Review: The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places from Genesis to Revelation
J. Daniel Hays
First impressions count. Academic comes to mind when I first looked at this book. And in some respects it is, but don’t let that scare you off. Hays has written a book that is informative, thought provoking, and accessible to folks like me (a non-academic) and only about 200 pages long. There are no five questions for discussion at the end of each chapter either and that is a plus for a work like this one. A bibliography for those that want to know who this author consulted and endnotes for even more information are included. Pictures, charts, and graphic renderings break the narrative at appropriate spots and help the reader to more fully grasp the discussion that surrounds them.
The content covers not only the tabernacle and temple architecture and furnishings, but also the history from each of the periods they represent. That’s the strength of this book for me. Hays focuses on the structures as God’s dwelling places among his people and the history that structure witnessed. As the structures become more elaborate and costly the history of the people of God descends into darker and darker periods. Hays spends no little amount of time looking between the lines of the biblical account of the reign of Solomon ferreting out the differences in the motive and means of temple construction during his tenure as compared to the same of the tabernacle during Moses’ time. Interesting reading and I’m still mulling his take on it.
Of course, there’s more to come after Solomon’s temple and that is not ignored, but as in the history itself nothing until Herod’s structure comes close to the grandeur that was Solomon’s. Synagogues are not the temple or the tabernacle, but they have become the local gathering place for the people of God in the intervening years. Churches of today have some connection to the synagogues of that period. Herod’s temple stood as a reminder of the glory of yesteryear, but served as the focal point of institutionalized religion. The glory had departed much earlier.
Hays’ last chapter covers the “so what” for the present time. This chapter, while a nice way to round out the dwelling places of God theme, felt hurried and incomplete. All the fun factoids related to the history of the temple and tabernacle had been used. The current dwelling place is still under construction and the visions of the completed structure are still difficult to describe. A look forward to Revelation sustains the people’s hope of the future dwelling place of God.
I recommend this book for its readability and succinct coverage of a rather large topic.
I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.