When the glory of God returned

The day the temple was dedicated, God’s glorious presence filled his house (2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1-3). It was a momentous day filled with praise, sacrifice, and feasting. God was with his people. But times would not always be so good. In a preview of Israel’s fickle ways, God promised that if they would humble themselves, repent, and pray, then God would forgive them.

God’s glory would remain in his house through many difficult days. But a time came when no repentance was forthcoming, and a cleansing needed to occur. The last resort, a carrying away of the people into captivity, had already begun. Soon the house would be toppled by foreign invaders.

Ezekiel was given a vision of the temple and the abominations that God’s people were committing. These abominations drove God far away from the sanctuary (Ezekiel 8:6); there was no room for God in his house. Step-by-step, the glory of God left the house of God (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:4, 18), until his glory was upon a mountain outside the gates of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 11:22, 23). God’s glory was gone, but not forever.

The temple was rebuilt, and hopes were rekindled through the prophets. A ruler was promised, one who would come in the glory and majesty of the Lord to shepherd his flock (Micah 5:2-4). The people anxiously awaited this king.

One day, a humble family gave birth to a child in a humble house in a humble town. But this was no ordinary birth and no ordinary child. God had returned to his people (Matthew 1:23).

Jesus is declared to be “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV). While the presence of God was overwhelming during the days of Solomon, the presence of God in Jesus could be missed unless one looked closely. Jesus did not physically resemble the glory of God, nor did he come clothed in glory (Philippians 2:6-8).

In Jesus, God revealed that true glory is not about riches, crowns, or beauty. Rather, it is about character, love, and sacrifice. Jesus came to heal and forgive. He came to humbly offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. That is glorious!

But Jesus is still Deity. He is “the one who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy” (Isaiah 57:15). As his work was coming to an end, Jesus turned his attention to the glory he had from eternity past in heaven with the Father (John 17:5). This eternal glory was given back to him following his redemptive work (Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22).

And his glory will be seen one more time before the culmination of all things. The Hebrews writer declares that Christ “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).

What a glorious day that will be!

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