I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Metal men

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The metal of God’s tabernacle symbolizes his people. Perhaps the clearest implication of this is that Nebuchadnezzar first takes gold from the temple together with the leaders of the land (2 Kings 24), and later takes remaining gold, silver, and a multitude of bronze together with the remaining people of the land (2 Kings 25). There is an analogy between the implements of God’s physical house and the people who form and serve in God’s spiritual house.

I know that Tarshish is not necessarily Tarsus. But there is still a linguistic connection between the two, and I think we can glimpse another example of this precious metal analogy in the person of Paul. Solomon supplies his house and God’s house with gold and silver from Tarshish:

All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. (2 Chronicles 9:20-21)

God brings into his kingdom another gift-treasure from Tarshish/Tarsus:

So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” (Acts 9:11-12)

Saul/Paul is gold and silver brought into God’s house.

This reminds me of the great reversal between Psalm 68 and Ephesians 4. While Psalm 68 says that God receives gifts:

You have ascended on high,
​​You have led captivity captive;
You have received gifts among men,
Even from the rebellious,
That the LORD God might dwell there. (Psalm 68:18)

Paul reverses this in Ephesians:

Therefore He says:
​“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8)

This is not because Paul is simply perpetuating Septuagint corruptions. Instead, I maintain that Paul is here applying his understanding of the union between Jesus and his church. Paul understood this union from the very moment of his conversion, when Jesus identified himself with his church:

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4)

What is happening in Ephesians is that Jesus is receiving gifts from the nations—gifts such as Paul himself. In the very act of receiving these gifts he also sets them free and gives them to his own body, his church.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 15, 2023 at 8:30 am

Posted in Biblical Theology

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