“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”
The highlight of the building and dedication of Solomon’s temple was the glory of the LORD filling the house. The glory cloud was the visible sign and manifestation of God’s presence with His people. From the exodus onward to the tabernacle, and then to the temple, the cloud of glory was the evidence that the LORD was there for His people.
That goes away with the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. Ezekiel speaks of this in chapter 8 of his book. And even when the temple was rebuilt after the exile and rededicated, the glory of the LORD did not return as it had at the tabernacle or Solomon’s temple. Even when Herod expands the temple and really gussies it up, still the glory of the LORD is not there.
Until the day when Christ Jesus arrives in the temple. Whether that’s the presentation where we get Simeon singing, or the boy Jesus in the temple teaching, or all the other events – then the glory of the LORD is there in the temple. And when He comes to the temple the last time during Holy Week, Christ Jesus is glorified upon the Cross, and with His death the priests are put out of work. No more will they need to minister or perform the sacrifices, for the true Glory of the LORD has come – the Word has become flesh and dwelt, tabernacled, tented with His people, and He Himself has work atonement and forgiveness and mercy with His own death and resurrection.
This same Christ Jesus comes to His Church throughout the world, to buildings around the globe, where He has gathered His people together. There in the House of the LORD, Jesus comes to us all in the preaching of His Word and in His Supper. This is His glory – not a glory the world would recognize or understand, but the true glory of God – to be with and redeem His people, to be with and redeem you.