Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shiloh as the Model for the Judgments on the First & Second Temples

So the ark of the covenant was at Shiloh, from where Israel (and, particularly, Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas) brought it, and God's presence, to fight for them against the Philistines at the battle of Ebenezer/Aphek.

Instead, because of Israel's faithlessness, Israel suffers devastating defeat -- tens of thousands dead -- and the Philistines capture the ark. "The glory has departed from Israel" (1 Sm 4.21).

(Interestingly, in a twist, God himself defeats the Philistines and their god, Dagon, in the ark's exile. The Philistines then get rid of the ark by returning it to Israel.)

But God's presence does not return to Shiloh.

God's presence inhabits Solomon's temple. Yet the people ultimately prove faithless, and Jeremiah prophesizes that Shiloh stands as the example for Solomon's temple as well (Jer 7.12). The temple is destroyed, so God's presence never returns to Solomon's temple.

Jesus comes to the Second temple, and rebukes those in it for faithlessness, famously quoting Jeremiah's "Shiloh" dicourse regarding the temple being a "den of thieves" (Mt 21.13, cf., Jer 7.11). (Note that the "den of thieves" reference comes in Jer 7.11, and "Shiloh" is invoked in the next verse, Jer 7.12.)

Jesus' point seems obvious: As the people of the Second Temple partake of the same sins as the people of the First Temple, so the Second Temple will receive the judgment of Shiloh as well -- their house/temple will be left desolate (Mt 23.38) with not one stone left upon another (Mt 24.3).

(I should note that there is a certain ambiguity about the second temple -- if I recall correctly, there is no theophanic indwelling for the second temple as there is for both the tabernacle and for the First Temple. The indwelling/end of exile might only be provided with the coming/indwelling of the Spirit at Pentecost. Of course, this indwelling is of an entirely different order of scope and intensity than the OT indwellings, for the Spirit makes a temple of, and indwells, God's people.)


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