Well, not really a "secret" but King Solomon did lay down the ground work to Modern Day
Church Design and Acoustics.
The battle for a personís soul is fought on many levels. The Bible, ministers, preachers, scholars, experts, archeologists, historians, and educators are all different ways of how people come to know Jesus. In the Biblical record, we are still discovering ways how Godís book is relevant today. As an expert in church acoustics, I was seeking an affordable way to fix existing churches. So many churches have compromised acoustics, and most church owners are convinced that fixing their church is too expensive and not worth the effort. However, there is an affordable and guaranteed solution, and it comes from our most treasured book Ė The Bible. To this end, the answer was more than just about acoustics. It was about the whole building.
In recent times, it has been brought to my attention that the Bible has a solution to a number of problems most or all churches experience at some point in the life of their worship spaces. Those solutions are in the details of King Solomonís Temple. It is a set of solutions that any church can test and take advantage of.
As we dig through the Bible, there are two things that are directly designed by God. They are the Ark of the Covenant, and King Solomonís Temple or The House of the Lord. The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol to remind people that God doesnít exist in an idol, in a box, or a location. Instead, God is everywhere and that God can be worshiped from any place. However, Solomonís Temple is something unique. When you look at the temple from a current and critical scientific point of view, we begin to realize that God gave us something every church around the world can use today if they havenít already done it.
To see if Solomonís Temple is more than just a monument stuck in time, a wonder of the world, a show of wealth, power, and a symbol for who Israel worshiped, we have to start at the beginning of how Solomonís Temple came to be. The temple was a replacement for the tabernacle, which was a very sophisticated tent that moved many times before they built a permanent resting place for it. The tabernacle was inside a fenced-in area of heavy linen. The new temple was to be something more. It was to be a place to house the Ark of the Covenant, and the rest of the building was to support all of the needs of the Levites who performed sacrifices, rituals, teaching, learning, singing, and music within the main temple worship space. The temple was to be a testimony for the rest of the world to see the Israelites faith in an unseen God who is everywhere.
The design of the temple began with King David and ended with King Solomon. The main part of the temple was designed by King David, but David said he didnít do it alone. David said in 1Ch 28:19 ďAll this,Ē said David, ďthe LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.Ē Think about that for a moment. David said that God put his hand upon him. David is the only person in the Bible, where God guided his hands in the design of anything. There are other examples of the hand of God, helping others for guidance and strength, but Davidís hands were guided in the design of Godís House. What was so important about the design of this temple that is was necessary for God to stretch out His hand and guide David? Consider this; God knew that the temple would be destroyed someday in the future. What would it mean if the temple was something to be repeated or duplicated? What if the temple was a template for all of Godís people to use as ďhouses of worship,Ē first for the Jews and now for us- the gentiles? Letís find out.
Details of Solomonís Temple
Letís start with the dimensions in imperial measurements. The dimensions were given in cubits. To keep things simple, for this article, the short cubit is used which was 18 inches or 1-1/2 feet.
The Holy of Holies Ė the room the Ark of the Covenant was kept in for 400 years was a cube. 20 x 20 x 20 cubits or 30 x 30 x 30 feet. These dimensions seem to be inside measurements. The clue to that is in the Holy of Holies. In that room, it says in the Bible that two cherubs were carved out of olive wood. Each cherub was 10 x 10 cubits or 15 x 15 feet. 15 feet high, and the wings were 15 feet wide. Then it says that the wings tips of the two statues were touching each other, and the other side of their wings touched the walls. Therefore, that could only happen if the dimensions were inside measurements. There is no possibility for the wings to have been corner to corner because later on, it says that the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the middle of the room in front of the door that was in the middle of the wall, and the two cherubs were on either side of the Ark.
The Holy Places, which I will refer to as the Sanctuary was 40 x 20 x 30 cubits or 60L x 30W x 45H feet.
If this was a church today, it would seat about 160 people comfortably. Questions: Is there any significance to the dimensions of Godís Temple?
Is it a teaching space that captures everyoneís attention?
As it turns out, the length and width of the Sanctuary had a 2 to 1 ratio. It is ideal for teaching, preaching, and learning. In such a space, the sightlines are ideal for lip reading for people with various levels of hearing problems and as people age. In a room of that shape, there are fewer distractions, which means better attention spans. It is ideal for the person teaching as they can make more eye contact with the most significant number of listeners. In wider rooms, many people are seeing the back of the minister's head, which makes lip reading difficult and in wider rooms, impossible. In a rectangle room with a 2:1, there is less effort for the person to speak for a long time. This room makes it easier for a teacher to hear the students when responding to questions. Many experts also agree that lateral/side reflections help to reinforce speech both in loudness and clarity. Fundamentally, it is the best shape for hearing, learning, and teaching. How do we know this?
The educational system. Many college and university educational facilities have lecture halls. Years ago, before there were sound systems, there was research done to see what room shape was the best for learning. The 2 to 1 ratio wasnít specified as such, but they did recommend spaces to be 50L x 25W feet, or 70L x 35W feet, and so on. When you dig a little deeper in that reference, those recommendations failed to mention that those room specifications were based on spaces where there was a lot of artwork on the sidewalls, room dividers, or something physical that divided the room like folding doors that made two square rooms for smaller classes. This omission has lead too many believing that the 2 to 1 ratio was a bad recommendation.
From working with many churches with a 2 to 1 ratio, whenever there was no acoustical relief on the side walls in the worship space, there were a lot of problems with hearing including deadspots and hotspots. When there was some kind of acoustical management, usually something that diffused sound, nothing performs better than a rectangle with a 2 to 1 ratio for speech. The preferred method of treating such a room is with diffusion. More about that later.
Today, much of this early learning has been forgotten as technology has driven different learning methods. It would be logical to declare that Solomonís Temple was designed to deliver the spoken word in the most effective manner to capture everyoneís attention as much as possible. This combination puts a person it the best possible situation for learning and participating.
Today, technology has been used to complement the learning process. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that in other room shapes where people spend most of their time sitting, listening, and taking notes, the level of learning is declining lower than when there was no technology other than paper notes and a chalkboard. In the end, it seems that the rectangle shape room used lengthways and is properly diffused, offer the best space for learning, and hearing whether sound systems, visual aids, computers, or other technologies are used today.
Is it the ideal space for good congregational singing?
The two to one ratio is not limited to teaching. It is also applied to music spaces. The best recital halls and concert halls use this ratio around the world. The two best-known music halls in the world are La Scala in Milano Italy and the Boston Symphony Halls in Boston, MA. Both of these two performance halls have shells with a 2 to 1 length to width ratio. The shell of the Boston Symphony Hall is 156L x 75W x 59H feet. Those dimensions are similar to many other celebrated concert halls and opera houses.
This then brings us to the height of the room. It seems than any height of 45 feet, or higher is ideally suited for singing. Specifically, 45 feet is ideal for congregational singing. For musical instruments and opera singing, they prefer a higher ceiling to create specific sound effects that are great for musical performances. Still, in a church setting, it interferes with congregational singing.
It would be fair to say that Solomonís Temple was more than just a showplace. It was intentionally designed as a space for learning, teaching, music, and congregational singing. The secular community bears this out as referring to spaces designed this way as being the best. There are many churches out there that have these similar dimensions, but many congregations are not happy with what they have. It is most likely that something is missing. You could say that for these churches, they are not complete Ė no matter how old they are. Think about that. You can have a church that is 200 years old, which has all of the dimensions of Solomonís Temple, and no one likes the space for hearing the Gospel, but the room has good sound effects for the pipe organ or childrenís choir. Now it is possible to turn all of those churches it masterpieces of Christian worship. How crazy is that?
Building design, construction costs, maintenance, lighting, sanitation and environmental controls
Building design and Construction Materials
The next thing to look at is building materials. The three main elements were stone, wood, and gold. The stonework was the foundation and outer shell of the two main rooms of the temple. The wood was to create two essential functions. The wood was also the best surface to cover with gold. The types of wood were specific as to their functions. The floors were covered in fir, and the walls and ceiling were cedar. Wood on the floor also acted as insulation from the colder stones below. The fir is ideal for someone to walk on. It doesnít dent easily, and it returns to its original shape and size if it gets wet. These wood types are ideally suited to be covered in gold in an arid climate. The walls were in cedar, and cedar has less weight, and it is easier to shape and carve.
In 1 Kings 6, it said that the walls and floors were covered in Gold. Why Gold? Was the purpose of the gold to show off, or were there other functions for covering the floors and walls in Gold? If the gold was there to show off or make a political statement, then why was the temple inaccessible to the public? After the temple was completed, the only people allowed in the sanctuary were the priests Ė the tribe of Levi. Without public access, no one would be able to see the gold. Why cover the walls and floors of the Holy of Holy and the Holy Place if no one was ever going to see it? Was there another reason for the Gold?
Room Lighting - The Windows and Walls
With the way the temple was designed, there was only a small section of the outside wall where you could place windows. The temple had small windows high up the walls near the roof. Some translations state that walls around the windows were narrow to the outside and wider on the inside. In modern design, we would call that a beveled edge. Due to the way the temple was designed, the center of these windows would have been 40 feet high. One possible and most likely reason for gold on the walls is that gold is very good at reflecting light, and it doesnít tarnish. Back in the days of Solomon, all gold would have been the purest gold possible. Mixing gold with alloys was not a fine art skill to make consistently. Only the best quality gold could be used in a space where there would be little to no access to maintain and clean. Gold would be the best surface material to bring light into the room to reach the temple floor. Dust does not stick to gold very much, and since it does not tarnish, it would not require much cleaning, which means little to no maintenance. Therefore, a partial reason for gold-covered wood was to light up the room and to keep the room clean. With the windows being so high, it would suggest a space where there is as little distraction as possible. Again, this implies a room designed for teaching, learning, and prayer.
In the temple were a number of candlesticks and bases for them. Candles create soot. Soot does not stick very well to gold in a dry room, and if it does, it easily wipes off with a wet cloth. All other surface finishes at the time of Solomonís Temple would not last long and be too expensive to maintain. How do you clean temple walls covered in Gold 45 feet high? Alternatively, what do you cover the walls with so you do not have to climb up 45 feet to clean?
Sanitation - The Floor and Blood Sacrifices
Next are the floors. This may sound strange, but they covered floors and walls with gold for sanitary reasons. In the sanctuary, on a regular schedule, the priest had ceremonies and rituals that included casting blood in sprinkles on the floor, which would also spatter onto the walls. This ritual was started in the Tabernacle before Solomonís Temple was built. In the desert, all you had to do was kick sand over the spilled blood, and the desert would kill any bacteria, germs, mold, and smell that would come from accumulated blood. Those same rituals would have been done in the new temple sanctuary often, and no one was ever allowed in the Holy of Holies except for a priest once a year on the Day of Atonement. One of the excellent properties of gold is that it doesnít stain from the blood. To keep the sanctuary clean from accumulated blood, all you need to use is a wet cloth. This was most likely done after every ceremony where blood was spilled. The blood would have to be cleared to make the House of God ready for another sacrifice. Washing the blood away with a wet cloth didnít wear out the gold either.
If you want to attribute this to any symbolism, consider this. In the New Testament, Jesus spilled His blood as the perfect sacrifice for us, and we are baptized in water to show the world that we have started a new life in Christ. A public declaration of washing our sins away. Jesus equals the sin blood sacrifice, and washing the blood away with just water is the baptism, beginning of the new, regenerative life in Christ. Once we become Christians, and when our old sinful nature causes us to sin and make mistakes again Ė intentionally or not, we can come before Jesus, repent and pray for forgiveness to keep building our treasures in heaven.
Cost and ease of construction, privacy - The Chambers
The following detail of how Solomonís Temple was built was in building the chamber around the three sides of the temple. The temple walls were built to form three steps on the outside view of the temple walls and flat on the inside. The first level had the ceiling resting on the first step of the outside temple walls. The ceiling of the second level rested on the second step, and it was the same for the third level too. The beams of each ceiling did not connect to the inside walls of the temple. That meant that the first 8 feet of the temple walls were much wider than the next 8 feet and so on. Between the heavy stones and how each of the three levels of the chambers were built, several things took place.
First off, is soundproofing. What is a better way there to keep unwanted
sound from entering or leaving the temple?
This is another way to keep distractions to a minimum from the outside
world. This is another indication that
worship is about prayer, listening, learning, and sharing. Spending time with God is something we should
not take lightly.
The second reason is the cost. By making the walls wider at the base, there was no need for adding pillars to support a roof so high. These days to have a clear span of 30 feet requires a lot of trusses and, in most cases, a lot of steel to support walls so high. If we look at this simple section view of Solomon's Temple, there would be no need for steel or trusses to make the span. Given that 3500 years ago, they didnít have HVAC systems and other mechanical devices on the roof, 35-foot beams of cedar with whatever was used to make a roof waterproof was more than enough to make a safe span. In today's way of building tall buildings with thin walls and lots of steel, it is very expensive. However, if a church were to build a structure like this today, it would be less expensive to build and be very compatible with modern building codes in most countries.
The other thing that I have noticed is that these days, we use cranes, lifts, and scaffolding to build high places. If you make a new building like this, you only have to scaffold the outside walls. The roof of each level of the chambers becomes a deck to building each portion of the inside walls. Furthermore, from the roof of the third floor, it is only 9 to 10 feet to the roof of the sanctuary. This makes the whole building easier to construct, with less use of heavy equipment when building this high.
Heating and Cooling
When it comes to heating and cooling, the chamber rooms around the sanctuary will perform as an insulator for the sanctuary and Holy of Holies. Between the thick walls and chambers, the temple would remain relatively comfortable all year round for both in the hot and cold seasons. Since the floor of the sanctuary is also isolated from the outside climate, the ground temperature would keep things cool. The wood on the floor would act link insulation to the colder ground temperatures making it comfortable when walking in bare feet or thin sandals. The open windows up high would allow convection cooling or warming, and it was all controlled with the front doors of the temple.
Use of the Chambers
The Bible does hint at what the chambers were used for. In 1 Chronicles 9:26-27, it mentions offices and storage rooms for their treasury. The offices were above the treasury. It also says that these porters lived in the temple to prepare the temple and open the doors for the activities of that day. In verse 33, it says that the singers who were chiefs of the fathers were there night and day. There are a number of other activities that suggest that the chambers were more than just storage. These rooms were living quarters, storage of food, tithes, and the articles and vessels of the rituals. These rooms were used for making the ointment of the spices. Other rooms were used for making and cooking food and shewbread, for preparing it every Sabbath. The temple was a hive of activity, and then all of the chambers were used. Some were also rooms for learning, prayer, and teaching. When you add up the square footage of the temple chambers, the area would be comparable to the same size of the associated space most churches build around a typical sanctuary. These days, most churches donít finish their buildings. They often build the sanctuary first with a few offices and a foyer. Later, they build the rest of the building. When you add up all of the space they consider as a complete church building, often, it is less than the proportion as outlined in Solomonís Temple. What I have noticed is that when a church building has the same proportions as Solomonís temple, they usually are healthier than churches that have less space available to support the congregation. How did Solomon know how much supporting space a congregation needed before churches were ever created? Is this another design feature built into the first House of God?
Excellent Acoustics to complete the building
The next thing to look at in the construction of Solomonís Temple is something that seems benign and out of sorts. In 1 Kings 6:29 is says that all of the walls within and without were carvings of cherubs, palms trees, and open flowers. The wood on the walls were planks. In the days of Solomon, wood planks would have been 6 to 8 inches thick. The thick wood on the floor would help to keep the temperature comfortable. The same thickness of wood was used on the walls. The thick wood also makes sense because it is less likely to expand and contract during the short periods of rain and humidity. If the wood was thinner, it would expand too much and cause the gold to constantly fake off and be reapplied. This detail is important as this gives the following ideas a solution to a very important problem the temple would have without this detail. Most of the Bible translations say carvings of palm trees. There are some translations that say engravings of palm trees. This detail is significant.
When building rooms with high ceilings, everyone who has been part of such a building program, knows there comes the point in the construction where the noise in the room is so bad that hearing each other is almost impossible. It would have been the same in Solomonís Temple, with everything in the temple being a hard surface. If the walls in Solomonís temple were left flat or if the carvings were just an engraving, it would have been impossible for two people to communicate beyond one cubit or about 2 feet at best. There would be no way to carry out rituals, prayer, reciting of the scriptures, and singing praises to God. Sign language wasnít a thing in those days. With that much noise, it would drive everyone crazy, and no one would have wanted or been able to live in a space that sounds that bad. Something was needed to manage sound in such an important place. Furthermore, the only people allowed in the temple were the Levites. Nowhere does it say that the Levites had any supernatural powers for hearing. Something was needed to manage sound.
When the walls were up and the ceiling completed, it says in 1Ki 6:11, ďAnd the word of the LORD came to Solomon, sayingď, here God is making a promise to Solomon. How Solomon experienced the ďwordĒ is not stated, but, after this, we read about the wood on the floors and walls. Was this part of the original plan from King David, or was this something that God told Solomon to do when the Word came to him? We may never know, but either way, God is the designer of these details. God ordered the carvings of palm trees, cherubs, and open flowers. With planks of wood being 6 inches or greater, the word ďcarvingĒ allows for the depth of the carved wood to be around 4 to 5 inches.
Palm Trees! Seriously!
When we look at what was carved, it is easy to understand the cherubs which were winged creatures were to protect the followers of God. We understand the open flowers, the springing of new life, new beginnings. However, what are palm trees doing in Solomonís Temple? There is nothing spiritual attributed to the palm tree. Consider this, if you were in Solomonís position, would you pick palm trees to decorate the walls of a temple to God?
The palm tree had no spiritual symbolism whatsoever at the time the temple was built. These carvings went onto all of the walls in the Holy of Holies and in the Holy place, plus it was added to both sides of every door. There is no description of the carvings being in repetitive, staggered, or group patterns or sizes. We donít know if the carvings were done in rows. We do know that the carvings were plural for the doors. This would suggest smaller or variable sizes and lots of them. Since the palm trees are out of place for a Holy temple, perhaps they had a purpose Ė a purpose that can be relevant today.
Testing a theory
The palm tree has no branches, but it has a frond of palm leaves at the top. Being a palm tree, these carvings would all have to be vertical. To see if the palm tree carvings had a purpose, experiments were done in the late 1990s in Chicago, IL , and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The testing was to see if the shape of the palm tree had any effect on the sound. From earlier experiences with the half-round shape of the palm tree as it would have been carved on the walls, another company that sold a product known as ASC Tube Trapsô made and sold tube traps diffusers that were half rounds. Their sizes were 7 to 17Ē half rounds, which gave these researchers a starting point. These Tube Trapsô worked really well, but for most churches, they were not affordable. However, this size gave a starting point to experiment. About the only thing that was cheap and easy to cut were cardboard tubes used for making concrete posts above and below ground. They came in 8 and 12-inch diameters that were readily available. The cardboard tubes were light and easy to cut. They came in 8 and 12-foot lengths. With over 250 units assembled, several churches allowed their worship spaces to become test rooms to see what would happen.
When these tubes were brought into the first church and randomly propped up against all of the walls, right away, you could hear the acoustics of the worship space changed dramatically. In that first church, the sound was hard to understand when you were more than 15 feet away. Right away, you could hear clearly end to end of the 60-foot long church. This same test was repeated in dozens of churches of different sizes and shapes. At first, the tubes were placed randomly around the room. Later it was discovered that when you organized the tubes in various patterns, you can increase their performance and equalize the room at the same time. What was most startling was how it affected the performance of whatever sound system was in place.
In churches that have hotspots and deadspots, these effects are all caused by the room, the sound system, or both. These half-round tubes on the walls eliminated all of the hotspots and deadspot regardless of what caused them. They also improved all of the different sound system designs that were out there, whether they had the right sound system for the room or not. There were many other ways these tubes on the walls helped, and there are far too many to mention here.
The other thing that we discovered is that if a church had carpeted floors and padded seating, the half-round tubes worked perfectly. If the floor was bare and the seating was hard-surfaced, you needed to add the same amount of absorbing panels on the walls that would equal the size of the end wall of a rectangle-shaped church.
This lead to the concept that the carvings on the walls of the temple were for sound management and not decorative. Without the carvings of the palm trees, the temple would have been a place where teaching, learning, and rituals could not have taken place.
It must be pointed out that they tried smaller half-round diameters, but as they got smaller, their effectiveness became less. As it turns out, for churches under 300 seating, all you need are 8 inch half rounds, which has a depth of 4 inches. This matches up perfectly with Solomonís wall carvings, where you can carve into a wood plank 4 inches without compromising the strength of the planks.
The next item of importance was the veil or curtain. The veil is mentioned only two times in the Bible in relationship to the temple. It is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3:14 as being in the temple, and then in three of the Gospels where the veil was ripped in two when Jesus died. Other historical records say that the veil, which was over the door of the Holy of holies and went to the ceiling, was between 4 to 5 inches thick. The thickness of the veil as described would have provided the right balance of absorption for the sanctuary to complete the acoustical performance needed to carry out all of the functions that would take place in the sanctuary. The veil was something that God asked to be in front of the Ark of the Covenant when the people were in the desert, and a veil was automatically mounted on the wall in front of the Holy of Holies in the new temple.
Answering the Question
Just about everything in the temple had a purpose. The Temple design was more than just a remembrance of the past. That now brings us to what the temple has to do with Godís authority today. When you combine all of the elements of Solomonís Temple, look at the science of it, would they work today as being the ideal place for people to worship? Would any other room design, dimensions, and wall coverings sound any better? Can we design a church that has a different shape that will sound better, perform better, and be as affordable as Solomonís Temple would be? The answer is no. The performance and acoustics of Solomonís Temple are the best for everything a church needs. Solomonís temple will have a balance between speech and music and congregational singing that seems to allude churches designed any other way. The good news is that if you apply the half-round shapes of the palm trees made of whatever materials you have available, it will allow those all of those existing churches to perform to their maximum potential. Not as good as a rectangle, but where speech and music articulation can be the best it can be for a space that was never designed to support Christian worship in the first place.
Already there are over 450 churches of all shapes and sizes that have half-round tubes on all of the walls turning bad sounding churches into great sounding sanctuaries. It doesnít matter what the walls are made of. Take any existing church where the sound is an issue, add the half-round tubes, and hear the amazing transformation. This is not something that happens some of the time; it works 100% of the time. As mentioned before, the tubes canít do everything alone. They have to be combined with absorption, and for most churches, carpeted floor and padded seating is enough.
Can you predict the results? Computer Modeling
For people who have doubts in a God or Godís authority, you can take cheap cardboard tubes, lean them against all of the walls of a church and hear the change instantly. However, there is more to how special this ability is. Since the middle of the 1980s, experts in computers, math, and acoustics have been trying to create a touchstone standard for computer modeling of the acoustical spaces of churches. While the software has gone through many generations of development, to model in 3D of an existing room, it is very good. Still, to model a predictable solution, and one that meets all of the needs of church worship, the modeling programs have a ways to go. Furthermore, while there are mathematical equations that explain how the diffusers work, the equations have not progressed enough to help in the prediction in real-world results. Yes, you can break down what properties of physics are being used at the same time which includes, sound scattering, wave disruption, phase cancellation, increasing the length of time for sound to return, which turns air as an absorber. When you have this many physical properties happening at once, to combine them into a prediction model, it hasnít been done yet, and it may never happen. Part of it is because the variables are almost infinite.
Churches Acting in Faith
You see, all of those churches that have already put half-round diffusers on their walls did it in faith. Perhaps the salesman or consultant was good enough to convince them that they were not peddling snake oil or a false promise. For many of them, they went and visited other churches that have these tubes on the walls and experienced it for themselves. I would like to think that the solution speaks for itself. In the end, it is not people with creative ideas who solve the sound problems; it is God who is fixing churches today. Consultants like myself are much more than messengers. For myself, I bring to the table is the experience and the results of the testing done back in the 1990s, where most of the common problems of large room acoustics are heard everywhere and still plaguing existing and new churches today.
For churches that have a very tight budget, getting tubes, cutting them in half and leaning them against the walls of the church is a great start. Try moving them around to see if one pattern works better than another. When you find the right results, paint, decorate, and mount the tubes on the walls and experience the promise God has given us in the Bible. For churches that have the resources to have detailed plans ready-made from proper acoustical evaluation, there are acoustical experts that know how to take advantage of all of the acoustical benefits this system can provide in a DIY plan.
Designing, building, and completing a church, as described in the Bible, is the best example of how you can show Godís authority in modern churches of today. Only the Bible has a plan for room shapes, sanitation, soundproofing, lower building costs, and room acoustics.
In conclusion, Solomonís Temple is a blueprint for modern churches to follow if they choose to. The design can be scaled up to any size, and because of the sound system, we can make some modifications with little compromise. It also offers a universal solution for fixing existing churches of other shapes and dimensions. It would also mean that if your church has a similar shape and dimensions as in Solomonís Temple, and the sound isnít so great, now you can complete the church by adding to the walls what God used in His house for His people to make the message clear. For Christians, the design of a new church should not be an option, rather an act of obedience to God. The optional part of a church should be the foyer, the landscaping, the gym, and the fellowship hall. Let the exterior of a church represent your denomination and beliefs. Make the outer shell of the church uniquely yours. Leave the worship area of the design of a new church to God.
Who designed the Temple?
Here is where Jesus fits into all of this. John 1:1-3 it says that Jesus was there as God was in the past. It also says that all things created were by the Word, or Jesus. In Matt 5:17 Jesus had to say he came to fulfill the promises from the past he made. It also means that, technically, Jesus designed the temple. The design of the temple is the perfect room for sharing the Gospel. The temple was never meant to be just a relic of the past. Just as God cannot be contained in a box, the temple was designed to be copied to show the world that God is everywhere. While we have churches all over the world that are called houses of worship, how many of them can say that their church is the best version of a sanctuary to show Godís omnipresence?
The Bible teaches that salvation is a free gift. When we accept that free gift in faith, it will show the fruits of our beliefs by our works, likewise, for churches that have sound problems, the solution is free, and if you act upon it in faith, you will hear Godís work in action, not from a person of math, science and hollow promises. What better way is there than to use a house of worship to explain salvation through faith by sharing how the church accepted in faith and obedience that Godís 3000-year-old plan would make the church sound amazing? How much more can God do for you? Not only can you test what God has designed in the past, but you can also declare His Authority and experience it right now.
Can the Bible be the Inspired Word of God?
For those who dismiss the term ďThe inspired Words of God.Ē Consider this. Until the Israelites returned to Israel and started to rebuild the second temple, there were no written records before that time. It was mostly aural history. If the temple was just a monument, a singular wonder of the past, then why preserve those details such as the carvings of palm trees on the walls of the temple?
From studying the acoustics of hundreds of churches, when a new church copies the design of an older church and the designers come across something that they didnít understand the purpose of it, that detail was often seen as too expensive and or unimportant. It would be left out of the copy. As in one example, older buildings would have a 45 degree cut in the window frames that extended from the window to the inside edge of the finished walls. This feature was a small help with the acoustics of older churches. As each generation of a particular church design was copied, more and more details were left out until the room is stripped of any acoustical performance it might have had. It is human nature to take short cuts and to find cheaper ways to build. When the scribes returned to Israel, there was no reason to record such details about the walls of Solomonís temple as there would be no significance for it. The only way such information could have been persevered is if God inspired someone to keep those design details in the scriptures.
If we take it a step further, there is no mention of wall carvings or the wooden planks in the second temple. Why they were not included, we donít know. The historian Josephus makes a brief description of carved wood on the ceiling of Heroldís Temple. Also, it seemed that the temple was open to more people than just the Levites as the tribes of Israel were scattered. The temple was not exclusive to just the priests, which would suggest that details of the wall carvings were not included in Herodís version of the temple. Otherwise, how would Josephus have known of what was on the ceiling? I would think that if Josephus saw carvings on the walls in the temple, he would have recorded it, or if someone told him how the temple was finished on the inside, carvings on the walls as it was in Solomonís Temple would have stood out.
The Palm Tree Ė The most powerful shape to manage Church Acoustics.
The humble palm tree, a tree that is poor for lumber, it doesnít burn, and once damaged, it cannot repair itself. Some have fruits, and others have nuts. The rest of the tree is useless. Of all the things to be preserved in the historical details of Solomonís Temple, why the palm tree? If the palm tree didnít have anything to contribute for the present, then why was that detail preserved. If you have read this far, then you should see that Solomonís Temple is as much about the present as it was for the past. By following and obeying Godís design for His churches, we have a better opportunity to preserve the Word of God aurally as well as in writing to expose the wolves in sheepís clothing. We can be making the Gospel so understandable that it becomes harder for the deceivers to continue. True, there will always be those who are masters of deception leading a congregation of their followers, but there will be fewer churches for them to dwell in where they wonít get caught.
There is a heaven and hell battles for peopleís souls. Many are unaware or blind to it. God has given us His knowledge, wisdom, and tools to give all those who thirst, a new life. I see the template of Solomonís Temple as another tool to give more people the same living water Jesus spoke of. For all of those people who are broken and in need of the truth, hearing Godís message is a lifeline when it is not corrupted. John 3:16 is perhaps one of the most quoted Bible verses the unsaved public has been hearing in the last 40 years. For those who have heard it as a slogan, they donít have a clue of what it means. People need to hear the rest of the verses that come before and after that verse so they can understand and take that leap of faith that will change their lives forever. I pray every day that the acoustics and sound systems in churches out there donít get in the way of that lifesaving message.
Hotspots and deadspots get in the way of the Gospel. Too much reverberation is distracting as people are spending most of their time trying to hear rather than understanding what was said. Watching people coming and going in these wide rooms are distracting, and many wind up taking their eyes off of the minister much longer than in a rectangular-shaped room. Church acoustics has a direct impact of church attendance up to 8% and an indirect impact up to 25%. What can happen with 8-25% more people attending your church? A clear and fearlessly preached message of the Gospel will do the rest. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, we need to stop compromising the rooms we worship in.
Faith comes by hearing. The question is, will our faith in Godís authority be enough to take people to the next level where they can come to the saving grace of God by hearing His Word without interference? For the churches that have already applied this method of managing church sound, they will tell you it has made a positive impact. God has given us the most advanced technology to solve modern acoustics and sound system problems. We have had that knowledge for over 3000 years. The scriptures have been in a common language for everyone to read for the past 500 years. Have we been so blinded by the gold that we never looked at what was under it? Much of the Bible points to Jesus. Jesus said he came to fulfill. Jesus gave us the template of us today by preserving the details of Solomonís Temple. Should we be using it, or should we be continuing in designing churches that come up short in support of all parts of worship as God asks of us?
 Being from North America, we still use imperial measurements for most construction projects.
 The exact length of a cubit is unknown but there is strong support that the Royal Cubit was 20.76 inches as suggest in 2 Chronicles 3:3 and Ezekiel 43:13
 It is general practice to use 12 square feet per person for estimating a worship space seating capacity includes doors, isles, altar/stage areas, stairs and access areas.
 American Report of the Federal Security Agency: Office of Education, Volume 1, 1902 Page 1055
 Collected Papers On Acoustics By Wallace Clement Sabine 1922 page 64
 According to various Architects and Church Builders. Some also call this a variation of a lean-to design.
 Noise is not reverberation. Noise is sound energy that arrives too soon and it is loud enough to interfere with the direct sound. Reverberation are reflections that arrive later and 15dB below the direct sound. High quality reverberation are reflections that arrive 20 to 25dB below the direct sound and the length of the reverberation becomes less important.
 Blake Engel of All Church Sound
 Joseph De Buglio of JdB Sound Acoustics.
 Acoustic Science Corporation ASC, Arthur Noxon, P.E.
 For other room shapes without carpet, you would need more absorbing panels than in a rectangle shape church.
 Some refer to this as a beveled edge.
The Father of Acoustics helps Churches - Wallace Sabine
God's Plan for the Perfect Church Church Design and Acoustics
Back to THE LEARNING CENTER
Copyright (c) 2011-2014 JdB Sound, Acoustic
Copyright © April 2011 - updated April 2020