Advent Series Day 6: 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; 8-10

December 8, 2017


Scripture Reading:
2 Chronicles 7:1-3; 8-10.
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.

Questions for Children:

Do you know what the Israelites are celebrating?

Why can’t the priests enter the temple?

Explanation and Meditation:

In God’s astounding words to King David in yesterday’s passage, he promised two things: that David’s successor would be the one to build a house for God and that a son of David would rule on the throne forever. Though that first promise doesn’t refer to the coming King, it is still important because the fulfillment of it gives us a divine preview as to what God has in store for humanity once the snake’s head is decidedly crushed.

The penalty for sin was death. Adam and Eve knew this when they chose to eat that forbidden fruit. So what was God, who describes himself this way, “the compassionate and gracious God,…forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet…does not leave the guilty unpunished…” to do? (Exodus 34:6b-7)

He had to both punish and forgive. So God promised a rescuer who would perfectly embody both his justice and compassion and could reverse the damage done by the snake. But until that promised one came, he established a temporary means of both punishing and forgiving sin. Justice and mercy met in the temple and in the sacrificial system of the Israelites.

The temple was where animal blood was spilled to pay for the sins of Israel. Once those sins had been dealt with, God could fill the temple with his glory in the sight of all Israel and bless them with his presence. It wasn’t perfect. The blood of rams and bulls were an insufficient sacrifice for the sins of those made in God’s own image. But one day God was going to send a perfect sacrifice that would allow people directly into his presence–no walls, no gates, no curtains–so we could be where we were meant to be. But until then, the temple would be the place where God met with his people and where he dealt with their sins.

In today’s passage all of Israel is celebrating the completion of Solomon’s temple. God’s glory overwhelmed the place, preventing the priests from getting in and prompting the people to fall down and worship God. When the celebrations concluded, the people returned home with “joyful” and “glad” hearts. It was a beautiful moment, probably the high point in all of Israel’s history. Maybe Solomon was the promised King. And maybe his magnificent temple would reverse the snake effect. Here was God in their very presence. Eden all over again. But that pinnacle moment did not last; because Solomon–snake bitten himself–didn’t have the power to crush the snake, and that glorious temple and the sacrifices within had no real power to cleanse sins. Exile was Israel’s future and the condition into which we’re all born. But in that beautiful moment we get just a taste of what it will be like to be in God’s presence, our sins forgotten, and the power of the snake utterly destroyed. Our hearts too will spontaneously worship God and will be filled at last with unending joy and gladness!

Song of yearning and hope: O Come, O Come, Immanuel!

O come, O come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring
Come and cheer
Our spirits by Your advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
Unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

 

 

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