I really leaned in to the Bible Project’s explanation of these chapters. They described Gog as an “archetype of human rebellion”; which made chapter 39 come together a lot more clearly for me.
It’s tempting to skim over chapter 40, which I have to admit I did at first. But seemingly boring parts of Scripture are often where God has sneaked in beautiful details; things he planned out and anticipated before we even existed. It’s an exercise of discipline to stay engaged with parts of the text that don’t immediately interest you.
I noticed a few interesting things about the new temple (I read this as a symbol for the messianic kingdom to come, others read this as a literal plan for a building):
The aesthetics are painfully detailed. I love the mention of the palm tree decorations on the columns. Palm trees pop up quite a few times in the Bible. They are referenced in Leviticus during the instructions of the Festival of Booths:
“On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees—palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the Lord your God for seven days.” Leviticus 23:40
Later, people imitated this ritual when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, throwing down palm branches as he rode in on a donkey. (Matthew 21:8-9, John 12:12-13) So, what’s up with the palm tree thing? I don’t know, but it definitely interests me and gives me something to research in the future. Researching leads to a deeper understanding of the text, which leads to a deeper understanding of God, which is time well-spent! The details are valuable.
I also noticed the mention of maintenance in the new temple. “ And the man said to me, ‘The room beside the north inner gate is for the priests who supervise the Temple maintenance.’ ” 40:45
Having a purpose and work to do has been part of the plan since day one. Adam was breaking a sweat in the Garden of Eden tending to his responsibilities, why do I often assume it’ll be any different for me, here on earth? Working hard for the Lord is good and holy. It’s kingdom-like.
What are the responsibilities God has given you?
How do you approach them?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:24