His Increasing Presence

2 Chronicles 5:6 “…and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the Ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted..”

Observation: The temple’s construction was complete. Solomon had fulfilled David’s vision for building a Temple in Jerusalem so grand, so magnificent that it was unequalled by any structure the world had ever seen. All that remained was to bring into it the Ark of the Covenant along with all its related sacred furnishings (v. 4). Solomon had summoned all Israel’s elders as the Levitical priests ceremonially carried the Ark to its place in the Temple’s inner sanctuary, the most holy place (v. 7). Musicians played and singers praised God by repeatedly singing, “He is good; His love endures forever!” (v. 13), and God’s glory filled the Temple; His presence was so strong that the priests could not function.

Application: This amazing procession with King and leaders preceding the Ark captivates my heart. Imagine! The Word says that as they went they sacrificed so many sheep and cattle they could not be counted. How many must that have been? I think of today’s priest slowly walking the aisle swinging his smoking censor. But today’s representation of Solomon’s original procession is but a dim reflection of the holiness…and the messiness…of the original. The priests of Solomon’s day must have walked within a river of blood surrounded by burning carcasses stretching as far as the eye could see, all the way to that place where God’s presence would be so strong as to bring all human activity to a halt.

I wonder: when was the last time my own sacrifices of praise or worship or giving or surrender were so lavish? When has my own sacrifice been so purposeful for such an extended period as to cause God’s glory to descend to the point of stopping all activity? Am I not His priest today? As part of His royal priesthood does my life reflect His glory so as to stop people in their tracks? Can they ever point to me and say, “He has been with God; God’s presence and glory are strong on him?”

Yes, sometimes. And it does seem most of the time that the trajectory of my life is toward increasing moments like that. But I long for more, and my heart is crushed in moments of shortcoming. The good news is that God joins me in that longing. These days of increasing darkness will also be days of His increasing presence. God’s promise is astonishing: “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. But the Lord will arise upon you and His glory will appear upon you, and nations will come to your light and Kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isa. 60:1)

Prayer: Bring it on Lord. I need not fear the encroaching darkness because You promise that the very darkness that is so fearful, so foreboding to the world…that darkness is accompanied by Your glory so strong that I cannot stand in its presence. Thank You for such glorious hope in the midst of the world’s hopelessness. Thank You for the light of Your presence filling my heart even as the cloud of Your glory filled Solomon’s Temple so long ago. In Jesus’ Name!

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