To conclude this series of articles, let’s turn to the book of 2 Chronicles, chapter 6. At this point, King David has died, as recorded near the end of 1 Chronicles, and his son Solomon has become king. With help from his father (who helped get some things ready), Solomon built a Temple for God (not just any god, though: specifically Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, the Levites moved the ark into the Temple, and God showed His glory with a cloud in the Temple.
When Solomon saw God’s glory in the Temple, he knew that God had accepted his offering. We might not think of things that we build or buy as an offering to God, but if we do things for His glory (rather than our own), they can be exactly that. (Matthew Henry contrasted Solomon’s building of the Temple for God with the self-glorifying party of Ahasuerus, as described in Esther 1:1-4.)
Like his father David, Solomon sacrificed to God (2 Chronicles 5:4-6 says that there were too many to count), then he shared a blessing to the people. Next, though, Solomon made a proclamation.
While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. Then he said:
“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hands has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David. For he said, ‘Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over my people Israel. But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’
2 Chronicles 6:3-6 NIV
Here, and in the following verses, Solomon recounts – in front of the people – how God has done exactly what He promised to David. For those who have observed (and possibly even tested) God’s nature, whether or not God keeps His promises is not in question. He always does. What is not as certain is whether or not we recognize and praise Him for doing so.
For Solomon and the Israelite people, the Temple served as yet another reminder of God’s presence. Now, of course, God wasn’t limited to this Temple, any more than He is limited to a church building or a certain country. God is all-powerful and all-present, but He still chose to grace this Temple with His glory.
God didn’t just show up whenever Solomon asked, to do whatever Solomon asked, though. A powerful, holy God isn’t one that can just be summoned to do our will. (Do not confuse the God of the universe with fictitious, fallible, or faint gods of this world, who are created in man’s image and tend to glorify human beings.) Solomon had carefully prepared a place to worship God, according to God’s commands to David before him.
Like Solomon, we should prepare for God’s presence. This is not about earning the right for God to love us or save us, but rather becoming as holy – set apart for a special reason – like Him (see Leviticus 19:1-2). This usually looks like having less corruption and sin of the world in our lives, and overflowing with more of the love and humble service to others that Jesus demonstrated for us. As those who follow Jesus try to live more like His example (where He – God the Son – lived in obedience and service to God the Father), we make our lives more like a special place where God’s presence can become visible to others.
It may cost us a lot (although the things that we give up do not have any significant value, compared to knowing Jesus Christ – see Philippians 3:7-16), but when we are living in God’s will, following His direction, and looking for more and more examples of His work around us, we may find ourselves being graced with the presence of God in a special way. When that happens, to God be the glory!
So, under the new covenant, have we prepared our hearts and lives for God’s presence? Do we keep ourselves worthy of being graced with the glory of God? Of course, we will never be God, but we can prepare for His presence. That might mean worship services with others. It might mean making time for prayer and Bible study with just you and God. It might even mean living out each day in a way that calls attention to God (rather than ourselves), and being as worthy as we can to serve Him.
As we wrap up this 4-part series of articles, let’s remember that God is always near us, in that He is omnipresent. He is also near – in a different way – to those of us who have chosen to be reconciled to Him, and who follow Him in our walk with Jesus (while listening to the Holy Spirit).
However, being imperfect human beings, we still need reminders. Sometimes those reminders are places. Sometimes, they are things. Sometimes, they are buildings.
Regardless of what helps remind us about God’s presence, let us also be living reminders to others about who God is. Some people around us don’t know God, and need to hear about Him. Others are following Jesus, but need help to keep Him at the forefront of their minds and hearts. In any case, may our lives be those lessons – those reminders – that others need to see.
From Sunday School lesson for May 30, 2021
- The Lookout, May 30, 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.
2 thoughts on “Preparing for God’s Presence”
“let’s remember that God is always near us,” This brings to mind Acts 17:27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”
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Indeed – He is ready for us to meet him whenever we are!
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