Matins Devotion: August 25, 2023
When the Ark of the Covenant is brought to the temple, it’s a big deal. The Ark is essentially the presence of the Lord among the people. It’s how God led them through the wilderness. It’s the physical object He used to win battles for them. The Ark is not their God, but it is the means through which their God comes to them. It’s how they know their God is with them.
So until the ark is brought into the temple, the temple is not really anything. It’s not really the house of the Lord until the Lord dwells in it. This is why this event is such a big deal. It’s why the elders of all the people are coming out to see it and be a part of it. And it’s why the temple is clothed in gold and majesty and luxury. Because God dwells here, this is the house of God.
A few hundred years later, however, Solomon’s temple would be torn down by the Babylonians and the Ark of the Covenant would disappear, never to be seen again, unless you believe the claims of the Ethiopian Orthodox who say they have it kept safely in one of their churches. And yet, we have no reason to fear. Because, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, a newer and better ark and a better temple have come to us.
Now the house of the Lord is found where God dwells in His word of absolution, wherever He comes to us in the waters of baptism, wherever the body and blood of Jesus are found in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. When the word of forgiveness is spoken, the Son of God, God Himself, dwells with us and covers us in His mercy, His love, His every-tear-drying compassion. When the waters of baptism pool around us, there is no holier place in the universe because God has placed His holiness into those waters, and through those waters, upon our foreheads. When we feast upon the Sacrament, we possess on our tongues a greater treasure than Solomon ever beheld in the temple. We possess the true Temple, the body of Jesus Christ that was torn down for us, lifted up for us, and that can never be taken from us.
In all of this, we possess the true Temple that can never be destroyed because it endures and reigns and conquers forever. Even if none of the tribal elders shows up, even if no dignitaries are present, even if these gifts are received in a prison cell or a musty basement with shag carpeting or a mud-floor sanctuary. God is worthy to dwell in a house shimmering with gold and glory and majesty. And if we have the means to clothe our houses of worship in that glory and majesty, we should. But the more important thing is this: wherever we gather in His name and receive His gifts, He clothes us in His glory and calls us His own forever.