God’s presence filled the temple, and His people drew near and worshiped Him.
Picture this: Solomon and the elders of Israel escort the ark of the covenant into the temple. There are people everywhere. The priests then take over and take the ark into the Holy Place, the inner sanctum. And then when they withdraw, a cloud appears and it is so overwhelming that the “ the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (1Kings 8:11).
Can you imagine? Everyone is gathered and there is an expectation of the priests immediately beginning their work. But things don’t go according to plan, because the glory of the Lord fills the temple in what we’re told looks like a cloud. The temple was a constant reminder of God’s glory and presence. Picture it: Maybe you’re traveling down the road into the city of Jerusalem when you look up to see the temple dominating the cityscape, and you think to yourself, Yahweh is with us here.
I don’t know about you, but this passage makes me think a lot about Jesus. I think about how He referred to Himself, saying, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days” (John 2:19). I remember how Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus responded boldly, telling them that anyone who has laid eyes on Him has also seen the Father (John 14:9). In John 17, He goes on to pray what is known as the High Priestly Prayer, starting with: “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed” (v.5). When we look at the living, breathing person of Jesus, who walked the dusty roads of Jerusalem, Bethany, Capernaum, and more as detailed throughout the Gospels, we are also seeing the glory of God.
Jesus is the glory of God on full display in flesh and blood. We see the glory of His wisdom in how to navigate this world as a human. We see the glory of His kindness to the marginalized. We see the fullness of His glory in His love for sinners as He dies in their place on the cross. And we see the fullness of His glory in the King conquering sin and death and making us citizens of His eternal kingdom of love and joy and peace.
Written by Matt Redmond