The Temple and Time

By Dan Vis
May 14, 2017
Comments: 18

Note: Since we are featuring our Life Focus challenge this month, and offering it as a FREE class to members through the month of April, we thought we'd repost this article on the importance of using time well. Enjoy!

One of the most fascinating topics of research in the Bible is the Old Testament temple and its services. Every detail is filled with symbolic meaning.

It shines a powerful floodlight on God's plan for the salvation of man, the stages of judgment, and the ultimate eradication of sin. It contains multiple fascinating prophecies. And if you have read my book, The Moral Machinery, you know it also gives important insights into the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties of man. Today, I would like to explore what it says about our use of time.

The temple building itself was divided into two main sections: the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.

In the innermost chamber was found the Ark of the Covenant, with the Law of God hidden within, and the Shekinah Glory shining above. This depicts God's ultimate goal for man--the Ten Commandments once again perfectly enshrined in the heart, and the glory of God reflecting out from the deepest chambers of our character. This is certainly the experience every Christian should long for!

But the Holy Place highlights the process by which we advance towards this goal. It contained three key pieces of furniture: the Table of Shewbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Seven Branch Candlestick. It was in the Holy Place that the priests ministered day by day--and we too, as priests of God, have a work to do here daily.

The Bible gives clear suggestions as to the meaning of these symbols.

The Table of Shewbread points to the Word of God. Jesus clearly linked Scripture and bread together during His temptation in the wilderness: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God., see also Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.). Similarly, in Isaiah 55:10-1110 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. God describes the Word "that goeth forth out of my mouth" as being like "rain" that gives "seed to the sower, and bread to the eater". And most Christians recognize the importance of Bible study as a key to growing in our understanding of God's Will.

The Altar of Incense seems to be connected with prayer. The Psalmist writes, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense" (Psalms 141:2Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.). Similarly, John sees this altar in the book of Revelation, and connected with it, describes how "the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand" (Revelation 8:3-43 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.). And again, prayer is widely recognized as important for a believer who wants to keep his heart tender and responsive to the will of God.

But there was a third piece of furniture in the Holy Place, and it represents another vital key to effective discipleship. I believe the Candlestick represents the importance of committed obedience.

In the Old Testament, we read "the spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly" (Proverbs 20:27The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.). This gives a picture of God examining our actions, and the motives that drive them. What do our choices reveal about our heart?

In the New Testament, we see something similar: "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:15-1615 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.). Clearly, Jesus intends us to reveal the will of God through our day to day activities.

To put it differently, Bible study and prayer are both important. But the principles we glean from study, and the consecration we seek in prayer, must be translated into specific and concrete steps of actions. Like the Psalmist, we are to think on our ways, turn our feet to God's testimonies, and delay not to keep His commandments (Psalms 119:59-6059 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.). Prayer and study must be combined with careful obedience.

It is not an accident that there were seven branches on the Candlestick. It was to remind us of a very specific cycle of time (the week) which God established at creation. Because it is only through the right use of time that we can carry out the actions which best glorify God. Or to put it differently, without effective time management, it will be impossible to live out our full potential for Christ.

Bible study and prayer are both essential to effective daily devotions. But the most effective devotional time will also include some planning for the day. Careful Study, prayerful consecration, and intentional planning to live out the will of God combined create the life of discipleship.

It is our privilege as "priests", to incorporate all three pieces of furniture into our worship of God.


Have questions or feedback about this article? Share them in the comments below. How important do you think it is to incorporate time management into our devotions? Are Bible study and prayer enough without making plans to obey?

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Posted by Dan Vis on 04/04/18  
Great! Enjoy the class Kristina. :)
Posted by Kristina Tijunait on 04/04/18  
No problem. Thanks for fixing, I was able to get in today. : )
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/03/18  
Hi Kristina! Try it again. We had to make a little adjustment to our enrollment system to unlock it for this month. I think it is working now. Sorry about that!
Posted by Kristina Tijunait on 04/03/18  
I just tried to sign up for the Free Life Focus class but it says this is a premium class and that I need to be a partner in order to take it. Is this class free or does is cost?
Posted by Carole Bliss on 04/02/18  
I enjoyed this message. We just finished what Stewardship is. It encompasses how we manage our time. Time is a gift, we need to use it well. I know I need to start my day in prayer first, and then in study, before I get on with the days needs. When I put things first, it gets delayed, and this is not God's plan for me. He said, Seek first the Kingdom of God.
Thank-you for this reminder. We always need to be refreshed.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/02/18  
That's our real prayer, Deanna. That FAST can be a part of moving us as a people beyond just having good theology to also having good implementation of Scripture. When God has that people we will see some amazing things. I'm convinced of it!

Glad you enjoyed this Armani! In Revelation the candlesticks are described as representing the 7 churches (Revelation 1:20The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.). And in another place linked to the 7 spirits of God (Revelation 4:5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.). The latter brings to mind Isaiah 11:2-32 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:.

But in terms of the candlestick representing our works, I like to think it simply points to the 7 days of the week. We should not be one day a week Christians, but serving Him every day of the week. Lot's of possibilities here!
Posted by Armani Tavares on 04/02/18  
Really enjoyed this. And wow, it just dawned on me for the first time that there must be seven branches of definition for the Seven Branched Candle Stick, duh!!!
Just thinking of what these 7 aspects may be, related to light/fire/candles, that shall constitute us the Light of the world. Love, obedience, purification/sanctification, Holy Spirit, time, as you say/sabbath, and maybe even judgment is here again, and I just wonder. Very interesting.
Posted by Deanna Dekle on 04/02/18  
Thank you Dan for the concise summary and for stressing the importance of active engagement in our daily life. I love the Bible quotes. I pray for these principles to be a living reality in us as a people so we are a pure vessel to reflect God's love.
Posted by Lisson on 05/28/17  
Well illustrated PS Dan, there is a lot to learn from the sanctuary message. Time management is really part of God's plan for the salvation of mankind. I seem to have a lot of time to idle but now I will pray that I use time wisely

God bless you
Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 05/25/17  
Sounds good, Dan! I look forward to the next challenges! :-)
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/17/17  
Glad you found this helpful Fiona. Almost every discipleship program I've seen emphasizes prayer and Bible study. Very few put time management (or obedience) on a comparable footing.

The other aspect is witnessing--which I also see in the sanctuary, in what it means to be a priest in the service of God. The next few challenges will be looking at different aspects of outreach and ministry. :)
Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 05/17/17  
Much food for thought, Dan. I have not thought of there being an example of time management in the sanctuary service. Very interesting ... Thank you!
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/16/17  
You are very welcome Shanthi!
Posted by Shanthi Solomon on 05/16/17  
Thank you Pr. Dan. This message is a real eye opener!
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/16/17  
Glad you found this helpful Aaron! Appreciate the kind words...
Posted by Aaron Wilson on 05/15/17  
Amen! Well put together this article Brother Dan, and in good connection with the Life Focus Challenge recently completed. God Bless
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/15/17  
Developing the skills to convert what we are learning and praying about into action is extremely important. Sounds like you are poised for a lot of growth this year, Ann! Keep pressing forward.
Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 05/15/17  
I remember several years ago spending hours reading the Bible and the SOP and how eventually I stopped growing because that was all I was doing. I was not sharing it. I needed to combine it with action. Now I have about 15 areas in my life that have "piled up" and need my attention before I can move on. This planning is helping me get them done so that I can free up my time to be of use to the Lord in my retirement.

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