Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, August 22 (TLW33B). This non-denominational study relies on the Bible explaining the Bible, uninfluenced by any church’s practice or preferences and it follows the Bible’s sequence of progressive revelation. We recommend that you read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. Bible readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, a resource shared by many different churches and chapels and the text is the widely-used and contemporary NIV © Biblica.
Theme: Becoming aware of God’s glory among us
1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11, 22-30, 41-43 — God’s glory cloud is seen as the ark takes its place in the Temple inner sanctuary
John 6:56-69 — By believing and receiving Jesus totally as our Lord, our lives give God glory
Ephesians 6:10-20 — The unseen conflict behind our troubles is won as we position ourselves in the spiritual battle
And also read: Psalm 84
• See also this week’s linked article on the theme, How God is glorified
1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11, 22-30, 41-43 — God comes in a glory cloud
The temple is consecrated and the ark takes its place in the inner sanctuary
1 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David.
6 The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim.
“The ark… to its place” — David had previously brought the ark from the house of the Levite Obed-Edom, 2 Sam. 6. This move from David’s own shrine into the temple was probably in the 12th year of Solomon’s reign.
10-11 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord (Yahweh). And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled His temple.
“The cloud” – as the presence of the Lord had manifested in a visible cloud at Sinai, the same manifestation is seen in the temple, described in 2 Chron. 7:1-3.
22-23 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth below – You who keep Your covenant of love with Your servants who continue wholeheartedly in Your way.
“No God like You” – other nations saw their deities as fickle and needing to be kept appeased. By contrast, Yahweh out of His goodness, directed events, sometimes with miracles, so that His covenant promises reaching far into the future were fulfilled. See Exodus 15:11, Deut. 7:9,12, Psalm 86:8-10.
“Covenant of love” – Hebrew berith chesēd, covenant faithfulness, which made Yahweh unique and different. There was responsibility on the other party to “continue wholeheartedly” in His way.
24 “You have kept Your promise to Your servant David my father; with Your mouth You have promised and with Your hand You have fulfilled it – as it is today.
25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for Your servant David my father the promises You made to him when You said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before Me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before Me faithfully as you have done.’
“If only your descendants are careful” – a clear, unambiguous condition. Later, northern Israel and then southern Judah reneged on the agreement, resulting in the deportation and destruction warned against.
• For further study, compare the fuller account of 2 Chron 7:17-22.
26 “And now, God of Israel, let Your word that You promised Your servant David my father come true.
27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!
“How much less this temple” – Yahweh is not contained in any construction of man. But the physical presence of the temple and the cloud of glory appearing made people assume that they had God’s assistance, however they lived, Jer. 7:4-14, Micah 3:11.
28 “Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in Your presence this day.
29 “May Your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which You said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that You will hear the prayer Your servant prays toward this place.
30 “Hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.
“Toward this place” – Israelites directed their prayers towards the temple, the place where God has promised to be present among His people, e.g. Daniel 6:10.
41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your name…
“Foreigner” – not an alien living in Israel but someone who has journeyed to Jerusalem to pray to Israel’s God.
42-43 “…for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm — when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name.”
“All peoples of the earth” — the wider intention of God’s mission, sometimes overlooked in the OT, but plainly stated here.
SUMMARY Solomon and his priests had never seen the glory cloud, but they prominent in Israel’s history was Moses entering the cloud on the top of Mount Sinai to receive the commandments, and the glory of the Lord filling the completed tabernacle.
APPLICATION For the people of the Old Testament era, the relationship was remote, not personal, with priests as intermediaries and prophets as spokesmen. Our relationship through Jesus is personal, no longer through priests. However, the story reminds us that the affairs of heaven and of earth are not separate, but closely linked.
QUESTION What does it mean to you to be held in a covenant of love? How is this distinct from other world faiths?
John 6:56-69 — Jesus promises Himself as food for eternal life
By believing and receiving Him totally as our Lord our lives give God glory
56 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in them.
“Remains in Me” — the believer identifies with Jesus and perseveres in doing so.
57 Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
“Feeds on Me” – as John Wesley put it, Jesus becoming the meat and drink that feeds the soul. As the Hebrew idiom ‘flesh and blood’ means the whole person, to consume Him fully is to believe in Him totally.
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
“Ate manna” — the value of which was limited.
59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
“Whoever feeds on this bread” – not words meant to be taken literally, nor is this about breaking bread as in the Lord’s Supper which came much later. Eternal life comes from wholeheartedly believing and trusting in Him. Every believer has to take hold of this gift by exercising faith for themselves.
60 On hearing it, many of His disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
“Hard teaching” — not hard to understand but hard to accept.
61-62 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before!
“Ascend” – be elevated to the realm He came from, a more incredible prospect to the disciples than Jesus offering Himself to sustain them.
63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.
“Words I have spoken… full of the Spirit and life” — Jesus’ hearers were not discerning the spiritual truth behind Jesus’ words. Jesus explains that His words are Spirit and life because they have an effect in the unseen spiritual realm, and awaken genuine spiritual life.
64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him.
65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.”
“The Father has enabled” – the ones who will receive are those who seek on God’s terms, not their own. Jesus knew some would choose not to believe — our free will and being drawn to a choice by the Holy Spirit are finely balanced.
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.
“Many… turned back” — Jesus is not surprised that many potential disciples have turned away because their “faith” was not a trusting commitment.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
“To whom shall we go” – although others have found His teaching too hard, the disciples are beginning to get it.
“Holy One of God” – God was called the Holy One of Israel, Psalm 71:22, Isaiah 43:3 and 54:5.
SUMMARY Jesus reminded His hearers of the manna, God’s day by day provision from heaven for His people in a desert — then challenged them to believe that God’s enduring ‘manna’ from heaven now, was He Himself, and they should feed on Him by taking Him to heart.
APPLICATION We still see a gap between what happens in heaven and what happens, good or bad, in our earthly lives. This teaching of Jesus reminds us that He is the connection. To the extent our lives are lived in Him, under His Lordship, what happens is harnessed to the hope, or confident expectation, we possess in the heavenly realm.
QUESTION In an everyday practical kind of way, what does it mean to feed on Jesus?
Ephesians 6:10-20 — Positioning ourselves in the spiritual battle
Behind what we see happening the unseen conflict is won in a different way
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
“Be strong in the Lord” – the conflict in the spiritual realm affects our experience in the physical realm. We are being reminded of the need to summon God’s invincible power.
11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
“Put on the full armour” – like full Roman battle dress but meaning Christlike attitudes, as Paul wrote earlier, “Put on the new self” i.e. the new attitude of who we are in Christ, born anew into true righteousness and holiness. This is coming at fear and malicious gossip in the opposite spirit of integrity.
“Take your stand” — Roman legions that stood together facing the enemy without breaking ranks were considered almost invincible.
“The devil’s schemes” – the Bible is clear about the reality of the devil, a personal enemy, who uses predictable strategies to exploit sin, fear and guilt by using accusation and division. Knowing these strategies is to know their origin — and how to overcome them.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
“Our struggle” – or ‘wrestle’, implying trickery and deception. A common mistake is to resist levels of institutional or human opposition without taking a spiritual stand in the authority of Jesus against the dark spirituality that is manipulating them. All, including those who know the Lord, may have vulnerabilities that the different levels of spiritual opposition are able to deceive and exploit.
13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
“Full armour of God” – the ‘panoplia’ of the solder, but Yahweh’s armour and weaponry, Isaiah 11:4-5, 59:17, made available to the believer. When evil seems to prevail, truth and righteousness are the spiritual ‘weapons of character’ that win through.
“Day of evil” — a Jewish idiom for a period of trouble.
“Stand” – repeated four times in this passage for emphasis. Rather than invade the domain of evil, we are to firmly maintain the decisive victory already won by Christ, Eph. 1:20-22, 4:8, Col 2:15.
SUMMARY The devil and his minions are real, personal and vindictive opponents, always seeking ways of gaining a foothold to steal our peace and cause division. To prevail, is to prevail spiritually by setting aside worldly ‘weapons’ to take up a very different set of spiritual ones. Growing in holiness, integrity and trust in the face of difficulty are the very qualities feared most by our spiritual opponents.
APPLICATION The spiritual connection between what happens in the heavenlies and in our lives on earth is real and vital. This is how to contend with the anxieties and negativities that assail our thoughts, and the practical difficulties of health, relationships, accidents — and adverse weather.
QUESTION What, in Christian life and fellowship, helps us to see this important spiritual dimension?
PRAYER Father God, we pray that You will not leave us facing testing and evil alone, while recognising that in this fallen world difficulties and potential conflicts will arise. Fill us with the Spirit of Jesus to take our stand in His victory, not our own imagined power or position. May we be found worthy of the uniform You have given us in Him, as we seek to assert the freedom and rest that characterises Your kingdom. For His glory, Amen.
Also read: Psalm 84
1 How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
2-3 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near Your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4-5 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You. Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6-7 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
8-9 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on Your anointed one.
10-11 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You.
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God’s glory was evident as a cloud filled Solomon’s temple, and as His Son, Jesus declared Himself the Living Bread from heaven; God’s glory is seen in believers clothed in righteousness who stand and overcome the deceptive schemes of the enemy.