Could you please explain the significance of 2 Chronicles 2?
In 2 Chronicles, we read about Solomon’s kingship. In chapter 1, Solomon goes to Gibeon where the bronze altar and the tabernacle of the Lord were. He offers sacrifices and worships God in the way God required this to be done. That night, God visits Solomon and asks him what he would like Him to give him. Rather than asking for wealth, power, etc., Solomon instead asks, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
God had appointed Solomon to be king, and he took this responsibility seriously. As shown in his request, he asks for the things that will enable him to fulfill this great responsibility he’s been given. Because he asks for wisdom and knowledge, which will enable him to serve God more ably, God honors his request. Because he didn’t ask for riches, wealth or honor, God also blesses him with these things, so much so that no king before nor after Solomon had as much wealth, honor and riches. This sets the context for some of what we read in chapter 2.
In chapter 2, we read of Solomon making ready to build the house of the Lord. Solomon’s father, David, had wanted to build God’s house, but God reserved this task for Solomon. This is found in 2 Samuel 7 (God speaking a message to the prophet Nathan to give to David):
2Sam. 7:12 “ When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
2Sam. 7:13 “ He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
2Sam. 7:14 “ I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
2Sam. 7:15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
2Sam. 7:16 “ Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”
Notice the Messianic language in this passage. While God is speaking about Solomon, He is also speaking about Jesus our Messiah. We will look at this more closely as we discuss chapter 2.
First, let’s look at the literal text of chapter 2. Solomon starts the task of building God’s house, as well as a palace for himself. Notice the vast number of people Solomon puts to the task, 153,600 in total! None of these people, however, were Israelites. All of them were aliens, a term which refers to people living in Israel but who had no inherited rights. Most likely, these are Gentiles who were not utterly destroyed when Israel entered the promised land. At this point, they are now labor for king Solomon. These were not slaves, and some actually converted to Judaism.
Solomon also enlists the help of Huram (pronounced khoo-rawm), king of Tyre. Solomon asks for the wood to build God’s house, as well as for a skilled craftsman. Solomon, of course, offers to pay for the men’s services. Huram gladly accepts Solomon’s request, and he glorifies God in his response. It is very likely that Huram was a believer.
So the literal text tells us how Solomon plans to build God’s house and his palace, where he will get the supplies and who will do the work. This fulfills what God promised in 2 Samuel 7. No longer will God’s house be a temporary tabernacle, but a magnificent structure that will be unlike any other building on earth. However, there is a greater meaning here than what the literal text tells us. Remember Jesus’ words, that the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39). Given what we read earlier in 2 Samuel 7, Solomon is clearly a type of Christ. As we look closer at the text we will see the underlying picture of Christ as portrayed in Solomon.
First, remember that Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge so he could rule God’s people. This is a picture of Christ as the greatest and wisest king, the King of kings. Indeed, even Huram obeys him. God also gave him wealth and riches, more than any person would ever have. This, too, is a picture of Christ, which we read in Colossians 2:2-3:
Col. 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The purpose of the house Solomon is building for God is “to burn fragrant incense before Him and to set out the showbread continually, and to offer burnt offerings morning and evening, on sabbaths and on new moons and on the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, this being required forever in Israel.” These are the things God required of Israel under the Mosaic Law, things that were necessary to take away sin and the manner in which God was to be worshiped. But they all pointed to Christ, in whom the Law was fulfilled. Hebrews 9:1-10 describes the tabernacle:
Heb. 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.
Heb. 9:2 For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.
Heb. 9:3 Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,
Heb. 9:4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;
Heb. 9:5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Heb. 9:6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship,
Heb. 9:7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
Heb. 9:8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,
Heb. 9:9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,
Heb. 9:10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
Hebrews 9:11-15 continues, explaining how Christ is our perfect tabernacle:
Heb. 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
Heb. 9:12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Heb. 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
Heb. 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb. 9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Therefore, the tabernacle Solomon is building is a picture of Christ, who will fulfill the Law, and who will replace the physical tabernacle. He entered through the true tabernacle, and made the way, the only way, for sinners to be reconciled to an all holy God. By faith in Him, we are cleansed by His blood and have access into the Holy of Holies, to God Himself.
Furthermore, the temple of God that Solomon is building also points to the true temple of God, which is the church, which include you and me. Just as Solomon correctly stated in v. 6, there is no one able to build a house for our God. Indeed, the true temple, the church, is being built by God. We read about this in Ephesians 2:19-21:
Eph. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
Eph. 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
Eph. 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,
The one who builds the church is Christ Himself (Matthew 16:18), and as Ephesians 2 says, He is building us together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. So, as Solomon realizes, only God can build a house for Himself. Thankfully, WE are His house!
Moreover, the Lord allows us to participate in the building of His house, although He is the one who builds it through us. God alone is the one who gives salvation, but He has graciously allowed us to be the instruments through which He will work to build His church. As we work, we are enabled to do God’s works by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. Notice in v. 2:7 that Solomon asks for a “skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.”
It seems odd that there is no man in all of Israel with such skills. Instead, Solomon has to get such a person sent to him. Likewise, given that there are 153,600 people working on the temple, it seems strange that Solomon is asking for a single man to do this skilled work. This, I believe, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, whom God sends to every individual believer. Note that this skilled man will work with Solomon’s skilled men. Likewise, only by the power of the Spirit can we build God’s house and perform good works. Just as Solomon rewarded the Huram’s workers for their service, God will also give us rewards for the good works we perform by the power of His Holy Spirit, as long as we build on the foundation of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3 tells us about these good works and related rewards:
1Cor. 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Cor. 3:12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
1Cor. 3:13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
1Cor. 3:14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
1Cor. 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
1Cor. 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1Cor. 3:17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
Notice the similarities of what is considered a “good work”. In 2 Chronicles 2, the skilled man Huram sends is skilled in working with gold, silver, brass and iron, elements that will survive God’s testing fire. Works we do in the Spirit are works that are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, works that contribute to the church. These are works that are done by the gifts of the Spirit that are given to believers. Such works will be rewarded. Works that we do in the power of our flesh, well meaning as they may be, will be burned up and will not be rewarded. All believers will be saved, but we can miss out on God’s rewards when we try to serve Him in our flesh. We are God’s temple, indwelt by the Holy Spirit; as such, we are holy and should live holy lives. If we live solely in the flesh, God will destroy us because our actions do not glorify His name. Again, we will be saved, but we will miss out on rewards.
We also get some information on the skilled man Huram sends to Solomon. We are told his name is “Huram-abi”. Huram means “noble born”. “Abi” means “father of an individual”, but it can also mean the “originator, founder” of a group, clan or family. As a picture of the Holy Spirit, we can view the Spirit as the noble (or kingly) originator of the church since it is the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63). Perhaps more importantly, we read that Huram-abi is “the son of a Danite woman and a Tyrian father”. This would be a person who is both Jewish and Gentile, combined in one person. Again, Scripture sheds light on this in Ephesians 2:
Eph. 2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “ Uncircumcision” by the so-called “ Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands —
Eph. 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph. 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
Eph. 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Eph. 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Eph. 2:17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;
In Christ, we are no longer Jews and Gentiles, but are united as one in the Spirit. It is through the Spirit that this reconciliation is accomplished, giving us access to the Father. Huram-abi is a great picture of this.
Earlier we mentioned the 153,600 “aliens”. The Hebrew word is “ger”, which refers to a sojourner, a temporary inhabitant who lacked rights in the land he was living. This is exactly what Scripture says of Christians. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” Similarly, Hebrews 11 states:
Heb. 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Heb. 11:9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
Heb. 11:10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
We are like the aliens in 2 Chronicles 2 who Solomon the king assigns the work of building God’s house, with the help of Huram-abi. We have been assigned to build God’s temple by King Jesus, who is building His house through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
May we be found a faithful steward in God’s house, keeping ourselves pure and holy. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, as we look for the city whose builder and maker is our God.