Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 31 2019 - 1 Kings 8:1-21 – The ark brought to the temple

David had longed to build a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem but the Lord did not allow him to do so. Solomon has now completed the project so beloved of his father. Yesterday we read of the construction of the temple and the splendour of its golden decoration. 1 Kings 7 (which we have skipped over), describes some of the temple furnishings. Among other things there were: two immense bronze pillars decorated with a network of pomegranates to stand at the entrance to the temple; an enormous metal bowl, 5 metres across decorated with cast gourds and supported by twelve cast bulls; a golden altar for sacrifices; a golden table on which was displayed "the bread of the Presence"; ten golden lampstands…

This glorious temple is now to become the central place of worship for the people of God. Solomon called a solemn assembly of the elders of Israel and heads of all the tribal families that they might witness the ark of the covenant being brought from Zion, the City of David, to be placed in the inner sanctuary of the temple – the 'holy of holies'.

The ark is the symbol of God's covenant with Israel – the evidence that he is their God and they are his people. It is also a picture of God's presence with, and reign over, his people; he 'sits enthroned between the cherubim'. When the ark is set down in its new place, "the cloud filled the temple of the LORD... for the glory of the LORD filled his temple" (1 Kings 8:10-11). The pillar of cloud that had led Israel through the wilderness has come at last to its place of rest. God lives among his people and intends that his glory should be seen by them and be reflected in them. Solomon celebrates the way in which the Lord has kept the promises he made to David in enabling him to reign over Israel and to build a temple for the Lord (8:20-21). God has been faithful to his people and will continue to be faithful to all his promises.

We might have wished to be there to witness such a spectacle, but then we read that the moving of the Ark was accompanied by the sacrifice of innumerable sheep and cattle (8:5). That must have made it a very bloody scene – not to mention smelly and noisy. The temple will continue to be a place of bloodshed; it is only through the death of a substitute that sinful people can approach a holy God.

Jesus is the one in whom all these pictures find their focus and fulfilment. He is the one in whom God has come to dwell among us, the one in whom we see God's glory. He has provided the perfect and final sacrifice for sin. His shed blood is the blood of the New Covenant by which God has bound us to himself in an embrace which nothing can ever break.

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they. (Isaac Watts)

Father God, we thank you that we do not need to offer you innumerable sacrifices of sheep and cattle or even the sacrifice of one sheep or turtle dove. We thank you that your Son has given himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sin and that we need only trust in him. Lord Jesus, thank you for your dying love and your risen power. Thank you that through your death we are freed from the guilt and penalty of sin. Thank you that you are risen from the dead and that in you we also possess a life that will never end. Thank you that because your Spirit lives in us, we also have become the dwelling place of the living God. May more of your glory be seen in our lives.

Peter Misselbrook