Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Glorious Presence of God (2 Chronicles 5:2-14)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, let's a turn to second chronicles chapter five. If you would please remain standing. Second Chronicles Chapter Five, I'll read from verse two to the end of the chapter. Let's hear God's word. Second Chronicles Five, verse two. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the father's houses, of the people in Israel or of Israel in Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the covenant of the Lord Out of the City of David, which is I am and all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month, and all the elders of Israel came and the Levites took up the Ark and they brought up the ark the tent of meeting and all the holy vessels that were in the tent. The levitical priests brought them up and King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel who had assembled before him were before the Ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the Ark of the covenants of the Lord to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the Cherubeam. The cherubims spread out their wings over the place of the Ark so that the Cherubeam made a covering above the Ark and its Poles, and the Poles were so long that the ends of the pools were seen from the holy place before the Inter sanctuary, but they could not be seen from the outside, and they are there to this day. There was nothing in set in the arc except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt and when the priests came out of the holy place, for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves without regard to their divisions, and all the levitical singers, Asaf he moon and Jedithan, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, the symbols harps and liars, stood east of the altar with a hundred and twenty priests who were trumpeters, and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison, in praise and Thanksgiving to the Lord. And when the song was raised, with trumpets and symbols and other musical instruments in praise to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. The House, the House of the Lord, was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the House of God. He may be seated. When you hear second chronicles, Chapter Five, if you are not hearing it with your mind, remembering the context around it and sort of placing this event in all that has come before it, it may feel a little bit like just another assembly of people, just another movement of the ARC. Some musicians the glory the Lord. That's pretty neat. At the end. It may not make a very big impact, but I want you to remember for a moment how big this is. This is huge. This is like the climax of the story. We have been tracing the movement of the ARC on back in from...

...first chronicles and indeed, if you go into earlier parts of scripture, even back into exodus, the movement of the ARC was since it was first constructed, has been moving and moving and moving until finally it reaches this place of rest and there's a lot of things like this in this book or, I'm sorry, in this chapter. The things other than the Ark that have been leading up to this point have been going on for a long time. And consider the Promised Land, for example, when God sent his people out, rescuing them out of Egypt, bringing them into a promised land took a long time. Even after they finally got there, they were not settled, even after they got their first king, Saul, their second King David. Now they're third King Solomon. They have yet to really fully settle. Finally, the temple has been built, this temple that Dave and Solomon's father wanted to build. Finally, the temple has been built about eleven months before this point. Finally, everything is in place, everyone's ready, the preparations have been made, the people are assembled. That's why Solomon brings them together. And in this chapter and the next to Assaul, we are going to hear this dramatic climax of all the easy events, not only from first chronicles but all the way back, all the way back to the very beginning when God first promised Abraham that he would make a numerous people and they would all come into the land and here they are. It's great number of people, a temple, a land, freedom from enemies, tons of money, tons of wealth and power and on every side Solomon, this great king, this great anointed one, a response to God's covenant, to David. And then they all are there, arranging themselves, getting ready. They bring they process the arc out of Gibbeon, they bring the old tent of meeting that's the temple is now replacing. They bring it up to the Levites, all get together, they get this huge orchestra and or choir on this vast number of musicians. A hundred and twenty trumpeters are mentioned, but there's others, symbols, Harps, liars, there's a choir. They're all standing over there by the altar. I'm ready, ready to announce this thing, and they start announcing it. They're they're playing. I've never heard a hundred and twenty trumpeters. I've been in a lot of different musical setting. Summer has played the trumpet. Have you ever had a hundred and twenty? That is a lot of trumpets and bouncing off the walls and all of these stones. It would have been intensely loud and if my just from a musician standpoint, if these others are going to even hope to compete with a hundred and twenty trumpeters, Harps and liars. I suppose the symbolists wouldn't have the percussionist would have any trouble, but that choir you would have to have very large groups of people. We're talking about a lot of musicians ready to a ready to see this temple dedicated, and there they all are, not making some kind of cacophony, but devoting themselves. We read in verse thirteen, to being heard in unison, in praise and Thanksgiving to Yahweh to the Lord, and that's what happens when the song was raised, the trumpeters in the symbols and the musical instruments of the Lord and they're all singing for he is good, for his steadfast love and doors forever. Then something that it doesn't seem anyone was expecting, though...

...there are reasons to expect it. Suddenly the Lord fills the temple with this cloud, this glorious cloud. He reveals himself in this cloud in such a powerful way that all these musicians, all these people, all these priests who had been carrying the arc, everyone who was there couldn't stand to minister because of the cloud. Imagine if something like that happened here. We all get together for our service, we'RE READY TO SING, we're here to praise God and then all of a sudden the room fills up with a cloud so thick that we all just have to leave. They built a temple for God and God said it's mine, I'm moving in. This is a dramatic moment, an amazing moment. The glory cloud here that descends on the temple is also a reminder of the movement of Israel. You remember, back from the very beginning, when Israel came out of Egypt, God sent his cloud and his fire to lead them by night and by day. This was such a great thing that the people of Israel. We read when the cloud, the same cloud, descended on the Tabernacle, they shouted for Joy. Leviticus nine hundred and twenty four. In the Psalms we read about the glory of the Lord. Like Psalm Eighty five nine. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Indeed, there's a moment after Israel made the golden calf. They're at Mount Sinai in front of these Great Glorious Cloud of the Lord that had descended on the mountain that the Lord so angry with them, this is an exodus thirty three, so angry with them, threatens to take his presence away. Says I'm going to take the cloud away, I'll lead you to the promised land with an angel, and they begin to mourn, they're scared and they don't want it to happen. God does relent and they continue on. But this shows you the preciousness which God was to them in this cloud. But the cloud is it communicated. This kind of blessing was also sort of always on the move. They never knew exactly what would happen. They would follow the cloud and the pillar of fire and the smoke and they'd stopped for a few days and they move and then then stop again and then stop for a long time. Maybe they never knew what was going to happen. There was kind of a unsettling nature of being pilgrims, as we all know. So think about what it means that when the land is established, the king is enthrone, the temple is built and then the cloud comes down not over a tent, but over this rock solid gold plated temple. It's not going anywhere and it rests down. It fills the house of the Lord. This is the ending of a great story, or at least it would seem that way. Second Chronicles Five, to me, reads like one of those passages that sometimes you'll read in a great big novel, or or usually these kind of grand, lengthy stories, where you're about two thirds of the way in and everything gets resolved, and yet there you are with a third of the book left and you're going, why is everything conclude? hoooting now the guy gets the girl there where they wanted to be. You know, all these things are kind of getting wrapped up, but yet you still see all these pages left. I think second...

...chronicles five is kind of like that. We read the culmination of all these things, the great hope of all that was happening, the presence of the Lord descending on the people, music, sacrifice, the overwhelming glory and majesty of God, and yet boy, there's sure a lot of pages left still. It seems like such a perfect ending, but it's not. That's because there's these loose ends. If you pay attention to those stories, these grand stories, these novels that I was talking about. Even though it feels like everything's wrapped up, as soon as you read on you kind of go, Oh yeah, I didn't remember that there was that one thing that didn't get resolved and there was that other thing too, and it's like that here in second chronicles five. It seems like the climax of the story, and in many ways it is, but there are these loose ends. For example, if we think back and we remember, Israel is still under this covenant, the Old Covenant, that promise is blessing if they obey, but threatens curse if they disobey. If they just if they obey, God present promises to be with them, to protect them, to give them all kinds of blessings, but if they disobey his laws, if they break the covenant, then he threatens separation, exile and destruction. This is even this point is even brought up, alluded to, when it mentions that in the arc are these two tablets of Moses, this great thing that signifies the foundation on which these people belong in the land. They are there by the grace of God, but if they're going to stay there, they must obey or they will be kicked out, they will be sent out, they will be exiled. Moses says this very explicitly. He got he said. God says, I will spit you out of the land. I will do exactly what I did to all the people were here, were here who were here before you. And so there's this loose end that's left a kind of question in our minds. What's going to happen? Will they obey? And in some ways it's not quite right for us to just suppose that they will. Right, and they lived happily ever after. The glory cloud descends, there are the people in the land, the temple is built. Well, of course it will all work out fine. The reason we can't say that or expected is that God, the author of this story, the one who's recounting this history, has old us many times that we don't really have any reason to believe that this is going to end up in a happy ending. We don't have any reason to believe that Israel will be the faithful bride and they will live happily forever after in the kingdom. We don't believe this and we know that this isn't true for many reasons. Remember, for example, the Golden Calf. There Mount Sinhai, there is a God speaking his laws to Moses on a mountain that is shaking in a cloud that's flashing lightning. It's so terrifying that the people are afraid they will die, and yet they make a golden calf and say these are Aaron says, these are your gods who brought you out of Egypt. If you wouldn't be scared enough in a situation like that, what could possibly scare you? Do you see how deep down the sin goes? And we see this over and over again throughout Israel. The lack of sense...

...of fear of the Lord, even when his glory is present, is evident in many places. Paul summarizes all of these up when he talks about the Old Covenant and Second Corinthians Three. He says that the old cove and came with glory, but it was a ministry of death and condemnation. Why would he speak of it that way? Because the Covenant and would which they were under created a situation in which every time God came close to his people, he was repulsed by them because they kept sinning over and over and over again. And indeed the story doesn't turn out well. We know this because second chronicles itself is being written after the exile, after they have already been spit out of the land, after all the horrors that came upon the Canaanites before them have come upon them as well. The people that are hearing chronicles for the first time are hearing this knowing that the glory of the Lord did depart from Israel, that it didn't dwell in that house which Solomnon made forever. There are pictures in Ezekiel, visions Ezekiel Haves, right before the destruction of the temple, of the Glory Isekiel Ninety three of the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the Cherubim, whenever it had been and moved to the threshold of the temple and then eventually lifts up and out before the destruction of the temple, before the invading armies came in. That's what Ezekiel saw God leaving. And yet Ezekiel also promises that even that is not the end of the story. And Ezekiel Forty three I'm he pictures he sees, God reveals to him the glory of the Lord Coming back into the temple, but yet a much more magnificent temple, a glorious temple. And it's not just Ezekiel. The other Prophet speak to this as well. A return of the Lord, a wall of protection, Zachariah to five, a wall of fire surrounding of the temple. Hagi to speaks of this as well, but speaks of it in these grand terms. They picture a temple that's greater, they picture the glory of the Lord returning. They also picture the nation's coming into this place, the temple being a place that is desired by the nations when Israel comes back out of exile. These things don't really happen. Indeed, even the nations are trying to keep it from happening. They're they're not exactly desiring it and hoping for it. But when Jesus comes, this changes. These prophecies that we read throughout the Bible are pointing towards another descent, the descent of the son of God, who is called a temple, who comes to live with us, dwell with us, Tabernacle with us. He comes as the holy one through whom we can approach God. He is that great sacrifice for sin on cut. He is the one through whom we worship, and we see the spirits manifestation in him, in the way that it overshadowed Mary, in the way that the spirit descended on him like a dove at the amount of transfiguration, then again at pentecost when the the spirit descends...

...again in these tongues of fire on the disciples. All of these things are pointing us to this reality that when the Temple of the Lord comes, it comes in Jesus, and indeed we are even made into this temple as we are united with him now. These are striking differences. When we speak of the temple in terms of Jesus, were obviously talking about a person and not a building, but those differences indicate to us that things are similar in some ways. Here is a Manuel God with us, dwell with us, coming to us to bless us, but he's doing so in a different way than he's done before. The Bible says that God in Christ is putting together a new kind of house, a different kind of house in which his spirit will dwell, and this house truly is the end of the story in second chronicles five, it feels like it, but there are still all these pages, but in the pages to come, we read of the Lord Jesus coming to build a house out of his people, to build and establish a kingdom and to give them an inheritance in this kingdom, even himself, and inheritance that is imperishable, in destructible, spiritual, eternal. That temple was destroyed. The second, the first temple that we read of here in second chronicles, the temple that was built again, was also destroyed. But the temple that Jesus builds will not be destroyed. And when we connect these two things, we begin to see what it is Jesus has accomplished for us, what it means that the climax of the story is in him. It means that the peace and the security in the rest and all that p Israel was hoping for and longing for and in some measure achieved there on that day when the glory of the Lord descended into the temple. That is what is achieved permanently and in the grand way that the prophets predicted. This means that Jesus establishes us a grace with it, by His grace, the presence of God that will last forever in Jesus, in his perfect atoning for our sins, in his removing the curse of the law, in giving to us all his blessings. We stand before God, with God, in God, knowing that we not need ever fear that his spirit will depart from us. When Jesus gives us his spirit, it will never leave us, he will never forsake us, because his presence with us is not dependent upon our obedience, but is dependent upon the final and perfect obedience of Christ. When we consider this high point in Israel's history and second chronicles five and in the chapters coming, we consider this great thing that God has done, and I want to point that out on a day September eleventh, when we remember one of the lowest points in our national history. September eleventh, for many of us, marks this point...

...of evil and murder and terror and horror. It's a reminder of the evils that we've always been facing and that we continue to face day to day, evils that in many ways seem to be strengthening, and this can cause us to be anxious, to worry and to wonder if the Lord really is doing his work, if the evils of this world really are winning the day. But this high point in Israel's history and its connection with our Lord Jesus and the things that he has done, reminds us that God has not departed, that God has not left us, that God is with us and, by his spirit, unites us to his son in such a way that we live and love and have peace and rest, even in the midst of a broken and fallen world. In many ways, we are like the Israelites before they entered the promised land. We walk by faith, we wait for the glories of the Lord to be revealed in their consummated way. We have to trust day by day, even as the those who would seek to attack the Lord and his anointed surround us and press in on us. As Christians around the world have to endure much suffering and much persecution. But even while we find ourselves in this stage of pilgrim, of pilgrimage, even as we find ourselves in some sense as exiles, we also, through Jesus and his testimony to us, know that we belong to him and that we've already begun to enter into this final sabbath rest, that the work Jesus has caught, as done on the cross, has inaugurated a kingdom has brought into the world something that will not pass away, that is strong and secure. So when we look at the suffering in the world, when we look at the evils of the world, when we think of the ways in which we are afflicted, whether nationally or personally in our families, are most importantly spiritually and as the as the Satan attacks the Kingdom of God. As we consider all of these things and we think about God's work throughout redemptive history, let us not forget that God has come down, he has come down into our world in order to lift us out of it, that we belong to him and that the pages of that book are quickly, quickly, coming to an end. In all this, I want to encourage you, brothers and sisters, do not be weary, don't be anxious. The Lord who is come to us in our Savior, Jesus Christ, God who has given us his very spirit, who dwells in us, we as the Temple of God. He will not leave you, he will not forsake you, because Jesus has fulfilled all things and soon, very soon, you will see all things in subjection to him. You will see the complete end of sin, of death and the devil and you will enjoy the perfectly blessed state of righteousness of life enjoy in the Lord. So do not grow weary, do not grow faint, but lift your voices and praise the Lord and sing with all the saints who have come before us. The Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever. Let us...

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