We have just reached the second month of the year, and it reminds us of two important events in Biblical history that took place in the Second Month. Perhaps we should have a look at these, to unveil their significance.
The first reference is found in 1 Kings 6:1 (Also 2 Chron.3:2) “In the 480th year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the 2nd month, he (i.e. Solomon) began to build the House of the Lord.” The foundation stone was laid in the second month. Solomon had reigned for three full years, and this was the second calendar month in his fourth year. Here then was a most significant event. Solomon was David’s son, and his name means “Peace.” In Hebrew it is pronounced Shlomo, and many Jews in modern Israel have taken Shlomo as their first name. The traditional Jewish greeting is “Shalom,” which can easily be seen to derive from the same root, and means “Peace (be with you)”
King David had already prepared material for the construction of the Temple in the latter years of his reign, but the Lord had forbidden him from building the House, because he was “a man of war”. The Lord wanted His House built by a “man of peace.” During the first three years of Solomon’s reign the preparation of stoneware and wooden beams had continued until everything was deemed ready for erecting the House. The stones were cut from “Solomon’s quarries”, situated beneath Jerusalem itself, within Mount Moriah, where the soft white limestone was cut and fashioned. It was important not to bring the stones out until the actual time when they were needed for construction because by their very nature they then hardened into something akin to marble after being exposed to the air above ground. This is why we read in 1 Kings 6:7 “When the House was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry; so that neither hammer nor chisel nor any tool of iron was heard in the Temple while it was being built.” The limestone of Solomon’s quarries is of a rare type, known as Travertine Aragonite, easy to saw and shape whilst within the quarry’s underground atmosphere. These royal quarries were rediscovered quite by accident in 1852 by Dr Joseph Barclay whilst walking with his dog near the Damascus Gate. The underground workings are vast, one tunnel reaching 750 feet into the mountain. One great cavern is 325 feet wide and 50 feet high. Pillars of rock have been left, to support the roof of the cave, since part of northern Jerusalem is above. The caves form a spectacle never to be forgotten, according to one observer.
Before turning to our second reference, it will be profitable to examine Ezra 3:8. This concerns the return from Babylonian captivity. “Now in the 2nd year of their coming to the House of God at Jerusalem, in the 2nd month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jozadek made a beginning, together with the rest of their brethren, the Priests and the Levites, and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. . . . And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord . . . all the people shouted with a great shout and praised the Lord.” In the apocryphal book of 1 Esdras 5:57 we learn in addition that the foundation stone was laid “on the new moon of the 2nd month in the 2nd year . . .” The reason for producing this evidence is simply that the second month is referred to once again, as though a certain importance lay in the number. The month was named Ziv, or Zif, but in the later Hebrew calendar it was called Iyar. As an aside, one is reminded that when the Lord “laid the corner stone of the earth, all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:6-7)
Now we are ready to examine evidence in the New Testament. Our Lord was crucified on 14th day of Nisan, the 1st month in the Hebrew (Sacred) Calendar. He rose from the dead on 16th Nisan, and in Acts 1:3 we learn that “He presented Himself alive after His passion by many proofs, appearing to them 40 days, and speaking of theKingdom of God.” On the expiry of 40 days we read about our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, where “He who descended is He who also ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph.4:10)
By applying a little arithmetic we conclude that the Ascension took place in the 2nd month. There are 30 days in Nisan. Our Lord arose from the dead on 16th of that month, leaving 14 days remaining out of the 30. 40 minus 14leaves 26. Hence the Ascension occurred on 26th day of the 2nd month.
Now for a little comparison. Our Lord’s ministry lasted for three and a half years, so that His death, resurrection, and ascension occurred in His 4th year, a clear parallel with Solomon’s reign. But He was also “the Prince of Peace.” He was “great David’s greater son.” Using Latin, we could refer to Solomon as “Pax”, but our Lord was (and is) “PaxMagnificentia.”
Solomon laid the foundation stone of the Lord’s House in the 2nd month. Our Lord laid the foundation stone of the New Jerusalem Temple in the second month, at His ascension. “He is our peace . . . and He came and preached peace to all who were far off and all who were near . . . (who are now) being built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Foundation Corner Stone, in whom the whole structure is growing into a Holy Temple in the Lord.” (Eph.2:14-21)
The comparison between Solomon and our Lord, and between the Material Temple and the Spiritual Temple, and the fact that the foundation of each was laid in the second month, gives us much food for thought. If the children of God are visualised as “living stones, built into a spiritual house,” (1 Peter 2:5) then we must also be considered as living down in the “quarries of the commonplace” being made ready for transportation to the Temple site when all is ready. Hopefully the Lord found us to be of that “soft, travertine” variety, that could be the more easily fashioned according to His requirements, rather than being like adamant, refusing the tools of the stone-dressers. But once there, (in resurrection,) we shall “harden” into “beautiful marble”, that can take a fine polish. But whilst the Lord is fashioning us and shaping us in readiness for His Day, the world knows nothing of these preparations. “Neither hammer nor chisel nor any tool of iron,” used by the Lord in shaping us will be heard above ground. In other words, the discipline of the Lord, His training, His fashioning, though something that we feel keenly, the world perceives it not, neither understands that His tender hands have been at work. But a day is coming when all His “living stones” will be displayed to the view of the whole world, and then God will receive the praise so justly due to the One who is the Master Designer and Builder.
“Behold, I am laying as a foundation in Zion a Stone, a tried stone, a precious foundation corner stone.”(Isa.28:16) Our Lord was also taken from the quarries of this world, born as a human baby, grown to manhood, was in all points tested like us, but “rejected by the builders” because He had a unique and unrecognisable shape, like the capstone of a pyramid. But the rejected stone “has become the capstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Ps.118:22) This is the “stone cut from the mountain [Moriah] by no human hand,”that smashes the great image, and itself “becomes a great mountain that fills the whole world,” (Daniel 2:34,45) or as Paul expressed it in Ephesians “that He might fill all things.”