When I think of celebrations that our country has had since its inception, some must have truly been glorious! Winning our independence, the victories of WW I and WW II all come to mind. What celebrations they must have been.
Israel also had many things to celebrate, but the greatest celebration was not focused on what they had accomplished, but that God was in their midst. This most unique and grand celebration took place when Solomon completed the temple and a cloud filled the temple symbolic of the presence of God. Of all the celebrations we have had as a nation, I am unaware of any like the one described in 1 Kings 8:10-11,
“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”
WOW! That sight must have been something. The glory of God was so overwhelming that the priests could not even stay in the temple. The response of Solomon and the nation was twofold. First, as the rest of the chapter describes, they worshiped. What else could they do? That was the most appropriate and natural reaction to the blessing of the King of Kings and LORD of Lords taking up a symbolic residence among his people!
Second, as great as this event was, Solomon made a keen observation in verse 27, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”
As great and glorious as the temple was, Solomon wisely knew that no created thing can contain God! Our God is so much greater than that. He is omnipresent and is outside of creation because he is the one who has made all things. I like how the ESV Study Bible summarizes this section,
“Though God will dwell in the temple (vv. 10, 13), it is not to be thought of as the only place where God is, but as a special place where his name is, a place toward which his eyes are open (1 Kings 8:29; cf. Isa. 66:1–3). The hearing of prayer is done in heaven (1 Kings 8:30), which is (if anywhere is) the dwelling place of God. Even then, however, God cannot be limited to any one place; he cannot, strictly speaking, dwell in even the highest heaven (v. 27). He cannot be confined by space.”
Father, I confess that my opinion of you is way to small. I can fall into the trap of just thinking you are a stronger me! You are so vast, powerful and incomparable to anyone or anything. You are the unique God of all creation. Help me to see your greatness and may that realization help me to live by faith in you and your promises.
Following Jesus with you,