Pageantry, ceremony and God
Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest last month in an incredible display of pomp, circumstance and showmanship from the monarchy, military and state. In my entire life I had never seen such impressive ceremonial pageantry with meticulously choreographed processions, spectacle and splendour.
Keep those thoughts in your mind as you turn to look at Solomon dedicating the house that he built for God to dwell in. There certainly was ceremony with singers and orchestra loudly praising God because the ark of God had been brought into the house – except, on this occasion, something far more glorious and impressive happened. God supernaturally appeared.
We are told that the cloud of glory filled the house so densely that the priests couldn’t continue ministering (2 Chron. 5:14).Then, after King Solomon’s lengthy prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices and offerings (2 Chron. 7:1).
When all the people of Israel saw this they all immediately bowed down with their faces to the ground and worshipped and praised God. Can you imagine the awe and wonder that must have been in those people’s hearts?
Something happened after all the ceremony, feasting and celebration that affects you and me. God appeared to Solomon a second time and told him, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.(2 Chron. 7:14).
We may not have been there wondering at all the spectacle that Solomon orchestrated, but we are present, here and now, before a great and holy God. All He asks of us is to repent of our sins and call out to Him and He will appear in His glory – not in a place we can see and admire, but in our very hearts! He will forgive our sins and bless us abundantly.
The import of these very words was addressed by Peter on the Day of Pentecost:
“Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:38-39).
God dwells in those who turn to Him in faith and through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us we are blessed over and over again. “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:5).
So next time you see great pomp and ceremony, remember that you have been personally invited to be a part of the most fabulous, awe-inspiring, supernatural, eternal spectacle that includes human beings. God isn't wanting to live in a temple or house - He wants to live in YOU!
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All Bible quotes (unless otherwise noted) are from the NLT.