Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 6.18-21
18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications 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.
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Reflection: Exclusive Claims, Inclusive Hope — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman
It was a common belief in the ancient world that gods were territorial.
When Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel they exiled much of the population and imported captured peoples from other regions to take their place. When animal attacks became a problem, the Assyrians reasoned that the imported non-Israelites were not properly worshiping “the god of that country,” so they sent back an Israelite priest to train the foreigners in worshiping Yahweh. (2 Kings 17.26-28)
Jews did not worship Yahweh as a regional god. Yahweh was God in Israel, Judah, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and everywhere else. Yet, they still struggled to comprehend God’s presence. Solomon marveled that God’s presence would enter the Temple when even the highest heavens failed to contain him. Solomon pondered how this everywhere-god could “dwell on earth with humans.”
God’s enormity does not limit his intimacy, and Solomon’s Temple is not the smallest or humblest place God will enter.
Centuries later, standing in a reconstructed Temple, Simeon held in his arms the same presence that filled Solomon’s Temple. The prophetess Anna, who never left God’s presence in the Temple, recognized it in Jesus and proclaimed about him to Jerusalem.
How astounded Solomon would be at Simeon standing in the Temple holding Jesus in his arms! How astounded we should still be!
Yahweh is God, and Jesus is Lord everywhere, at all times, all at once. This exclusive claim was odd to some and offensive to others. “Who is the Lord that I should obey him?” (Exodus 5.2) “Bow down before this statue I have made!” (Daniel 3.15) “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19.34)
Exclusive claims are no less odd or insulting today. Christians face versions of these same objections now. “Why should I obey God?” “You must assent to and support my belief!” “My belief is greater than yours!”
God’s exclusivity is not a bragging point or an insult. Our hope is exclusively in God yet inclusively welcomes all people. Jesus is the light of the world, not the light of our region, race, or nation. His existence is exclusive—He is the only God. His invitation is inclusive—He will be anyone’s God.
The gospel offers everyone, everywhere, an opportunity to say, as Simeon did, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” God is their God, too. Jesus loves them, too. He longs for them and desires to come closer to them than Solomon, Simeon, or Anna could imagine.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.10
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The equally interesting, intimate glory of God is how infinitely small he is willing to shrink in order to meet us, save us, and lift us up.
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