The Temple and the Tabernacle is a chronological exploration through the Scriptures concerning how God dwells among his people and creates a relational presence with them. This colorful resource connects these structures in their historical and biblical context to the overall biblical story, resulting in a greater depth to the faith of Christians today.
About the Author
Dr. J. Daniel Hays is dean of Pruet School of Christian Studies and instructor of Old Testament at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He has been on staff at OBU since 1992. Dr. Hays is a member of numerous professional associations including Evangelical Theological Society, Society of Biblical Literature, and Institute for Biblical Research. Prior to teaching, Dr. Hays and his wife Donna were missionaries involved with theological education and water development in Ethiopia.
Dr. Hays is the author and co-author of many respected books including The Message of the Prophets and Grasping God’s Word. He has also published many articles and is frequently asked to speak at churches in the region. In the year 1991, he was hosted six times to give commentary on KERA Public Radio in Dallas, Texas. From these experiences and leadership positions, Dr. Hays is a competent scholar to write The Temple and the Tabernacle.
Summary of Contents
The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places from Genesis to Revelation is a strong theological resource revealing the significance of various structures in the holy temple and God’s engaging presence in relationships with his children. As seen throughout the Bible, the temple’s significance is due to God’s presence, not their physical construction. Dr. Hays progresses through the Bible in sequential order examining God’s presence and sacredness in how it relates to the people through the holy places.
In The Temple and the Tabernacle, Dr. Hays links common people and meticulous text by providing a study of Israel’s temples and tabernacle that is succinct and favorable. The pages move through the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation to comprehend God’s dwelling places with humankind. He surveys and equates the features and significance of the tabernacle that Moses built and of the temples that Solomon and Herod built. Referencing Mark 13:1, Dr. Hays hopes to “move beyond the “stones” to grasp the eternal theological truths being revealed to us about God through his presence in the temple/tabernacle” (p. 11).
The book opens in chapter one with an introductory overview and reviews a summary of Old and New Testament words for temple and tabernacle. Despite the number of words there are for temple and tabernacle, there are four overlapping connotations from the various terms: presence, power, holiness, worship. Chapter 2 then proposes the idea that the Garden of Eden was the first temple God resided in. Chapter 3 focuses on the book of Exodus and the erection of the ark and the tabernacle. Following in chapter 4 is the “impressive” temple of King Solomon. Chapter 5 discusses matters from the book of Ezekiel such as cherubim and the departure of God from the temple. Chapter 6 then describes the rebuilding and expansion efforts of the second temple from Ezra and Haggai to early New Testament. From there, chapter 7 explores how Jesus and new Christians perceived the temple and the theological development of God dwelling within people like temples. Chapter 8 plainly offers readers how the Bible fits together and what this book means for the faith of Christians today.
The Temple and the Tabernacle is a thorough and well-written exposition concerning God’s dwelling places on earth. As this is an intricate subject, and one that few laypeople have intricately studied, Dr. Hays does a terrific job introducing this matter to common Christians.
It is true this matter has been well exposed by other theologians such as Dr. Beale and Dr. Walton. However, Dr. Hays wrote this book to introduce the topic and walk through this study in a step-by-step method. It was written at the general level and serves as an outstanding impression for the layman pursuing a deeper intelligence of the temple’s role throughout the Bible. Without excluding content, he presented the material in a far less intimidating way compared to other reports on this topic. Notably, Dr. Hays evades allegorical extremes which tend to overemphasize symbolism of the temple and the tabernacle. Much of this is due to the comprehensive and concise description of the temples and tabernacle.
Helping in the comprehension of these sites are the beautiful pictures included throughout the pages. This lively resource is filled with colorful renderings of the temple. Dr. Hays tries to imagine the magnificent structures and how they operated. However, he does this without magnifying the subordinate details and losing sight of the eternal theological truths exposed about God through his manifestation in the tabernacle. The array of illustrations and archaeological photography are an extraordinary feature and alone are well worth the expense of this book.
Additional visual aids are integrated throughout the pages. Biblical references point out essential verses that support the author’s observations. Supplementary topics such as “Isn’t God Omnipresent?” “Names of the Ark” and “Where Do the Chunky Toddler Cherubs with Wings Come From?” enhance the material covered on the pages. Charts and tables are also included to benefit readers, specifically visual learners, to help summarize a vast amount of Hebrew subject matter. Terminology, dimensions, and functions are well-organized with representative Scripture passages to compare information from the paragraphs.
Each chapter delivers thorough but clear descriptions of the tabernacle or temple’s architecture and furnishings. Entire Scriptural verses, rather than just chapter and verse, are written out to fully grasp what the biblical text instructs. The incorporation of the full verse not only allows readers to understand where the materials, dimensions, and direct instructions come from but also benefits readers when they come across these passages in Scripture to not just skim across it. Many Christians understand that everything included in the Bible is important, however, this can be difficult to believe when coming across minute details that are hard to visualize. Also suitably summarized is the inter-canonical history of the second temple. While most chapters established theological relevance, a few items are advantageous to note.
First, Dr. Hays seems to argue a completely downgrading interpretation for when Solomon is building the temple. This author believes Solomon was on the spiritual downfall much earlier than what is generally thought. His debate is somewhat beguiling, but also sidetracking from his overall goal. Essentially every aspect of the temple building process is read as Solomon divulging sinful intentions. This sustained argument did not fit in well or positively impact the book in any way.
Following the segment on Solomon’s temple, the key theological point of Ezekiel 8-11 is the departure of the presence of God from the temple. The departure allows Babylon to destroy the temple, but Ezekiel’s prophesy concludes with a future rebuilding of the temple. As Ezekiel is a minor prophet to the theology of the temple, Dr. Hays could have enhanced his analysis of the temple by including Isaiah’s vision as well. Additionally, Jeremiah’s denunciation of Jerusalem’s assurance in the temple, seen in Jeremiah 7, is important for considering the tragedy of the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C.
It is also dissatisfying that only two pages are dedicated to examining the temple in the book of Revelation, and then fixing only on the last two chapters of the book. The book of Revelation has more temple imagery than a couple chapters. For instance, the Ark of the Covenant emerges in Revelation 11:19 and then later the altar of God in 14:18. As the subtitle of this book consists “from Genesis to Revelation” one would anticipate more emphasis to temple imagery and the concluding book of the New Testament.
Examining specific biblical texts regarding the temple and the tabernacle, readers are intrigued by God’s presence and holiness and the overall biblical story about the temple and the tabernacle. Readers gain a glimpse of how God’s presence, power, and holiness engages with people, even as revealed for 21st-century believers. The public cannot study this book without marveling the unity of Scripture. Christians cannot study this book and miss the inadequacy of the temple and the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, who became the supreme temple. The archaic structures were houses of worship for the Israelites. Studying them is an opportunity for Christians to worship today.
Dr. Hays has written an informative overview of the record and doctrine of the temple offering a central background of both the Old and New Testament. The clear and concise archaeological and theological information makes this a recommended resource, but only as suited to be an introduction.
The Temple and Tabernacle is a structural and doctrinal survey of Israel’s tabernacle and temples using the most recent archaeology and research. Readers compare the structures and significance of God’s dwelling places including Eden, the tabernacle Moses built, the temples Solomon and Herod built, and the concept of Christians as the temple. However, Dr. Hays notably explicates the critical principle of Hebrews 8-9; he reminds Christians these are but mere shingles to the glory that will be revealed in the Lord’s tabernacle and temple in heaven.