The Cloud of God’s Glory: Why Abandoning Religion is What it’s All About
Beyond anything we could ever image, God is. Beyond time, beyond the vastness of the universe, beyond the petty squabbles which fill the news, and beyond any one of us. In relation between us and God, we might compare ourselves to ants or some kind of microbe in order to gain a better picture. Such a small and meaningless creature is nothing to you or I. We either pay no regard to such things or just for sport, see them squirm as we crush their ant pile or take magnifying glasses to see how man we can torture or kill.
Yet how superior you or I are over such little bugs is nothing compared to how vast God is above us. He is infinitely beyond any comparison that we might make. But the incredible mystery of our creator is that He loves us! He wants to spend time with us! He wants us to know Him! He wants a relationship, not because He doesn’t know us but that we don’t know Him!
What an incredible, inconceivable, unfathomable, and irresistible love that our Father has for us.
Yet something even more unfathomable is true of this God.
He dwells within us when we become his true children and disciples.
Such a reality is beyond anything Solomon in all his wisdom could have ever understood or foreseen.
Kind David, Solomon’s father, longed to build for God a grand and glorious temple. The task fell to Solomon, who build a vast and unmatched temple in which the glory of God could dwell. And as the temple was being dedicated, the arc of the covenant placed in the Holy of Holies, and countless goats, bulls, sheep, and other animals were being sacrificed to God by a great many priests, the cloud of God’s glory descended upon the temple.
According to 2 Chronicles 6:13-14, “The temple, the LORD’s temple, was filled with a cloud. And because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”
God descended in the middle of all their religious rituals and stopped all that they were doing. While the text does not explicitly state much more, put yourself in this seen. Their temple dedication must have been grandiose—but none of the priests planned or expected God to fill that place as He did. Perhaps they ran in fear or terror as the temple began to fill with smoke—the cloud of His glory. His presence stopped their religious activities—such ceaseless sacrifices were meaningless. He cared about their devotion and commitment. He cared about relationship.
Generations later when the tribes’ wickedness was at it’s height and their kingdom now sat in doom from coming judgement, the cloud of God’s glory lifted off of the temple. But instead of seeking God’s presence once again, they filled the temple with their own smoke. They adapted their own rituals. They brought into the Holy of Holies burning coals which smoked and filled the temple with human glory—with religious ritual.
The cloud of God’s glory now descends and fills the temples of our bodies. This is the Holy Spirit which fills us when we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and become His true disciples.
The creator of the vast universe and time itself, the being who walked with Adam and Eve, called Abraham out of his false religious devotions to false gods, who made so many promises to Isaac and Jacob, who spoke with David, and dwelled within Solomon’s temple. This is the God who dwells within us. Who wants a relationship with us. And wants to do mighty and powerful things through us.
But how often do we do attempt to fill our own lives with the man-made “smoke” of religion rather than pursue and cry out to God to be filled with His cloud of glory? How often do we equate the rightness of our relationship with God to how many times we go to church, how many dollars we through in the coffer, or how many times we have read through the Bible? Those are all good things—but not to “win” God’s favor. You already have it! You are already loved! You are already desired by Him! He wants a relationship now!
We ought to pursue the filling by His cloud of glory and not man-made religion.
Are there any religious rituals to which you cling?
Are there any moments in which you felt filled and in the presence of the “Cloud of God’s Glory”?
Do you have any advise to those stuck in rituals and religion and not in relationship?
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