Today’s Reading: 2 Chronicles 4-7
Today’s Reflection: 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
1) As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2) And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3) When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
After King Solomon completed the building of the temple, blessed and dedicated it before the assembled people of Israel, God revealed His power and manifested His Glory in the awesome display described in today’s text. We often hear talk of the Glory of God, but what is it really? This text gives us three clear ideas:
1) God’s Glory is clearly something supernatural in origin. The fire came from heaven, the Glory of the Lord filled the temple, though no one was inside it. These phenomena were clearly caused by a non-human source.
2) God’s Glory is recognized as being of and from God. When the fire came from heaven and the temple was filled with God’s Glory, the people of Israel didn’t ask what was happening. They recognized it as a manifestation of God’s power and immediately bowed down and worshipped Him.
3) God’s Glory causes people to see the truth of who God is. The people of Israel praised God for his eternal goodness and love.
So God’s Glory is outside of or beyond our normal human experience, it is recognized by people as coming from God, and it reveals the truth of God to mankind. There are numerous examples throughout the Bible that fulfill this criteria: Moses shining face (Exodus 34:29-35), Elijah calling fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:20-40), and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove after Jesus baptism (Matthew 3:16-17), just to name a few. The bigger question for us is how can we see God’s Glory for ourselves? This text gives us some guidance about that too:
1) Obey God. King Solomon was given the solemn and humbling task of building a tabernacle for God. His father David had dutifully prepared Him to take on this monumental assignment, and Solomon had been faithful to carry out every aspect exactly as instructed. In response to Solomon’s faithfulness God manifested His Glory and showed His pleasure with what the newly crowned king had done in His name. God manifests His glory in relation to behavior that reflects His character, so we must reflect God’s character in our behavior if we are to see God’s glory in our lives.
2) Don’t add to what God says is enough. When God’s glory filled the temple the priests could no longer enter. They didn’t need to. A key part of the function of the priesthood was to invite God’s presence to come before the people, but God’s Glory was already present. There was no need to add man’s effort to what God had done. We too have to understand that when God has made it clear He is handling an issue we don’t need to add anything to it. We will often have a role, what God has instructed or directed us to do, but once we’ve done our part we can faithfully leave the situation in His hands.
3) Understand what God’s glory is really about. Solomon built the temple, but he recognized that the appearance of God’s glory wasn’t about him or about the temple. God’s glory appeared so God could communicate with the people of Israel. Establishing and building His relationships with His people was God’s central reason for revealing His Glory. This is still the case today. If you desire to see God’s glory in your life, you yourself have to be committed to sharing the good news of God with others. Maybe your ministry is before thousands, maybe you share a bible text with a co-worker or two. Either way you have to be concerned about others coming to know God as you do if you truly wish to see God’s glory in your life.
A final point: we’ve been looking at spectacular displays of God’s glory, it might not be that flashy or even visual. The two Hebrew spies ending up at Rahab’s door wasn’t remarkable, but it was clearly supernatural (the spies were led to the one safe place in a city full of enemies), unmistakably from God (Rahab’s confession of faith), and affirmed the truth of who God is both to them and to Rahab (who was saved from destruction and invited into the assembly of God’s people). God’s glory isn’t about a show, it’s about the reality of showing His face so all people have the chance to be saved.