There are a lot of questions that people have about the Bible, but there is one question that seems to stand out above the rest. What is God’s purpose for our life? Some people think they were put on earth for very specific and particular purposes, and so they spend a great deal of time and energy working towards the fulfillment of that purpose. Some people have no clue as to what God wants from them and are confused about how to spend their time and energy. The answer to this question must be answered in scripture. Since the Bible is God’s revelation of His identity, purposes, and promises, then God’s purpose for us must be stated within the context of holy scripture. Thankfully, this is true. Thankfully, God has clearly stated His purposes, not just for certain individuals, but for ALL people. No matter what day or age any person lives in, God’s purposes are the same and never change because He stays the same and doesn’t change. This means that, if we want to understand God’s purpose for our life, we need to understand the identity of God and the manner of His revelation in scripture. In other words, why does God make Himself available to people? If we understand why God makes Himself available to us, we’ll understand the purpose He wants to achieve in that connection.
In 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 the scriptures address this point. The Bible testifies that after Solomon led the children of Israel to consecrate the temple and after they celebrated the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, the Lord visited Solomon in the night. The Bible does not say that God visited Solomon in a dream to suggest that Solomon was interpreting dreams, possibly lending to confusion. Instead, the scripture is clear to state that God “appeared” to Solomon after the workday had completed. When God spoke to Solomon, He confirmed that He heard all of the prayers and supplications of Solomon and the people when they consecrated the temple. This is a comforting thing to know about the Lord. Though God didn’t immediately respond to the prayers of His people, the scriptures show that God does hear and will respond in His time. When God informed Solomon that He heard the prayers, God agreed to honor their requests concerning the temple.
Here, it is important to recognize the language of the scriptures in order to understand the types of prayers that God answers. When God agreed to honor the prayer of Solomon, it was only because Solomon’s prayer was in agreement with God’s predetermined purposes. Solomon wanted God to dwell in the temple to remain present with the children of Israel but God had already declared that He wanted to dwell with the people and commanded them to build a temple in Jerusalem. God agreed to answer Solomon’s prayer because Solomon’s prayer was a request for God’s will to be done. God was the One that selected Jerusalem already, long before Solomon became king. God agreed to dwell with the people there because that was part of His plan from long before. The supernatural events that took place at the dedication of the temple was NOT reflective of God responding to the heart-felt desires of the people. The supernatural events that took place at the dedication of the temple was the outward manifestation of God’s faithfulness to fulfill His own promises made long before.
The Lord also explained His perspective concerning the temple. God explained to Solomon that the temple would be “a house of sacrifice.” When God selected Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel as evidenced by the construction of the temple, He had the purpose of erecting a centralized location for worship that was supposed to be fundamentally practiced through sacrifice. This is a critical thing to understand. The temple was one of the chief desires of King David. The temple was the pinnacle of Solomon’s life’s work. Yet God said that He put the desire and effort into both of those men in order to facilitate sacrifice. God’s supreme purpose was for His people to have a centralized place to offer sacrifices unto the Lord. The capital of Israel was not pictured with an emblem of civic or military prowess. The capital of Israel was pictured with a center of worship through sacrifice! This was God’s purpose for His people. This is what the Lord wanted His people to be focused on. This is why God commanded the temple to be built. This is what God wanted the lives of His people to be committed to.
Understanding this, it is important to consider why sacrifice was so high on the priority list for God. The scriptures explain that sacrifices were the essence of the Law. Since the Law was the documentation of God’s righteousness, then sacrifice is the center of the revelation of God’s righteousness. The sacrifices conducted by the children of Israel were to be symbolic of God’s own righteousness, which is why certain sacrifices were to be conducted certain ways to achieve certain results. Though these sacrifices were powerless in themselves, unable to produce any sort of spiritual benefit, clearly the symbols that were pictured in these sacrifices were important to God. The Lord wanted the people to be thinking about, not only the sacrifices, but the meaning of those sacrifices. Recall that when Solomon prayed to the Lord and stated their desire for God to dwell with the people at the temple, his primary purpose for why he wanted God’s presence to remain, was so that the people could have ready access to God’s mercy unto forgiveness. Recall that Solomon confessed the unrighteousness of the people. Solomon confessed the depravity and imperfections of the people. Solomon knew that the people would offend God, His holiness, and His righteousness in various ways and desired God’s presence to remain in order that the people could seek Him for forgiveness. This means that God’s agreement with Solomon was based on His desire to make mercy and forgiveness available. The sacrifices of the people would be the means by which the people could receive His mercy and forgiveness.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 explains God’s perspective as to why sacrifice was such a big deal to Him. The Lord stated that Jerusalem – specifically the temple in Jerusalem – would be the place where His presence would dwell. Therefore, Jerusalem would be the place the people could go in order to seek the Lord, His righteousness, His mercy, and His forgiveness. God explained that, when the people recognized His judgments upon them, they could acknowledge their faults and then seek the Lord through sacrifices in Jerusalem in order to receive forgiveness. Here, it is important to recognize the details of God’s words. First, God did not speak about the possibility of His judgments coming upon His people; He spoke about the inevitability of judgments coming upon His people. If Solomon knew the people would eventually fail and offend God, the Lord certainly knew this as well. God didn’t expect His people to be perfect. He understood the nature of His people and His creation. Rather than expecting perfection, God expected humility unto repentance. God told the people that He would judge their fault by administrating droughts, famines, pestilences and so forth. God warned the people that He would exercise His sovereign control as Creator to judge the wickedness of the people. However, God’s warning was provided to give the children of Israel a means to escape His wrath and receive His mercy. Failure is eminent in the lives of all people. The question should not be how to keep from failing. The question should be how to properly address failure when it eventually becomes evident.
According to the Bible, God knows that we of ourselves cannot produce anything good. God promised to provide certain warning signs through various forms and degrees of judgment. These warning signs and judgments might have been painful to the life circumstances of His people, but were intended to be profitable to the spiritual integrity of His people. God told Solomon that He would be willing to cause calamity in this life in order to show the people that they were in error so that they could seek the Lord’s forgiveness in order to receive God’s preservation of the soul. The Lord told Solomon that if His people who are called by His name will “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.”
There are several points here that God highlights that help us understand His purpose for us. First, in that God promised to judge the faults of His people shows that His purpose is NOT for us to try and be “good people” or strive for perfection. None are righteous, no, not one. All fall short of the glory of God. All human-made righteousness is like a filthy rag before the eyes of the Lord. The identity of God as the Messiah is “the Lord Our Righteousness,” meaning that God’s people are not righteous. We walk in HIS righteousness. The perception of “goodness” is never true unless God’s people are living by the standards of God’s own goodness, motivated AND empowered by the purity of His Holy Spirit. God does not desire for His people to strive to be good people by our efforts. According to God’s response to Solomon, God simply wants His people to first come to terms with the truth – we will fail and need His mercy unto forgiveness. We cannot please God until we first place faith in this truth.
Next, God stated that we are to recognize that we have been called by God according to “His name.” God’s name refers to His identity. God is eternally holy and righteous as evidenced by the dark cloud that consumed the temple when it was consecrated. Thus, we as God’s people are expected to recognize and remember that our nature is NOT one of this world and this life. Our nature is as a child of God, meaning that we are to live according to His holy and righteous purposes. God’s purpose for His people is to live in His likeness. If we don’t first understand God’s holiness and righteousness as described in the Word, then we cannot fulfill this purpose. God expects our pursuit of Him to be in humility, dependency, and zeal. We are NOT to boast in what we think we can do for God. Our purpose in the Lord has nothing to do with what we think we can do for the Lord. Humility begins with the understanding that, unless God breathes His life into us, enables us, and dwells in our hearts, we would all be dead and condemned! It is by the grace of God that we have life. It is by the mercy of God that we can be forgiven of our natural desire to offend and deny Him. It is by the righteousness of God Himself that we are able to do anything pleasing to Him because Jesus Christ makes this possible in spite of us.
Recall that prayer is supposed to be our agreement with the will of God. Prayer should not be a list of things we want God to do for us without consideration of God’s purposes. When God commanded His people to pray and seek Him, that command meant that God’s people are to desire God’s purposes rather than our personal affections and desires. We are to seek God, not self. Notice that, while God agreed to dwell with His people, His people were expected to pursue His presence by TURNING FROM WICKEDNESS! We cannot pursue God while also pursuing our own personal affections. We cannot pursue God while living pridefully and self-righteously. We cannot pursue God while figuring we can contribute to the work and purposes of God by our natural abilities and creative thinking. We cannot pursue God apart from repentance. The pursuit of God REQUIRES repentance. Since God is holy and separated from sin, darkness, and corruption, it is our responsibility to recognize that our natural identity is made up of sin, darkness, and corruption. The Bible teaches that the flesh is contrary to God, which means that we MUST turn from our flesh in order to pursue God, lest our pursuit be the continuation of offense towards Him, thinking that we can dwell with the Lord in the midst of darkness. This is not what the Bible teaches.
God promised that when His people live this way, He will provide access to His presence in order that His people can be forgiven, healed, and restored. Though He is holy and dwells in heaven, He will exercise His omnipresence to also dwell with His people to hear their cries of repentance, open His eyes to their spiritual needs, and address them as the Almighty God to preserve their spiritual integrity, thereby enabling them as heir to His eternally unconditional promises. This is God’s purpose for our lives. God wants us to acknowledge our depravity. He wants us to recognize and admit that we of ourselves can do nothing good in His eyes. He wants us to come to terms with the reality that our souls are corrupted and we only desire to offend Him by living life contrary to His righteous standards. God wants us to examine the work He does in our life to warn us of our faults so that when we recognize His judgments according to the patterns of work in His Word, we can confess our failure and repent. God’s purpose for us is to turn from sin of ALL kinds. God’s purpose for us is to live according to humility, not striving to please and impress people. God’s purpose is for us to seek His face, which is made available to us today by His Word. God’s purpose for us is to pray in dependency and urgency and zeal, understanding that unless God hears our cries for help and provide a way of escape, we would all be condemned and hopeless. God’s purpose for us is to understand our identity in Him, having been called by His name. Our chief pursuit in life should be to know God according to His revelation in the Word – from Genesis to Revelation. Our chief focus in life should be to understand God’s essence and nature, then call upon the name of the Lord to live in His likeness by His Spirit, which is only made possible through faith in Jesus Christ.
Notice that God’s purposes have nothing to do with specific tasks or duties. God reveals Himself to His people in order to show His mercy unto forgiveness because we need that more than we need, clothing, or housing. Though Jesus promised to provide these things to those who seek first His kingdom, those things have no bearing on our spiritual condition. Therefore, if God goes to such great lengths to reveal Himself simply to offer forgiveness for sins, then forgiveness of sins should be the one thing we are most focused on receiving. Since forgiveness ONLY comes by the blood of Jesus Christ, we must know what that means, why God did things that way, and how we are to walk according to that work of the Lord. The details of God’s purpose for us will only come when we understand the fundamentals of God’s purpose.
Throughout history, there have been many claims and testimonies about people experiencing the presence of the Lord. Some people have been skeptical about those testimonies. Some people have been amazed by those testimonies. Some seem reasonable. Some seem outrageous and unbelievable. Some of these testimonies come from church leaders and influential people in the church. Some of these testimonies come from obscure people. How are we supposed to know when someone has really had an experience with the presence of the One True Living God? The Bible teaches that the devil presents himself as an angel of light and has been able to successfully confuse and corrupt many people throughout history. How can we tell the difference between the false light of the devil and the true “Light of the world?” The Bible documents many instances in which God’s people came into contact with God’s presence. Thankfully, the scriptures show that God’s presence has a certain effect on the people He dwells with. This effect is consistent throughout the scriptures. If we are able to understand how the presence of God affects people, then we can compare the testimonies of others to the scriptures and know for sure whether their experience is with the Lord God Almighty or not.
One of the instances in which God’s presence truly appeared to the children of Israel was at the dedication of the temple. The scriptures state that Solomon gathered together a great assembly to consecrate the temple unto the Lord. The priests and Levites made preparations to begin their work in the temple by offering sacrifices and singing songs of praise. Before the real action could get started, the scriptures say that the glory of the Lord filled the temple as a dark cloud. This dark cloud went from the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was located and filled the entire temple from there. The scriptures testify that the cloud was thick and terrifying. The Bible compares the presence and glory of God that was visibly evident in the temple to the massive pillar of cloud that the children of Israel saw when they received the Law through Moses on Mount Sinai. When Solomon saw this cloud and saw that the priests and Levites were unable to perform their duties, he prayed to the Lord on his face. The testimony of 2 Chronicles 7:1-11 documents the response of the Lord and the rest of Israel to Solomon’s prayer.
When Solomon finished praying, the testimony of 2 Chronicles 7:1-11 states that fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering that was left on the altar for the Lord before the priests were able to utilize the altar to complete their offering. The Bible testifies that this fire was so great and so overwhelmingly powerful that it consumed all of the sacrifices that were offered. This description of the Lord’s power and glory is also identical to the testimony of the Lord being a “consuming fire” when the children of Israel first offered sacrifices in the wilderness to consecrate Aaron as the high priest. The scriptures explain that the fire that appeared came from heaven and caused smoke so thick that the people had to steer clear of the temple. The whole temple was filled with the smoke and though the fire consumed the offerings, it did not consume the building itself. The fire was destructive in one sense to consume the offerings, but not destructive to ruin the integrity of the structure that was just built.
It is important to recognize the extent of miracle that took place on that day, and the lessons about God’s attributes that are revealed. It is certainly impressive that a fire came down from heaven. However, regardless of the source of the fire, it is important to recognize that the fire was selectively destructive. The fire only consumed that which was supposed to be consumed. Though the fire was strong enough to reach the earth from the heavens, it did not destroy the building or the altar on which the offerings were placed! Recall that when Moses saw the appearance of the Angel of the Lord speaking from the burning bush, Moses was intrigued by this same concept. How could the fire burn but not consume the integrity of the bush? The scriptures explain that God appeared to the children of Israel as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Bible teaches that the Lord appeared to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai as a “consuming fire” so that the people weren’t even able to approach the base of the mountain. Yet in both instances, the fire was not destructive to melt or burn the environment. Fires don’t naturally work this way, and yet the testimony of scripture explains that God’s glory often works this way.
This shows the true power of God’s glory. It is destructive in one sense – able to fully and immediately consume that which is supposed to be destroyed and eliminated. However, this consumption is not at the expense of the environment around God’s people. This is important to understand when considering how the scriptures teach that God will “purge sin” from His people. The purpose of the Messiah is to refine the spiritual integrity of His people with a “refiners fire.” The appearance of God’s glory shows that the Lord is able to consume the things that are supposed to be destroyed while preserving the overall integrity of His people. The appearance of God as a consuming fire shows His power, authority, and sovereign control as Judge. His judgment is powerful to stem from heaven to earth and consume that which is before Him, but not at the expense of His people and that which is prepared before Him as holy.
The people recognized this fire as the glory of God. This is what people refer to as the “Shekinah glory” of the Lord. The Hebrew word “shekinah” comes from the root word “shakan,” which means “to dwell.” The “Shekinah glory” of God refers to the glory of the Lord that dwelt in the temple among the people. According to the Bible, that glory was terrifying and a powerful picture of God’s holiness, righteousness, and judgments. The image of God’s glory taught a powerful lesson about God’s Messianic attributes used to purge sin from the hearts of His people and from the midst of the environment God’s people live in. God’s presence was pictured as a “refiners fire” and a “consuming fire” manifested to consume the offerings, sacrifices, and portions of the Lord. The Bible testifies that when the people saw this, they fell down and bowed their faces to the ground and the pavement!
While songs are sung that express a desire for the Shekinah glory of the Lord to return to this world, often times the request is made in ignorance. The Shekinah glory of the Lord was sufficient to immediately drop all of the people to the floor on their faces. The glory of God was too much to behold, even in this form. The idea of fire from heaven was overwhelming to the people. The destructive nature of God’s power was terrifying. The wonder of God’s preservation caused the people to fear the Lord, and rightly so! The scriptures explain that when on the floor, bowing their faces to the glory of the Lord that filled the temple, they worshiped and praised God. The praises of the people are documented as well. The people continually sang: For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”
Consider the context of this statement. The glory of the Lord appeared in the manner that it did, and the people were focused on the mercy of the Lord. This is because the people recognized that the presence of God should have consumed them like it did the sacrifices. How could the fire not spread to destroy the temple unless God was preventing it? How could the fire not grow to destroy the people unless God was preventing it? The people recognized that the glory of God was so great that they, as well as their new temple, should have been destroyed. Nevertheless, God restrained the power of His presence and glory to preserve the integrity of the temple and the people. The children of Israel thanked the Lord that His holy presence did not immediately disintegrate them! The children of Israel recognized that the Shekinah glory of God was amazing but terrifying so that they had no business seeing it, being alive in the midst of it, and were certainly unable to stand before it. In that God preserved their lives while manifesting His glory, the people saw the goodness of God. The Bible teaches that it is the “goodness of God that leads to repentance.” According to the testimony of 2 Chronicles 7:1-11, the goodness of God is manifested by God’s mercy in which He makes Himself known while preserving the souls that should otherwise be destroyed.
The scriptures explain that the people eventually rose and responded to the presence of God by offering more sacrifices while continuing to sing these same praises to the Lord. The Bible testifies that Solomon sacrificed in ridiculous abundance! Since the temple was consecrated during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, sacrifices were offered all week long, totaling in twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred twenty thousand sheep! The response of the people to the glory of the Lord was no small matter. The extent of their sacrifices shows that the response of the people was not an impulsive emotional outburst. It is not reasonable to expect that the time and energy required to slaughter one hundred forty thousand animals over the course of a week is not equal to an impulse. Their response was calculated and pre-determined. The people were compelled to show their gratitude and state their humility before the Lord and did it in the manner that God’s Law commanded. Their desire to follow the commands of God were PROFOUNDLY stated through the extent of sacrifices offered through that week.
Lastly, the Bible testifies that the people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with great joy and “glad hearts.” The Feast of Tabernacles was a week-long feast day that the children of Israel were commanded to celebrate in the seventh month of their year. It consisted of the people migrating to Jerusalem for the week and dwelling in “booths” or small tents erected out of wood and palm branches. The children of Israel were commanded to live this way for the week to commemorate the wilderness journey before entering the Promised Land. The people were supposed to remember God’s providence, provision, and protection. It was not a coincidence that the temple was completed at the time of this week-long feast day. The completion of the temple and the Shekinah glory of God was proof of God’s faithfulness to continue to lead His people, provide for His people, and protect His people. The manifestation of His glory as a consuming fire proved that God alone was qualified to fulfill His promises. The people were filled with joy, gladness, and contentment because they recognized that God’s glory was positioned to favor Israel according to His eternally unconditional promises.
According to the Bible, the presence and glory of God has a weighty effect on those who witness it. First, those who experience the presence and glory of the Lord are immediately humbled being struck by fear recognizing the holiness, greatness, and power of God! Secondly, those who truly experience the presence and glory of God are those who respond by offering “sacrifices.” Since God’s people today have been freed from the burden of animal sacrifice, God’s true people embrace the opportunity to offer up self as a “living sacrifice” in the manner described in Romans Chapter 12. Like the scriptures declare, this sacrifice is extensive and without fear or regret. Those who have been in the presence of God appreciate the opportunity to die to “self” as an expression of gratitude to God for the preservation from destruction that God offers. Those who have seen the glory of God embrace the privilege to give up “self” in appreciation for the sanctification from judgment that God offers. Third, those who have been blessed by the presence of God’s glory are excited, joyful, and content to follow the laws and commands of God, seeing how obedience testifies of God’s providence, provision, and protection. Obedience and sacrifice become the main subject of God’s people understanding the goodness and mercy of God. Since the goodness of God leads to repentance, those who have truly been with the Lord are those who continually live according to repentance in fear of the Lord’s judgments and gratitude of His mercy in salvation.
The Bible teaches that the people of God are supposed to desire His eternal promises more than the desires of the flesh. God’s people are to cherish the Lord above all things. God’s people are supposed to value God and His purposes more than personal affections and desires. A challenge can arise however when we try to discern what God’s will and purposes are compared to ours. Do our desires simply reflect fleshly affections with the name of the Lord thrown over the top of them to make them seem like God’s desires? The scriptures teach that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above ALL things. According to the scriptures, unless the Lord reveals the evil intents of the heart, we’d never be able to discern our true motives and intents. We’d never be able to recognize the selfishness that inspires us to do the things we do. In other words, unless the Lord Himself shows us, we’d never be able to tell whether our hearts are legitimately desiring the things of God, or if our hearts are playing games with our minds.
Thankfully, the Lord has provided tools for His people in order to make these critical determinations. The Lord has provided testimonies and insight so that His people can compare their lives to the lives of others in scripture and measure whether they match up to the circumstances and motives that God previously approved of. When it comes to desiring the things of the Lord, God provided a great testimony through King Solomon so that His people can see the things Solomon said, understand why he said them, and see what a heart that truly desires God actually looks like. The testimony of Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:41-42 provides a great illustration of what it looks like when someone genuinely desires the eternal things of God. Examining this short passage can help us look at the desires of Solomon to see if we are thinking the same way, thereby desiring God in the manner that He approves of.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:41-42 documents the final part of Solomon’s prayer to the Lord when they first dedicated the temple to the Lord. When Solomon completed his prayer, he referred to the Lord as “LORD God.” Previously, Solomon referred to the Lord as “the God of Israel.” When addressing the Lord at the end of His prayer, he referred to the Lord by His formal title, which in Hebrew is “Yahweh Elohim.” The scriptures refer to “Yahweh” as the “Promise Name” of God based on the contextual usage of it the first time it appears in the scriptures. When the Lord was first called “Yahweh” in the Bible, it was in the context of God’s promises to Israel and the world. The name “Elohim” is the name that first identified God in Genesis 1:1. This name refers to His supremely majestic triune nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When the two names are put together, the idea is that God is supremely majestic as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and reveals Himself this way through the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises to His people. Solomon’s use of this name communicates His understanding of this truth. Thus, the Bible shows that if God’s people are going to desire and cherish God above all things, it is critical to know who He really is and what His promises truly entail.
Solomon addressed God in this manner to make a request. The people had just finished building the temple, were in the process of consecrating it with sacrifices to the Lord, and the Lord interrupted their work to fill the temple with His presence. The presence of the Lord overwhelmed and terrified the people so that the priests had to flee their posts. Solomon understood that the Lord would have to temper His presence in the temple. Part of the reason that the priests left the temple when the presence of God arrived as a dark cloud was because they couldn’t see what they were doing. The presence of God in the form of a cloud was too dense and thick. If God was going to remain in the temple by a dark cloud, He would have to relent to a certain degree in order for the people to go into the temple and perform the duties that God commanded. This was not to say that Solomon wanted God to go. On the contrary, Solomon’s request was for God to stay and reside in the place that they built for His presence to rest.
When Solomon sought the presence of the Lord to dwell with them, he asked the Lord to “rest” in a particular place that was prepared for the Lord. This shows that the people understood that God was the King of kings and Lord of lords. He would not dwell in any old place. God would only dwell in a place that was suitable for who He was. The place that the Israelites built up was called “the Most Holy Place.” The “resting” place for the Lord was defined by the extent of holiness that the people tried to emphasize. In that, the place was “holy” to the Lord, it was separate. The room was not a common room compared to other rooms. The room was clean and pure. There was no defilement or corruption in that room. The room was built to spec based on the previous commands of the Lord when He gave the tabernacle instructions. The room was specially built to house the Ark of the Covenant, which was a vessel that contained symbols for the promises of God. The Ark in it of itself was a teaching tool of the Lord that served to be a prophetic picture of His work to save the world from sin, death, and hell.
The people’s desire for the Lord is made clear in the preparation they made to ensure that there was a suitable dwelling place for the Most Holy God. The children of Israel didn’t just show up one day and ask the Lord to hang out. The children of Israel followed the righteous commands of God to uphold His standards in order to identify the characteristics of a “suitable” dwelling place for the Lord. Who better to describe a suitable resting place for the Lord than the Lord Himself? According to God, He desires to dwell in a place that is holy, so the people made the room for the Ark “the Most Holy Place.” Their desire for the Lord was expressed in the work they did to provide a suitable dwelling and resting place for the Lord based on its condition as “holy.”
Notice that Solomon didn’t administrate the building of a room to keep the Lord entertained. Solomon wanted God’s presence to “rest” in the Most Holy Place. Solomon sought a permanent dwelling place for God. The language that Solomon used describes that Solomon wanted God to be in the midst of the people at ALL times, not just occasionally or seasonally. The word “rest” describes a person that is sitting down quietly. Solomon wanted the Lord to relax in the place they prepared for Him in order to enjoy the righteous attitudes and conduct of the people. Though Solomon previously confessed the shortcomings of the people and their natural tendency to offend God, Solomon knew that God was merciful and ready to forgive His people. Solomon wanted God to “rest” in the Most Holy Place so that He could express the essence of His identity in mercy, quietly forgiving those who sought His forgiveness rather than standing in preparation to judge. Those who know the Lord know that He is holy and will not look upon sin, let alone find comfort in it. Those who desire the Lord also fear the Lord and His judgments so that they constantly seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, recognizing His willingness and pleasure to forgive sins that are confessed in humility and repentance. Those who desire the Lord are those who seek to please God to ensure He is “sitting quietly” rather than standing to administrate judgment.
When Solomon inquired of God, he referred to the Ark of the Covenant as the strength of God. Solomon wanted God to rest upon the Ark according to God’s promise, but also recognized that the Ark was sacred as a picture of God’s strength. Again, the Ark was a vessel that contained symbols of God’s eternally unconditional promises. The Ark contained a jar of manna bread to remind the children of Israel of God’s miraculous provision through the wilderness journey. The Ark contained Aaron’s rod that budded almond blossoms to remind the children of Israel that God is able to produce life out of death through the selection of His anointed. The Ark also contained the stone tablets that were given to Moses that had the Law inscribed on them to remind the children of Israel about the supreme righteousness of God. The Ark was covered by the Mercy Seat, which was designed as a prophetic picture, ultimately picturing the scene of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ after the resurrection. The Ark reminded the people that God is Provider – Jehovah Jireh. The Ark reminded the people that God is the Lord Who Sanctifies – Jehovah Mekkodishkem. The Ark reminded the people that God is the Lord Our Righteousness – Jehovah Tsidkenu. The Ark reminded the people that God is the One True Living God who is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining – Yahweh Elohim.
The strength of God is in the identity and attributes of God. Solomon referred to the Ark as the strength of the Lord because of the lessons that the Ark taught in its meaning. Solomon desired God because He is the Lord God Almighty. His strength is supremely above all. Solomon desired the strength of God because of the providential care and promises of the Lord. Solomon had previously expressed his understanding of the essence of God’s promises being predicated on mercy. Solomon already expressed His understanding of the essence of God’s promises being eternal in nature. Solomon desired God because he recognized that God’s strength was expressed on the platform of mercy unto eternal blessings, and His identity and attributes was sufficient to produce the results that were promised. Solomon desired God because he believed in who God was and trusted that God’s mercy and eternal promises were the most valuable thing in life. Solomon cherished forgiveness and God’s glory more than his own affections or possessions.
When Solomon expressed his desire for the Lord, he also expressed his desire for God’s will to be done through His people. Solomon prayed to God that the priests would be “clothed with salvation.” In other words, Solomon wanted the priests to do their jobs in the holy and righteous manner that God instructed. Solomon cherished God’s forgiveness and mercy above all things at that moment; and recognizing that God appointed the priests to facilitate sacrifices, worship, and praise to God promote God’s mercy and forgiveness, Solomon wanted the priests to be successful. Solomon wanted God’s anointed to live and work according to His spiritual purposes so that the people could receive God’s spiritual benefits through the people He appointed to distribute those benefits. Solomon recognized that God set the priests apart for specific purposes and that some of the benefits of God’s goodness would not be received apart from God’s anointed. Solomon submitted to God’s ordination and workflow. Solomon didn’t try to pave his own individual way to God’s goodness. Solomon’s desire for the Lord was expressed through his understanding of God’s perfect structure for ministry. He respected the people God put in position to do spiritually focused things, and sought the Lord to ensure they were enabled in the ways they needed to be in order to provide the spiritual benefits God intended.
Solomon wanted all of the people to rejoice in the presence of God. When Solomon prayed to the Lord, he expressed his desire for all of God’s people, referred to as “saints” to rejoice in the goodness of God. Here, the word “saints” refers to holiness. The people of God are called saints because they are God’s people, separated for His unique, spiritual, and eternal purposes. Those who rejoice in the Lord are those who recognize the position of privilege that God has caused. Those who desire the Lord are those who understand their nature as God’s people who have been separated for His purposes. Those who desire the presence of the Lord rejoice in the goodness of God. According to the context of Solomon’s prayer, the goodness of God is made manifest by His presence for the purpose of distributing mercy unto forgiveness, leveraging His anointed to foster worship and praise in response. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote that it is the “goodness of God that leads to repentance.” It is the recognition that God is willing to forgive offenses according to His own righteous attributes that causes repentance. Those who desire God, desire God’s goodness in this way like Solomon did.
Lastly, Solomon expressed that he desired the “Lord’s Anointed.” It was not just that Solomon wanted the presence of God in a cloud. Solomon wanted the revelation of Messiah! Solomon prayed to God to remember the promises He made to David concerning the revelation of Messiah as the King of Israel. Solomon wanted God’s presence to dwell with the people so that God Himself could fulfill His eternally unconditional promises through Israel. Solomon didn’t want his own people established. Solomon didn’t want to protect the integrity of his own throne. Solomon didn’t pray for the increase of his own influence. Solomon wanted the Messiah’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Having the wisdom of God, Solomon understood that God’s ways were better, being supremely good and righteous. Therefore, Solomon asked God to fulfill His promise made to David concerning the Messiah so that the mercy of God could be made manifest through the true King of Israel – the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. Those who desire the presence of the Lord are those who desire the fulfillment of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises through Jesus, where He rules and reigns over all so that the increase of His government will have no end and the administration of His righteousness is without corruption.
The New Covenant promises of God are not always understood by those who have received the benefits of them. In simple terms, the Bible states that God’s New Covenant promises consist of God’s oath to dwell in the hearts of His people in order to correct and connect with His people. These promises are fundamentally made to the children of Israel, though God also includes Gentiles into the fold of His promises. Since the Jews are the primary focal point of God’s promises, it is important to examine the testimony of Israel in the scriptures in order to understand the essence of God’s promises. Why does God need to dwell within His people? Didn’t God dwell with His people before? What is God looking to do from “within” His people that couldn’t be done before? Why would God need to intensify His presence in the midst of His people who should have already benefited from God’s presence?
In that God made “new” promises (essentially summarized in Jeremiah Chapter 31), it is obvious that God also made “old” promises. The “old” promises of God are referred to as the Old Covenant, or “the Law.” The Law was the declaration of God’s righteousness through commands and ordinances. These commands and ordinances revealed God’s righteousness through His written Word. God’s written word at that time mainly dealt with issues of sacrifice and worship. The Law also included various civic laws and statutes like the 10 Commandments, but the bulk of God’s declaration dealt with the proper way to give offerings and sacrifices, what those offerings and sacrifices were for, and what they meant. The reason that God gave a “new” set of promises was because the people couldn’t do the things God said. God declared His righteousness, and it was very clear very quickly that the people weren’t able to measure up to God’s standards. Though God dwelt with His people, the declarations of God’s righteousness in the Law simply proved that God’s people were flawed and unworthy of His presence. God dwelt with His people, but the declaration of God’s righteousness in the Law kept the people at a distance from God.
This reality explains why God gave a New Covenant. The distance between God’s people and God was problematic. Therefore, God took it upon Himself to close that gap in order to deal with the issue that keeps His people from Him – sin. God reveals His presence in order to deal with the sins of His people. Since God is holy, righteous, and just, the glory of His presence is sufficient to purge sin. Since God’s essence is light, His presence eliminates darkness. Since God is pure, His presence purifies from corruption. This is why the people of God built a temple during the days of King Solomon. The children of Israel wanted God to dwell with them in order that their sins and corruption could be dealt with. While there were other benefits that the presence of God presented, the focus of the people was originally to stand pure before the Lord God Almighty. Hence, the scriptures teach that those who desire the presence of the Lord should desire Him in order to have sin and corruption purged from their hearts.
In 2 Chronicles 6:22-40 the Bible explains that Solomon continued to pray to the Lord when they dedicated the temple to Him. When the temple was completed and the priests began to perform their services to consecrate the building, the Bible testifies that a great and dark cloud filled the entire structure. The cloud was so thick and dense that the people inside could not see. They were unable to perform their duties and were terrified. The priests fled from the temple and recognized that the source of the cloud was coming from above the Ark of the Covenant. The people understood that the cloud was the presence of God, having recognized its form from the testimonies of God’s presence when He spoke to Israel from Mount Sinai. Seeing that God’s majestic presence consumed the building, Solomon began to pray to the Lord. Solomon acknowledged God’s holy attributes and honored Him with thanks and praise. Solomon recognized that the children of Israel were in a GREAT position of privilege to be God’s chosen people. He understood that God showed incredible mercy and grace to dwell with the people and Solomon cherished the opportunity.
The rest of Solomon’s prayer reflected his understanding of the TRUE value of God’s presence. Solomon didn’t cherish the presence of the Lord because of the stuff that they had. Solomon didn’t cherish the presence of the Lord because of the circumstances they enjoyed. When Solomon prayed to God, he recognized the sovereign and holy nature of God. Solomon prayed to plead with God to make good use of the temple. Solomon wanted the temple and the city of Jerusalem to be a symbol of a beacon of God’s presence. Since God’s presence was overwhelmingly obvious at that time, Solomon wanted the temple to remind God’s people of His presence so that they could enjoy the real benefits of God’s presence to forgive sins. Solomon acknowledged that the cloud was God’s presence but knew that God is ultimately the God of heaven and earth. Solomon knew that God was seated high above all things. Solomon knew that God was supremely in charge of all things. Thus, it was a great privilege for the God Most High to make Himself known to the children of Israel. Solomon understood why God revealed Himself in the manner that He did.
When Solomon prayed to God in 2 Chronicles 6:22-40, he mentioned seven different instances in which he hoped that God would acknowledge His people. Solomon knew that God was holy but sought the Lord to share the benefits of His holiness in these seven different types of circumstances. Each set of circumstances was essentially the same scenario. Solomon confessed that all people sin and fall short of the glory of God, therefore, when individuals or groups of people recognize their failure and shortcomings in the eyes of God, Solomon desired the temple to be a place to look to in order to seek the presence of God for forgiveness. Solomon wanted the temple to be a physical object that the people could consider when seeking the Most High God of heaven and earth for forgiveness. Solomon built the temple in such a manner to represent the glory of the Lord. Solomon hoped that when the people would recognize their faults and failures, that they could remember the supreme glory of God by looking at the temple, and seek the forgiveness of the One True Living God; the only One with authority to forgive transgressions.
When Solomon described the various issues of sin, he didn’t get into specifics, showing that all transgression is equal in the eyes of God. Solomon spoke about individual Israelites sinning. Solomon referred to the sins of the whole nation being exposed during times of defeat in battle, through droughts, plagues, and famines. Here, Solomon understood that God has the sovereign control and authority to judge both the individual and the nation. Solomon understood that God has the sovereign control and authority to judge by enabling nations as disciplinary rods of correction, by restricting the rains, by administrating disease, and by withholding the harvest. Solomon acknowledged that God is in charge of all people to use according to His purposes. Solomon acknowledged that God is in charge of all creation to use according to His purposes. Therefore, knowing that all people sin, Solomon pleaded with God in prayer that He would be merciful to allow the people to turn to His presence in the temple in order to seek the Lord for forgiveness. Solomon prayed in order to plead with God that He would be willing to hear the cries of repentance of His people here on earth though He is the God that dwells in heaven. Solomon wanted the people to seek the presence of God for forgiveness in repentance. Solomon wanted God to show mercy to hear the humility of God’s people directed towards the temple though God’s throne is in heaven.
The scriptures show that Solomon desired the opportunity for forgiveness for everyone. He didn’t just speak of the children of Israel seeking the Lord, but also hoped that God would hear the repentance of Gentiles that turned to His presence in the temple. Solomon recognized the omnipresent nature of God as well. He hoped that if the armies of Israel needed to repent while out in the battlefield, unable to physically be at the temple, that they could simply pray towards the direction of Jerusalem and God would hear. Solomon understood that God was able to hear the cries of all His people no matter where they are. Solomon knew that, even though there was a cloud in the temple, God was still omnipresent. He simply hoped that God would be willing to consider the humble requests of His people that desired to live clean and pure in His presence that dwelt in all places.
Why should God’s people desire God’s presence? According to Solomon’s prayer, we should desire God’s presence in order to be cleansed of sin. God’s people should recognize that we all fall short of His glory and are deserving of judgment. God’s people should recognize that God alone has the authority and ability to forgive offenses and purge impurity. God’s people should understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to dwell in the presence of the One True Living God who is holy and righteous unless one is first pure and right. God’s people should recognize that we CANNOT make ourselves pure and right. Only God can cleanse. Only God can declare righteous. Hence, God’s people should desire God’s presence in order to seek the cleansing of God’s mercy and the righteousness of His grace. The temple was first built to remind the people of God’s presence and the purpose of it. The purpose of God’s presence is to spiritually justify and sanctify His people in order to enable His people for His eternal purposes in this life, in preparation for eternal life. Though the presence of God may provide strength, victory, wisdom, and glory, these benefits are merely the bi-product of the forgiveness and purification that God’s presence is focused on. In fact, these benefits will be restricted unless people first seek forgiveness and purification from sin.
This means that God’s people should primarily seek Him for repentance. Prayer should be the chief means of communication we leverage to confess our sins to God in order to turn from them to be cleansed by the Lord. Prayer is the tool we use to acknowledge the unique holiness and superior righteousness of God, seek His mercy to be forgiven and saved from His judgments, and purse the ability to live according to His righteousness on account of His presence. This is why Solomon desired the presence of the Lord in the temple. This is why God’s New Covenant promises leverage the human heart at the new “temple” for God’s presence to dwell in. God dwells with His people so that He can exercise His heavenly authority to forgive and purge the sins of those who repent in order to be conformed into His holy and righteous image.
The scriptures teach that prayer is an extremely important part of Christian life. It is one of the primary ways that God communicates with His people. The Apostle Paul taught that God’s people should “pray without ceasing,” meaning that we should be praying all of the time. The scriptures define prayer simply as addressing God through supplications, but the examples of prayer in the Bible are a little more involved than that. Jesus taught His people how to pray in the Gospel of Matthew, and there showed that prayer is simply a means to reflect humility towards the Father, exalt His name, and seek for His will to be done in place of ours. The “supplication” part of the prayer that Jesus taught is communicated in our desire to see God’s eternal purposes fulfilled in place of our personal affections. Our “wants” should be for the Lord to be glorified above all things. Jesus exemplified this sort of prayer in John Chapter 17 when He prayed to the Father for His will to be done despite Jesus’ obligation to go to the cross. Jesus knew what He had to do, knew that it would be terrible, but He also asked the Father for His will to be done no matter the difficulty Jesus would have to endure.
The scriptures also teach that prayer is essentially the human response to the provocation of the Holy Spirit. For example, when the Apostle Paul taught about spiritual warfare in the Book of Ephesians, he explained that prayer should be done “in the Spirit.” This is a phrase that means that the Holy Spirit should be the One who is actually motivating and directing prayer. This instruction describes a situation in which God communicates His will, which is translated to us by the Holy Spirit through the things that we speak in prayer. We say “Amen” in the end because it is our agreement with the proclamations that the Holy Spirit reveals to us, which ultimately reflect the will of the Father. This shows that prayer is not to be taken lightly. It is not something that all people are entitled to since the Bible explains that God will ignore many prayers that are delivered in pretense or pride. True and genuine prayer is a supernatural work and a privilege for the people of God to engage in. Since Jesus died for the sins of the world to reconnect God’s people to Him by the Spirit, we are privileged to be able to “pray without ceasing,” which simply confirms that the Holy Spirit of the One True Living God is willing and able to communicate with us to let us know His will and purposes, then encourage us as needed to equip us as His servants to fulfill those purposes.
This is why the prayers that are documented in the Bible are so important to study carefully. In order to know what prayer is and how to pray “in the Spirit,” we must learn to recognize how other people prayed in the Spirit in order to recognize what the patterns of the Spirit are. Our prayers should not simply consist of listing a bunch of things we want God to do for us like a “Santa’s wish list.” Prayer should reflect God speaking to us more than we are speaking to God. Our supplications to Him should simply reflect our agreement with His purposes. This sentiment is proven true through the prayer of King Solomon when he dedicated the temple to God in 2 Chronicles 6:18-21. In this portion of scripture, Solomon observed the circumstances and came to a conclusion about God, His holy power, and the superiority He has over mankind.
When Solomon prayed to God, he confessed that God’s greatness was FAR too much for mankind to handle. The scriptures testify that when Solomon built the temple, he went all out on the Most Holy Place where the Ark and the presence of God would dwell. He overlaid the wall of that room with the approximate equivalent of $3.5 billion! The room was only about thirty feet square, but the walls themselves were worth billions! Has there ever been such a place in human history? This room was emblematic of the rest of the temple and the extent of lavishness that the children of Israel tried to instill into their structure. Their thinking was that, since God is so glorious and great, they needed to erect a structure that somehow communicated the excessive nature of His greatness. Yet, after all of the time, resources, and money that Solomon and his team put into the temple, Solomon confessed that it was inadequate. Historians have examined the details of scripture and marveled at the extent of ornateness of it, confessing that it might have been the most amazing structure in human history. Still, the testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:18-21 shows that Solomon felt it wasn’t enough to contain the glory of God.
Solomon simply asked, “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!”
Solomon understood that God was so glorious and great that the true nature and presence of God couldn’t be contained anywhere. God’s own dwelling place was too small. The scriptures teach that God is truly transcendent above ALL things, in ALL planes of reality, whether physical or spiritual. Since God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining, then His glory is as much as it needs to be for any purpose at any time in all places. He never grows weak, tired, or disabled. The psalmist wrote that God’s glory is so bright that He uses light to conceal it! When the dark cloud consumed the entire square footage of the temple in a moments time so that the people were terrified and had to leave the temple, Solomon quickly realized the magnitude of God’s greatness and power. For all the time and money and manpower that it took to build the temple, God consumed the entire thing with His presence in a moment’s time. Truly God was greater than the splendor of a structure built with human hands. What then can a person do to contain God, match God, or appease God?
Seeing the awesome glory of God, Solomon began to marvel at the fact that God was willing to dwell with His people and hear their supplications. Why would such a transcendent God spend any amount of time dealing with people that are so small and insignificant in comparison? Why would such a glorious God deal with such a pitiful group of people? Why would such a holy God make Himself available to a small group of people in the middle of the desert? Why would an impeccably righteous God dwell with sinners? Why would the Lord God Almighty, full of majesty, listen to people like us? These are the things that went through Solomon’s mind during his prayer. These are the points Solomon made during his prayer. Solomon’s prayer was a reflection of the majesty of God and the mercy and grace that He offers just to acknowledge our existence and hear our voice! As holy and supremely righteous, God has no business messing around with the corruption of the human race. Even King David asked, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Knowing the nature of God, Solomon cherished the opportunity to communicate with Yahweh Elohim, recognizing the extent of honor and privilege it was to be heard and considered by Him.
Upon declaring the greatness of God and the pitifulness of the people (including himself), Solomon stated his petition and supplication towards God. Solomon simply asked that God would be attentive to them so that they could seek the Lord for forgiveness. Solomon asked the Lord to dwell in the temple that they built according to God’s promise so that they could receive the benefits of God’s presence – providence and forgiveness. Solomon desired God to keep watch over the children of Israel in order to ensure that His will was done for the people. Solomon desired the purposes of God to govern the lives of the people he was placed in charge of as their king. Solomon desired God’s will instead of his own and wanted God’s presence to dwell in the temple as a sign that He was lording over them. Though he was the king, and the riches ever, Solomon referred to himself as God’s servant, submitting himself to the purposes of God and desiring the Lord to be the King of kings in Israel.
Solomon asked the Lord to have open ears to the prayers of the people so that they could seek forgiveness from Him. Here, Solomon confesses that the people were not holy like God. He confessed that the people were not righteous before God. He confessed that the people were transgressors and did not deserve the presence of God that was already dwelling in their midst. Therefore, Solomon sought an open line of communication so that when the people sought forgiveness, they would be heard. Solomon wanted God to make His mercy and forgiveness continually available to the people so that when they were convicted as offenders of God’s Law, they could repent and obey the commands of the Law in order to receive God’s forgiveness. Solomon knew that the Lord God of Israel was the God of heaven but asked the Lord to exercise His transcendence to dwell also in the temple in order to keep the people from sin so that they could be joined to the Lord for His purposes and His glory. This is what prayer should sound like. This is what the Spirit seeks to communicate through prayer. The truths communicated in this prayer reflect the extent of privilege that we have to address God in any manner so that our prayers should be handled with humility and care.
The Bible teaches that there is One True Living God. He is the God of the heavens and the earth. He is the Creator of all things. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. He is supremely sovereign. He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. He is all-present. Besides Him, there is no god. The Lord God identifies Himself in a number of different ways throughout the scripture. He first identifies Himself as “Elohim” referring to His supreme majesty in His triune form as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is called by many different names throughout the Bible and refers to Himself by different attributes to identify His character. Simply put, the One True Living God, the God of the Bible, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel.
This basic principle is EXCEPTIONALLY important to understand. This title does not mean that God excludes other people groups from His work. This title does not mean that God plays favorites. This does mean however, that God has specially selected the nation of Israel to do a unique work through them to reveal His attributes, character, purposes, and promises. To examine the Lord outside of the lens of His work in Israel is to receive a distorted and incomplete view of who God is. The Bible teaches that God is almighty, sovereign, righteous, holy, merciful, gracious, patient, just, and is the essence of love. If we don’t understand how God expressed Himself in these ways through the history of His people (Israel), then we’ll never gain a full understanding of these things concerning God.
One of the most important aspects of God’s character is His faithfulness. There have been many powerful and strong people throughout history who were also selfish and lazy. There have been many wise people who used wisdom for deceptive purposes. God is holy and is the essence of “good” so He is unable to use His power and wisdom in evil ways. He is unchanging in nature, which means that as He was in the beginning, He will always be that way. The point is that there have been many able people through strength, knowledge, or influence that have said one thing and done another. God doesn’t work that way. God is almighty but uses His strength to fulfill His Word to perfection. God alone is wise and uses His understanding to fulfill His Word to perfection. As the sovereign Lord of Hosts, God is supremely influential and uses that influence to fulfill His Word to perfection. According to the testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:11-17 King Solomon clearly understood these things about God.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:11-17 shows that when Solomon gathered the assembly of Israelites to the temple in order to dedicate it to the Lord upon its completion, he prayed to the Lord before them. Solomon referred to God as “the Lord God of Israel” three times in just the introduction of his prayer. Since Solomon was praying publicly before the assembly of Israel, it is clear that Solomon wanted to remind the people that the God of the heavens and the earth is also the God of Israel. The children of Israel are God’s special treasure and possession. They are indeed His people and the completion of the temple was tangible proof to validate that idea. Solomon refers to his people as “Your people Israel” to God four more times throughout his prayer, which shows that God has a special relationship with these people in order to magnify His attributes through the work He does for them and through them.
When Solomon prayed to God he began praying by focusing on the faithfulness of God. Solomon was in awe about the fact that God promised his father David that a temple would be built. Sure enough, the temple was built and Solomon was the chief witness to God’s faithfulness to do what He said. No matter the extravagant nature of such a building project, the people stood before the completed temple and saw proof that God does what He says He will do for His people. The icing on the cake was the dark cloud that caused the priests and Levites to flee from the inside of the temple. The people knew that the dark cloud was the presence of the Lord. The presence of the Lord was additional confirmation that God Himself was the reason that His Word was fulfilled and that His promises were executed.
Seeing the completed temple and the dark cloud that filled every bit of its square footage, Solomon had to confess that there was no God like the God of Israel. What other God made such proclamations to a nation’s king like God did to David? What God was also able to fulfill the proclamation and promise in the manner that God did for Israel? What other nation has that God? What other proof of power can another nation boast of? God swore to David a covenant and made that covenant with Himself; swearing that He would be the One to fulfill the promises. God not only spoke the promise with His mouth in such a way that it was verified throughout many generations, but also made it come to pass! Who else is able to do that? God assured the children of Israel that if they would simply walk before Him with all their hearts, abstaining from worshiping other gods and idols, and keeping from holding worldly possessions and desires in their hearts in higher esteem than Him, that He would make the promise of a temple come to pass. Solomon prayed in the midst of that very temple as proof that God spoke to Israel, provided for Israel, and exalted Israel simply to exalt His own name.
Seeing what God had done to enable the people to build the temple, Solomon further desired the fulfillment of the rest of God’s promises. Solomon acknowledge that God spoke these promises concerning Israel with His own mouth and made some of those promises come to pass by His own hand. Solomon recognized that the people were simply tools in the hand of the sovereign almighty God used to enable His Word to come to pass. A pencil is simply an inanimate object until a functional, able, and trained hand is able to pick it up and use it according to purpose. Solomon considered the children of Israel as a pencil – lifeless and purposeless until put into the hand of God who alone is able to produce beautiful and compelling illustrations. Solomon understood the rest of God’s promises as well concerning the kingship of Israel. God desired to dwell with His people in the temple and also establish an eternal throne in Israel for His own namesake. Seeing God enable the children of Israel to build the temple, Solomon prayed to God that the people would uphold the integrity of the throne in Israel for His glory as well. Solomon wanted the fulfillment of God’s promises concerning the kingship in Israel so that God’s presence could be seen in the temple AND the throne in Israel.
Solomon knew that God was able to make His Word come true. According to the Bible, God’s Word was centered on the work He would do to reveal His glory and essence through Israel. God promised to dwell in the temple of Israel, not some other nation. God promised to establish an eternal throne in Israel, not some other nation. Though David made mistakes and Solomon confessed his weakness, God was faithful to make His Word come to pass. God did what He said He would in spite of the people. No matter the condition of the people, God will do what He says! The sins of the people cannot overpower the ability or willingness for God to do what He says. This is why God swears upon Himself. This is why God ratifies covenants with Himself. God is not counting on the performance of His people to do what He says. God will do what He says no matter what. In fact, God is so powerful and sovereign that He is able to form His people into a condition that is suitable to receive the benefits of His promises. Though God does not place the full responsibility on His people to do what He says, know that no one is able to match His righteousness, He does command His people to be blameless before Him by having faith in Him and His promises. Those who don’t believe don’t get the benefits of His work. But make no mistake about it, God continues to do what He says despite the unbelief of His people. God simply exercises His power to implant faith unto those that He determines are His, and restricts the benefits of His faithfulness to those who deny Him. No matter Israel’s condition, God will ALWAYS be the God of Israel. He will simply do whatever it takes to conform His people into a condition suitable for the receipt of His promises to prove that He is faithful and does what He says He will for the people He promised He will bless. The extent of faithfulness God showed through Israel is an illustration of the extent of faithfulness He offers to all who will come to Him in humility and faith.
The Bible teaches that the desires of people are naturally contrary to God, His purposes, and His promises. The reason for this is because as people, we are conceived in sin and have a depraved nature. God on the other hand is holy and righteous. Additionally, people are mortal while God is eternal. The things that people desire usually seem good for this life from our limited and flawed perspective while the desires and purposes of God are always considered through an eternal lens. This means that the natural way of human thinking is contrary to God. Our “normal” desires are usually opposite God’s purposes. This friction isn’t good. This is why so many people war against God; because our natural desires oppose His eternal purposes. Is this also true for the people of God? Is this also true for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose? Is this also true of those who pursue the heart of the Lord in order to understand His ways according to the Word?
The scriptures explain that God’s people possess His Spirit. Though the Spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit because the two are contrary to one another, the Bible reveals that God is able to make good use of the desires of His people. It is true that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things – even for the Christian. However, since the Spirit of God dwells in the hearts of those who are humble and contrite and seek Him by faith, God is able to purify the hearts of His people in order to change the thinking of His people. The Holy Spirit inspires thoughts in the Christian heart that are centered on God’s glory to exalt His name on account of His good works. Though Christians still often times come up with silly ways to do so, God implants good ideas centered on His glory even though our hearts still remain selfish in nature. Thus, the goodness that comes from God’s people is of His essence. God is the originator of Godly ideas and thinking. This means that God is also the manufacturer of good works that come from His people. Therefore, while we all struggle with humility versus selfishness, God is able to ensure that His true goodness flows through His people anyway so that He is glorified in the end.
This principle is clearly seen in the testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:1-11. In this portion of scripture, King Solomon addressed the congregation of Israel after the temple was completed and the furnishings – including the Ark of the Covenant – were moved into their proper places. The people were excited about the completion of the temple. The children of Israel never had anything like that before in their history. The tabernacle was a miracle of God as well, but history speculates that Solomon’s temple was one of the greatest structures ever erected in human history! Additionally, the scriptures testified that when the Ark was moved into its place, a dark cloud filled the entire temple so that the priests and the Levites had to flee from the temple. The dark cloud was so thick and terrifying that the people fled. The dark cloud originated from the Ark and grew of itself. The people recognized it was the presence of God since the characteristics of the cloud resembled the same cloud that consumed Mount Sinai when Moses received the Law.
The presence of the cloud was a reminder to everyone about how the work had been completed. The beauty and splendor of the temple might have been the results of human effort in one sense, but Solomon recognized that the root of human ability to build such a thing came from the Lord God Almighty. The testimony of 2 Chronicles 6:1-11 documents Solomon’s efforts to remind the people how such a marvelous work was completed. He began by reminding everyone of God’s promises to Israel. Solomon reminded the people that God promised to dwell with the people in “the dark cloud.” In Leviticus 16:2 God spoke to Moses and promised that He would dwell above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, thus making the presence of the Ark the most holy place. Solomon remembered the testimony of Moses and the testimony of God. Solomon remembered the promises of God and so he was able to identify the presence of God and respond appropriately. Solomon recognized that since God’s presence was dwelling in the place where God promised, the works of the people were merely the fulfillment of promises God made long before.
The scriptures state that Solomon “blessed” the assembly by reminding them about God’s promises. He reminded the people that his father King David was the first to desire a temple for a permanent dwelling place of the Lord. Solomon adopted his father’s desire and wanted a place where God’s presence could dwell forever. Though it is impossible for mortal people to erect a permanent structure for the eternal God that will stand “forever,” David had the desire for God’s presence to be with God’s people forever because God swore that He would be. In other words, David wanted God to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. David wanted the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel and wanted God to fulfill those promises Himself. David understood that God’s presence would ensure God’s will would be done, and therefore desired to build a dwelling place for the Lord in the midst of His people. His thinking was sound. If God’s presence dwells in the midst of His people, then God’s will would always be done for His people. Since God’s will would be fulfilled for His people, God would be exalted and the people would be blessed. This is the goodness of God that David desired and figured the temple would be a practical way to enable that work.
God encouraged David’s idea even though the idea was flawed. God promised that He would establish a throne in Israel forever, but that did not mean that Israel would have a perpetual temple in Israel built by human hands. Again, how could mortal hands build an eternal structure for the presence of the eternal God? Solomon built a temple, but it was not eternal. David had the right idea, but his idea was also foolish in the sense that David wanted to do something good for God. How can a corrupted being do something good if everything reproduces of its own kind? Would not corruption simply produce more corruption? This is why God needs to be the motivator AND manufacturer of works determined as “good” since God alone is “good.” Solomon reminded the congregation that it was God’s promises and the works of His own hands that made the temple “good.”
Though Solomon employed thousands of people to make materials, move materials, and complete the temple, Solomon confessed to the people that the hands of God Himself ensured the completion of the temple. Solomon reminded the people that the idea for the temple was not his own idea. It was his father David’s idea. Solomon reminded the people that David’s idea for the temple was merely a bi-product of inspiration that David received through the maturation of his relationship with God. The closer David got to the Lord, the more David wanted God’s will to be done for His people. Solomon confessed that God took the flawed thinking of David and made it purposeful and functional. God corrected David’s idea though David himself never got to participate in the work. Solomon made sure the people understood that David had a small idea to exalt the greatness of God, but God used that idea to be a small part in the greater work He would do through His people. Solomon reminded the people that God selected Israel to be His own people. Solomon reminded the people that God selected Jerusalem to be His holy city. Solomon reminded the people that, while David might have had the desire for God to dwell there in a temple, it was only because God previously made promises that gave David that idea, and then took it upon Himself to complete the work of the temple by His own hands as evidenced by the presence of the dark cloud.
David had it in his heart to build the temple, but his heart was limited in ability and understanding. God honored David’s desire, but David didn’t live to see his desire fulfilled. God took the weak and foolish desire of David and made it great by His own hands. God took David’s noble desire that lacked power and understanding and used it as a tool to fulfill His own promises. Without the direct involvement of God, David’s desire would have remained a dream, not a reality. It was not until God gave His provision, His providence, His wisdom, and His patience to two generations of people that the temple was completed. God filled the temple with His presence to remind the people of this truth. Without God, we can do nothing. Yet, with God, clearly, all things are possible when those things are centered on the exaltation of the Lord God Almighty. Solomon acknowledged that God’s promises and Word was fulfilled. He simply happened to be on the favorable end of God’s timing. Solomon didn’t seek to take credit for any of the work that was done and didn’t praise any human being for a job well done.
This testimony shows that David had a good desire but didn’t fully understand the nature of God so that his desire wasn’t really helpful to God. It is like when a small child desired to help their parents in something that they are simply too small to do. The parent might see the noble intents of the child but recognizes that the child can’t really do anything to help. Out of mercy, pity, and compassion, the parent might let the child participate though the parent is the one really doing the work. This kind of relationship is parallel to the circumstances of the temple construction. David was like a little kid wanting to help God. Yet God recognized that David of himself was too weak and pitiful to help Him glorify Himself. Since God had already promised to glorify Himself through Israel, God allowed David to be a part of that work, and the same with Solomon. Solomon, possessing the wisdom of God, recognized that God’s own hands were the means by which the temple was completed. The physical revelation of God’s presence at the completion of the temple let everyone know that God was present the whole time, making it look like the “children” were doing “adult” work. Thankfully, this testimony shows that God is merciful, compassionate, and patient as a loving Father that desires to use the noble intents of His people for truly good purposes when He takes them over to produce goodness through us.
One of the most misunderstood concepts about the Bible and the God who wrote it deals with His presence. There are many who speak about the presence of the Lord. There are songs sung about the presence of the Lord. There are declarations made about the presence of the Lord. Often times these references to the presence of the Lord don’t quite sync up with the ways that the Bible says about Him. The way people talk about the presence of the Lord today doesn’t always match the ways that the Bible describes people experiencing the presence of the Lord. Part of the confusion is on account of the ignorance of God’s identity. The Lord is almighty. The Lord is full of glory. The Lord is holy. The Lord is eternal in nature and spiritual in essence. When the One True Living God makes these qualities physically observable, the testimony of scripture shows that people are not able to dwell in God’s presence, aren’t able to endure God’s presence, and are overwhelmed with God’s presence. This is a truth made perfectly clear in the Old AND New Testaments, showing that whether Jesus’ work had been completed yet or not, the presence of Yahweh Elohim – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is incomprehensible, terrifying, and humbling.
Understanding this truth about the Lord, the people of God are expected to respond to the Lord in certain ways. The scriptures teach that the presence of the Lord dwells in the hearts of the humble and the contrite to revive the spirit and restore the soul. Jesus died for the sins of the world so that the depravity that separated mankind from God is no longer a factor that keeps God from dwelling with His people. Jesus explained that He and the Father dwell within His people through the Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul called the human body a “temple” for the Holy Spirit. The presence of God dwells in the hearts of God’s people in the same manner that the presence of God dwelt with His people in the Old Testament temple of Solomon. Many people take this lightly, forgetting the magnitude of glory that makes up the presence of the Lord. Therefore, it is helpful to examine the testimony of God’s presence when He dwelt in the temple in order to understand the supernatural work that takes place in the hearts of God’s people on account of Jesus Christ. By understanding the essence of God this way, God’s people can be better equipped to respond in the appropriate manner.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 5:1-14 documents the moment in time where God’s presence filled the temple that Solomon built. The Bible explains that after the temple was built and the updated furnishing were completed, Solomon made efforts to move the Ark of the Covenant and the rest of the furnishings from the tabernacle and from the tent that was built for the Ark. Recall that the tabernacle was still erected in Gibeon while the Ark of the Covenant was resting in a tent that King David had built in Jerusalem. Some of the furnishings that were necessary for the temple were still in the tabernacle in Gibeon. The Ark of the Covenant was in Jerusalem, but not put in the Most Holy place of the new temple yet. Therefore, Solomon made efforts to properly transport those items to their proper place in the temple.
Solomon was sure to follow the commands of the Law to ensure that everything was transported appropriately according to God’s righteousness. The scriptures also testify that Solomon called the elders of Israel and the singers of the priests to encourage the work of the priests and the Levites that were transporting everything to the temple. The priests and Levites that weren’t moving stuff offered sacrifices while the moving was taking place. The Bible states that the elders of Israel sang songs of praise with the singers and musicians that were appointed to that work. The testimony also is specific to explain that the people were ritually purified, having gone through the regiments of the Law to make sure they were clean in the eyes of the Lord. This was the celebration of all celebrations in Israel. The temple was completed. The priests and Levites were sanctified. The Ark of the Covenant and the other furnishings of the temple were being taken to their proper place of rest. The people praised the Lord with zeal, excitement, and anticipation. The work that needed to be done was done properly and with great care. The Bible explains that when the priests arrived with the Ark, they took it to the Most Holy place and set it under the wings of the cherubim in that room. Recall that the wings of those cherubim spanned approximately thirty feet across the room so that each set of wings covered the length of the room. The Ark was placed in between them so that the Ark itself was covered by the wings of the cherubim. Only the poles could be seen. That is how highly the children of Israel regarded the presence of the Lord that dwelt above the Mercy Seat – the lid of the Ark.
When the priests finished setting the Ark in its place, the scriptures state that an unusual thing took place. The presence of the Lord FILLED the temple! The priests that set the Ark in the Most Holy place saw a cloud come out from the top of the Ark, which quickly filled the Most Holy place, which was approximately 900 square feet. Eventually, the cloud filled the entire temple until the priests were forced to leave because the cloud was so thick. They could not see well enough to do the things they were previously doing. The priests offering sacrifices couldn’t see what they were doing any more. The priests that were singing couldn’t breathe well in the temple any more. They all left and cleared the temple out because of the denseness of the cloud and the terrifying nature of it. Remember that the temple was roughly 60 feet by 60 feet and in some places was over one hundred feet tall. The cloud of the presence of the Lord filled up the whole thing in an instant.
The priests were concerned and terrified. Where did the cloud come from? What was the source of the cloud’s growth? Why did the cloud not dissipate and separate like a normal cloud? How was the cloud so thick? The cloud seemed to have the same supernatural characteristics of God Himself. The cloud proved to be self-existing and self-sustaining. The cloud came of itself and did not need anything to sustain it. It grew until it consumed the area that God desired to dwell in showing that the cloud had infinite characteristics. The cloud was terrifying and was able to move the people. This shows that the cloud had power beyond the number of priests that were in the temple. The cloud kept the people from doing their work of worship service showing that no one was worthy to serve in the presence of the cloud. The works of the priests were nothing compared to the glory of the cloud. Though God didn’t show up in His true glorious appearance, His manifestation as a cloud was sufficient to display some of His unique attributes, which was sufficient to terrify the people!
The people could not endure God’s presence. The people could not understand God’s presence. The people could not work in God’s presence. The presence of the holy almighty God was too much to handle that the people fled, fell, and were greatly humbled! Though the people of God are supposed to desire the presence of God, it is important to recognize what the presence of God is. The presence of God is power. The presence of God is holiness. The presence of God is righteousness. The presence of God is glory that the human mind and body cannot understand or contain. The Bible shows that when God’s people experienced His presence, they ALL fled and/or fell before Him. Whether His presence was manifested as a cloud, as the Angel of the Lord, as Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration or in a vision with Jesus seated in His throne in heaven, all people fall before the feet of the Lord God Almighty! Therefore, if God’s people are supposed to desire the presence of God, and the presence of God causes God’s people to fall before Him in humility and worship, then deductive reasoning explains that all of God’s people are supposed to desire to fall down in humility and worship the Almighty God above all things.
Here, it is important to consider the temperament of Israel before God’s presence showed up. It wasn’t just that the people moved items into a building to make things right. The scriptures testify that the people offered sacrifices unto the Lord, confessing their sins and seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy. The people sanctified themselves, which means that they made themselves ceremonially clean according to the righteous standards of God’s Word. They separated from defilement. They separated from wickedness and darkness. They committed themselves to the work of God in the manner that God desired and deserved. The scriptures say that the people praised the Lord. They played instruments and continually cried out, “For He is good. For His mercy endures forever.” The people rejoiced over the goodness of God, not the efforts of men to erect a building. The people celebrated the goodness of God Himself, not the accomplishments of people. The people recognized that their accomplishments were merely the bi-product of God’s mercy. If not for the mercy of God, the children of Israel would never have been in a position to build a structure of any kind, let alone the temple they had just finished. The greatness of that temple was a picture of the extent of God’s mercy. The people celebrated the fact that, though the people deserved death and condemnation, God withheld such judgment in order to build up His people unto His own likeness. God and His eternal attributes were the center of this celebration. This is why God’s presence filled the temple. This is what caused the people to worship according to the Lord’s desires. This is why God dwells in the hearts of His people now. Therefore, the people of God should desire to humble themselves and worship Him above all other pursuits in life; seeking to offer self as a living sacrifice unto the Lord to seek His mercy through forgiveness according to the righteous declaration of His Word; separating from the defilement and darkness of this world according to faith in the testimony of Jesus Christ and by the power of the presence of His Spirit.
The Bible is God’s autobiography. It explains who God is, what His purposes are, and explains His eternally unconditional promises. There are some who say that God works in “mysterious” ways. That concept is only partially true. Though the details of God’s work are impossible to fully understand, the Lord has provided an ample amount of revelation concerning His identity, purposes and promises. The Lord revealed Himself in direct revelation through visions and appearances in times past. The Lord directly spoke to many of His people in times past. The Lord revealed His righteousness through the Law. The Bible also teaches that the Lord used prophetic pictures through the testimonies of real life human beings. God interceded in the lives of His people to use their testimonies as teaching lessons concerning bigger parts of His eternal work. For this reason, there is A LOT of symbolism in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is open to individual interpretation. The symbolism of the Bible is thoroughly explained in most cases by the Bible itself. Hence, in order to understand God’s revelation through the Bible, it is important to recognize the ways that He teaches and the subjects that He is focused on.
This truth is especially true in testimonies such as 2 Chronicles 4:1-22. This portion of scripture documents the work that was done to construct the furnishings and utensils of the temple during the reign of King Solomon. The details of this portion of scripture seem trivial. The Bible details the items that were completed, discusses the construction materials and techniques that were used to build these things, and in some cases, mentions how many of each item was made. These are not trivial details. These are not simply historical references that document the real work of real people, though the scriptures are historical in nature. The testimony of 2 Chronicles 4:1-22 provides certain details to explain God’s bigger picture. The details of the construction of the furnishings and utensils of the temple help explain God’s work of salvation. Though the details are literal narrative, the work that was done was symbolic to explain spiritual matters at the same time.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles details the manufacturing of the main altar that the priests used to offer sacrifices, the main wash basin that the priests used to cleanse themselves before offering sacrifices, the lampstands, the tables, the utensils, and even the doors of the court and sanctuary of the temple. The scriptures reveal that there was a particular pattern that was followed when the manufacturing was performed. Most of the items mentioned in this portion of scripture was fashioned with either bronze or gold. This is significant to understand, especially based on what item was built and where that item was placed in the temple. The construction materials were not just selected to make things look nice. The construction materials were symbols of God’s work of salvation, thereby teaching lessons about how God would fulfill His eternally unconditional promises to forgive sins and enable fellowship with Him.
The testimony begins by explaining the building of the “Bronze Altar” and the “Bronze Sea.” The Bronze Altar was the main altar used by the priests to offer their sacrifices of all kinds. All burnt offerings, sin offerings, fellowship offerings, and grain offerings were given on this altar. The “Bronze Sea” was a giant wash basin, containing roughly 8,000 gallons of water. This massive bowl was constructed as a sink for the priests to ritually wash and cleanse themselves before performing their duties for the day. These are perhaps the two most important things that took place in the temple on a regular basis. The temple was supposed to be a house for the presence of the Lord. Yet the people were not permitted to simply approach the presence of the holy righteous God at any time or by any means. If the children of Israel wanted the benefits of God’s presence, they needed to be cleansed of their sin. God provided the sacrificial system in the Law to cover over the sins of the people so that they could enjoy the benefits of His presence at that time. Without sacrifices, the sins of the people would not be atoned for, and the goodness of God’s presence could not be enjoyed. Since sacrifices had to be offered from a priest that was clean himself, the wash basin and the altar were two of the most important furnishings in the temple. These two items enabled the priests to use the temple for its purpose.
It was not a creative decision to make both of these furnishings out of bronze. The Bible explains that bronze is a symbol of God’s judgment. In fact, when the Apostle John saw a vision of the Lord Jesus in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, John testified that Jesus appeared with “feet of bronze.” This does not mean that Jesus had metallic feet. This means that Jesus was walking in the direction of judgment. Jesus was taking steps to execute His justice according to His righteousness. The rest of the Book of Revelation proves that idea to be true. Thus, the altar of sacrifice and the wash basin were fashioned of the metal that represented the judgment of God. The animal sacrifices of God’s people were representative of God’s judgment upon their sin. The animals were supposed to be substitutes for the sins of the people. Their sins were able to be covered because the sacrifices of the animals were pictures of God’s judgment against sin. The animal died in place of the person. God inflicted His wrath against sin upon the animals that were offered in order that His people could live. The volume of animals and extent of bloodshed would continually remind the people of the holiness of God and His intolerance to sin. Any time a sacrifice was offered on the bronze altar, the reflection of the bronze metal was supposed to remind the priests and the people that atonement and forgiveness of sins is not free. God pardons sins, but judgment is still executed, only upon another living being instead of the one that is guilty.
The same is true of the wash basin. Sacrifices enabled sins to be covered in the covenant of the Law. Sacrifices would only be acceptable to the Lord if they were offered in the correct manner according to His holiness and righteousness. This means that the priests needed atonement as well. Additionally, the priests needed to be “cleansed.” The priests needed to be purified. The scriptures often refer to the Word of God as “water.” Thus, it is the “water of the Word” that cleanses God’s people unto His approval. It is the “water of the Word” that sanctifies God’s people and makes them pure and holy. The wash basin was a symbol of that work, but was also constructed of bronze, meaning that judgment was also involved in purification. The priests were God’s servants to communicate His will and purposes in righteousness by faith according to the commands of the Law. They could not perform their service unless they were forgiven AND cleansed.
These principles speak to the manner in which God would fulfill His New Covenant promises. In God’s New Covenant promises, God’s people are used in the same manner as the Levitical priests. God’s people are called to live according to God’s holy and righteous standards, leading in worship and sacrifice. In God’s New Covenant promises, there is no longer a need to offer the blood of bulls and goats. Instead, the Apostle Paul explained that God’s people are to present themselves as “living sacrifices.” This means that, in order for the people of God to serve the Lord according to the purposes He ordains, God’s people need to be forgiven AND cleansed, speaking of justification AND sanctification. We need to be declared righteous on account of the faith we have in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We need to be separated unto God’s purposes by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. According to the work that Solomon administrated during the construction of the temple, both the forgiveness and the separation/cleaning is made possible on account of judgment.
The priests were to wash themselves in the water that contained God’s judgment. This principle shows that the benefits of God’s promises come through the conduit of God’s judgment. If not for God’s judgment against sin, darkness, corruption, and the devil, then God’s people would not be able to enjoy the purity of God’s goodness. God swore upon Himself to purge sin, darkness, corruption, decay, and death so that His people can enjoy the full magnitude of His glory, goodness, and blessings. When God’s judgment against sin is final, there will no longer be corruption, decay, or death, thereby making it so that God’s people can enjoy the eternal nature of God’s goodness without any decrease in glory! Though the judgments of God are terrifying, they are necessary in order to receive the benefits of God’s essence. The bronze wash basin pictured that reality. The scriptures also testify that the wash basin was placed upon a column made of twelve oxen, further emphasizing the need of sacrifice. Oxen were the “workhorse” animals of Israel that were frequently used as sacrificial animals. The purification of God’s people would come through the channel of atoning sacrifice. In fact, even the doors to the court where the priests performed their work were made of bronze, continually reminding the priests of God’s judgment and the effects of it. The priests could not even enter their work place without passing through the doorways of God’s judgment upon sin unto forgiveness, purification, and service.
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 4:1-22 also explains that there were many items made of gold. The Bible frequently uses gold as a symbol of God’s majesty. The scriptures explain that the lampstands of the temple were made of gold. The light by which the temple was illuminated would come by the majesty of the Lord. The utensils for eating and for service were made of gold showing that God’s provision of nourishment, service, and purpose comes by God’s majesty and glory. The doors of the sanctuary to the Most Holy place were made of gold as opposed to the bronze doors of the court. This shows that the presence of the Lord is surrounded by His own glory and majesty. The means by which a person comes to the Lord is through His own glory and majesty. The door to the glory of God comes by the physical manifestation of God’s own glory and majesty. All of these principles point to the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “the light of the world” and the physical embodiment of God’s glory and majesty. Jesus the provider and sustainer of God’s people as the physical manifestation of God’s glory and majesty. Jesus is the “door” to the “sheepfold” as the manifestation of God’s glory and majesty. Since Jesus is also “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” and the “propitiation” of God’s people, the construction that took place under Solomon – nearly 1,000 years before the incarnation of Jesus – symbolically taught of the coming of Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah. The very construction of the furnishings and utensils in the temple were symbols that taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that the Lord is the Creator of all things. This means that all things belong to the Lord. All living things are God’s possession. All material goods are God’s possession. All of the world’s wealth is ultimately God’s possession. The scriptures clearly testify that God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. He is not in need of ANYTHING, especially material resources. God is not dependent on anything or anyone. God doesn’t need anything or anyone to do what He desires. Consider the work of His creation. He made everything that can be seen (even that which can’t be seen but can be confirmed in our physical reality) out of nothing! God spoke, and the power of His Word was sufficient to make His ideas manifest in physically tangible form. Understanding this truth explains that God is not broke. He doesn’t need the contributions of the ability, resources, or finances of His people in order to accomplish His will. In fact, some of the most profound testimonies of God’s work were done in the absence of people, resources, and funding. The church was built by the consuming influence of the Holy Spirit. The church was not built on excessive man power since the believers of Jesus Christ were the minority in the world. The church was not built on the resources of the believers since the scriptures document how the early church fathers were plain and simple men that relied on the wisdom of God for direction, not clever marketing or outreach schemes. The church was not built on the bankroll of the rich since many of the rich sold their goods to share with others and many within the church came to faith as poor people. Yet, the Bible teaches that the church turned the world “upside down!” Clearly God is not dependent on these things to exalt His name.
At the same time, God expects His people to live according to this understanding. When Jesus taught His disciples, He stated that those who follow after Him should not store treasures on earth where moth eats, rust corrupts, and thieves take. Jesus instructed His people to store our treasures in heaven. Jesus explained that where a person’s treasure is, their heart is also there. This means that if a person values this life more than eternal life, their personal affections will make that inward truth evident. Their time will be consumed by efforts to build up self. Their resources will be spent on ways to build up self – even if it involves giving with selfish ambitions. On the contrary, if a person invests their time and resources into the eternal purposes of God, it will be clear that they value the things of God more than this world. This doesn’t mean that God’s people should give to God’s purposes because He needs them. This means that those who selflessly invest into God’s purposes in this life simply demonstrate their greater affection for heavenly things by showing a willingness to give up worldly possessions to exalt God’s name and purposes. The more we invest of ourselves into the glorification and exaltation of God, the distribution of His Word, and His purposes, the greater testimony we give of our affection for heavenly treasures in the manner that Jesus instructed.
A great example of this sort of giving and focus was shown by the work of King Solomon. In 2 Chronicles 3:1-17 the Bible describes the work that Solomon led to actually build the temple of the Lord. The Bible explains that Solomon built the temple on Mount Moriah. This was a significant place in God’s work. Mount Moriah was the place where God led Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering in Genesis Chapter 22. This was the place where the Angel of the Lord (an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ) interceded to spare the life of Isaac, provide a more suitable sacrifice, and reveal Himself as Jehovah Jireh – the Lord Who Provides. Mount Moriah was also the place where the Angel of the Lord appeared to King David. When David took the census that God commanded against and sent His judgment, David looked up and saw the Angel of the Lord straddling between heaven and earth with His sword drawn, ready to strike. This stunned David at which point he desperately pleaded with the Lord for mercy. The history of Mount Moriah shows that God had a rich history of revealing Himself there in profound ways so it was fitting that Solomon built the temple – the house of God’s presence – in the same place.
This goes to show that, while Solomon was simply following commands previously given to him, he was invested into the work. Solomon gave of himself concerning his time and energy but he wanted his efforts to count. Solomon made sure that his movements and actions had meaning. Solomon didn’t want to build a temple for the sake of erecting an impressive structure. Solomon wanted to ensure that the temple was truly a structure that exalted the name of God, brought attention to the history of God’s works, promises, and glory. Solomon wanted to make sure that the temple brought remembrance of God’s identity, purposes, and promises, and his selection of the temple location enabled those objectives. This shows that Solomon was not focused on exalting his own name for his own personal glory. Solomon wanted people to remember the Lord. The selection of the temple location showed that Solomon was investing in heavenly things since Mount Moriah brought more attention to God’s name than his own.
The scriptures state that it took four years of preparation before the people could actually begin construction to lay the foundation. However, once the construction began, the people worked diligently under the leadership of Solomon until the project was completed, without any interruptions or breaks. The Bible explains the dimension of the temple to show the extent of work that went into it. The foundation of the temple was approximately 90 feet long by thirty feet wide. The sanctuary was about thirty feet wide, but nearly 180 feet tall! The dimensions of the Holy of Holies was smaller, but FAR more detailed and valuable. The scriptures state that the Holy of Holies was only 30 feet by 30 feet. However, the Bible testifies that Solomon overlaid the walls of “the Most Holy Place” with six hundred talents of fine gold. There are a few things to consider about these details. First, the “Most Holy Place” was considered the “most holy” because it was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Since the presence of God’s glory dwelt between the wings of the cherubim on the Mercy Seat (the lid of the Ark), the people greatly feared and honored that room. This is why this room was fashioned in the way that it was. Though it was only 30 feet by 30 feet, more money was put into the construction of this room than all of the others. Six hundred talents of fine gold equates to roughly 90,000 pounds of royal-quality gold! The approximate U.S. dollar value of a single royal talent of gold was $5,760,000. This means that the Most Holy Place was overlaid with roughly $3,456,000,000-worth of pure gold!
The testimony of 2 Chronicles 3:1-17 also explains that Solomon had more cherubim built into the walls of the Most Holy Place. These angelic statues were also overlaid with gold. Their wings reached from one end of the room to the other, meaning that they were roughly 30 feet wide! The sight of two MASSIVE angelic statues hovering over the Ark of the Covenant with30-foot wings spread over a room that is overlaid with $3.5 billion worth of pure gold illuminated by one lampstand and the glow of the fire off of golden walls must have been intense and intimidating! This was not the sort of room that a person would spend recreational time in. The value and construction of this room explains the depth of spiritual significance for the high priest when he would go into this room one time a year to offer atonement for himself, his family and all of Israel (on the Day of Atonement). The Most Holy Place was concealed by a huge “veil” that acted as a wall of fine linen made of valuable blue, purple, and crimson thread. The capitals that stood before the entrance of this room measured approximately 52 feet high and 7 feet wide at the top. Solomon had the craftsmen fashion various precious stones to lay into the walls of the temple, golden wreaths, and one hundred pomegranates with golden chain work to hang around the temple complex. The approximate value of the construction, materials, and manpower was INCREDIBLE!
Though David gathered the abundance of these resources for this purpose, history shows that mankind has a tendency to use resources for personal gain instead of their intended use. Solomon had the option to leverage the resources gathered for the exaltation of God’s name for himself. Yet, Solomon decided to use this abundance of wealth totally for the exaltation of God. Some might look at the $3.5 billion worth of gold used on the Most Holy Place and consider it a waste of funds. Some might even consider dipping into those resources to use for personal use thinking that a small amount missing from such a large fund would go unnoticed or would not pose a hindrance. Solomon didn’t cut corners this way. Solomon didn’t think selfishly when spending on the temple. Solomon didn’t consider the physical needs of people when dealing with the spiritual issues of the nation. Clearly Solomon saw that the spiritual condition of the people FAR outweighed the physical condition of the people, including himself; and Solomon spent accordingly. A man that puts this much money into the fulfillment of God’s Word is a man that – for the time – values the fulfillment of God’s purposes more than anything else! Solomon gave of himself and of Israel to the Lord’s purposes according to the clear declaration of God and His desires. The spending and focus of Solomon shows that He valued God’s name and God’s presence more than anything, clearly taking the opportunity to store his treasures in heavenly things. At this moment in Solomon’s life, it was abundantly clear that his heart was fixed on the Lord, not himself.