“When Solomon finished praying, The Fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying,
“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”
(2 Chronicles 7. 1-3, NLT)
Wow! What a scene that must have been! At last, God had a permanent home, and the housewarming party was an awesome event and celebration complete with real heat! With all the hoopla and sacrifices and fire and smoke…You’d think this sort of episode would still be a unique element of Jewish life – God’s presence taking up residence in that room on Mount Zion.
But it wasn’t. Many years later after God had demonstrated time and again His abundant patience and forgiveness with Israel, Ezekiel records the scene of God vacating the temple (Ezekiel 10.22, 23). Undoubtedly this was the saddest day in the history of ancient Israel?
The Fire Returns
As I read the 2 Chronicles passage recently, it reminded me of another time when the glory of God and His presence took up residence on earth. Can you think of similar scenes from the Bible where fire accompanied God’s movement toward His children? There are a few but how about this one:
“On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” (Acts 2.1-4, NLT)
Did the Chronicles passage make you think of Pentecost? It did me. The idea of God’s presence filling the temple with the fire and the stir that it caused took me right there to Pentecost when the Spirit of God again returned to dwell with His people only this time he took up residence and He filled THEM!
The Fire Renews
It’s no accident there are similarities in these two events. God was trying in every way He can to communicate to Israel and us His heart for us. Pentecost is the New Covenant equivalent of God moving into the Temple but in a different way. Since Pentecost, He is doing it in a very personal and intimate way by making our hearts His holy residence, His Temple! (1 Corinthians 3.16, 6.19; 2 Corinthians 6.16)
And the lead-in event to Pentecost is the pivotal point for this new way God has chosen, and that way is the person of Jesus. Before God fulfilled His intention of living personally in you and me He lived in His fullness in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The glory of God returned to earth when Jesus was born. Jesus is the prototype for our relationship with God.
The Fire Transforms
There was a lot of to-do around the Temple of Jesus’ day. It was the center of the Jewish form of religion. Jesus’ mission was to redefine worship and religion and change its focus from mere religious behavior to a transformational experience whose focus is on Him. He knew the Temple’s time had passed. (Matthew 12.6) He could redefine religion because the fullness of God lived inside Him (Colossians 1.19). He knew what God wanted, the way He wanted these things to be. He modeled it for His men and for us.
“Observe me,” He said. This is the way it’s going to be from now on…God in me, me in Him, us in you, and you in us. And the Holy Spirit is the one who’s going to make it happen (John 14.15-20). God’s glory and presence filling Solomon’s Temple is the model for God’s glorious Spirit filling us when we are consecrated as temples by our Brother High Priest Jesus living in us!