J. Daniel Hays, The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places From Genesis to Revelation Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016, 208 pp. $11.89
A good book review will help readers determine the good, the bad, and the ugly in a given title. There is nothing bad or ugly in J. Daniel Hays’ new work, The Temple and the Tabernacle. In fact, describing the contents of this book as “good” would be a massive understatement. Dr. Hays sets out to explore the majesty and importance of the dwelling places of God. Beginning in the Old Testament, the author works he way to the culmination of Redemptive history where we find the people of God gathered before his throne, worshipping him in the new heavens and the new earth.
A Brief Synopsis
Six features make The Temple and the Tabernacle especially noteworthy.
First, this is an absolutely beautiful book. The pages are high quality and high-quality photographs and artwork are seen throughout, illustrating different facets of the temple and the tabernacle.
Second, this work is written with different learning levels in mind. Everyone from first year Bible students to seasoned pastors will benefit from the clear writing, throughout.
Third, this work adheres to the testimony of Scripture. The author is careful to cling to the biblical record as he unpacks the various aspects of the temple and the tabernacle.
Fourth, this work explains the big picture, without discounting the details. Hays notes, “Remember that the whole point of building the tabernacle is to create a proper place for the presence of God to dwell in the midst of his people and to travel with them.”
Fifth, this work is Christ-centered. In a book like this, it would be easy to get caught up in the minutia by focusing on the finer elements of the temple and tabernacle. The author does spend a considerable amount of time helping readers understand these things. But as he observes at the beginning of the book, “We want to move beyond the ‘stones’ to grasp the eternal theological truths being revealed to us about God through his presence in the temple/tabernacle.”
The author clearly describes the distinction between an Old Testament economy and the beauty of the new covenant:
“The system of encountering the presence of God that Christ inaugurates is superior to the old tabernacle system at every point. His one perfect sacrifice eliminates the need for any more blood sacrifices, and through this sacrifice Christ provides perfect cleansing for his people, declaring them to be completely ‘holy’ before God … Thus the sacrifice of Christ and the new covenant that he inaugurated enable Christians today to encounter the presence of God in worship and service in a direct manner. He dwells inside each of us.”
Finally, this work exalts God in his majestic holiness. Readers will immediately be struck with awe as they encounter the Old Testament portrait of God, learn of his absence due to Israel’s apostasy, and filled with wonder as they come face-to-face with Jesus in his return to the temple. The author notes, “When the second temple is built, first during the time of Haggai and then by King Herod the Great, there is no mention of the return of the presence of God to dwell in the temple. The presence of God does not return to the temple until Jesus Christ walks through its gates.”
The Temple and the Tabernacle is a book I’ve waited for since my days as a Bible College student. The scholarship is impeccable, and the high points of the Christian worldview appear throughout. Readers will be encouraged as they are reminded of the great reality of the temple and tabernacle. But more than this, they will be motivated to worship God in all his holiness.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
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