Love Came Down by Moving In

Rainbow and FireToday is the day I was saved, twenty-two years ago. My gift to the Lord, in deep reverence and celebration, is to post this blog. I just couldn’t wait until Friday.

I remember how, as a desperate single mom, full of shame and pain, I stumbled to that altar in 1993 and discovered, to my immense joy, King Jesus was waiting for me there.  Since that day, my life has been irrefutably blessed as I enjoy His constant Grace as a beloved child of Almighty God.  I am so thankful to the Lord, that He stooped down in love to me.  May this September 28th be a day of salvation for you!  If you already know Your God, may today bring celebration of His continued faithfulness!  God is good!  His love endures forever!

Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign(2 Chronicles 3:1).

Mount Moriah is the place where King David stood with his sacrifice of repentance between the Angel of the Lord and Jerusalem as he pleaded for mercy from God to forgive his irreverence and cease the plague on his people.  It was Araunah’s (“shouts of joy to God”) threshing floor, a place of brokenness and humility where a thousand years earlier, Abraham worshiped God even as he laid his son Isaac upon the requested altar (Gen. 22:2). Mercifully, Isaac was spared by a ram caught in the nearby thicket and Abraham named Moriah, “JehovehJireh”, the Lord-Will-Provide.

Glory TrailIn this place of provision and encounter, Solomon built God’s temple as designed by his father and Almighty God. Both Solomon’s and Herod’s temple were built on the same foundation, according to Rabbinical sources (1).  Just four years into his reign, Solomon prepared to build and needed raw materials. His letter to King Hiram of Tyre underscores Solomon’s humility to the task:

Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him…And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?((2 Ch 2:4-6)

One hundred and fifty-three thousand indentured servants, all foreigners in Israel, were compelled to quarry the stone and carry materials to the building site. Constructed with lumber from Tyre and stone from the mountains of Israel, Solomon overlaid gold on every surface, crafting every furnishing of the temple, from tools to lamps to bowls out of pure gold. The bronze bath alone contained 8000 gallons of water. It was a palatial structure indeed.

After seven years of building (1 Kings 6:38), it was time to dedicate the temple to Almighty God for the nation of Israel.  Solomon chose the Feast of the Tabernacles, the last feast of the year in fall, a week long celebration where all Jewish families were to journey to Jerusalem and tent in shelters together in praise of God’s great love for Israel. God’s intention for Sukkot was all about joy and everyone and anyone was welcome to the table:

Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast–you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you (Deut.16: 13-17).

That week, the priesthood arrived in full force, not in their monthly divisions, and together with the musicians and gatekeepers, all were resplendent in linen gowns and sanctified hearts.  The musicians erupted in joyful noise upon the instruments, as the singers sang “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever!” Carefully the priests carried the ark on long poles, from David’s tent to the temple, with Solomon and the elders leading, sacrificing so many animals, no one could count.  Consider the sight, sounds, smell and intensity of that procession!

Talk about bringing legitimacy to the national identity of Israel: who alone can boast “We host God Almighty”?

The temple would have been a breathtaking sight, with its massive pillars six feet thick and twenty-seven feet tall(2), the polished bronze bath, pristine white limestone and gleaming gold walls and doors.  Just imagine the joy of millions of voices crying out in passionate response to Israel’s testimony: “God is good! God has done this! God is love! God’s mercy endures forever!”

Fall GloryGod was certainly pleased; so pleased He moved in.

The priests hit the ground as “the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.” (2 Chron. 5: 13-14).

Then King Solomon faced his nation, knelt down, spread his hands before heaven, praying:

Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts. You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day….“But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive (2 Ch 6:14-21).

As he prayed, King Solomon sought God’s help against curses that Israel and the aliens may endure due to their sin, including famine, drought, invasion and drought. Solomon established the temple as a place for all peoples, of all nations, who would seek God’s mercy,  Solomon dedicated the temple as a holy meeting place of repentance and hope for all people, and then decreed:

Now therefore,Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place,You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Your saints rejoice in goodness.“ O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed;Remember the mercies of Your servant David.”(2 Ch 7:3).

Glory TrailsGod’s answer was clear enough that even the toddler in the far back of the crowd could see His huge “YES!”:

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”(2 Ch 7:1-3, NIV).

What an awesome party! It was so good, Solomon extended the feast for a second week; no one wanted to go home, because God moved in!  Check out the intentionality of worship, sacrifice and praise as Solomon established the temple:

Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God. The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the LORD’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the LORD and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing. Solomon consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions. So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him–a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the LORD had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel ( 2 Chronicles 7:4-10).

Yellow FoliageNow consider the times at hand: This week is the Feast of Tabernacles.  It began on Sunday and continues until Oct 4th in this Jubilee year. The Word declares that we who profess Christ are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16)!  While we lament that Solomon’s temple does not stand, we, who believe, stand as temples of Almighty God.

Both kings, David and Solomon understood they were building a place of great honour where they could access Almighty God and seek His Provision for the nations.  Both men worked passionately for the temple completion for the sake of God’s Glory and the people of Israel.

Do we surrender in joy to God’s construction of our lives as He builds us to be His building? “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:9-10). Can anyone comprehend this immense privilege and joy, that God would abide within, Christ in us, the hope of Glory (Col. 1:27)? I pray that each of us will stop and celebrate our God in His Feast of Joy this week, as we worship and praise Him for stooping down in love to us all!

Let’s Pray:  Father, we cry out, THANK YOU! May we walk righteous and shine bright as the dazzling limestone and gleaming gold of Solomon’s temple.  May Your fire consume the offering of our lives upon Your altar. Come, Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth.  May we bring glory to Our Father, Our King Jesus and the Holy Spirit as we embrace the truth of Your abiding and walk courageously as living testimonies of Your goodness, that all the world may see You, O Lord, are real, true and always faithful. The Lord, He is God!  The Lord, He is Good!  His mercy and love endures forever!  Amen and Amen!

This Week’s Reading (Sept 25 – Oct. 1): 2 Chronicles 1-10

Next Week’s Reading ( Oct. 2 -8) : 2 Chronicles 11-20

Study Questions:

  1. How will you celebrate this Festival of Tabernacles?  What gift will you bring to God in His feast of joy?
  2. Do you believe that God abides within you?  Can you see proof of this in your life?  What are you going to do to celebrate this amazing truth?
  3. Solomon poured out his life and resources into building the temple.  Roman 12: 1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship”.  How does surrender help in God’s temple construction?
  4. God positioned Lebanon to provide the raw materials for the temple.  Whom has God positioned in your life with resources to walk out your faith? Why not send them a note of thanks for their impact on your life?
  5. The combination of intention, passion and resources builds something powerful.  What dreams is God giving you to build?  What is your next step?

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