For the Love of God, Volume 1/December 5
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 5:1—6:11; 1 John 4; Nahum 3; Luke 19
ONCE THE TEMPLE HAS BEEN BUILT, the final step before the dedication of the temple is bringing up the ark of the covenant from the old tabernacle, now resting in Zion, the City of David (part of Jerusalem), to its new resting place in the Most Holy Place of the temple. Second Chronicles 5:1—6:11 not only records this transition, but Solomon’s opening remarks to the people before his prayer of dedication (see tomorrow’s meditation). Both the moving of the ark and Solomon’s opening remarks prove important.
The move itself follows the prescriptions of the Law: the Levites alone are permitted to handle the ark. But the move is nevertheless a national event. The elders of Israel and the heads of clans come together from all over Israel for this great celebration. The move is accompanied by such lavish sacrifices that the number of animals killed could not be recorded (5:6). Finally the ark is lodged beneath the wings of the cherubim in the Most Holy Place. As an aside, the chronicler mentions that at this point only the tablets of the Law still rest in the ark of the covenant. Presumably the pot with manna and Aaron’s rod that had budded were removed when the ark was held by the Philistines. In any case, the orchestras and choirs cut loose, including a 120-piece trumpet section. The singers praise God in the well-known couplet, “He is good; his love endures forever” (5:13).
Two details deserve special comment.
(1) In the past, the evidence of God’s presence in the tabernacle was a cloud. Now the same cloud fills the temple; indeed, the glory of the Lord so fills the temple that the priests are driven out and find themselves unable to enter and perform their duties (5:13-14). This demonstrates that God is pleased with the temple; that he himself has sanctioned the move from tabernacle to temple; and above all that if the temple is his temple, it is not to be domesticated by mere rites, no matter how lavish. The glory of his presence is the important thing.
(2) Solomon’s opening remarks also contribute to the sense of continuity. Perhaps some purists were tempted to say that it would have been better to stick with the tabernacle: after all, that is what God ordained on Mount Sinai. So Solomon reviews the steps that have brought the narrative to this point: God’s promises to David, God’s choice of Jerusalem and of this temple site, God’s selection of Solomon over David to do the actual building, and so forth. Thus the temple, far from being a questionable innovation, is the next step in redemptive history and the fulfillment of God’s good promises (6:10-11).