STUDIES IN THE BOOKS OF CHRONICLES
2nd Chronicles 5
THE TEMPLE, THE ARK & THE GLORY OF CHRIST
Solomon has completed the building project which would forever define his reign. This was his contribution to the spiritual life and the history of Israel. The completion of the temple was the climax of a long process that began with the prayers of his father David many years before.
But what was the value of beautiful and ornate building constructed and finished with the finest of materials by the best workmen in the world if it it did not fulfil the task for which was designed.
Chapter Five, therefore, begins the process of dedicating the temple in order that it might be set aside for the glory of God. This period of dedication would mark one of the greatest periods of spiritual revival in Jewish history.
This fifth chapter relates the bringing of the ark into the temple. This was the first matter to be attended to. The Ark of the Covenant was the beating heart of all ancient Hebrew worship. The ark represented the glory of God. Therefore the temple could not be a true place of worship without the ark resting in the midst.
The Ark of Covenant is one of the great types of the person of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures:
1: As the ark was wood overlaid with gold, so Christ in the incarnation combined the simplicity of humanity with the glory of deity.
2: As the ark has the law of God within so Christ has the law in His heart.
3: As the mercy of seat was the covering of the ark preventing Israel from facing the law which they had broken so Christ is our mediator standing between us and God.
4: As the mercy seat was sprinkled with blood each year so Christ shed his blood to cover our sins and to propitiate the wrath of God.
5: As the ark was the in the most holy place so Christ today is in heaven for us.
6: As the ark revealed God so Christ reveals the glory of God to us and He reveals the will and mind of God to us.
The important lesson that we must grasp from this study is the importance of having Christ at the heart of our worship and of our lives. A church building is of no value if Christ is not preached and glorified. A Christian life is but a mere name without a passion for Christ filling our time and our thoughts.
Therefore this study has much to teach us about the importance of honouring Christ and of worshipping Him reverently and appropriately.
THE PREPARATION FOR THE ARK
Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God 2Ch 5:1
In previous years David had spent the latter part of his reign preparing for the erection of the temple. Solomon, therefore, gathered all of these items together, placing them in position in order that the sanctuary would be made ready for receiving the ark.
In like manner we must devote our lives to heart preparation in order that Christ might be glorified in our lives. The revival that occurred in this chapter, therefore, only took place after a period of preparation.
God always visits a people who take seriously the spiritual preparation of heart, who earnestly seek after him and who devote their lives to His glory. From this perspective the temple represents collectively the body of the church in our public worship as well as the temple of our bodies in our private walk with the Lord. May God help us to be a people given over the spiritual preparation!
\”Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.\” 2Ch 5:2
As Solomon called the leaders of the nation together for this event, in their capacity as representatives of every person in the kingdom, so we are called as a people to worship God. The beginning of public worship is known as the call to worship. We all have a calling from the Word of God to worship Him and to attend to the set times for public gathering. But we must also pay attention to the call for personal prayer and meditation that comes on a daily basis.
Wherefore all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king in the feast which was in the seventh month. 2Ch 5:3
The timing of this event is the most significant and curious feature that is recorded. It is no surprise that it took place on the seventh month because this was the spiritual climax of the Hebrew spiritual calendar. The Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and The Feast of Tabernacles all occurred on this month. Many of the great revivals in Hebrew history took place on the seventh month. As God rested on the seventh day so the seventh month was a time of spiritual rest.
What is curious is the time that elapsed between the completion of the building work and the arrival of the ark.
It took Solomon seven years to erect the temple and he completed the work on the eighth month:
And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.
1st Kings 6:38
Therefore he waited eleven months in order to bring the ark into the sanctuary.
This highlights the meticulous planning that Solomon made in order that he might do the will of God. Nothing was haphazard, nothing was left to chance. He acted with patience and was entirely subject to the will of God.
In the work of the Church we ought to act with patience, with care and with attention. The same must be true of our own individual lives, surrendering our will to God\’s.
THE WELCOME FOR THE ARK
Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude 2Ch 5:6
As the ark was solemnly brought into the sanctuary Solomon offered a huge amount of beasts upon the new brazen altar. This was an expression of his sense of sin, as that which which represented the glory of God drew near. As we stand before God we must always be aware the blood sacrifice, that act of propitiation, whereby Jesus paid the debt that we could never pay. Prayer cannot exist without expressing our gratitude for that most remarkable work on the cross.
THE PLACE FOR THE ARK
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. 2Ch 5:9
The ark was gently and reverently deposited behind the veil within the Holy Place. From this day until the ark vanished during the Babylonian exile only the High Priest would see the ark once a year on the tenth day of the seventh month, The Day of Atonement.
We need to learn the lesson of giving our Saviour the rightful place in our hearts and affections:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
THE TIMELESSNESS OF THE ARK
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 2Ch 5:10
This emphasises that the ark was same item of furniture which had been made in the wilderness according to God\’s instructions. More importantly the same law to which man is accountable, was within the ark; but still the mercy seat signified the hope of redemption.
The ark has long since passed away, having fulfilled its purpose, but God remains the same and His law continues to be valid with humanity living under its curse. But there continues to be a path of redemption through the merits of the one whom the ark, and especially the mercy seat, directs us.
THE WORSHIP BECAUSE OF THE ARK
Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD. 2Ch 5:12-14
As the ark was laid to rest the temple resounded to the music and song of the Levitical choir. The dress of the singers and musicians is emphasised; the pure white linen representing holiness. There was meticulous preparation in the whole event as God is worshipped and praised.
We also need clean hands and a pure heart as we worship God. We also need souls that are fully engaged in the act of worship. This choir held nothing back, this was wholesome and heart felt praise.
Their praise was also scriptural reflecting the words of Psalm 136.
We have much to learn. In this age when many are looking for new words, new songs – we must be careful lest we get away from biblical truth because if our praises are not biblical they are not true praise. But ultimately our praises must come from sincere hearts and they need to be sung with a desire to know God and glorify Him.
There is a sense of resurrection joy in this section of the chapter. As the ark rested within the veil so Christ after the resurrection went into the holy place above to pray and intercede for us. There He is seated, resting from the work he accomplished for us at great cost. Therefore we ought to sing His praises because He has entered within the veil on our behalf. What a Saviour!
THE APPROVAL OF THE ARK
So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God. 2Ch 5:14
As the ark rested, as the singers sang and as the musicians played the glory of God came down in a cloud and filled the house. As God\’s glory rested upon the tabernacle in the wilderness so He sanctified this temple with His presence. The glory of God was so awesome and so fearfully experienced that the priests could not perform their sacred duties. A sense of unworthiness captured every soul.
When revival comes, God draws draw so near, that His people are filled with their unworthiness and need of grace. Oh for such days!
But as the presence of God\’s glory expressed His approval for this new temple so God approves of the work of His Son in accomplishing redemption for us. The resurrection was the token and proof that the blood sacrifice was accepted. We no longer need a tangible cloud because Christ is the one who guarantees our acceptance with God. As long as He is approved, we are approved as we have been raised up with Him in heavenly places.