God Covers Us
In today’s reading (and preceding verses), King Solomon, the leaders and elders of the people, the priests and Levites have brought the ark of the covenant from the city of David, Zion, to the northern part of Jerusalem where the new Temple has been built. The Temple—now equipped with the ark of the covenant, the symbol of the presence of the Lord—has become the proper dwelling place of the Lord. Thus a cloud fills the Temple.
In the story of the Exodus we read that as Israel journeys in the wilderness, they experience the cloud as the presence of the Lord. (See Exodus 13:21.) When the people see the cloud, they know that the Lord is present in their midst. Then the Lord instructs Moses to construct the ark of the covenant. It was the point where the Lord will “meet with you” (Exod. 25:22). Therefore, the ark symbolized the physical presence of the Lord among the community as they journeyed to the Promised Land for permanent residency. The ark is carried by the priests, and its location is critical in the religious life of the people.
And now that Israel has settled down, it is necessary to have a permanent dwelling place for the Lord among the people. The ark is installed in the holy place inside the Temple. After the priests complete the installation of the ark, a cloud fills the Temple, indicating God’s approval of the Temple as God’s dwelling place in the midst of the people.
Today, those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior become, through faith, the living temple of God as we invite God’s Spirit into our lives with repentant and open hearts.
Gracious Lord, move me to open my heart to you so that you may fill me with your presence and power in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God had prevented David from building a temple in Jerusalem but then permitted David’s son Solomon to build it. In First Kings, Solomon places the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, and God’s presence descends. The psalmist rejoices in the Temple and would rather be in its courts than anywhere else because that is where God dwells. The New Testament readings remind us that the people of God have always met with resistance. The author of Ephesians compares living the Christian life to going into battle, so we must be prepared. Jesus also meets with resistance in John. His teachings are too hard for many to accept, so they abandon him. When we face resistance, therefore, we should not be surprised; but we are also not alone.
Read 1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. How does your faith inform the hospitality you show to friends? To strangers?
Read Psalm 84. How do you find joy in the Lord? Recall a recent time when you felt a deep sense of this joy.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20. How do truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word help you live boldly as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Read John 6:56-69. How do you respond to Jesus’ question: “Does this offend you?” This teaching was hard for his disciples. Where do you struggle with it?
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