CONTEXT FOR THE CHRIST EVENT:
Whenever the Egyptians went to war, Pharaoh carried a portable war tent. The frame was attached with tenon and socket joints so that the tent could easily be taken apart and transported. The tent itself was designed with two rooms. The outer room was twice the length of the inner sanctum. The royal tent was then placed within a rectangular court inside the camp.1 The design, construction and placement of the Hebrew Tabernacle were thus almost exact copies of the Egyptian warrior tent.
The war tent of the Pharaohs and the wilderness Tabernacle of Israel are explicitly reflected in the Christ event: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [skenoo = to tent, tabernacle] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
In ancient Egypt the “[t]emples and temple cult were there to ensure that collaboration [of the gods and of human beings] was sustained, that cosmos was ceaselessly defended against the forces of chaos. . . . Moreover, an Egyptian temple was itself an embodiment of cosmos. . . . In many cases the very structure of the building symbolized the emergence of the ordered world at ‘the first occasion’. Such a temple was perceived as a re-creation of the primordial hillock where the demiurge had come to rest. . . .
“Just as the primordial hillock had been an island of order surrounded by an ocean of chaos, so in the world beyond the temple precincts chaotic forces were still active. It was the function of the temple to reduce those forces to impotence. To ensure the immunity of the temple itself the sacred precinct was surrounded with strong walls.”2
Like the Egyptian temples, the Hebrew Temple was placed on the primordial hillock of Mount Moriah. Here, the Temple was the intended cosmic dwelling place for YHWH. And as in Egypt, the Temple symbolized the triumph of the ordered world over chaos. Later, in Jewish apocalyptic literature, the integrity of the Temple was threatened by alien forces such as those led by the Seleucid emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes. It was in this context that the anticipated cosmic battle of Armageddon emerged. However, the battle of Armageddon was never intended to be fought on the plain of Jezreel, in northern Israel. The term “Armageddon” is a translated derivative of the Hebrew term har mo’ed, which means “mount of the congregation” (Isaiah 14:13) and explicitly refers to the Temple Mount itself. Here, at the center of Paradise, the Jews believed the final battle would be fought and won!
It is in this context that Jesus Christ declared, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). And again, John the Revelator recorded, “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). Thus, the battle of Armageddon proleptically (anticipatorially) symbolized the Christ event itself.
- See Kenneth A. Kitchen, “The Desert Tabernacle,” Bible Review 16, no. 6 (December 2000): 14-21. See also Michael M. Homan, “The Divine Warrior in His Tent,” Bible Review 16, no. 6 (December 2000): 22-31, 55. (go back)
- Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 23. (go back)