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A View from the Altar / Eighth day glory
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Eighth day glory

King Solomon completed the temple in Jerusalem around 950 B.C. or so.  According to a prophecy already hundreds of years old, this was the place where the Lord would set his name. (Dt 14:24, 2 Chr 7:12) When the temple was inaugurated, the fire of God fell from the sky (2 Chr 7:1), and the glory of the Lord filled the place so that the priests couldn’t enter. (2 Chr 7:2-3) The word “awesome,” so ridiculously overused in our time, certainly fit. Something clicked in the minds of the Israelites, and they believed their temple and its administration would last forever.

But in 586 B.C., the Babylonians overthrew Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground. (2 Ki 25:9)  The Jews were exiled into Babylon, and it seemed their candle had been put out.  (2 Ki 25:11)

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Some of the Jews did get to return to Jerusalem some 70 years later and began rebuilding. But their sense of national glory was gone. The visionary leadership of Solomon was sorely lacking, and the resources were scarce. When the foundation of the second temple was laid, the old people who had seen the first temple grieved aloud. (Ez 3:12) The architecture of the second temple was frankly inferior, a fact the prophets admitted. (Hag 2:3)

However, God promised Israel that the glory of this second temple would be greater than that of Solomon’s when the Desire of Nations came. (Hag 2:7-9)

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Historians say it was around 20 years before Christ that Herod the Great renovated the second temple and vastly improved the architecture. But there was no fire from God, no sacrifices consumed, nothing notable from heaven that signified divine approval. If the second temple was chosen by God as a place for his name, the casual observer would not have detected anything special. It would have looked like just another one of those overpriced monuments that governmental egomaniacs tend to build for their own glory.

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Paul says Christ was born under the law. (Gal 4:4) That can mean a lot of things, but one of the things it definitely meant was that Jesus was subject to the law and kept it. Accordingly, he was brought to the temple on the eighth day after his birth for the rite of circumcision. (Lk 2:21) And when he entered the temple, a devout old man by the name of Simeon had this to say, “Lord, now you allow your servant to depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Lk 2:29-30)

And upon that exact moment was the prophecy of Haggai brought to fulfillment. God had come to his temple, and there is no greater glory than God himself. Israel had had a glorious temple without a God in it. (Ezekiel 11) Now God had returned to his place in a form they never expected, and the glory was restored to Israel.  The next time the fire of God fell, it was upon living sacrifices on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3), and rather than consuming the sacrifices, it empowered them to preach the Gospel of reconciliation to the world.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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