Unit: History of Israel (2 Samuel; 1 & 2 Chronicles)
Theme: A King’s House
Lesson Text: 2 Chronicles 5:1-14; 7:11-16
Supplemental Text: 1 Kings 8
Aim: Sing, for he is good; his love endures forever.
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By Mark Scott
One thing that may well have distinguished Hebrew faith from other world religions of its time was that it was a celebratory faith. The major festivals of faith were essentially parties. Passover celebrated freedom from Egypt. Pentecost celebrated the giving of the Law and the beginnings of harvest. Tabernacles celebrated God’s provisions in the wilderness.
Births, circumcisions, weddings, and even funerals were celebrated. And so were other big events in the Old Testament. One such event was the finishing of the tabernacle. When it was ready for use, God’s glory inhabited it in a special way (Exodus 40:34-38). Some 450 years later, when Solomon’s temple was completed, it was another occasion to celebrate.
Celebrating the Presence of God
2 Chronicles 5:1-14
The temple of Solomon was one of the grandest sites in the ancient world. It could easily have given the “seven great wonders of the ancient world” a run for their money. The temple took seven years to complete and was finished around 959 BC. It was filled with gold, silver, and bronze. King David had dedicated (made holy) many of the things in advance (1 Chronicles 22:14; 29:1-9). They were stored away for just the right time.
Solomon made it happen. He enlisted the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the chiefs of the families to bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant (box or chest) from the old city of David up to the newly completed temple. This was all to be done during the seventh month. This was a party month—not only celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles but also the Day of Atonement. Good timing.
Even though the ark would not be carried a great distance (the old city of David sits just south of the temple area), they were going to transport it correctly this time (cf. 2 Samuel 6:1-11). The Levites were to bear it up along with the sacred furnishings. They would function both as the movers and the butchers. So many sacrifices were made that people lost count of them—though they tried to keep a record (2 Chronicles 7:4-6).
The ark was placed in the Holy of Holies (inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place). The priests placed the mercy seat (wings of the cherubim) on top of the ark (sending the message that mercy triumphs over judgment). The poles for carrying it extended so far that they could be seen in the Holy Place (the room just outside the Holy of Holies). The Ten Commandments were placed inside the ark. The writer of Hebrews speaks as if the jar of manna and Aaron’s rod were also inside of it, but the Old Testament never exactly said that (Hebrews 9:4; cf. Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10).
The decibel level of this celebration must have been deafening. Consecrated priests within their Davidic divisions, the musicians among the Levites (three are mentioned by name along with their sons and relatives), and a 120-priest brass band offered up praise to God. They sang that familiar song from Psalm 136 (God is good and his “loyal love” endures forever).
Reminiscent of when the tabernacle was finished, the cloud of God and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. In fact, it so filled this new house of worship there was room for no one else. The word ark occurs nine times in this chapter. It symbolized God’s presence, which is something to celebrate.
Celebrating the Name of God
2 Chronicles 7:11-16
The ark and all the temple furnishings were magnificent. This moment certainly was a high-water mark in Israelite history. Solomon blessed the people (2 Chronicles 6:1-11) and dedicated the temple with prayer (6:12-42). God affirmed it all by allowing fire to fall from heaven (7:1-3). The people sacrificed animals and consecrated themselves to the Lord (7:4-10). But more important was that the Name of God was attached to this sacred space. If God’s name was there that meant his person, power, and glory also were there. He said his name would be there forever. In fact, even his eyes, ears, and heart would be there (vv. 15-16)—no small thing.
The Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and reminded him of the covenant and the conditions of keeping the law. The absence of rain, the presence of locusts (see Joel), and plagues would remind the people of their unfaithfulness. But if they would humble (bring low or subject) themselves, pray, and seekhis face and turn from their wicked (evil) ways, then God would hear, forgive, and heal. Celebrating the name of God in the place of God will remind one of the goodness and love of God.
Dr. Mark Scott serves as minister with Park Plaza Christian Church in Joplin, Mo. He retired in May after more than 30 years as professor of New Testament with Ozark Christian College in Joplin.