] between the cherubs: Let the earth be moved!”
Then we have another reference to it in Isaiah 37:15. Hezekiah is praying. This is his prayer when he’s beseeching God to protect Israel, to preserve them. They’re surrounded by the Assyrian army—we’ll come back and talk about that maybe a little later—and they’re just completely cut off. He goes in to pray to God, and he addresses Him as Yahweh Sabaoth. Isaiah 37:16, “O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” Notice that this is an extremely high view of God that reduces the creature to his role that he is nothing compared to this deity Who created everything.
We’ve looked at the first reason for why Old Testament worship is important. The second reason is because the themes of worship that we find in the New Testament worship are the same as we find throughout the Old Testament. The idea of a sanctuary; that’s what we’re looking at. The first sanctuary was Eden where you have God living on the earth as a place that has been set apart uniquely, distinctly for His dwelling where He places His image.
One of the things I’ll bring out in different ways that has a residual memory in the religions of antiquity is that if you were to go to Egypt, everywhere you went there was an image of the pharaoh. When you went to a temple, there’s an image of the god. If you go to the Philistines, the temple of Dagon, what’s in the temple? An image of Dagon. You go into the temple of God, is there an image in there? There’s no image of God. Where’s the image of God? It’s the priest; it’s you and me. We are the image of God that comes into that temple.
What happens is that gets reversed in the New Testament because the temple of God is inside of us, and that is a distinction that becomes unique in the dispensation in the church age. So you have the idea of a sanctuary—a place where God dwells. Then there’s the separation from God with sin, there’s the sacrifice, the substitutionary idea that’s introduced, the need for cleansing from sin.
Then the gradual development of organized worship that includes certain things. There’s prayer, there’s confession, hymns are sung, praise is given to God and then there are seasonal rites of worship, and you have the priestly servants of God. You have the patriarchal priests before the giving of the Ten Commandments, you have the Levitical priests, the Aaronic high priesthood after the giving of the law, and in the church age, we have every believer as a priest-king.
It starts with Adam. Adam and Eve are placed as priest-kings in the Garden of Eden because they are given the mission to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, and they are told to work and to serve in the Garden in Genesis 2:15—two words that are consistently used together to describe the function of the Levitical priests. The language there in Genesis 1 and 2 emphasizes rulership and being a priest-king, and we saw that’s completely mirrored when you get into Revelation 21 and 22 as our future destiny.
What we’ve seen so far is that our worship practices are often influenced by worldview—we’ll talk a lot more about that. This happened a lot in the ancient world. You think about the worldview of the Canaanites. Why did God demand that Israel just slaughter, kill, destroy all of the Canaanites? It’s because they had a religious system that was syncretistic; in other words, you came along and said, “Well, I’m going to worship Yahweh.” They’d say, “Great, come on in; we’ll put him up on the shelf with all the other gods.”
It was horrendous because of that; it was insidious and it was malignant because no matter what religious system you had, they just absorbed you into their religious system, so that before long, you are ultimately worshiping Baal and the fertility rites and whatever, no matter what was going on.
Worldview is important because if you don’t have your worldview changed—if Romans 12:2 doesn’t happen where you’re transformed by the renewing of your mind—then what we’ve seen throughout the ages is that the worship that takes place in the church is imitating religious ideas in the worldly culture, and it’s not biblical, it’s not distinct anymore.
That’s what we see at the very core of all of this analysis of what’s going on in the temple and the tabernacle is the worship of God is uniquely oriented to Him based on a biblical worldview, not based on what’s popular outside the walls of the tabernacle and the temple.
The second thing is we began to examine this teaching of the Scripture as we go through tracing the dwelling of God in His creation through time by developing out these ideas to understand the majesty of God and the role of man and how distinct that is.
The third thing is we saw that the tabernacle is patterned after a heavenly archetype. This isn’t just an accident. We have these verses that I’ve often wondered about. I went through Hebrews thinking about these things and not really sure what they all meant.
God tells Moses, Exodus 25:8-9, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” There is a divine blueprint for what they made; it’s not just happenstance. It fits within a broader pattern within Scripture.
In Hebrews 8:1-2, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” So, there’s a spiritual, heavenly tabernacle, and we see that when we look at Revelation.
Last time we looked at the issue of the centrality of understanding the Majesty of God through His creation and that’s fundamental to understanding who we are because we are created in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:3-9. There the psalmist writes, “What is man that you’re mindful of him?” because God has a specific purpose for mankind.
Second, an essential feature of our “imageness” is that we are king-priests—I’ve already mentioned that—created to worship God through our service to Him. This is laid out in Genesis 2:15, also in passages like Deuteronomy 13:4, and then in the future in Revelation 22:3 and Revelation 21:22.
Then, we come to this chart I’ve begun to develop. Eden is going to be replicated in some way by the tabernacle, and then the temple, and then on into the future. There is a visual lesson plan here. Just like when you have little kids, and they can’t read yet, you use pictures to communicate truth. You go back to the Middle Ages. Last year, we went to Italy and saw a number of paintings from early Renaissance, Renaissance, the Byzantine period of the church, things like that. All of this artwork was there to teach and remind people of biblical stories and biblical events. They were the early form of PowerPoint.
We see these parallels that occur. In Eden there are three parts. There’s the earth. Then there are the cherubim that are there, but then they are placed to block man from coming to Eden. There’s Eden which has two components: there’s Eden and then there’s the Garden that is planted east of Eden. That three-fold development is what we see in the tabernacle, the outer courtyard is comparable to the earth, the holy place is comparable to Eden, and then the holy of holies is comparable to the Garden of Eden where God met with man.
This was the centerpiece of fellowship depicted in this artwork here as the presence of God in the Garden of Eden, then you had the outer part, and then the world is outside of the cherubim.
This is depicted graphically in the way the holy place was set up—the veils depicted the cherubs who were preventing man now from having access to God. The only way to have access to God is as a result of atonement and sacrifice and God’s provision which are all depicted by the furniture that’s in the holy place.
What’s interesting, and I’ve taught this many times, is that the lampstand represents Christ as the light of the world. The table of showbread represents Jesus as the bread of life. The altar of incense represents Jesus as our high priest Who intercedes for us. That’s all what it’s depicting in the future, but what we’re going to learn is that there are aspects of each one of these that look back to Eden and what happened in Eden, so this is carried forward.
When we look at the Garden of Eden, what do we see there? When we read through Genesis 2, there are certain things we see that are present in the Garden of Eden. One is there’s a river that flows out of the center of the Garden and then divides into four parts. It is the River of Life. We see this River of Life flowing from the throne of God in the new heavens and new earth. In Revelation 21 and 22, there’s this River of Life in heaven, but there are allusions to this all the way through Scripture. It’s important to connect those dots because they are usually never connected, but they say something about our spiritual life and worship in the church age.
Another thing that we see is that in the Garden there’s mention of a jewels and gold, and that is also present in the tabernacle and the temple. We think about the jewels in the high priest’s breastplate, and it’s all imbedded in gold. You have all of the furnishings of the holy place in gold.
You have brass out in the outer courtyard. Then when you get to the outer part of the tabernacle, it’s silver, and then when you get inside, it’s gold. Do you think there might be a progression there as you get closer to the very presence of God, emphasizing the value of these things?
You look at these precious stones that are there, which we’ll look at tonight as well, and why are these imbedded on the breastplate of the high priest? Each of those 12 stones has carved into it the name of a different tribe of Israel. What’s the significance? One significance is that just as those gemstones are valuable, the tribes of Israel are valuable to God, and they are placed over the heart of the high priest signifying their centrality and their importance. The same thing is true in the temple.
You also have two trees in the Garden of Eden. You have the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. How are those reflected when we get into the tabernacle and the temple? They are: you have the representation of their significance inside the tabernacle and temple. You also have the image of God that is in the sanctuary of the Garden of Eden, and that is mankind—male and female created in the image of God.
Then it is a place of rest. We rest only in God. That rest is lost at the fall, and it is ultimately only recovered on the basis of what Christ did on the cross. We got in a hurry at the end of class when I went through that, taking us through the Sabbath. The Sabbath is on Friday, begins at sundown on Friday. The last day of the work week that completed God’s work was the sixth day, and then the seventh day is a day of rest, a time devoted to the worship of God and the study of Torah, the study of God’s Word. Then the first day of the next week is regeneration and new life.
I think that it’s somewhat significant that the sixth day of a week before Passover in AD 33 ended on a Friday. The sixth day on Friday Jesus died. He did His work; He said it is finished and completed. What happens on the seventh day is He is in the grave, and He is resting, and then on the eighth day, which is the first day of the next week, is the day that He conquers death, He rises from the dead, and there is new life and new beginning, which is bringing a new week.
All of that symbolism is there, and just because it’s symbolic doesn’t mean it’s not talking about real, concrete things. It’s designed as different types of visual aids to teach and reinforce the same principles and the same things that are stated throughout all of Scripture.
I finished a couple of weeks ago Psalm 132:13–14, “[T]he Lord has chosen Zion.” Why did He choose Zion? There’s a specificity to this; there’s an intentionality here that God is doing all of this. It’s not just happenstance. He’s desired it for His dwelling place. He’s going to do what? He’s going to dwell among the cherubs. Psalm 132:14, “This is My resting place forever;” That’s that same word used where God put Adam, nuach, put him in the Garden. It’s that word that is used of a special kind of rest related to the millennial rest that will come eventually, the kingdom rest.
What we’re going to do tonight is we’re going to get into looking at Genesis 2 and see what is going on there that is repeated in the coming lesson. Let’s begin by looking at what is going on in Genesis 2 and understand the significance of the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 2:8-9, we read, “The LORD God [Yahweh Elohim] planted a garden eastward in Eden.” It’s not identical to Eden. It is eastward in Eden; it is a subpart of Eden. Eden is like the holy place, the tabernacle of God where He dwelt, and the inner sanctum, the holy of holies, is comparable to the Garden of Eden.
“[T]here He put the man [That’s a different word for put than the one that’s used in Genesis 2:15] whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Eden, therefore is the centerpiece of God’s creation; it is the ultimate focal point of all of the earth. I couldn’t help but think, there’s always this debate that goes on about UFO’s and life on other planets, and when you come right down to it, there’s an analogy here. God creates the whole earth, and the whole earth is filled with animals and birds and fish, but there’s one place where there’s going to be real life, and that is where God exists. The rest of it is all secondary. That’s how the earth is. This is where God chose as the place He would put His throne and create the “imageness” of Him. If you understand that biblically, that excludes life out there in the universe. There’s angelic life; that is the only other sentient life there is. You’re not going to find other peoples, and you’re not going to find Klingons and Wookies and all of this other stuff out there. They are just products of man’s vain imagination.
Eden is the centerpiece of God’s creation. It’s the most beautiful part of the earth, and He has filled it with every conceivable thing that man could want or desire or need. It goes beyond any expectation. It has beautiful plants; it has bountiful trees, and it provides food of any kind or nature that he could possibly imagine.
That’s where God places His creature. That nuach word used in Genesis 2:15 that indicates that this is a place of rest. When we are in the presence of God, this is where there is a place of rest. As Jesus said, Matthew 11:28 “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest only occurs in relationship to God.
There God would walk with Adam and Eve every day. They developed their knowledge of God as He taught them and instructed them. This was a time of rich intimacy for them with their Creator as that began to expand. Without sin or anything, it’s just a time of incredible joy and incredible peace, stability and happiness. Eden is the place of God’s presence on the earth.
It is later called Paradise. Paradise came into our language originally out of the Persian and, preceding that, from the Babylonian period, and it was a term for a special kind of garden, a private garden. In the royal palaces and in the temple precincts of ancient Babylon, which is always the counterpart, remember, in Scripture to Jerusalem, they built these step pyramids that are called ziggurats. As they built the different floors and different levels, there were places where the priests lived, there were places where other things took place, but it is all focusing on the upper level, which was to be the place where the god dwelt. This was the focal point. It has all these same features that we find in the Garden of Eden.
Now remember what we’ve learned here. Evolutionary thought comes along and says this is all a product of human development over time, and as they developed these concepts of God, and these ideas of temples that eventually developed into the Solomonic Temple. That’s got it all completely backwards.
What you start with is the temple of God, as it were, His dwelling on the earth in Eden. Then as a result of sin, as the generations go by, the ideas about God become more and more corrupt and confused and paganized, so that you have these pale reflections of ultimate reality showing up in all of these different religions. They all have these ideas of a garden; they have this idea of some mountain where the gods live. There’s a mountain that’s related to Eden—we’ll look at it in Ezekiel 28. You have all of these different things that show up as you go through these various pagan religions.
That is where the term “Paradise” came from. It is this isolated place; nobody but the king or the priest—if it’s a garden in the temple—could enter into it, and it is a special protected garden that is the most beautiful of that city or of that nation or empire. The memory of the Garden as this place of absolute beauty and protection of luxuriant growth comes out and is referenced in other places as you go into the Old Testament.
For example, much later in Ezekiel 28:12–13, we have this reference to another Eden. I believe this description does not fit the descriptions in Genesis 2. I believe this is the original creation before Satan fell, and that its evidence there, it’s a garden. This is an address to Satan, the anointed cherub. He is the power behind the throne. The original eleven verses of the chapter [Ezekiel 28] are addressed to the Prince of Tyre, who is the human ruler of Tyre, and then the King of Tyre is the angelic ruler or demonic ruler behind the king. In fact, it’s interesting when you read through the ancient, near eastern religions, they all seem to have this connection between the ruler and one of the gods or goddesses that is the influence behind their monarchy.
What I want to focus on here is this creature is identified before a fall as living in Eden, the Garden of God. What’s present there? You have these precious gems: sardius, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise and emerald along with gold. If you’re reading this and you’re a Jew, that stands out very much. There are nine gemstones that are mentioned there plus gold. I think that describes the original Eden where God had His throne on the earth before the fall of Satan, then Satan falls, and I think that after Genesis 1:2, there’s a restoration. You can’t fit this anywhere else.
In Genesis 2:11, we have the description of Eden, the Garden as God creates it on the sixth day, and there’s a river that flows out from the center of the Garden that divides into four. The first river is called the Pishon. There’s no place on earth where this happens today. People always tell you that the Garden of Eden was somewhere over in the fertile crescent because you have rivers there like the Euphrates and the Tigris, and then there’s the Gihon spring in Jerusalem, and that’s the general area of the Garden of Eden. But the flood would have completely shifted the topography.
As a matter of fact, if you look at the geology that you have around the Dead Sea, the geology that you have on the west side of the Dead Sea is completely different from the geology on the east side of the Dead Sea. The geology on the east side of the Dead Sea matches up down in Ethiopia, 300 miles away.
What happened? There’s such a huge tectonic shift that took place at the time of the flood that you not only have a vertical displacement, you have a horizontal displacement of 300 miles. When you have that kind of thing going on, it completely changes the riverbeds or anything else that existed prior to the flood. When people got off the ark, they just named places after the names of places they were familiar with before they went onto the ark.
This first river, Pishon, we don’t know of any other place that was named that, there’s gold there, bdellium and onyx stone are there, and that’s all that’s mentioned there.
After we get out of the Garden of Eden and the original temple of God on the earth, His dwelling place on the earth, and He’s building the first temporary dwelling place with Israel, He is designing the priestly garment for the high priest. There are four rows of three stones each representing the twelve tribes of Israel. I’ve underlined the ones that are also mentioned in Ezekiel 28. [Exodus 28:17-20] On the first row are sardius, topaz, and emerald; the second row is turquoise, sapphire and diamond; the third row is jacinth, agate and amethyst; fourth row is beryl, onyx and jasper.
We don’t really know for certain what all of these Hebrew terms described. There’s a lot of good guess work there. I’m not a gemologist so I don’t know, but a couple of these stones that are translated, at least the English stone, are too hard to engrave with the name of the tribe of Israel, so there’s a lot of discussion. You can pick up five different translations of a Bible and get five slightly different lists of stones simply because we’re not absolutely certain what those Hebrew words describe in terms of precious stones.
If you were Jewish and you read Ezekiel 28 and you saw that list of nine gemstones that describe the garments of the anointed cherub, what would you think? You’d think “high priest.” That’s where we conclude that Lucifer before the fall had some kind of high priestly function toward God. Where does a high priest serve? In a temple.
We have these patterns that we see beginning to develop, so we see gold and precious gems in the Garden of Eden, and the tabernacle as well as in the temple. Now, let’s go on with our description.
Genesis 2:10, “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden”. Now we have water. Water is essential to life. Water in the Scripture is literal, but it speaks of the source of life. Throughout Scripture, water depicts life. Genesis 2:10-13, “a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon … the name of the second is Gihon …”
Interesting, the spring of Gihon, which is located in the Kidron Valley just below the Jezreel city and just below the palace of David, this is the water from the Kidron Valley that was used to anoint the kings of Israel. It is where Hezekiah built his tunnel to bring the water from outside the wall of Israel to inside the walls. The water is brought to the pool of Siloam in John 9:7, where He heals the blind man and washes his eyes in the pool of Siloam. In the Old Testament, it is called Shiloah. This is the pool there.
I will show you some pictures of that. I have one right here. This shows what it looks like today as you are coming out of Hezekiah’s Tunnel [the photo is turned around]. You can now see this because they are doing more and more excavations. The artwork in the lower right shows what that looked like, how large the pool is. The Greek Orthodox Church owns the land on the left side. Until they’re willing to give up rights to archeologists to go excavate, this is all we see of the remains of the Siloam tunnel.
Here is the old city of David, here’s the Temple up here. It’s not that big. That always surprises people. One reason it’s not that big is people were not urban, they didn’t live in the city. Who lived in the old city of Jerusalem? All of the administrators, court officials, the rulers, the generals. It was the aristocracy that lived there because this is where the bureaucracy lived. This was the beltway, as it were, at the time of the old city.
Down here, you have the spring tower that’s built to cover and protect Gihon Spring. The reason this is important is if you don’t have water that’s protected as a source to come into the city, then you’re subject to attack, you’re subject to be cut off from your source of water which is necessary for life. This was an important thing that Hezekiah did when they constructed all of this to give them water during the time of the Assyrian invasion.
In fact, this is what the background is in Isaiah 8. Now we’re going to play a little sword drill and go back and forth to various passages in the Old Testament to pick up on these themes. It’s important to show that this imagery runs throughout the Scripture. I’m hoping in the next 15, 16 or 17 minutes, I can get there.
We’ve gone through this section before. Isaiah 7 is what? Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy given to Ahaz that a virgin will conceive and give birth, and His name will be Immanuel. Isaiah 9:6 is where it says, “unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given, the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 8 is sandwiched within this prophetic section. There is a warning that there is going to be an invasion of Assyria. In verse 5 and 6 we read, “The Lord also spoke to me [Isaiah] again, saying: ‘Inasmuch as these people refused the waters of Shiloah that flow softly …”
What’s the significance there? This pool of Shiloah provided the water to sustain those who were inside the city of Jerusalem at a time of siege. It is the source of life for them. This water imagery plays an important role in what comes up after this. In Isaiah 8:6, it says that you rejected the waters of Shiloah. Later we’re going to see that that refusal/rejection of these waters is tantamount to rejecting God in His provision of life for the people. They turned their back on Him, they turned to various idols. This is why they’re coming under judgment.
In Isaiah 8:6, it says they “‘refused the waters of Shiloah that flow softly, and rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah’s son.’ ” You think the mainstream media today are traitors; most of the people then were traitors. What you look at here is that Rezin is the king of Syria, the king of Aram, and Remaliah is Pekah, who is only mentioned by name once. The other four times he’s mentioned is always as Remaliah’s son. He’s the king of the Northern Kingdom.
The Northern Kingdom has totally succumbed to idolatry, so God is saying here that the people are getting ready to be judged because they’ve given their loyalty to a false god and a false religion, and they’ve rejected My [God’s] provision for them, which is summarized metaphorically as the water that’s in the pool of Shiloah. He then goes on to say, Isaiah 8:7, “ ‘therefore behold, the Lord brings up over them the waters of the River.’ ”
Notice this play: you have God’s provision of water, but there’s going to be a tsunami that comes. This tsunami comes from the waters of the Euphrates. What’s located on the Euphrates? This is the Assyrian empire, and the Assyrian empire is pictured as flood waters that come up. Isaiah 8:7b-8, “The waters of the River, strong and mighty—The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. He will pass through Judah, he will overflow and pass over, he will reach up to the neck,” which is Jerusalem, just outside the walls of Jerusalem, “he’ll reach up to the neck and the stretching out of his wings will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.”
That’s one place that this is mentioned, and this picture of water and life is this imagery that runs through. Eden becomes a reference to this, and it’s an allusion to water. From where does the pool of Shiloah come? Gihon Springs. Where do you find Gihon first mentioned? Genesis 2.
We’ve studied all of this before, so what’ I’m doing here is connecting some of these dots to create some of these broad patterns. In Ezekiel 36:35 there’s a comparison with Eden. They hadn’t forgotten, and Ezekiel’s 586 BC. This is 2,500 years after creation. This land was desolate, and it became like the Garden of Eden. It’s this picture—they recall the perfection of Eden, the perfection of Paradise.
Joel 2:3 talks about “A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.” It’s a picture of them; they’re going toward Paradise.
We’re now going to get into some fun stuff. That’s just been the introduction. Let’s turn back to Psalm 36, and we’re going to connect some dots. Psalm 36 is a psalm that contrasts the deception and wickedness of the unrighteous with the faithfulness and obedience of the believer. That’s the structure; it’s a 12-verse psalm in the English.
In Psalm 36:5–7 we read after going through the contrasts in these first four verses, “Your mercy, O Lord [Your chesed—faithful loyal love], is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep: O Lord, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
Psalm 36:8, “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house [Temple], and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” Remember, we’re talking about water. Go back to the Garden of Eden. You’ve got one river that comes up and splits into four rivers; this imagery goes on. One of the rivers is the Gihon, the other the Euphrates. They have imagery that’s significant throughout all of the Old Testament.
Now we have a reference to being in the temple. The temple is the presence of God; the temple is a depiction. This is the glory of God, it represents the bounty of God, the blessing of God. It’s the most beautiful building probably in the ancient world. Nobody knows exactly what the Solomonic Temple looked like, but it was incredible. The temple at the time of Herod, at the time of Jesus was considered a wonder of the ancient world. There was no other temple in the world like the temple in Jerusalem.
It is a picture of God’s blessing to His people where they focus on His provision. That’s what’s going on here in Psalm 36:8. “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house [that is the Temple] and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” What’s going on here? The word that is translated “pleasures” is the Hebrew word eden. It’s the same word you have in Genesis 2.
What happens in the lexicons is that they translate it as “delight,” and they think it’s two different words. They are not two different words. Remember, the whole concept of Paradise is a garden of delights that were built for a king. This whole thing fits together. Psalm 36:8b–9, “You give them drink form the river of Your pleasures. For with you is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”
Slide 34 [revisited]
Let’s go back to Psalm 36:6. What happens here after he’s contrasted the unrighteous and their lack of belief and the acts of the wicked, then there’s a contrast with the righteous. The focus is not on those works of the righteous but on the One toward Whom they are directed. They’re directed toward the nature of God, and His mercy and His faithfulness and His righteousness and His judgments in Psalm 36:5-6. The whole focus here isn’t on people as it is on God and the provision of life and meaning that He gives.
This is where we go to Psalm 36:8, “They [that is those that are righteous, those that worship You] are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house.” Now this term relates to one of the offerings that is brought to the temple
There is the peace offering, and it’s the only offering that was a communal meal where the people who came into the temple would share the meal with God. It is that picture of fellowship, of that union with God. Literally what it says here “the fullness of Your house” is the Hebrew word deshen which means the “fatness” of your house.
Not long ago, I came to realize that this emphasis on this fat; you don’t have fat sheep and fat cattle unless God has blessed you with a lot. The reason you give the fat to God in a sacrifice is a picture of giving back to Him a portion of His generosity to you as a sinner, His graciousness. The fact that it’s the fatness of your house indicates prosperity and the blessing of God, the fact that God has provided for His people the best food in His sanctuary.
Then there is a reference here to the river of Eden. This takes us back to the glories that God gave mankind originally, His provision for them from the very beginning. It’s a reminder of all that God has given and has provided originally for man. The river symbolizes life, that He is the source of life and is the One who gives everything necessary for life.
Then in Psalm 36:9, we see an important connection take place. “For with You is the fountain of life;” God is the source of life. God is pictured as this fountain and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we have this reference to light. Psalm 36:9, “In Your light we see light.” The light here refers to God’s revelation in the broad, mega, magnum sense.
We see light, we understand “truth” because God sheds His revelation on our life, so we can understand it. It connects two important aspects that we see in God’s revelation. He is life, He is the Creator of life, He is the sustainer of life, and that life is related to His light and His illumination.
When we move into the New Testament, and we come to John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” and then we read in John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
I heard a pastor many years ago before I went to seminary make a comment that’s always wandered around in the back of my head and only now have I come to really appreciate the great dimensions of what he said. He said, “Gospel of John can’t be understood if you don’t understand the tabernacle and the temple.” What do we see? We see Jesus as the bread of life, we see Jesus as the light of the world, we see Jesus as the intercessor. All of these ideas are in John, and they come right out of and are exhibited in the imagery of the tabernacle and the temple. John 1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Then we get to John 8:12. In John 8:12, Jesus is in Jerusalem for a feast day; it’s the Feast of Tabernacles. A couple of things happen on the Feast of Tabernacles. One of them is there are twelve menorah, and they light the menorah, but there was also an enormous menorah outside the Temple, and they lit that. It’s about life, and Jesus stands up on the day they light the menorah on the Feast of Tabernacles and says, “ ‘I am the light of the world.’ ” He identifies Himself with that menorah. He is the light of the world, and He says, John 8:12 “ ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ ” There’s the connection of those two things.
Next time, I’m going to develop this more, but in the Garden of Eden, you had two trees: one tree was called the Tree of Life.
The menorah has branches. What has branches? Trees. It is a representation of the Tree of Life. When you look at this, it has almond blossoms on it.
It has all of these little things that are on it, all the decorations. All are representations of blossoms and blooms and flowers on the almond tree. Why the almond tree? The almond tree is the first tree to bloom in the spring in Israel. It says life is coming after the bleakness of winter. It’s not as garish as a forsythia, but that’s what it’s announcing. That’s what the almond does: it announces life. Jesus is saying, I’m the light of life. He is connecting those two ideas.
Now, we’re talking about a river in Eden, and I’ve got to finish this. In Psalm 46:4, we read, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.” If you read the commentaries, everybody is trying to figure out what this river is. [Dr. Dean points out that it’s the Spring of Gihon that can be seen when you go to Jerusalem.] That’s the river that provides life for the city of Jerusalem, but people want to overstress the text and figure out what it means. It’s just simple; it means that God has put this incredible spring under Jerusalem to provide sustenance for life in the city. This idea is picked up, and it represents God and God’s provision.
Jeremiah 2:13, one of the great passages to teach on, God confronts Israel and says, “ ‘For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,’ ” What’s flowing out of Eden? The River of Life, living waters. That’s what we’re going to have coming out of the throne room of God in the new heavens and the new earth. God Himself as the source of the river of life identifies Himself as living waters. Jeremiah 2:13 “‘They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.’ ” The broken cisterns are the false idols, the false gods that they’re worshiping.
Jeremiah 17:13, “O Yahweh, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed.” Then there’s a quote and God speaks, “ ‘Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken [Yahweh] the LORD, the fountain of living waters.’ ” God is identified with water and that water is identified with life. Jesus shows up, and He is saying that He is life, and that that life is the light of men.
What does He say in John 4? In John 4:10, He goes to the woman at the well. What are you drawing out of the well? You’re drawing water out of the well. He’s talking to the Samaritan woman, and He states to her,
John 4:10 “ ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ ” You can’t understand that if you don’t go back through what I’ve gone through in terms of the text and the role of water and life and what this meant in the Old Testament and in Judaism.
Then, Jesus says something in John 7 that relates to us.
John 7:37-38, “On the last day, [of the Feast of Tabernacles—remember what He did later that day in chapter 8? He’s going to stand up and say “I’m the light of life.”] Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
He’s connecting the dots right there going all of the way back to the river life in the Garden of Eden. “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,” This correlates to the role of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer in this Church Age as we become the source of the message of life for people. What is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit refer to when we get into 1 Corinthians? 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit …?” Out of the Temple flows these rivers of living water. That ties it together.
Next time, we’ll hit these themes again and see how it works its way out. We’re going to look at the temple furniture again, the tabernacle furniture, tying it together so that we see in a visual image in the Old Testament what is fulfilled in the New Testament and how the worship that we should have, the mentality that we should have should be based on this kind of mentality that we see depicted in the temple worship of the Old Testament.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to reflect and tie together these themes of Scripture. Help us as we probe the Scripture, what this means and the implications of this for the unique spiritual life of this church age, our walk by the Spirit, because as Jesus also said in these same passages that we are to worship by means of the truth and by means of the Spirit.
“Father, we’re just amazed at how your Scripture ties together, fits together and it should enable us to gain a greater sense of Your glory and Your magnificence, which should cause us to worship You. And we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”