Monday, May 14, 2012

The Morning After: One Incredible Day (1 Kings 8:1-12)

Most of the days in our lives are really normal. We wake up, shower, take the kids to school, go to work, come home, eat dinner, help with homework, watch the news, then go to bed. Just to wake up again to do the same things again. It is like our lives are one big episode of deja vu. However, every now and then there are some special days. Every year we have a birthday. There is the day you get married, the day your kids are born, and the day you graduated from high school or college (hopefully not in that order). There are some really special days in our lives scattered amid the normal days of life.

As the account unfolds in First Kings 8, there had been seven years of normal days. There had been seven years of finding the right timbers, cutting the right stones, using the best finishing materials as Solomon makes certain that the temple is completed. Then it was done! Now comes one of those special days. It is move-in day!

It was one grand event when King Solomon dedicated the temple. In the first twelve verses of chapter eight, we see the general events that took place on that day. It started with bringing all the nation of Israel together for a grand ceremony. This probably took place at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles (vs. 2), which was a celebration of remembrance for the nation of Israel of God's faithfulness to them as they wandered through the wilderness. It was no accident that it was this week that the temple is dedicated. In the same way that they remembered their wanderings, they were now celebrating the end of a temporary place for God to dwell.

When the temple is dedicated, we are taught two main things about God. First, No Matter What We Know About Him, He Is Still A Complete Mystery. When God descended into the temple, we are told that it was in a cloud, in a thick darkness (vs. 11-12). This was the way God descended upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:18-21) and upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35). As the cloud fills the temple, the priests were so overwhelmed that they could not stand to minister. The temple is now open for the business of meeting with God and we are told that it couldn't happen. God was too glorious. 

There is so much that we think we know about god, but I wonder if what we actually know about Him is not much more than looking at a dark cloud. The more we get to know Him, the more we realize how much we don't know about Him. He is so much more glorious than we think. He cannot fully be captured by our human perceptions. He is separate from, independent of, and superior to us.

But while God is still a complete mystery, the second thing we learn in this passage is At The Same Time, God Is Sufficiently Revealed. Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant into the temple. The Ark was the item of furniture that Moses was told to build (Exodus 25:10-22) that it might be the place where God would meet with him and communicate to him His commandments for life. Inside the Ark, we are told was the tablets of stone that Moses put there (vs. 9). These were the Ten Commandments. They show us that God is a communicating God. He told His people how they could have a relationship with Him.

But here's the glory of the Ark. The Ten Commandments were inside. On top of the Ark was known as the Mercy Seat. It was the place where once a year, the High Priest would come and sprinkle the blood of a goat that would cover the sins of the people for that year. It didn't take away their sins, but it covered their sins. As the blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, God's wrath was appeased for that year. How? Because in those sacrifices, God was looking forward to One sacrifice that would completely and fully satisfy His wrath once for all. That was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:10; Romans 3:23-25). 

In one object, we are told of the commandments of God, but shown the mercy of God. That incredible day for Solomon looks forward to another wonderful day in your life. The day when you come to faith in Jesus as your sacrifice, your propitiation, your mercy seat. If you want to listen to the sermon, you can find it HERE. If you want to read my notes, you can find them HERE.

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