Day 125: 2 Chronicles 5-7; Solomon Dedicates the Temple

How fitting for a reading like this to come in the midst of a Sunday for us.  This worship service must have been amazing to be a part of.  The visible glory of the Lord appears in the form of smoke and fire, hundreds of thousands of people worshiping the Lord together and praying together with the magnificence of the Temple of the Lord as their backdrop.  Indeed, what an awesome time of worship this must have been for the people.  Everything is going their way and God has blessed them beyond compare.  In many ways this is the pinnacle of Israel’s Golden Age, the height of all that is accomplished in Jerusalem and the high point of history for God’s chosen people.

English: The Ark of the Covenant Brought into ...

English: The Ark of the Covenant Brought into the Temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the midst of this worship service there is an interesting line about the status of the Ark of the Covenant that raises some questions about the writing and about the nature of how the Israelites viewed both the Temple and the presence of God in their midst.  As we read about the Ark of the Covenant and all the articles of the Tabernacle being brought into the Temple, we read that “the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.”  They are there to this day?  How is that even possible?  Isn’t this being written in the context of the people returned to a completely demolished Jerusalem?  Yes… and this is why it reveals something deeper about what the people believed about God’s presence and the nature of the Temple of the Lord.

First of all, as we have read about since the Ark of the Covenant was built way back in Exodus 25, it has been the place where God resides.  The Ark was called the “mercy seat,” the place in which God was enthroned here on earth.  This is also the place from which God judged and from which the Word of the Lord went forth.  It was very symbol and place of the presence of God on earth.  The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.  This was the place that Heaven and earth collided, the very center of the universe.  From here the universe was sustained. From here creation continued.  From here God’s decrees went out.  From here God reigned.

The Glory of God fills the Temple Photo Credit: www.jhkelly.wordpress.com/

The Glory of God fills the Temple
Photo Credit: www.jhkelly.wordpress.com

This is all well and good.  We can sign on to this.  There is but one problem… the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and took all that was in it.  Nothing was left when the people of God returned.  how can one say that they are “there to this day“?  I think that this reveals another very important concept of the Israelite Theology, that being their view of time and space.  The placement of God on the throne is not simply something that is temporal or physical in nature.  The Most Holy Place being a place in which our created reality meets the reality of God’s infinitude means that it is not bound by the laws of our universe, our reality.  For the people of Israel, the Temple still exists and God is still on that throne, even if it is not physically present here on earth.  The writer of the Chronicles is making the point that just because the Temple itself has been destroyed doesn’t mean that God is no longer present.  He is also saying that just because the Ark of the Covenant is not sitting in that exact spots doesn’t mean that God isn’t still sitting on the throne and reigning.

Like Israel’s connection to the past, the people are able to look back at this moment and see the true nature of themselves as the people of God gathered around the Temple worshiping and praising.  For them, these sacred times are “infinitely recoverable,” to quote Abraham Joshua Heschel.  And, the fact is that the truth of the nature and existence of God isn’t grounded solely in our physical reality or in what we see, hear, taste, smell, touch, or experience.  The truth of the reality of God is grounded in God alone.  This is something that the people of Israel had to learn as well.  Being removed from their homeland and relocated was likely one of the most traumatic events of the history of ancient Israel.  For them, to be removed from the location of the Temple, from Jerusalem, was to be cut off from God.  Yet God continued to reveal Himself to the prophets in exile, revealing to them that they were indeed still God’s people and that He wouldn’t abandon them.  Neither was He bound by and sort of spacial or geographic boundaries, much less the rule of an ancient power.  Indeed God is present in all of His creation and is able to sustain His people, even in their exile, and even more in their return.

On another note, Solomon’s prayer of Dedication in chapter 6 and the subsequent response of God in the latter part of chapter 7 are worth reading again.  The writer is making a very important point here, one that is not necessarily clearly made in the counterpart we find in 1 Kings.  Again, these writings are part of the bigger narrative of the people of Israel, one that includes highs and lows, with the ultimate low being that of the exile itself.  However, the covenant with God is being renewed here in Solomon’s prayer and God’s response is that He will indeed be listening, always listening to the prayers of His people.  Thinking back to Leviticus 26, especially the latter verses, Solomon is repeating to God what God has already promised to them, which God affirms in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”


7 Responses to “Day 125: 2 Chronicles 5-7; Solomon Dedicates the Temple”

  1. […] Day 125: 2 Chronicles 5-7; Solomon Dedicates the Temple (orcministries.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] Day 125: 2 Chronicles 5-7; Solomon Dedicates the Temple (orcministries.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] Day 125: 2 Chronicles 5-7; Solomon Dedicates the Temple (orcministries.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] comes from the opposite side of his reign, the waning years of his life when he evaluates all that he did.  It is almost like two books written by one person about being a particular career.  One he […]

  5. […] over the waters and darkness was over the face of the deep.  Even in the Tabernacle and the Temple we noted that the place that God dwells is in complete darkness.  While this is true, I think that […]

  6. […] sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.  But it was Solomon who built a house for him.  Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet […]

  7. […] if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.   2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my […]

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