The Heart of Worship
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am in Your presence. I offer You my sacrifice of thanks and praise.
2 Chronicles 5:1-14
Consider: “The height of devotion is reached when reverence and contemplation produce passionate worship, which in turn, breaks forth in thanksgiving” (R. Kent Hughes). That happened in Jerusalem (13), and it can happen today!
We are left in no doubt that the dedication of the new Temple involved a massive and memorable celebration. Qualified musicians playing cymbals, harps and lyres are joined by no less than 120 trumpeters and a choir praising God in unison. At the climax of this act of worship the glory of God filled the Temple, overwhelming those present with awe and wonder. Clearly, this was a momentous day in the history of biblical Israel and no one present would ever forget the experience.
At the heart of the chronicler’s account, however, there is a contrast between the external glory of this event and the essential nature of the biblical faith. In the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s magnificent and expensive Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained only the two tablets Moses had placed in it at Horeb (10). This simple chest served as a reminder of the origins of the Hebrew faith, and the two stone slabs, inscribed by the finger of God himself with the terms of his covenant with Israel, highlighted the uniqueness of this tradition. The statement that there was nothing else to be seen surely implies a contrast with other temples in the ancient world which contained images of the deities being worshipped. Perhaps there is also tension between Israel’s core beliefs and the elaborate nature of Solomon’s Temple with its spectacular worship. Does the chronicler imply that what matters most to God might easily be given mere lip service, overlaid and eventually ignored by an establishment increasingly tempted to go the way of the world? Magnificent music, spine-tingling singing and inspiring architecture may all have their place, but they must never obscure the non-negotiable core of the biblical faith.
Apply: Reflect for a moment on your experience of public worship. Can you identify ways in which the focal point of biblical worship may become lost?
Loving Father, I pray for my church, that Your glory may be in the midst when we worship You. I pray for myself, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, that Your glory may fill me.
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