The Ark of the Lord is placed in the House of the Lord. No more separation of worship and sacrifice. All is united and God’s glory FILLED the Temple.
Since the day Eli’s sons took the Ark into battle the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle has stood empty. The Ark was captured by the Philistines during that battle. They took it as spoils of war and THEY were spoiled with tumors and rats. After trying several different locations in the country of the Philistines and finding no relief, they sent the Ark back to Israel. It wasn’t returned to the Tabernacle but kept in the home of Abinadab for 20 years. David decided to bring it into Jerusalem instead of taking it to Gilead to rejoin the Tabernacle. It remained in a special Tent David set up for it until the day we are reading about today.
It took about seven years to build the Temple. All the while Solomon made plans for the reuniting of ALL the parts of the worship and service to the Lord. Praise, worship, and freewill offerings took place at the Tent David had erected in Jerusalem for the Ark of the Lord. The daily sacrifices and required offerings took place in Gilead at the Tabernacle. The people were prepared for this shift so that when the day arrived there would be no resistance.
There had to be preparations for that day. Besides the completion and cleanup of the Temple there were other things that needed to be in place for this special time. The Levites needed time to consecrate themselves to the Lord for His service. The musicians and trumpeters practiced the song they would present to the Lord. And Solomon had to summon all the officials: “the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel” (verse 2a). NO ONE would stay home and miss this day!
The day has arrived. All the leaders of the land are gathered together in Jerusalem. It is the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacle, Sukkot. This is a temperate time of weather in Israel. It isn’t scorching hot or freezing cold. It is just before the rainy season. And the nation is remembering how the first Israelites lived in temporary dwellings on their way to the Promised Land by living in temporary dwellings of their own.
But this year the people will mark the end of temporary dwellings for the Lord. He now has a permanent structure; the Temple that Solomon built. I wonder what that day was like. Was it a festive day or a somber one? Were there more than just the leaders of Israel gathered together in Jerusalem? Were the streets jam packed with people?
I betting on an excited city teaming with people waiting to take part in this momentous occasion. The people knew of the importance of this event. They also knew where their focus needed to be. This was no ‘carnival’ where everyone was out for a good time. It was a day of celebration and dedication. A time to turn their thoughts to the Lord. To rejoice in memory of all He has done and to anticipate what the future holds for them as individuals, a nation, and as God’s chosen people.
I tried to find out how far the Ark of the Lord traveled that day but I’m coming up empty. Our writer tells us that the Ark was brought “out of the city of David” (verse 2b). “And they brought up the Ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent” (verse 5a). But how long was this walk with God’s Ark?
The journey might not have been far in distance but it was filled with sacrifice and honor to the Lord. “And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel were before the Ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered” (verse 6). When David brought the Ark from the home of Obed-edem there was a sacrifice every six steps. We weren’t told how many animals were sacrificed that day but it seems like we are being told this event eclipsed the previous one. But I bet no one danced this day with any more abandon than David did on that day.
The Levites carried the Ark from the place where David had it resting to the new Holy of Holies. They placed it under the wings of the giant cherubim. If they had any life in them they would have smiled.
I’m wondering who designed the Holy of Holies without measuring first how long the room needed to be to accommodate the poles of the Ark. We are told that the poles extended past the doorway into the inner court. Was the veil of the Temple in place at this time or were there only doors? Because of the doors at the vestibule, the poles of the Ark could not be seen from outside. Did the poles intrude into the inner chamber when it was in the Tabernacle? Here the room is double the size of the original Holy of Holies. Were the poles changed out? Did the placement of the cherubim take up space the Ark needed? God must have been alright with this because He still inhabited it.
Father God that must have been some day! I would love to dream about all that went on that day. Words fail me when trying to imagine it. Maybe I need to go back and ‘walk the streets’ with Solomon that day. I am so tired today from all this day has entailed that I fought sleep too often to ‘feel my way’ into this story. This is just the beginning of that day. I will revisit it again and let Your Spirit lead me down that path.
Thank You for the time we did spend together on this story. Thank You for holding me accountable to at least come and sit with You instead of begging off because I was ‘tired’. I look forward to ‘hearing’ the rest of this story the next few days. AND seeing where You take me!