Solomon built a temple for the worship of God, a place all Israel could gather together in the name of the Lord. When he finished building the massive temple – stone, and cedar, and gold paneled walls and doors – he instructed the priests to place the ark of the covenant in the innermost room, the most holy place. There were multitudes of musicians and singers singing praises, while priests sacrificed countless sheep and oxen, and all the leaders of Israel joined in the day of dedication by gathering in the temple courtyards alongside the Israelites who were there in even greater number.
As the ark came to rest in the innermost – the most holy – place of the temple:
Then a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests were unable to carry out their duties on account of the cloud because the Lord’s glory filled God’s temple. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14.)
Where did this cloud come from? It was the symbol of God’s presence originally given to the Israelites as they set out from Egypt to travel to the land God promised them.
The Lord went in front of them during the day in a column of cloud to guide them and at night in a column of lightning to give them light. This way they could travel during the day and at night. The column of cloud during the day and the column of lightning at night never left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22.)
As the Israelites dedicated the temple of the Lord that day, they saw this symbol of God’s presence once again. Yet it is more than a symbol.
“The priests were unable to carry out their duties on account of the cloud because the Lord’s glory filled God’s temple.” (2 Chronicles 5:14.)
The priests could not carry out their duties. What duties? Praising God and offering sacrifices of thanksgiving, among others, duties they carried out in the temple. But they couldn’t, because God’s glory filled the temple. There was no room left for the priests to do their work.
You might hear someone talk about glorifying God. That’s a good thing, if what you mean is you want to speak in ways that tell of how glorious God is, and act in ways that reflect his glory in the way you love and care for and serve the people God has put in your life.
It doesn’t mean anyone has the ability to make God more glory, though. God is glorious, magnificent, wonderful, and excellent beyond measure. God doesn’t need people to increase his glory. He certainly didn’t need the temple priests on that day of dedication to bring him more glory.
God brought his own glory, and it is infinite. God’s glory is overwhelming, and in the presence of his glory you see that he is all sufficient. Let this be a comfort to you. He is the one who is perfect already, and he wants you to join in his perfection, not for you to contribute a measure of your own. Besides, you don’t have any perfection apart from that which is in Jesus.
The cloud which symbolized God’s presence is no longer needed because you have God the Holy Spirit in you now. Jesus is in you because the Holy Spirit is in you. The glory of God is in you because the Holy Spirit is in you. God has filled you just as he filled the temple.
God will use you to his glory, because he has brought you into his glorious presence even now.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6.)
This is reality. You are seated with Jesus right now in the heavenly realms as you live and breathe and walk and serve here on earth.
All to God’s glory.