Paige Benton Brown, “In the Temple: The Glorious and Forgiving God”
Through the covenant, the “I Am” promises “I’m in”. How “in” is He? That answer is progressively answered throughout Scripture as the temple.
1 Kings 8
He is the inhabitant God in a building, His visible occupation of this temple. The gorgeous, extravagant new temple is now complete and Solomon opens the door and signals to the Lord to come in and He really does. This is not an aspect of His omnipresence, but only here, nowhere else, personal presence. The actual glory of God is more splendid than this temple and yet the cloud both reveals and conceals His glory. Both a hiddenness and a mystery. So when He comes in in this new way the people are rightly chased out, they needed to be reminded of His glory and their unworthiness.
Note the catalyst of his coming in. The Shekinah glory doesn’t come in with the gold, the furnishings, or the king. It comes in with the ark. God’s glory is not a static noun but a verb of display for relationship and response. Ark is about covenant, relationship. The ark contains the code of covenant, the ten commandments. We do not live from seeing God but from hearing God. His glory comes in and takes a seat on top of that box.
He comes in with His Word not their words. Solomon’s prayer does not cause his coming in. How can they respond to his loving summons when they can’t keep the commands? It’s a mercy seat. There is a covering right there. We can’t meet him at the ark but must meet him at the altar. There is a covering at the ark. A big yucky mess right there in middle of gorgeous beauty of the temple. Indescribable splendor, incalculable gore. This is where God comes in, really in.
Occupation then dedication. It is a celebration of the faithfulness of God. Leaning more fully into promises of God with even greater expectancy. We know your mystery and yet we also know your majesty.
Proclamation to petition. Solomon uses bold word “yet”. Other religious systems employ a “so that” equation (causative). Gospel is always “and yet”/”but.” The grammar of grace is not causative but contradictory. Never “because of”, always “in spite of.” Solomon stated that which was absolutely true then asked for that which need not be true. Think of things he could ask for in physical presence of God! The glaring primary need had to be met to get to primary purpose. The purpose of covenant is not forgiveness but it is required to move to purpose: relationship. Forgiveness is the primary requirement because of our glaring need: sin.
What is most shocking is audacity of Solomon’s prayer. Audacious in its breadth. 7 petitions, from national to personal, begging forgiveness for biggest yuck and most personal.
Also audacious in its intensiveness, its depth. We know your great transcendence. We know you hear in heaven but come here, come near to forgive and restore us to you! The temple is not so much a place for people to see but for them to be seen. Glory requires forgiveness but not so glory may be seen but so that the glory may see.
Audacious in its exclusiveness. v. 53: we’re your favorite! We are your heritage! Israel: last in importance, last in loyalty, first in heart of God.
Audacious in its inclusiveness. Israel is to model a unique status to which He would eventually call all people. A conduit of God’s redeeming love for all people. Makes petition for the foreigner. Temple not a barrier but a bridge. v. 60
You can’t just ask for forgiveness. You’ve got to pay for it. At close of dedication they make the blow flow. Starts and ends at the altars. That’s why God can see them. He has to look through lens of atoning blood. King has instituted a way of atonement, it’s how he can be this “in” with this group of sinful people. So many sheep, etc sacrificed that they can’t be counted. God can count them but it’s not enough. Can’t pay for sin. Wasn’t supposed to pay for sin, supposed to point to it. The temple is a great preparation for greater glory to come in fullness of atonement and forgiveness.
Israel begins downward spiral from dedication to desecration. All of the messes that Solomon outlines in his petitions, nearly all come true. King after king do not look to temple but turn to corrupt worship and abominations. Lost sight of God’s glory and thus lost sight of their need for forgiveness.
Glory of God eclipses temple at dedication but quickly the temple eclipses God’s glory, becoming a place of corruption and manipulation for gain. “Hey God, we’ve got your temple” and think it their ace in the hole guaranteeing His favor regardless. We too look to our church membership, position, accomplishments to guarantee God’s love.
In Ezekiel the inhabited God is the evacuated God. How “in” is he? He’s out and the temple is a tear down. Even as He is leaving, He is making promises over His shoulder. Not lesser promises, bigger promises, promises of a new covenant, the law written in their hearts, they shall be my people and I shall be their God. Beyond the best there is a better: I am actually coming further in. That’s his determination, not because of their hearts but because it was in his heart all along. Haggai: a greater glory coming. A greater glory in a greater presence.
He really comes and “in” a way no one could have dreamed. No longer the inhabited god in a building but the incarnate God in a body. When is next time after 1 Kings 8 that we see the glory of God? Luke 2: unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Is it too familiar to be the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? The glory of the Lord appears to workers on night shift. Unto you He has come in. How in? A baby in Bethlehem, in rags, in a barn, in feeding trough. How much more “in” could he be? And this was the zenith of revelation of his glory. An unimaginable combination: glory in the flesh. The same temple God of glory! John: we have seen His glory.
Old Testament question: why is he willing to be somewhere? New Testament: why is he willing to be someone? Solomon had asked God to be present in temple, now God has come with actual eyes and He sees Zaccheus in tree, with actual ears and He hears lepers, with actual fingers and He heals man born blind. In His temple body, He has come to embrace.
Disciples: who is this?
He is the temple! Tension builds with those still in love with the building, leading to unavoidable confrontation. A crescendo as Jesus rides in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus attacks the temple, clears out the money changers. The incarnate temple in judgment of the physical temple because wickedness abounds there. He attacks their greatest point of confidence to clear the way to what temple is for: come to Me. The indignation of scribes and Pharisees breaks his heart. He doesn’t run from confrontation; he goes to the cross.
The glory of the God who will provide the atonement. He is the atonement. God does not forgive sin, he forgives sinners. Sin has to be paid for. Jesus knew what payment would cost. Jesus knew He would be answer to His own prayer in temple. The unthinkable extravagance of Jesus the temple. This is the temple dedication. His dedication and not ours.
Glory and forgiveness can only be combined because here they are exchanged. Left his rightful throne to take my rightful cross. Where is God? He’s on the cross. Oh, the throw down! Curtain torn from top to bottom. Temple building is over, finally and irrevocably. Our temple lives in flesh eternal! What do we bring to it? Nothing! All completed in him, all for us!
All complete in him and yet he leaves, takes off visibly in a cloud. Not a disappearance only a departure. Not his absence but heightened presence. Beyond the best there is a better. Again making promises, not lesser but bigger.
How in? No longer inhabited or incarnate but now indwelling, God in our bodies. In Acts, God again comes visibly, little glory flames on each of his followers: meaning “I’m in” in a completely personal way. Not room that is filled with Him but they are filled with him. What does that make us? Temples of the living God! This did more for the disciples than anything so far: not hearing him teach, seeing his miracles. It’s this day that transforms them. Same with us! Not instruction or inspiration that changes us but indwelling. We say come in and He really does! Him in me is strangest union yet. Us in him, him in us.
All the “-ations” are because of this unification! We are to live the temple label. What are the facets of our templeness? Glory. Word. Living sacrifices. Prayer: full and constant access to Him. Assembly: fully who we are as persons but we are not all that the temple is. All of God’s people and each of the people.
Fullness: you are filled with Spirit and now be filled with Spirit. Filled: not more room for anything else. I no longer live, Christ lives in me. We have the fullness of Him, He needs to have the fullness of us.
We are never working toward our templeness but work from our templeness. Reason with it, wrestle with it. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit; we’ve got to reason with His fullness. Does this _____ correspond to my templeness?
How “in” is He, so “in” that He is to fill our seeing, our hearing, our going, our doing? None of it is up to me because He fills all of it. Spirit tells me who I really am and provides for me so that I can really be that person.
How powerful is the force of His presence? Reason from greater to lesser: He will overcome my death so He can overcome my habits. He is greater and He will progressively win. From His “in”-ness we are being transformed form glory to glory, glory that is shown to glory that is shared.
Even this is not permanent. His indwelling us is not our final state. there is still a longing. Beyond the best there is a better. He is still really coming!
The inviting God: Come in! The Lord of glory comes for us. “I’m in” comes for us and says “you’re in.” We will see him as He is, we will be like Him, we will be living with Him. Where I am you may be also. Forever “in” with Him who is our eternal home.
Note: these are my notes that were hastily typed during the presentation. Any and all error in transcription is mine and not the instructor’s. Also, please excuse the multitude of grammatical errors!