2 Chronicles 1:4-6 Now David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim to the place he had prepared for it, because he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. But the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made was in Gibeon in front of the tabernacle of the LORD; so Solomon and the assembly enquired of him there. Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
There is an important lesson hidden for us in these verses.
The ‘ark of God’ symbolised God’s Covenant with his people, and was called the ‘Ark of the Covenant’. It contained the written Law that God had given to Moses on tablets of stone, a golden pot containing a sample of the ‘manna’ by which God had fed his people for 40 years in the desert, and Aaron’s ‘rod that [had] budded’ to prove his authority as priest through whom God’s people had access into God’s presence. The lid on the Ark was called the ‘kapporet’, traditionally, translated ‘mercy seat’ (cf ‘yom kippur’, ‘day of atonement’).
So at the heart of God’s Covenant with his people was his revealed truth, his daily provision of their needs, his mercy in accepting sinners through the sacrifices offered through the priesthood – and there was obviously a very close connection between the ‘altar’ (of sacrifice) and the ‘ark’. In the transition period leading up to David’s establishing God’s presence in Zion (Jerusalem) and Solomon’s building of the Temple there to house the ‘altar’ and the ‘ark’ together, these two fundamental symbolic items were separated – the ark was in Jerusalem but the altar was still in Gibeon.
At the beginning of his reign, Solomon made sure he did the right thing in terms of approaching the Covenant LORD in worship (hence his very generous ‘thousand burnt offerings’ at the ‘altar’), but, sadly, later in this very same chapter we will see him ignoring the LORD’s written Law in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 by accumulating many horses from Egypt and amassing great wealth (2 Chronicles 1:14-17)!
The lesson for us today is clear: Jesus has superseded the whole Aaronic priesthood by becoming our Great High Priest, and has superseded the whole Mosaic sacrificial system by his once-for-all sacrifice of himself for us on the Cross, and it is right for us to be strong and enthusiastic in our worship of him through gathering for prayer and praise.
But if we are not, at the same time, listening to his infallible Word in the Scriptures being faithfully read and preached, and seeking constantly to have our whole lives INformed and TRANSformed by it, we run the risk of following the same sad trajectory as Solomon (see 1 Kings 11).
– Bruce Christian