In My Father’s House

Ray Mayhew


Scholars see Chronicles as a unique book because it is the only one that attempts to interpret the whole Old Testament from beginning to end. Standing at the end of the Hebrew bible (it was written around 400 BC) it becomes a statement of what the previous 37 books are all about.

Significantly, the whole narrative of the book is built around the temple, and the chronicler sees that temple as a paradigm of the kingdom of God. This is important because it means that Chronicles, the last book of the Old Testament in the Hebrew cannon, parallels Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, inasmuch as they both major on the kingdom of God as modeled by a temple. (The new Jerusalem in Revelation has all the features of a temple. John remarks that “there is no temple in it”, 21:3, simply because the whole city has now become a temple, the dwelling place of God.)

There is more, therefore, about the kingdom of God in Chronicles than any other Old Testament book (except Daniel), and it is presented under the construct of the temple, which it was designed to model.

The word “temple” in English does not serve us very well in understanding the biblical concept. The Hebrew word is much better as it is simply the word “house” (bayit). And it’s a great shame we translate it “temple.” The word is important as while, for us, a temple is simply a religious building, a “house” is something very different. A house, or a home, is the epicenter of family relationships, and not just religious activity. In traditional societies the home has always represented intimacy, camaraderie, hospitality, philanthropy, laughter, children, education, and even industry—the farm or workshop often being an extension of the house. “Bayit” is therefore a much warmer and wider word than the English word “temple”. It signifies that God has taken up residence in Israel and they are now learning to be at home with him.

The article, instead of majoring on sacrifice and priesthood, picks up on aspects of the temple paradigm that we usually overlook, but which are crucial in understanding the kingdom of God and its application to the mission of the church in the age in which we live.

Due to the length of this article we have split it into two parts. You can access both parts in the menu box to the left.