Upon the completion of the temple and its preparation for service with all its furnishings, the final step to fulfill its purpose required bringing the ark of the covenant into the newly completed house of God (2Chr. 5:1). Solomon marked the solemnity of the occurrence with a sense of ceremony indicative of the grandeur of the moment and the significance of the building’s purpose, assembling the leadership of the entire nation in Jerusalem at a feast in anticipation of its dedication (2 Chr. 5:2-3). However, the focus and behavior of the people greatly distinguishes this momentous event from the feeble promotions offered so often today.
The people responded reverently and obediently in a manner becoming a spiritual occasion, approaching Jerusalem and the temple from throughout Israel because of what they came to offer—not due to something they would receive. Priests of the tribe of Levi carried the ark on poles to bring it up from the city to the temple mount, having learned from the previous generation’s error (2 Chr. 5:4-5). The entire Aaronic priesthood sanctified themselves according to the Law to prepare to serve on behalf of the people (2 Chr. 5:11). The elders brought offerings for the LORD, sacrificing so much they did not bother to count (2 Chr. 5:6). And so, when the priests took the ark into the Holy of Holies, surrounded by all the splendor designed to remind them that the LORD Himself would meet the High Priest here to accept a sacrifice and to offer forgiveness, they placed it carefully, with only the poles extended, ever so briefly, to remain visible from the Holy Place (2 Chr. 5:7-10). Therefore, they emerged to the sound of worship, as Levitical singers, clothed in white linen to signify purity, and priests praised the LORD and thanked Him for His goodness and mercy (2 Chr. 5:11-13). However, despite all of this effort and all of this sound and all of this people, nothing compared to what happened next. As the priests ministered, a cloud filled the temple, signifying the glory of Yahweh, that the LORD indeed was with Him, and the priests could not continue because of this cloud (2 Chr. 5:14).
I do not know that we think about worship in such grand ways today. But while so many attempt to emulate the pomp and circumstance on the one hand or the celebration on the other, God’s people should bow before the LORD in obedience with sanctified hearts, offering the simple worship He desires (Jn. 4:24) with praise and thanksgiving for the beautiful gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:19-20). This approach to worship, in all its simplicity, offers us a glimpse into the Holy of Holies, to focus entirely on the glory of God and to serve Him with zeal until we can do so no longer. This is a far cry from worrying about a pot roast or wondering if we can find an open table for lunch. There is no concern for how people look, and there was no playing with babies. It was about God. And—lest we forget—it still is.